Patrick Harvie MSP

Welcome to Patrick Harvie MSP's biography pages

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by Patrick Harvie

Meeting of the Parliament 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green)

I, too, congratulate those who have been promoted in and appointed—or indeed reappointed—to the Scottish Government. I thank Jackson Carlaw for his usual bravura performance that we get at these events. I am very grateful that he decided to leave me out of the end of his speech. Oscar Wilde said that the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about, but I think that that was the exception to the rule.

This is a moment to mention something positive about the outgoing cabinet secretaries, who deserve our commiserations. I am sure that Mr Russell’s commitment to the principle of keeping higher education in Scotland free of fees will remain important to the Scottish Government, but it was a principle that throughout his term in office he insisted on. As for Mr MacAskill, I am grateful for his contribution to supporting my member’s bill on hate crime a few years back. He gave a clear commitment to supporting the legislation, which included the support of his officials, and I put on record my gratitude.

There is time to mention only a few individual appointments. I single out Marco Biagi for, as the First Minister said, his commitment to the equal marriage campaign both inside and outside Parliament. I believe that, diaries permitting, the First Minister and I will be co-witnesses for some mutual friends at the end of December; however, way before that, Marco Biagi and I had our own confetti moment when we showered confetti over a symbolic same-sex marriage as part of the campaign. That is a moment that I will remember.

I and my colleague Alison Johnstone will miss Marco Biagi on the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee. He has earned far more respect than I have from the radical vegan wing of my party, and I should imagine that the supply of vegan scones to the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee will be diminished to zero once he has moved on. I hope that the catering instruction has been conveyed to St Andrew’s house for him.

As for the role that Marco Biagi takes on, working with Alex Neil, I have to say that both will be responsible for a number of important issues such as the need to address on-going and long-term challenges in the reform of council funding. The council finance issue cannot be ducked for much longer. We need to reinvigorate our local democracy and community empowerment, and Marco Biagi will have an important contribution to make on both issues. The two of them will also have responsibility for planning policies and decisions. I highlight in particular the forthcoming decision on the first unconventional gas proposal, which has been called in by Scottish ministers and which many of us in Scotland, including constituents of many Scottish National Party back benchers who share deep concerns about the industry, consider to be a test case.

I want briefly to mention Mr Wheelhouse, who is moving on to other responsibilities. Although I think that he is due some credit for his role in the climate change brief, that credit comes, as usual with me, with caveats. It is clear that he understood the argument about unburnable carbon and that we cannot simply regard all fossil fuel resources as economic assets. After all, if we burn them all, we will do more harm to the economy than anything else.

The fact remains, however, that the Scottish Government has not yet managed to meet any of its climate change targets. As Aileen McLeod takes on that responsibility—alongside, I should say, land reform, which I am glad the First Minister has picked out in Ms McLeod’s job title as something that remains an unfinished task—I hope that she does so in the full understanding that the first three missed targets were the easy ones. The next annual target, which is due to be reported on, represents a single year’s cut that is many times greater than the cumulative cut that was supposed to have been achieved already. This is when things start to get hard, and she will have to advocate vociferously with the rest of the Scottish Government for the policy changes that will be necessary to achieve those targets.

I hope that Aileen McLeod is willing to work with Derek Mackay in transport. Unlike Jackie Baillie, I assure Derek Mackay that not all of us will lobby him to approve new road-building projects. Many of us will hope that he will be the first transport minister in a Scottish Administration who is able to have a sustainable transport policy. That will be crucial if Aileen McLeod is to be successful in ensuring that the Scottish Government meets its climate change commitments.

Once again, I congratulate and wish well all the ministers who will serve in the Scottish Government.

14:45  

Meeting of the Parliament 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green)

I add my warm congratulations to Nicola Sturgeon on her selection by Parliament. I am sure that a comparison with the first woman Prime Minister will be beneath Her Majesty when the moment comes for her to approve the appointment on our behalf.

I wish Nicola Sturgeon very well in the job that she is about to undertake. We had the opportunity of working together on a number of occasions during the referendum campaign. Whether we agreed or disagreed on any particular point of policy or strategy, that experience confirmed what I already believed to be true: that Nicola Sturgeon is a highly capable, professional and very impressive figure on the political landscape of Scotland.

Over the past few days, Nicola Sturgeon has set out a strong social justice emphasis in her hopes and aspirations for her time in office. There are many opportunities to give effect to that aspiration, including the adoption of a fairer approach to local taxes, which would not only ensure that people such as us, who can afford to contribute more do so, but would mean investing in the services on which people depend. That could even end early the real-terms pay cuts that are still taking place in the public sector.

Over the next few months, we will find out whether this Parliament will have the ability to exercise additional powers, to pull different economic levers, to close the gap between rich and poor in our society and to improve provision for people in it. I hope that we will see a resolute and creative approach to using all the powers that are at the disposal of the Parliament—existing and new—to ensure that those objectives are achieved.

Let me set out two particular areas in which I hope to see from the new Scottish Government a stronger line than we have seen in the past. First, the transatlantic trade and investment partnership is a long and boring name for a dramatic corporate power grab that is currently being negotiated between Europe and the United States. I know that the Scottish Government does not have a formal role in that negotiation, but it does have a voice. In the past, the Scottish Government has described that trade deal as “good news” for Scotland, and has highlighted the potential for economic benefits.

Right now, however, that trade deal is beginning to fall apart. The French Government has indicated that it will not support the investor-state dispute settlement procedures that TTIP contains and which would allow the potential for corporations to sue Governments for having the nerve to protect social and environmental standards. The French Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad said:

“We have to preserve the right of the state to set and apply its own standards ... and to allow the people of France, and the world, to assert their values.”

Scotland might not have a seat at the negotiating table, but I hope that Nicola Sturgeon will use the office of First Minister and the voice of the Scottish Government. If we do so and we galvanise public opposition to that corporate power grab, the killer blow can be dealt to it.

I turn to the second area in which I hope to see a stronger line. I hope that the Scottish Government will clarify its position on unconventional gas extraction. Concern has been expressed on the issue, including by Nicola Sturgeon’s own back benchers and by people in communities right across Scotland, but we have heard it confirmed only recently that unconventional gas developments can take place in Scotland—that they will be assessed “on their merits”.

It is clear that such developments cannot take place without planning consent, so even if we do not get additional powers to control licensing, we already have the ability to say no to the industry. Ministers will soon have to make decisions on unconventional gas developments in Scotland, and many of us will feel entitled to treat the first such decision as a test case. We do not want mere caution in this area: we want Scotland’s Government to say no, unambiguously, to what is a destructive and unnecessary new wave of fossil fuel extraction in Scotland.

I once again offer my sincere congratulations and goodwill, and my hope that the Scottish Government under Nicola Sturgeon’s stewardship will make the right decisions in all those areas.

15:25  

Meeting of the Parliament 18 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green)

“Nothing lasts forever”, said Francis Urquhart, “Even the longest, the most glittering reign must come to an end.”

Alex Salmond’s tenure as First Minister has certainly been long, by the standards of the office. While his supporters might call it glittering, and his critics might compare his record with the worst misdeeds of Francis Urquhart, the truth is probably somewhere in between. I am sure that Mr Salmond’s back benchers will understand it if all Opposition leaders feel the need to reflect on some of the lows as well as the highs.

I will start with a low so that I can end on a high; I hope that that is forgivable. I have chosen a low point that allows me to insult someone other than the First Minister. I hope that that, too, is agreeable.

The First Minister may already regret ever falling into the orbit of Donald Trump. A First Minister of Scotland should always try to recognise distinctive Scottish values, which surely embrace an egalitarian approach to life. To enter into dealings with a man who embodies the values of me, me, me, more, more, more, greed and overconsumption—nothing so much as the nauseating values of tea party America—such dealings could never have ended well. What I find bewildering is that the Scottish Government seems about to repeat those mistakes on the other side of the country. I ask the First Minister to take this last opportunity—perhaps his last act before he leaves office—finally to sever all links with that delusional bully. I fear that if he does not, not only his successor but the rest of the country will come to regret it.

Okay, on to the high point. No doubt some would expect me to cite the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009—the moment when Holyrood agreed, without a single dissenting vote, to set clear and binding emission targets. It was a moment to remember, but it was only a half measure of consensus. We agreed on the goal but never on how it was to be achieved. The high point that I credit Alex Salmond with in this area—the important contribution that I want to recognise on this occasion—is not on a target but on an idea. By putting his personal weight behind the concept of climate justice, he helped to advance an argument that will only grow in its global importance in the debate on climate change.

Ours is a wealthy country—a country that contributed greatly to the enlightenment and the industrial revolution that followed; a country that benefited from the carbon age; and, sadly, a country that has still not broken its perilous dependence on the production of fossil fuels. For such a country to argue that clean, sustainable, low-carbon economic development must be linked to justice between rich and poor, and to the human rights of those who are least responsible for climate change but most acutely affected by it and the damage that we have done and continue to do—that was an important argument to make. Alex Salmond used the office of First Minister to advance that argument and he is due great credit for doing so.

Mr Salmond brings his tenure as First Minister to an end after a referendum that has changed Scottish politics irreversibly. It did not lead to the change that we both sought, although, at 45 per cent, the level of support for independence was certainly higher than many had predicted at the start of the long campaign. The case was advanced, and I do not believe that it will retreat from that point. If and when Scotland ever asks itself that question again, it will do so from a more developed starting point, with few remaining doubts from any part of the political spectrum that Scotland has what it takes to be a successful independent country. It may be that too narrow an emphasis was placed on one particular vision of independence—on one book of answers. That may be a lesson for another time.

However, for now, although the vote went against the yes campaign, the experience has been transformational. The re-engagement with politics, the spectacular turnout, the channelling of understandable and justifiable anger with a broken political system into a constructive and positive movement for change—those are things that Alex Salmond helped to bring about. Indeed, it is possible that they could not have happened without him.

I believe that Scotland has been trying to vote for change for a long time now—in creating this Parliament; in bringing new voices into it; in trying out coalition, minority and then majority Governments; and then, finally, in testing the question of independence at the polling stations. That urge to change our politics, to build something better, will stay with us, and I have no doubt that Alex Salmond will continue to play a significant part, whether here or elsewhere, in ways that will inspire his supporters and infuriate his critics in equal measure. I thank him for his service to Parliament and to the country.

14:56  

Meeting of the Parliament 04 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green)

Since before the climate change legislation was passed, I have been concerned about this myth about Scotland’s consensus on climate change. Yes—we all voted for the targets, but there was never consensus on how to reach them or on their priority relative to other economic priorities.

Can the minister tell us what he means when he tells us today that

“RPP2 will be delivered in full”?

Does he mean that everything that is presented in RPP2 as a policy or as a proposal will in fact happen? In particular, will he heed the call to ensure that energy efficiency of the housing stock is designated as a national infrastructure priority project?



Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Patrick Harvie

I simply observe that, for someone who has been caring for a loved one in difficult circumstances through a life-shortening or terminal illness and supporting them in making that decision, and if they had confidence that they had taken proper steps in compliance with the law, the prospect of a conversation with an investigating officer might be the last of their worries, to be frank. It might be a fairly minor thing for people to contemplate if they feel that they have given their loved one the freedom to make on their own terms a decision that was profoundly important to them.



Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Patrick Harvie

I appreciate that, and I appreciate the context within which you raise that concern. I think that we are all concerned to minimise the risk of unnecessary stress or anxiety for such people. However, I again suggest that the small number of people who feel the need to assist in a suicide without a legal basis for doing so, and in the absence of legislation or a well-regulated system, are already subject to the possibility of prosecution. They will often anticipate that prospect in making the decision in what are difficult circumstances at the end of a loved one’s life. People in that circumstance face that situation at present. In the absence of legislation, people are not protected from the possibility of investigation or prosecution: far from it.



Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Patrick Harvie

Okay. Thank you.



Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Patrick Harvie

The question was asked earlier about the potential for medical failure in an assisted suicide. Have you looked into that in preparing your evidence? I am not aware that that has been a problem in other countries, including Switzerland, that already operate assisted suicide. I am a little bit concerned that we might build up the potential for such a problem.



Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Patrick Harvie

“May be” implies a lack of clarity, surely.



Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Patrick Harvie

I thank the witnesses for their evidence. I emphasise again that where there are areas where evidence suggests that a simple amendment would be beneficial, I am very open to discussing that. The argument around reporting to the prosecuting authorities instead of to the police is certainly an example of where a change to the bill would be pretty straightforward.

The general question that I would like to put is one that I put at the end of the session with the previous panel, about clarity. I ask Mr McGowan, in particular, whether there is a lack of clarity for prosecutors in reaching decisions, given the absence of legislation and of guidance on how a system of assisted suicide ought to operate, and given the great complexity of people’s individual circumstances and in relation to action or inaction? I can accept that perhaps we will never have crystal clarity given the inherently complex nature of the subject, but is it not reasonable to suggest that legislation would increase clarity for both prosecutors and individuals about what they are allowed to do and what is criminal?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
YesCarried

S4M-11567.2 Margaret Mitchell: Lowering the Drink Drive Limit—As an amendment to motion S4M-11567 in
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-11507.1 Cameron Buchanan: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11507 Angela Constance: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—Th
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11494.3 Jackie Baillie: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11494.2 Alex Johnstone: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11494 Margaret Burgess: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—That the Parliament
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11484.1 Jackson Carlaw: Human Rights—As an amendment to motion S4M-11484 in the name of Roseanna
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Patrick Harvie
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11186: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 10/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11153: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 08/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11116.1.1: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 07/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10957: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 12/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10724.2: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 05/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10307.2: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 13/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10217: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 04/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10185.3: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 02/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09926: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 02/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09872: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 29/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Patrick Harvie
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-23379: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 21/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23380: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 21/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23381: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 21/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22962: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 30/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22906: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 20/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22908: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 20/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22907: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 20/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03596: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 01/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22607: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 25/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22606: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 25/09/2014 Show Full Question >>