Stuart McMillan MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Stuart McMillan

The minister and I have discussed the matter inside and outside the chamber. I share the minister’s frustration at the fact that the UK Government appears not to want to talk about the issue. However, although the Smith commission proposals do not include transfer of passport control measures to Scotland, paragraph 17 of the report says that

“it may be appropriate to devolve further powers beyond those set out in the heads of agreement”.

Does the minister therefore agree that transferring those passport control powers could enable a Scottish solution to the problem, which is faced by a growing industry that has a positive effect on the economy of Scotland and, in particular, of Inverclyde?



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
13. Stuart McMillan (West Scotland) (SNP)

To ask the Scottish Government what response it has received to requests to the United Kingdom Government to meet to discuss the impact of passport control procedures on the cruise liner sector and tourism in Scotland. (S4O-03833)



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Stuart McMillan

Therefore, with regard to an overall tax policy, there is a lack of coherence and a potential lack of respect because there is a lack of understanding of the type of federal operations that you are suggesting.



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Stuart McMillan (West Scotland) (SNP)

We have heard some interesting contributions this morning, and some interesting words such as “lack of transparency”, “gaming”, “punishment”, “secret repercussions” and “lack of cohesion”. Do the panellists think that the financial elements of the Smith proposals are workable? Does the constitutional architecture exist between Scotland and the UK Government to ensure that the financial arrangements can happen?



Meeting of the Parliament 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Stuart McMillan (West Scotland) (SNP)

Will the Deputy First Minister say what the average household has saved as a result of the council tax freeze? Is he aware of the recent report by researchers at the Scottish public health observatory that states that the policy will have a positive impact on health?



Meeting of the Parliament 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Stuart McMillan

Does the minister agree that the introduction of the benchmarking tool will allow local authorities to innovate even more, because they will be able to learn from positive lessons from elsewhere in the country?



Meeting of the Parliament 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Stuart McMillan

Where would the finances come from to undertake the Green Party’s recommendation?



Meeting of the Parliament 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Stuart McMillan

Will the member give way?



Meeting of the Parliament 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Stuart McMillan (West Scotland) (SNP)

I welcome Marco Biagi to his role as Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment.

If this debate had taken place a couple of weeks ago, I would still have been a member of the Local Government and Regeneration Committee. I wanted to speak in the debate because of my involvement in the inquiry and the work that went into producing the report. I also wanted to offer my sincere thanks and express my appreciation to my former colleagues on the committee and the committee’s clerks. I think that the Local Government and Regeneration Committee’s clerks do a huge amount of work in an area that has a wide policy reach, and they are always willing—indeed, I would say that they go out of their way—to assist, and I, for one, appreciated their assistance. I know that the committee’s new members, Clare Adamson and Willie Coffey, are in good hands with its excellent clerking team.

I welcome the report and concur with what Kevin Stewart said about the move away from a centralising agenda. The fact that there has been a huge reduction in the ring fencing of funds, from £2.7 billion in 2007 to just over £200 million in 2013-14, highlights the extent of the change that has taken place in that area. I understand the politics of why the claim is occasionally made that the Government has a centralising agenda. The reduction in the amount of ring fencing highlights that the exact opposite is the case.

Furthermore, there has been a change in how the Government and local authorities work together. More joined-up working now takes place and legislation has been passed in the Parliament that has enabled local authorities to work in different ways from how they used to work. A good example of that is the introduction of self-directed support.

In my opinion, politicians—regardless of their colour—are custodians of the public purse and should always attempt to get the best value for the public pound. We need to work to serve the public to enable them to access the best possible services. Within the finite resources of the Parliament, progress has been made in making changes to service delivery, but we all agree that there is still a long way to go.

Despite the budgetary pressures that are a result of Westminster cuts, local government has been treated fairly under the SNP Government. The local government finance settlements have been maintained from 2012 to 2016 on a like-with-like basis, and extra money has been provided for new duties. That has resulted in a total settlement that, in 2014-15, amounted to more than £10.6 billion and which, in 2015-16, the current budget process is set to increase to almost £10.8 billion. The fact that the local government finance settlements have been maintained was reflected in last year’s vote on the settlement, in which no member opposed the funding package for local authorities.

Between 2007-08 and 2012-13, the resources within the Scottish Government’s control increased by 6.4 per cent. Over the same period, local government’s budget increased by 8.9 per cent. That demonstrates that strong financial settlements have been agreed with local government during challenging financial times.

Much of the work that the committee has undertaken has not been carried out in isolation. Over the course of the parliamentary session, it has undertaken a number of inquiries on public service reform. Its strand 1 inquiry was on partnerships and outcomes, its strand 2 inquiry was on benchmarking and performance measurement, and its strand 3 inquiry was on developing new ways of delivering services. The committee has also considered the implications of procurement reform for public services and community regeneration. Every area of activity seemed to fall into the realm of other areas of local government activity, which reinforced for me just how broad local government activity is.

The report that we are talking about focuses on a few areas. I will talk about strand 1. We considered whether size matters and how many councils, councillors and wards we need. Scotland has a lower number of councillors per head of population, so that was a legitimate area to consider.

When we read articles about how good local government is elsewhere, our judgment about what we have can be clouded. However, given our multimember wards and the improved working partnerships with other bodies that are a consequence of health and social care integration and the use of community planning partnerships, the committee considered that structural change to local government should not happen at this time. The evidence was clear that people outside academia and COSLA are less concerned about the number of councils and councillors, the size of wards and so on than they are about the services that are delivered to communities and the level of dialogue that they have with their representatives.

Willie Rennie talked about the referendum debate and votes for 16 and 17-year-olds, and I agree with him that there has been a significant increase in political engagement. We must ensure that that engagement continues. Part of that is about showing the impact that local authorities have on people’s everyday lives, whether we are talking about children’s education, a cleaner environment or protection for the vulnerable.

I am conscious of the time, Presiding Officer, so I will close. I welcome the report and this debate. I know that the committee’s work will continue to inform the debate about flexibility and autonomy in Scotland’s local government.

15:36  

Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Stuart McMillan

Thank you. Gavin Brown mentioned Professor Bell. Professor Michael Keating, however, suggested in his submission that the proposals for devolution of welfare are “piecemeal” and lack coherence. Does Mr Brown agree with Professor Keating?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11901.3 Neil Findlay: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
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NoDefeated

S4M-11901.1 Mary Scanlon: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11830.2 John Swinney: The Smith Commission—As an amendment to motion S4M-11830 in the name of Ru
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YesCarried

S4M-11830 Ruth Davidson: The Smith Commission—That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the Sm
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YesCarried

Amendment 6 moved by Dr Richard Simpson on motion S4M-11826 Maureen Watt: Food (Scotland) Bill—That
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NoDefeated

S4M-11825.3 Claire Baker: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
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NoDefeated

S4M-11825.2 Jamie McGrigor: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the
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NoDefeated

S4M-11825.1 Tavish Scott: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
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NoDefeated

S4M-11825 Richard Lochhead: End of Year Fish Negotiations—That the Parliament welcomes the successfu
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11763.3 Margaret Burgess: Private Sector Rent Reform—As an amendment to motion S4M-11763 in the
>> Show more
YesCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Stuart McMillan
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11726: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11663: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11659: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11594: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11577: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11491: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11232: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11231: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11058: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10998: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Stuart McMillan
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03833: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02425: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23261: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03732: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03663: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03641: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03598: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03502: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02210: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21729: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/06/2014 Show Full Question >>