Willie Rennie MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Willie Rennie (Mid Scotland and Fife) (LD)

I thank the Deputy First Minister for the advance copy of the statement. Annabel Goldie is right—he has made a remarkable transformation from bad cop to good cop within the space of just one week. I hope that that continues, because the Scottish Government’s response to the Smith agreement and the subsequent publication of the clauses was deeply negative.

This is the transfer of £20 billion-worth of new taxes, with a £3 billion new Scottish welfare system, and that transfer will pose considerable challenges for this Parliament and this Government. We have seen with the establishment of Revenue Scotland the real difficulties that the transfer of only two small taxes posed to the Government and the Parliament. To avoid a repeat of those mistakes, will the cabinet secretary agree to establish a cross-party advance fiscal team to plan the effective and orderly implementation of these new, substantial powers?



Meeting of the Parliament 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
3. Willie Rennie (Mid Scotland and Fife) (LD)

To ask the First Minister what issues will be discussed at the next meeting of the Cabinet. (S4F-02536)



Meeting of the Parliament 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Willie Rennie

We know that the First Minister wants independence at all costs and at every opportunity, but that is not what the people voted for last September or what her party agreed to with Smith. It is therefore a pity that she has gone on a hunt for reasons to be miserable this morning. The vow has been met and delivered on time. This is home rule. [Interruption.]



Meeting of the Parliament 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Willie Rennie

Will the First Minister join the people who believe in partnership and say that this is a good day for the Scottish Parliament?



Meeting of the Parliament 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Willie Rennie

I say gently to the First Minister that in Smith she agreed to share universal credit with the United Kingdom Government. Now she wants to exclude the people she agreed to share with. Does she not realise how ridiculous she sounds? All we have to agree is a start date for the new Scottish system. That is not a veto—it is Governments working together. It is basic common sense.

When will the First Minister honour her part of the Smith agreement and extend devolution to local communities? Two months since Smith, there has been no action whatsoever. Last week, her most senior back bencher, Joan McAlpine, said that those who want to devolve power to local councils want to “bring down” this Parliament. Is that why the First Minister is dragging her feet?



Meeting of the Parliament 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Willie Rennie (Mid Scotland and Fife) (LD)

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. In her response to me, the First Minister selectively quoted the draft clauses that were published by the United Kingdom Government today. She read the start but not the end of clause 20(4)(b). In full, it reads:

“the Secretary of State has given his or her agreement as to when any change made by the regulations is to start to have effect, such agreement not to be unreasonably withheld.”

This is a very serious matter. I seek your advice, Presiding Officer, on how the First Minister can correct the record and correct her selective misquoting.



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Willie Rennie (Mid Scotland and Fife) (LD)

The Deputy First Minister knows that Liberal Democrats take a constructive and realistic approach to the budget process. We have voted twice for his budgets and voted against on only one occasion. That is not because we thought that each of the budgets for which we voted was perfect. They were not perfect by any means but they were good enough for our support.

The first time round, we supported the budget because we got extra money for our colleges and house building. The second time round, we voted for the budget because we got an expansion of nursery education for two-year-olds and free school meals—things that we had advocated prior to that. When we did not achieve what we wanted to achieve with our realistic and costed demands, we voted against, but we have done that only once. That will be our approach this year again.

I hope that we will have constructive discussions with the Deputy First Minister, as we have in previous years. We understand the strains and know the financial pressures. We know that the demographic time bomb that we all thought was somewhere in the distance is here now and is impacting directly on our public services. We understand the impact of poverty not only on the individuals whom it affects directly, but on the public finances. If individuals do not contribute to the economy, we cannot raise the taxes that help to pay for our public services.

We also have the additional challenge of climate change. We are all trying to grapple with that and ensure that we invest enough in the right areas.

Those three are considerable pressures, so we understand the pressures that the Deputy First Minister faces in trying to get the budget to balance. If there had been a different vote last September and Scotland had become independent, he would have an additional pressure of £7 billion this year because of the drop in the value of oil revenues.

We know the pressures and we do not need any additional pressures. I am grateful that we have the United Kingdom to maintain the investment in public services that we have grown used to in Scotland.

All that is possible because we have managed to get the economy back on track and we are getting the country working again. We have 168,000 more jobs in Scotland than we had when the UK Government came into power in 2010. That is based on a plan that SNP and Labour members said would not work. Because we have got the economy back on track—although there is still more work to be done—we also have additional Barnett consequentials, which we have to choose how to allocate. For the remainder of my speech, I will deal with what we would like to see in the budget this year.



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Willie Rennie (Mid Scotland and Fife) (LD)

I am sure that the Deputy First Minister would be disappointed if I did not raise the important point that that economic growth, employment growth and unemployment reduction are based on an economic plan that his party said would not work but which is working for Britain.



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Willie Rennie

We fully support capital spend on the upgrade of the A9. Despite making repeated promises, the Scottish Government has been backward at progressing that project, and we would like to see it accelerated, certainly on the capital side. However, today, I will talk primarily about the revenue side, which the bulk of additional Barnett consequentials will provide for.

First, we know that the national health service is under extraordinary pressure; we heard from Jenny Marra earlier about some of the pressures. I argue that the SNP took its eye off the ball during the referendum. Cancer waiting times have been missed, accident and emergency departments have been pushed to the limit and there are insufficient funds to prevent the latest charges. I welcome some of the announcements in recent days to try to address some of that, but we also need to ensure that we get the right priority for mental health as well, because that is often the poor relation in the NHS. We have additional funds from the Barnett consequentials, which we would like to be invested in the health service to deal with those particular difficulties.

Our second priority concerns childcare, which the Deputy First Minister has heard me discuss in previous debates. Last year, we made some progress, and we now have 15 per cent of two-year-olds getting 15 hours of nursery education every week. That figure will rise to 27 per cent in August. However, in England, the figure is at 40 per cent. I would like Scotland to catch up with that level, for the very reasons that Linda Fabiani talked about in relation to ensuring that that early intervention can make a real change in the lives of children, especially those from impoverished backgrounds. That is the best education investment that we can make, and that is why we advocate it.

It is with a degree of trepidation that I discuss the next item, which is student loans. It is a brave area for any Liberal Democrat to venture into these days. However, if it is the right policy to advocate, I will certainly do so.



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Willie Rennie

We advocated that there should be no tuition fees in Scotland. We know that there is a difference south of the border in terms of Government policy, but that is what we argued for. Now, we also want the threshold for the repayment of student loans to be raised. In Scotland it is £16,910 and in England it is £21,000. We want that gap to be closed. We understand that the resource accounting and budgeting charge was underspent in the past year, and we want the flexibility that that would create to be used to raise the threshold to £21,000. We think that that would benefit Scottish students, and so it is something that we support.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12160.2 Michael Matheson: Women Offenders—As an amendment to motion S4M-12160 in the name of Kez
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AbstainCarried

S4M-12160.3 Margaret Mitchell: Women Offenders—As an amendment to motion S4M-12160 in the name of Ke
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AbstainDefeated

S4M-12160 Kezia Dugdale: Women Offenders—That the Parliament welcomes the decision of the Scottish G
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YesCarried

S4M-12154.1 Lewis Macdonald: Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) – Supporting Indivi
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NoDefeated

S4M-12120.1 Jenny Marra: 2020 Vision, the Strategic Forward Direction of the NHS—As an amendment to
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NoDefeated

S4M-12101 John Swinney: Budget (Scotland) (No.4) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the general prin
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YesCarried

S4M-12095.4 Ken Macintosh: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
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NoDefeated

S4M-12095.2 Alex Johnstone: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
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NoDefeated

S4M-12095.1 Willie Rennie: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
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YesDefeated

S4M-12095 Alex Neil: Tackling Inequalities—That the Parliament agrees that a strong, sustainable eco
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NoCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Willie Rennie
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12095.1: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 19/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11993.1: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 07/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11925: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 16/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10843.1.1: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 20/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10724.1: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 05/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10430.1: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 23/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10353.1: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 17/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10214.2: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 04/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10224: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 04/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10131.1: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 27/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Willie Rennie
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4F-02536: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 19/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02516: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02478: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 11/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02462: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 08/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02419: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 21/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02395: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 17/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22974: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 03/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02301: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 26/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02286: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 22/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02245: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 07/08/2014 Show Full Question >>

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