Thursday 30 September 1999
Dennis Canavan (Falkirk West): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will take action to prevent private nursing homes seeking custom by offering payments to solicitors who refer their clients for placing in the homes.
Iain Gray: All nursing homes in Scotland are in the private sector. The quality and type of care delivered in each home are subject to statutory registration and inspection by health boards. This process seeks to ensure that the care delivered in each home matches the needs of each resident. Inappropriate placements, where considerations other than needs have prevailed should not occur in this framework.
Richard Lochhead (North-East Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will publish any minutes taken during discussion with representatives of Her Majesty's Government in connection with the Memorandum of Understanding and related concordats.
Donald Dewar: No, but the texts themselves will be made public tomorrow and will be subject to debate in the Parliament before they come into effect. Copies will be available for Members in the Document Supply Centre.
Nicola Sturgeon (Glasgow) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it intends to issue guidelines governing nutritional standards for school meals.
Mr Sam Galbraith: Each education authority is responsible for the nutritional standards in the school meal service which they administer.
The Scottish Diet Action Plan Eating for Health made a large number of recommendations and included nutritional guidelines for catering specifications for the public sector, targeted primarily at pre-school and school age children.
The Scottish Executive has initiated discussions with Directors of Education and progress in this area is being monitored through inspections by HM Inspectors of Schools. We will be considering the need for any further action in the light of inspection reports.
Donald Gorrie (Central Scotland) (LD): To ask the Scottish Executive what discussions have been held to resolve the issues of dispute between teachers, education authorities and the Scottish Executive.
Mr Sam Galbraith: The Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee (SJNC) is due to meet again on 8 October. I shall keep in touch with progress.
Mr Lloyd Quinan (West of Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what plans it has to protect Scotland's maritime heritage.
Sarah Boyack: The Scottish Executive recognises the importance of Scotland's maritime heritage, and the need to protect it. For example, sites of five historic wrecks lying in Scottish waters are protected by orders made by Scottish Ministers under Section 1 of the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973. Such designation orders ensure that any investigation of the shipwrecks are carried out in a respectful and responsible way.
The Scottish Executive seeks to establish equal treatment for underwater archaeology with similar activity on land. It also aims to promote interest in, and appreciation of Scotland's underwater archaeology. In natural heritage terms there are already 19 candidate Special Areas of Conservation in Scotland, proposed under the EC Habitats and Species Directive, for a range of marine interests. The Scottish Executive is awaiting advice from its statutory nature conservation advisers on the identification of areas appropriate for classification as marine Special Protection Areas under the EC Wild Birds Directive.
Mr Kenny MacAskill (Lothians) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will detail any discussions which have taken place with Her Majesty's Treasury in connection with the reduction of the fuel duty escalator, and its social and economic impact in Scotland.
Donald Dewar: It is not in Scotland's interest for me to turn my private contacts with UK Government colleagues into public diplomacy by "sound bite". I can, however, assure Parliament that we have been second to none in standing up for Scotland's interests.
Michael Russell (South of Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what steps Historic Scotland will be instructed to take to secure the status of Iona Abbey as a place of pilgrimage as well as a place of spiritual and historical discovery for many casual visitors and tourists.
Rhona Brankin: Historic Scotland will manage Iona Abbey as professionally and sensitively as all the other religious sites in its care.
Mr Kenneth Macintosh (Eastwood) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will provide a progress report in respect of the Glasgow housing stock transfer.
Ms Wendy Alexander: Further to my announcement to Parliament during the homelessness debate on 16 September, I am pleased to confirm that, with the Council's agreement, a Steering Group is being established to oversee the next phases of the work to develop a transfer proposal. Membership will include the Scottish Executive, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Alliance, Scottish Homes and the housing association movement. The Steering Group will meet for the first time today.
Dennis Canavan (Falkirk West): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will provide full details of all occasions when members of the Executive have met with representatives of Beattie Media, including the purpose of the meetings.
Dennis Canavan (Falkirk West): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will publish and make available in the Scottish Parliament Information Centre copies of all written communications between members of the Executive and representatives of Beattie Media.
Dennis Canavan (Falkirk West): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will publish and make available in the Scottish Parliament Information Centre a summary of all non-written communications between members of the Executive and representatives of Beattie Media.
Dennis Canavan (Falkirk West): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will list full details of all contracts between public bodies for which it has responsibility, including local authorities in Scotland, and Beattie Media.
Dennis Canavan (Falkirk West): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will provide full details of all occasions when members of the Executive have met representatives of professional lobbying organisations, including the purpose of the meetings.
Dennis Canavan (Falkirk West): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will provide full details of all occasions when members of the Executive have met representatives of companies or professional lobbying organisations to discuss PFI contracts.
Donald Dewar: I refer the Member to my statement to Parliament today when I indicated that I have arranged for further inquiries to be made about the contacts and contracts between Scottish public authorities for which the Scottish Executive has responsibility and professional lobbying and public relations firms. I will wish to be assured that these public authorities' use of companies operating in these areas gives no hint of impropriety, conflict of interest or any other issue which might give rise to legitimate public concern.
Fergus Ewing (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will, pending the outcome of any investigation by the Standards Committee into the reports by the Observer newspaper of 26 September 1999 regarding Beattie Media, (a) instruct the company that they may not enter any Scottish Executive office, (b) give an undertaking that it will not meet with Beattie Media and (c) request Beattie Media that it will not seek to influence the Executive on any matter.
Donald Dewar: In their statement of Sunday 26 September Beattie Media indicated that they had no, and would wish no, influence over ministers. I would expect the company to maintain that stance.
Fergus Ewing (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether since 6 May 1999 any meetings with Ministers have taken place which were arranged with, sought by or otherwise followed requests from Beattie Media or any of the staff of that company and, if so, to specify them in a list detailing (a) the Minister (b) the date of the meeting and (c) the person or persons who arranged the meeting or meetings.
Fergus Ewing (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will name those public sector bodies for which it is responsible which have engaged the services of Beattie Media and what payments for what services have been made or are due to be paid to Beattie Media by those bodies.
Fergus Ewing (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what contact there has been between members of the Executive and Beattie Media, including its employees, in relation to (i) freight shipment rights at Prestwick Airport, (ii) development on the Lomond Shores Centre at Loch Lomond, (iii) any development within the constituency of Brian Wilson MP and (iv) youth soccer academies.
Donald Dewar: I refer the Member to the answer I gave to Dennis Canavan (S1W-1708).
Fergus Ewing (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what contact members and staff of the Executive have had with the Observer newspaper regarding the reports of 26 September 1999 and in particular whether there was any such contact with the newspaper before 26 September and, if so, whether it will specify the dates such contact took place.
Fergus Ewing (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what evidence will be made available to the Standards Committee in relation to the Observer reports of 26 September 1999 and whether it will seek to exclude, restrict or otherwise limit the production of such evidence by virtue of reliance on the Code of Freedom of Information and, if so, whether it will specify which provisions of the Code are being relied upon and for what reasons.
Fergus Ewing (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will specify the criteria which are used to determine in what circumstances Ministers will agree to a meeting with (a) MSPs of the Labour Party (b) MSPs of the Liberal Democrat Party (c) MSPs of other parties (d) special interest groups and (e) lobbyists of clients, and state whether there is any guideline as to the time within which such meetings can be arranged.
Fergus Ewing (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what steps it will take to ensure that any investigation by the Standards Committee into Beattie Media will have full access to all information which they consider relevant to their inquiries, including Ministers' diaries.
Fergus Ewing (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will instruct or request that all public bodies for which it is responsible, including Executive Agencies and Non-Departmental Public Bodies, make available to the Scottish Parliament Information Centre details of any monies which have been paid, are due, or may become due to any lobbyist organisations or company.
Fergus Ewing (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it considers that public funds should be used by public bodies for which it is responsible in the engagement of the services of lobbyist organisations or companies and, if so, for what purpose or purposes and why such services cannot be carried out by others already in the employ of the public sector.
Fergus Ewing (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it considers that self-regulation by lobbyist organisations is adequate and if so, whether it will make a statement justifying its position.
Donald Dewar: I refer the Member to my statement to Parliament today concerning Beattie Media and professional lobbying firms.
Dennis Canavan (Falkirk West): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will make a statement about the police investigation into the murder of Lawrence Haggart and indicate what action has been taken against the police officers who conducted the initial investigation.
Mr Jim Wallace: At the conclusion of Brian Beattie's trial for the murder of Lawrence Haggart the Chief Constable of Central Scotland Police immediately invited Mr James Mackay, Deputy Chief Constable Tayside Police, to conduct an inquiry into the way in which the murder investigation had been conducted and to identify any lessons arising from the case. Subsequently disciplinary procedures were initiated in respect of an officer involved in the original murder inquiry. I understand that the officer has been found guilty of two charges of discreditable conduct, not guilty of two charges of neglect of duty; and has had a third charge of neglect of duty dismissed.
Dennis Canavan (Falkirk West): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will publish the contents of the report by the Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police on the conduct of the initial police investigation into the murder of Lawrence Haggart.
Mr Jim Wallace: The Chief Constable of Central Scotland Police invited Mr James Mackay, Deputy Chief Constable of Tayside Police to conduct an inquiry into the handling of the Lawrence Haggart murder investigation. Any decisions regarding the publication of Mr Mackay's report are entirely for the Chief Constable of Central Scotland Police.
The Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police subsequently conducted a disciplinary hearing arising from the report. Disciplinary hearings are generally held in private and no record is published.
Bill Aitken (Glasgow) (Con): To ask the Scottish Executive whether the level of funding available to police boards for the next financial year will be at least at current levels in real terms.
Mr Jim Wallace: Decisions have not yet been taken on the level of funding to individual police boards for the next financial year. As announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review the total revenue funding available for the police in 2000-01 is £741.9 million which is an increase of 3.8% on this years figure. On current estimates of inflation this represents an increase in real terms of 2.36%.
Mr John Swinney (North Tayside) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what measures it proposes to take to improve the competitive position of the pig industry in Scotland.
Ross Finnie: I refer to the answer to question S1O-398, which was given in response to Mr Swinney at the Oral Question session today.
Mr John Swinney (North Tayside) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what information is required to be collected on the quality and country of origin of bacon imported into Scotland.
Ross Finnie: Imports of bacon require to meet health and hygiene production standards laid down in EU Directives. At the UK level, Customs and Excise collect data on the quantities of imported bacon by country of origin. Separate figures for Scotland are not available.
Mr John Munro (Ross, Skye and Inverness West) (LD): To ask the Scottish Executive what options are being considered in relation to the establishment of an appeals mechanism for crofters and farmers who are suffering penalties incurred from the current EU subsidy system and whether the claims mechanism when introduced will be applied retrospectively.
Ross Finnie: A review of all possible options for an independent appeal mechanism is underway. Details of the proposed arrangements will be issued for consultation by the end of the year. The European Convention on Human Rights confers no automatic rights to retrospection, but any implications by the appeal mechanism on previous decisions will be looked at.
Ian Welsh (Ayr) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will provide details of how the Scottish Office has been reorganised, what was the rationale behind this reorganisation and whether it will provide a detailed organisation chart of the new structure.
Donald Dewar: An organisation chart will be provided to SPICe shortly. A brief summary of the new structure follows:
Changes in the structure and titles of Departments making up the Scottish Executive reflect more closely the devolution settlement, the portfolios of Scottish Ministers and the collective priorities of Scottish Ministers in Partnership for Scotland. These are:
A new Scottish Executive Justice Department, bringing together The Scottish Office Home Department and the Scottish Courts Administration. It includes Criminal Justice Social Work while responsibility for Community Care passes to the Scottish Executive Health Department and for Children's Services to the Scottish Executive Education Department, as part of a newly created Children and Young People Group.
A Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department replacing The Scottish Office Agriculture, Environment and Fisheries Department and more accurately reflecting the Ministerial priority given to rural development.
A Scottish Executive Education Department with a firm continuing focus on Primary and Secondary Education, a new broader role through the creation of the Children and Young People Group, and expanded responsibility for Culture, including the arts, cultural and built heritage, architectural policy, sport and Gaelic.
A Scottish Executive Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Department comprising the Business and Industry functions of the former Scottish Office Education and Industry Department, together with responsibility for Lifelong Learning and Further and Higher Education.
The Scottish Executive Development Department will continue to be responsible for Social Inclusion, Housing, Local Government, Local Government Finance, Transport, Planning, Building Control, and European Structural Funds, with architecture and heritage issues passing to the Scottish Executive Education Department.
Fiona McLeod (West of Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive why a decision on the award of a contract to provide a training programme for social work residential workers was delayed from August to October of this year.
Mr Sam Galbraith: The contract to provide a training programme for residential child care staff requires that the successful bidder provides or facilitates a full range of education and training for all residential child care staff, including induction, vocational and professional education and training. Children in residential child care are among the most vulnerable children who are being looked after. It is imperative that the education and training for staff to serve this group of children have the best education and training that is available. This has not hitherto been the case. In view of the complexity of the task required of the successful contractor and the need to ensure that the right decision is made it has been necessary to delay the award of the contract until October.
John Young (West of Scotland) (Con): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it has any plans to honour Peter Nicol, Scotland's only individual world champion.
Rhona Brankin: Her Majesty the Queen awarded an MBE to Mr Nicol in the Birthday Honours List 1999 in recognition of his services to squash.
Mr Lloyd Quinan (West of Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive, further to the answer to question S1W-1891 by Rhona Brankin on 20 September 1999, what level of assistance will be made available specifically to Dumbarton Football Club from the Football Trust, from sportscotland, and from any other national agencies under the direction of the Scottish Executive to allow the club to complete construction of its proposed new stadium.
Rhona Brankin: I understand that Dumbarton Football Club has made an application for funding that will be considered by sportscotland and the Football Trust in November.
Christine Grahame (South of Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what stage the report into the reinstatement of the Waverley Line from Galashiels to Edinburgh has reached.
Mr Alasdair Morrison: The Scottish Borders Railway Feasibility Study started in April and is due to be completed in December. The consultants are currently conducting detailed economic, social and environmental analyses of a number of selected options for reinstatement.
David Mundell (South of Scotland) (Con): To ask the Scottish Executive what steps it has taken, following the completion of the M74 from Gretna to Beattock Summit, to address the impact on Dumfries and Galloway council of having now to maintain the landscaped areas along the length of the former A74.
Alasdair Morrison: Within the local government finance settlement,
allowances for road maintenance and associated costs are distributed
on a basis agreed following consultation with local authorities.