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Committees Sessions 1, 2 & 3

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SP Paper 634

EE/S3/11/R5

5th Report, 2011 (Session 3)

Annual Report 2010-11

CONTENTS

Remit and membership

Report

Introduction
Inquiries and reports
Bills
Innovation/Networks/Miscellaneous
Equalities
Meetings
Visits

Remit and membership

Remit:

To consider and report on the Scottish economy, enterprise, energy, tourism and all other matters falling within the responsibility of the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth apart from those covered by the remits of the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change and the Local Government and Communities Committees.

Membership:

Ms Wendy Alexander
Gavin Brown
Rob Gibson (Deputy Convener)
Christopher Harvie
Marilyn Livingstone
Lewis Macdonald
Stuart McMillan
Iain Smith (Convener)

Committee Clerking Team:

Clerk to the Committee
Stephen Imrie

Senior Assistant Clerk
Joanna Hardy

Assistant Clerk
Diane Barr

Annual Report 2010-11

The Committee reports to the Parliament as follows—

Introduction

1. During the parliamentary year from 9 May 2010 to 22 March 2011, the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee has again been busy. During this period, the Committee concluded two major inquiries and also considered a bill and other forms of legislation.

Inquiries and reports

Report on the public sector's support for exporters, international trade and the attraction of inward investment

2. Lasting six months, this major study into state support for business internationalisation came to a conclusion with the publication of the Committee’s report in September 2010.1 The inquiry investigated the current strategy and policy in the public sector in Scotland and the allocation of resources to help Scottish businesses internationalise their activities. The inquiry also looked at how these policies are co-ordinated within Scotland and with other trade promotion bodies at a UK level. During the inquiry, the Committee heard from 34 witnesses who came and gave evidence to us and considered over 40 written submissions.

3. The report’s central recommendation in relation to increasing international trade and exports is that SDI should update its strategy, its business model and the services it offered so as to focus these on ensuring that Scotland achieves a step change in the number of Scottish companies that see exports and international trade as a route to future success.

A fundamental review of the purpose of an enterprise agency and the success of the recent reforms

4. The Committee’s second major inquiry of this year looked at the current structure and purpose of Scotland’s enterprise network and reviewed the transfer of responsibilities which were announced in 2007 by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, to examine whether they had improved delivery. The inquiry report was published in February 2011.2 The report revealed geographically mixed experiences among businesses accessing support and a lack of progress particularly in bedding down Skills Development Scotland.

5. The Committee did not consider that fundamental structural reform of the network was necessary, recognising the considerable upheavals which had taken place. However, the Committee did feel that more should be done to enable businesses to access investment capital and that greater alignment of strategy and stronger leadership would be necessary to support sustainable economic recovery.

Budget scrutiny

6. The Committee also completed its scrutiny of the Scottish Government’s draft budget for 2011-12.3 A Budget Strategy Phase took place this year and the Committee made its contribution to the Finance Committee’s report4 in May 2010.

Bills

Protection of Workers (Scotland) Bill

7. The Committee also completed its consideration of the Protection of Workers (Scotland) Bill, a member’s bill. The Bill sought to provide additional protection for workers providing a service to the public. Following a division, the Committee took the view that the proposals in the Bill would not extend the protection currently available under the common law offence of assault and therefore recommended that the general principles of the Bill were not agreed to. Subsequently, the bill did not attract the support of the parliament to progress to Stage 2. The Committee’s Stage 1 report was published in November.5

Legislative Consent Memorandum on the UK Energy Bill

8. During the year, the Committee also considered a legislative consent memorandum for the Energy Bill. Following a division, the Committee recommended that the Scottish Parliament gave its consent to the UK Parliament to alter the executive competence of Scottish Ministers and/or make changes to devolved powers.

Subordinate legislation

9. In this parliamentary year, the Committee also considered nine statutory instruments, which related mainly to energy issues.

Petitions

10. During this year, no petitions were referred to the Committee.

Innovation/Networks/Miscellaneous

11. As part of its efforts to engage with key groups, the Committee hosted a seminar with the STUC looking at the challenges facing the economy and public sector finances from a trades union perspective; this was held on 12 May 2010. The Committee also co-organised – along with the Scottish Government – the 6th Business in the Parliament Conference on 11-12 November 2010.6

Equalities

12. The Committee has ensured that any meetings and events it organises reflect the Parliament’s guidance on these issues and endeavours to ensure that equalities issues are covered in any scrutiny of legislation or as part of any inquiry undertaken. For example, careful consideration was given to the selection of witnesses for each inquiry in an attempt to ensure that witnesses reflected society as a whole.

Meetings

13. During the parliamentary year (from 9 May 2010 to 22 March 2011), the Committee met 29 times, 4 meetings were entirely in private and 12 were partly in private. Of the 16 meetings where some or all items were in private, 10 were to consider draft reports or discuss the appointment of an adviser and 6 were to discuss approaches to inquiries or evidence heard.

14. Two formal committee meetings were held outside in Edinburgh during this parliamentary year. The Committee met in Aberdeen on 24 May 2010 to hear from local businesses in the oil and gas service sector and the food and drink sector - both sectors were of key interest to the Committee during its inquiry into trade and internationalisation. The Committee also met in Skye on 1 November 2010 to hear from local businesses about their experience of accessing enterprise support services and seek views on HIE’s strengthening communities remit as part of its enterprise network inquiry.

Visits

15. Members of the Committee made a number of visits during the year as part of their inquiries. In November, the Committee visited the Sleat community Trust on Skye and Rag Tag n Textile, in Kyle of Lochalsh as part of its Enterprise inquiry. Members also made visits to Catalonia; to Cardiff and Bristol; to Dusseldorf and Brussels and to Aberdeen as part of the committee’s inquiry into international trade.


Footnotes: