Mark Ballard: To ask the Scottish Executive what progress it is making in ensuring that all diesel multiple units in the First ScotRail fleet comply with the current EU Non-Road Mobile Machinery Directive (1997/68/EC) and what preparations are being made to ensure compliance with tighter guidelines to come into effect in 2011.
Mark Ballard: To ask the Scottish Executive what the estimated final cost is of the A68 Dalkeith Northern Bypass.
Mark Ballard: To ask the Scottish Executive how the estimated final cost of the A68 Dalkeith Northern Bypass was calculated.
Mark Ballard: To ask the Scottish Executive how opportunity costs, such as loss of amenity, were factored in to the estimated final cost of the A68 Dalkeith Northern Bypass.
Mark Ballard: To ask the Scottish Executive at which financial year’s prices the estimated final cost of the A68 Dalkeith Northern Bypass is expressed.
Mark Ballard: To ask the Scottish Executive whether the estimated final cost of the A68 Dalkeith Northern Bypass includes a figure for VAT and, if so, how much.
Mark Ballard: To ask the Scottish Executive whether the estimated final cost of the A68 Dalkeith Northern Bypass includes the costs of access roads, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, preparatory works, including engineering and surveying, and other associated costs.
Mark Ballard: To ask the Scottish Executive whether it considers that efforts by local authorities to meet the requirements of the EU landfill directive should focus on waste reduction and increased rates of reuse and recycling and whether these methods would be more timely and cost-effective than incineration.
Mark Ballard: I join other members in congratulating Mark Ruskell for securing the debate and for highlighting the desire of communities throughout Scotland to be reconnected to the rail network. Sandra White was right to say that it is not just rural Scottish communities that want to be reconnected to the rail network: in Glasgow, with the crossrail, and in Edinburgh, people want railway stations to be...
Mark Ballard: In that context, it is worth noting that the number of cases dealt with by the Scottish public services ombudsman has doubled between 2003 and the present day, whereas the funding has increased by only 20 per cent.
Mark Ballard: Does John Swinney share my concern that, in a demand-led institution, without the proper funding there will be delays in timetables?
Mark Ballard: Will the member take an intervention?
Mark Ballard: I welcome the work that the committee did to encourage the promoter to take into account the need to ensure that there is proper walking and cycling connectivity to stations and to renew NCR 75, but does the member share the concern that Sustrans has expressed about the slow rate of acquisition of land to replace NCR 75?
Mark Ballard: Will the minister take an intervention?
Mark Ballard: Fergus Ewing and David Davidson began their speeches by talking about the consensus that has broken out in the chamber. When they are feeling so consensual, who would I be to break that consensus? I agree that the Airdrie to Bathgate rail line is vital. It will be not just a link between North Lanarkshire and West Lothian, but a vital link between North Lanarkshire and Edinburgh, between West...
Mark Ballard: If today was supposed to be an exercise in nat bashing, as Murdo Fraser demonstrated in his delightful contribution, it went off the rails right at the start. Having heard the debate, if I was a unionist, as Murdo Fraser is, I would share his concerns about the state of the union and its preservation. Murdo Fraser and Alex Johnstone were quite right that the Executive seems to be missing the...
Mark Ballard: There has been a great increase in employment, but far too many jobs are low paid, and we still have the problem of the working poor.
Mark Ballard: That is a valid point from Alex Neil, which complements his previous point that 23 per cent of Scottish children still grow up in poverty. They do not grow up in the earthly paradise that Margaret Curran talked about. We need a proper debate on our constitutional future. Mike Rumbles made the odd comment that the Liberal Democrats have never believed in referendums. Is this the same Mike...
Mark Ballard: No. I am running out of time. I turn to opinion poll data and how and why people vote. An ICM Research poll in November asked Scots whether they believed in independence in Europe. Fifty-two per cent of Labour voters said that they did not, but 43 per cent of Labour voters said that they did, and 80 per cent of SNP voters supported independence in Europe, but 17 per cent rejected it. In fact,...
Mark Ballard: Will the member give way?