Jim Mather: Given that, at the recent annual dinner of the Confederation of British Industry, Gordon Brown said that the debate on tax has moved from harmonising internal rates to tax competition and being competitive in a global economy, why does the First Minister believe that Scotland can progress without the power to compete on tax?
Jim Mather: To ask the Scottish Executive what recent steps have been taken with Her Majesty's Government to formulate policies and strategies to ensure that Scottish economic growth matches that achieved by the rest of the United Kingdom. (S2O-18)
Jim Mather: What additional steps will the minister take if, as is forecast, such convergence of economic growth rates does not take place?
Jim Mather: For some time, I have been identifying the impact that low economic growth has on real people in terms of lower incomes, poor health, lower life expectancy, family separation and population decline. Although I welcome the fact that the coalition, in its partnership agreement, has bowed to SNP pressure to focus on economic growth, that in itself is not enough. Scotland's Government must...
Jim Mather: To ask the Scottish Executive what steps are being taken to close the gap in economic growth rates between Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Jim Mather: To ask the Scottish Executive what steps are being taken to close the gap in average weekly incomes between Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Jim Mather: To ask the Scottish Executive whether it has a target date by which average weekly incomes in Scotland will converge with those in the rest of the UK and, if so, what that date is
Jim Mather: To ask the Scottish Executive whether it has a target date by which average weekly incomes in the Highlands and Islands will converge with those in the rest of Scotland and, if so, what that date is.
Jim Mather: To ask the Scottish Executive what steps are being taken to close the gap in average weekly incomes between the Highlands and Islands and the rest of Scotland.
Jim Mather: To ask the Scottish Executive what plans there are to improve the local provision of surgical and accident and emergency services to patients who live to the north and west of the Vale of Leven District General Hospital, given the planned closure and reduction respectively of these services at that hospital.
Jim Mather: To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will set a target for economic growth in 2003-04 and 2004-05 and what the reasons are for its position on the matter.
Jim Mather: To ask the Scottish Executive what lessons have been learned in promoting economic development in 2002-03 and what new and remedial measures arising from any such lessons are now being taken.
Jim Mather: To ask the Scottish Executive what plans there are to learn from Ireland's approach to the economic development of towns and cities of its west coast area in order to help the Highlands and Islands and other rural and deprived areas.
Jim Mather: It is difficult for me to persuade myself that I was ever as confident and energetic as today's bright young Scots. However, many Scots youngsters are not as confident, well educated or motivated as they could be. On behalf of all young Scots, I ask the Parliament to support the SNP amendment because, in the post-war years, successive generations of our young people have been let down by the...
Jim Mather: I am talking about the vast number of people who are pushed on to incapacity benefits. At the weekend, we saw data that suggested that 100,000—not 20,000—people are on benefits in the west of Scotland and that, in one family in four, no one is in work. That is part of the issue. Of course, some members will say that, in spite of those figures, many poor youngsters are better off than...
Jim Mather: I am suggesting that many people in difficulty are having to play a game—one that the Tories invented. A mutant and deviant economy has been created in Scotland—Mary Scanlon knows it and I know it. As I said, the benefits system and social inclusion initiatives alone cannot provide a solution, just as the initiatives outlined in "A Smart, Successful Scotland" cannot provide a solution to...
Jim Mather: The reality is that we have higher unemployment, lower wages, limited opportunities and pervasive poverty in Scotland.
Jim Mather: What does the member suggest as a positive option? What is the Labour party's positive option that would turn that situation round? The Labour party has institutionally trapped people in poverty—what will it do to protect them?
Jim Mather: To ask the Scottish Executive what extra steps will be taken—I am asking this question as a supplementary.
Jim Mather: To ask the Scottish Executive what extra steps will be taken to encourage at least one ferry operator to tender for the Campbeltown to Ballycastle route.