Keith Raffan: On interest rates, Margo MacDonald makes the mistake of lumping the whole English economy together. An interest rate of 2 per cent would probably be in the interest of large parts of the English economy, especially in the north-east and north-west.
Keith Raffan: I must say that I had hoped for more from Mr Ballard's speech. A federation is not the same as a unitary state. He should look up the "Oxford English Dictionary". There is too much confusion in the European debate over the terms "federation" and "unitary state". I find Mark Ballard's economic arguments totally indistinguishable from Miss Curran's. The Greens—the Liberal Democrats will...
Keith Raffan: No. It would not be the 3.75 per cent that the Bank of England in London set to deal with the overheated economy in the south-east of England, particularly the booming housing market. It would be much more the 2 per cent that the European Central Bank in Frankfurt set. That would give the Scottish economy a badly needed boost.
Keith Raffan: I am a bit worried about Mary Scanlon's economic illiteracy. The whole point is— [Laughter.] After the exchange rate mechanism debacle, the Tories should be laughing into the mirror. It was the Tories who totally undermined the British economy in the early 1990s, and they are the last people from whom I would take economic lessons. The whole point about a 2 per cent interest rate is to...
Keith Raffan: No, I am not giving way. [ Interruption. ]
Keith Raffan: I say to Murdo Fraser and others that what counts for the British people is the money—whatever it is called—in their pockets, not pound signs on their lapels.
Keith Raffan: No. We all know the achievements of the European Union. Sixty per cent of our trade is with the European Union and 3 million jobs depend on the European Union. Former Secretaries of State for Trade and Industry of all parties have intervened to say that by not going into the euro yet, we have lost £12 billion in trade. The Scottish Mirror was right to say this week that the longer we stay...
Keith Raffan: In a second.
Keith Raffan: I welcome the proposed extension of the European Parliament's powers of democratic control over budgets and over European legislation. I welcome the creation of a European foreign minister, which ends the uncomfortable division of responsibility between Commissioner Patten and Mr Solana. I welcome the strengthening of the regional role in the EU. I cannot do better than to quote the...
Keith Raffan: Will Mark Ballard give way?
Keith Raffan: Is Ms Curran aware that the European Parliament sacked a previous Commission? The European Parliament has the power to remove the Commission, so she is misinformed on that issue.
Keith Raffan: Will Ms Sturgeon comment on Mr Alex Neil's statement that "A Scottish economy run from Frankfurt will be no more successful than one run from London. Joining the euro would place severe limitations on the degree to which we could be independent in Europe"? She should not launch attacks on politicians of other parties when there are so many splits in her own.
Keith Raffan: To ask the Scottish Executive what the annual cost of abolishing prescription charges would be to the NHS.
Keith Raffan: To ask the Scottish Executive what the estimated cost is of reopening the railway lines to St Andrews and Leven.
Keith Raffan: To ask the Scottish Executive what estimated annual subsidy would be required for the railway service to St Andrews and Leven if the lines were to be reopened.
Keith Raffan: To ask the Scottish Executive what the estimated cost is of reopening the railway stations at Blackford, Greenloaning, Wormit, Newburgh and Methil and what the annual cost would be of keeping the stations open.
Keith Raffan: To ask the Scottish Executive what the latest estimate is of the cost of dualling the A9 for its entire length between Perth and Inverness.
Keith Raffan: To ask the Scottish Executive what representations it has received from Tayside Police and others on extending dualling of the A9 between Perth and Inverness.
Keith Raffan: To ask the Scottish Executive what plans it has to extend dualling of the A9 between Perth and Inverness.
Keith Raffan: Does the minister agree that one of the success stories of Fife NHS Board has been the number of specialist general practice nurses, who have helped to relieve pressure on the hospital sector? What measures is he taking to encourage an increase in the number of specialist general practice nurses, who do such a tremendous job in treating patients who have chronic conditions such as diabetes,...