Mike MacKenzie: 1. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the island areas ministerial working group. (S4O-05615)
Mike MacKenzie: Does the minister agree that the plans for a forthcoming islands bill offer a significant opportunity and hope for all Scotland’s island communities to end the regional disadvantage that they have suffered for generations?
Mike MacKenzie: I share Mary Scanlon’s concerns about the coffee and I compliment her on her efforts to improve its quality. I have observed something that might help the corporate body. On odd occasions, I have been in committees that have met very early in the day, and on those occasions the coffee seems to taste much better. I suggest that part of the problem, at least, might be that, at times, coffee...
Mike MacKenzie: I am much more optimistic than Rhoda Grant and have a better insight into the immense technical difficulty we have seen in laying cables—not least submarine cables—to many of our islands. Will the cabinet secretary explain some of the benefits of delivering high-speed broadband across the Highlands and Islands and say whether that will boost the economy?
Mike MacKenzie: Presiding Officer, I have a confession to make: I expected the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee’s investigation into the Forth bridge closure to be dull as ditch water and for us to plod through tiresome technicalities and meaningless minutes, but instead I found it riveting. My attention has been welded to the wonders of our wonderful bridges. I have become a bridge nerd. I...
Mike MacKenzie: Will the member take an intervention?
Mike MacKenzie: 4. To ask the Scottish Government what progress is being made with the dualling of the A9. (S4O-05679)
Mike MacKenzie: Does the cabinet secretary agree with me that as well as creating and retaining jobs during the construction phases, the dualling of the A9 will provide a long-term stimulus to the economy of the Highlands and Islands and improve safety for motorists?
Mike MacKenzie: Does Mr Harvie agree that to be unduly harsh with rent capping might deter investment and prevent the provision of new homes in the very areas where they are scarce and that a proportionate intervention, as suggested by the Scottish Government in the bill, is the appropriate way forward?
Mike MacKenzie: 4. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the developing the young workforce programme. (S4O-05689)
Mike MacKenzie: Can the minister outline what role businesses in the Highlands and Islands and indeed across the rest of Scotland should play in supporting the programme?