Mike MacKenzie: No, thank you. I can certify that islanders will always complain about their ferry services, often with merit, but sometimes not. They are lifeline services and it is only when people have depended on them for years—
Mike MacKenzie: —that they realise how vital those services are and how islanders can easily feel insecure about changes.
Mike MacKenzie: It matters not who sits in the boardroom—
Mike MacKenzie: Does Neil Bibby not agree that it is very common for one lawyer to say one thing and another lawyer to say another thing? That is why we have court cases.
Mike MacKenzie: Will the member take an intervention?
Mike MacKenzie: Does the member agree that if it is the case that there is a housing crisis, the blame for that rests squarely on the shoulders of one Gordon Brown, who promised to end boom and bust and ended up breaking the system?
Mike MacKenzie: I am very proud of the Scottish Government’s record on housing. As we have heard, we are on target to deliver our manifesto commitment of building 30,000 affordable homes during this parliamentary session.
Mike MacKenzie: Before I take the predictable interventions, I will say that I do not care what kind of affordable houses we build. [Interruption.]
Mike MacKenzie: The important thing is to build affordable housing, and that is what we have done.
Mike MacKenzie: Not at the moment. That is a very impressive achievement against the background of a 26 per cent cut to our capital budget. There is a world of difference between the pre-credit crunch era and the post-credit crunch era.
Mike MacKenzie: I am not even through my first minute, so I am impressed that so many members want to intervene. I must be in the right territory.
Mike MacKenzie: We have also shown the political courage necessary to bring the right to buy to an end—something that the Labour Party failed to do for many years. Those are two very significant achievements. They signal a fresh approach to housing, and a fresh approach was needed. We were unable to meet the overall established need for housing in the boom years before 2007, so a fresh approach that...
Mike MacKenzie: I will give Jim Hume my answer again, in case he did not hear it the first time: I do not care—
Mike MacKenzie: —what sort of affordable homes they are, and neither do the people who move into them. Housing debates always seem to dwell only on social housing, as if the public sector could ever solve the housing problem on its own. Opposition parties have criticised us because we are building shared equity housing—I am very surprised to hear that criticism from Tory members. The criticism ignores...
Mike MacKenzie: The stark fact is that there is an established need for 35,000 new houses per annum across all tenures.
Mike MacKenzie: I am saying that the problem in England is worse than the problem in Scotland, thanks to the good works and actions of the Scottish Government. The stark fact is that, pre-credit crunch, at the height of the boom, we were building only 25,000 new houses a year in Scotland. After the credit crunch, we have only just now worked our way back to building 15,000 new houses a year. Of course there...
Mike MacKenzie: No. I have heard enough from Alex Johnstone this afternoon. That commitment demonstrates that, even as we brace ourselves for continuing austerity and significant on-going cuts to our budget, housing is at the very top of our agenda. It also demonstrates an understanding that decent housing underpins the social fabric of our country, that it represents a vital part of our economy, and that...
Mike MacKenzie: We will not deliver an adequate supply of housing unless we have a comprehensive approach that seeks to work with public and private sector partners. I am delighted that the Scottish Government is taking that approach, and I am confident that it will deliver the new target of 50,000 homes in the next parliamentary session.
Mike MacKenzie: Will Malcolm Chisholm take an intervention?
Mike MacKenzie: I am sure that Mr Macintosh will agree with me that there is a similar but deeper and more urgent problem south of the border. That is beyond argument.