John Mason: In his statement, the cabinet secretary mentioned the figures of £14 million and £32 million as being the guarantee that was approved in 2016, including by the finance committee, which I do not think I was on at the time. Does that mean that £32 million is the maximum guarantee that we would be liable for in any one year, or does it accumulate in some way so that there is a higher liability?
John Mason: As a nation, we face quite a challenge with repairs and maintenance of tenement property—I should say that I live in such a property. Will the “Housing to 2040” report move us forward in that regard?
John Mason: One means of protecting jobs, in the Highlands and Islands and elsewhere, has been the furlough scheme. As I understand it, those who began a job after October do not qualify for that scheme until May. Will the cabinet secretary call on the United Kingdom Government to do something about that?
John Mason: 5. To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to reports that Aggreko is to become another large-scale Scotland-based listed company that will lose its independence through a takeover. (S5O-05134)
John Mason: Does the minister share my frustration that, when companies are taken over in Scotland, we lose the top jobs, the headquarters, the decision making, and the ancillary jobs, such as those in legal, accountancy and hospitality departments? Can the Government do anything to oppose such takeovers?
John Mason: Can the cabinet secretary expand on what will happen between now and March 2022? Can he assure us that there will be a smooth handover and that passengers will not be impacted?
John Mason: I was delighted to get the AstraZeneca vaccine on Saturday. I guess that I am slightly older than the First Minister, so I might have been vaccinated before her. Will she reassure people who have concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine because of what has been seen in other countries?
John Mason: The minister mentioned green ports. Could he expand on that point? Is he particularly looking for investment in green ports? What would the relationship be with the proposed capital investment programme?
John Mason: Whichever side of the argument one is on, is it not going into too much detail in the legislation to have that kind of thing in it?
John Mason: I agree with the member’s fundamental argument that there are only two sexes, but I wonder whether this is the best bill to put that in and whether we should put it somewhere else.
John Mason: Does Mr Fraser accept that his colleagues announcing the budget on 3 March was not exactly helpful and made it very difficult for the Government to plan ahead?
John Mason: I congratulate the cabinet secretary on reaching agreement with two other parties this year. It is good that the UK Government is continuing to borrow into 2021-22, so that both it and we can continue to deal with Covid and, I hope, help the economy to recover. I accept that it may not yet be the time to raise taxes, because we want people who have spare cash to be out there spending it as...
John Mason: 5. To ask the First Minister what the Scottish Government’s response is to the United Kingdom budget. (S5F-04877)
John Mason: The Trades Union Congress has said that the chancellor “is gambling with the recovery.” More specifically, our capital budget has been cut and was not restored yesterday. Can the First Minister say anything about that? It seems to me that capital investment—housing and other things—both creates jobs and gives us assets.
John Mason: Can the cabinet secretary confirm that the health service will receive sufficient funding for both Covid and other purposes?
John Mason: 8. To ask the Scottish Government how its welfare policies have supported low-income families with children during the Covid-19 pandemic. (S5O-05080)
John Mason: Does the cabinet secretary feel that such policies could only work in Scotland, or could neighbouring countries such as England learn from them?
John Mason: Does the member consider that the UK Government should either increase the statutory minimum wage or allow us to do that?
John Mason: I do not know whether that was Rachael Hamilton’s final speech, but I wish her well in her future career, whatever that might be. There is certainly a lot that I would agree with in the motion. We face a lot of challenges as we move forward out of Covid, but I also think that we can do so with hope and optimism. One of the themes in the motion is clearly low wages, fair work, poorer work...
John Mason: Many people want the schools to open as soon as possible, but some parents, pupils and teachers are nervous about the risks that might be in school. Can the First Minister offer any reassurance to parents, pupils and teachers in that position about personal protective equipment, testing and so on?