Results 1–20 of 3219 for speaker:Willie Rennie

Scottish Parliament: Economic Inactivity (27 Mar 2024)

Willie Rennie: The Scottish Women’s Budget Group’s recent childcare survey found that 55 per cent of respondents said that the challenge of managing childcare was impacting on their ability to work. In my constituency, after-school provision has closed in Newburgh and Newport, which is causing further problems for working parents. What further pressure is the cabinet secretary putting on her education...

Scottish Parliament: ScotWind Option Fees (Allocation of Income) (27 Mar 2024)

Willie Rennie: As we heard, for decades nationalists berated Margaret Thatcher for failing to create a sovereign wealth fund from oil and gas energy resources. However, now that they are in Government, nationalists have failed to create a sovereign wealth fund and have instead used almost half of the funds from wind energy resources to repair the mismanagement of their public finances. Why is it one rule...

Scottish Parliament: Ferguson Marine (Chief Executive) (27 Mar 2024)

Willie Rennie: The cabinet secretary dares to lecture us about respect, but where is the respect for the taxpayers who have had to bail out the ferry disaster to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds, or for the islanders who have had to put up with endless delays, or for the workers who have been embarrassed by the shocking leadership of this Government? Did the cabinet secretary know in advance about...

Scottish Parliament: Higher Education (Access) (26 Mar 2024)

Willie Rennie: This is a rather sensitive subject for Liberal Democrats, but—just to be clear—I point out that we voted for the abolition of tuition fees in this Parliament, and we remain opposed to tuition fees. The widening access debate goes much broader than the subject of tuition fees, and I thank the commissioner for his considered report. Progress has been made over the past few years, but it has...

Scottish Parliament: Higher Education (Access) (26 Mar 2024)

Willie Rennie: There was no implied criticism at all. We are all learning as we go along to understand exactly what works best. In Paisley and St Andrews, we have seen what can work at the two ends of the spectrum. However, we need to look at more sophisticated data—including, perhaps, data on free school meals—and we will require to have a data-sharing agreement to make sure that that works. Although...

Scottish Parliament: Higher Education (Access) (26 Mar 2024)

Willie Rennie: We also need to close the poverty-related attainment gap, and two-year-olds’ access to nursery education needs to improve quite dramatically.

Scottish Parliament: Decarbonising Buildings (21 Mar 2024)

Willie Rennie: Late last year, I attended the conference of the Energy Efficiency Association, which is an important part of that supply chain. It identified extensive delays in the awarding of grants from Home Energy Scotland and said that that was having an impact on its members’ capacity and, therefore, on the supply chain. What improvements is the minister making to the operation of Home Energy...

Scottish Parliament: Digital Devices (School Pupils) (21 Mar 2024)

Willie Rennie: T he education secretary’s predecessor, who is making a lot of noise this afternoon, made a solemn promise to the voters in 2021. He said: “These tools are no longer luxuries.” If they are essential, why has the Government deprioritised this programme, and why is it now means testing access to free laptops and devices?

Scottish Parliament: Rail Development Projects (14 Mar 2024)

Willie Rennie: On 2 November 2023, the cabinet secretary told me that we would get a response to the proposal for a train station at Newburgh, made in line with the Scottish transport appraisal guidance “in the next few weeks.”—[ Official Report , 2 November 2023; c 51.] It is now months later. When will the people in Newburgh hear whether they have been successful?

Scottish Parliament: Social Housing Waiting Lists (Disabled People) (14 Mar 2024)

Willie Rennie: The minister must know that one in four wheelchair users says that their home is not suitable for their needs, and that 17,000 of them have unmet housing needs. Many people in my North East Fife constituency are desperate for a home, yet only 1 per cent of the social housing is suitable. With 17 years of a social housing build programme, why are so many homes unsuitable for disabled people?

Scottish Parliament: Addressing Child Poverty Through Parental Employment (14 Mar 2024)

Willie Rennie: I am pleased about this debate, because I was—as is my wont—gently critical of the Government in a debate in recent weeks about the child payment. It seemed that the Government regarded the payment of the child payment as the success, rather than getting more families and parents back into work and making work pay. I am pleased to see that there is a focus on employability in a way that...

Scottish Parliament: Addressing Child Poverty Through Parental Employment (14 Mar 2024)

Willie Rennie: Let me finish my point.

Scottish Parliament: Addressing Child Poverty Through Parental Employment (14 Mar 2024)

Willie Rennie: Let me finish this point. I know—I am keen. The PVI sector offers flexibility and the extra capacity that we require, but it is also important that it provides quality. I am really worried about that point. If experienced personnel leave the PVI sector—not always to council nurseries; they sometimes leave for supermarkets, in which they will be paid more—that will result in a loss of...

Scottish Parliament: Addressing Child Poverty Through Parental Employment (14 Mar 2024)

Willie Rennie: I accept that many parents are satisfied just now. The important point is that I am predicting a problem for the future, and I hope that the cabinet secretary takes what I say in that light. The PVI sector is sending out clear warning signals that it is already losing staff. Some in the sector are reducing their capacity. We cannot do with that. We need more flexibility, because councils...

Scottish Parliament: Addressing Child Poverty Through Parental Employment (14 Mar 2024)

Willie Rennie: It is about both. There was an agreement at the beginning of the process between COSLA and the Government that the pay differential would be built into the system, so that council workers would get national terms and conditions and those in the PVI sector would get the living wage. That was built in from the start, but I completely accept Mr Swinney’s point that it has been built into the...

Scottish Parliament: Addressing Child Poverty Through Parental Employment (14 Mar 2024)

Willie Rennie: I will withdraw that offensive remark. There have been difficulties in England with the roll-out of ELC provision for working parents of one and two-year-olds, but they at least have an ambition to do more than the pilot schemes that we have here. I hope that the Scottish Government will be able to quickly roll out the programme. A lot of parents in my constituency have been inquiring why the...

Scottish Parliament: Addressing Child Poverty Through Parental Employment (14 Mar 2024)

Willie Rennie: I learned something interesting from Inclusion Scotland about work programmes for disabled people. The assessment was that the pathways to work scheme under the Labour Government, the work programme under the coalition and Conservative Governments and the fair start Scotland programme were all pretty ineffective, despite their different designs. Inclusion Scotland found that the best...

Scottish Parliament: Addressing Child Poverty Through Parental Employment (14 Mar 2024)

Willie Rennie: I omitted to mention the First Minister’s commitment when he stood for the leadership of the SNP that he would close the gap between the provision for council nurseries and the provision for the PVI sector. The education minister wrote to me yesterday and basically said that the Government will not be able to meet that commitment. Why is that the case? Why are we not making progress towards...

Scottish Parliament: Scotland’s Economy (13 Mar 2024)

Willie Rennie: There has been a lot of talk about context this afternoon. We should remember that the past 10 years have enveloped this country in chaos, from the independence referendum, which had a direct impact on the business community and our economy, to Brexit, Boris Johnson, the pandemic and the infamous Liz Truss budget. It has been a decade of political uncertainty, and the economy has been...


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