Legislative Programme

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:33 pm on 16th June 1999.

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Photo of Andrew Wilson Andrew Wilson Scottish National Party 3:33 pm, 16th June 1999

Mr Rumbles can intervene in a minute but I will continue for a short time.

For example, the partnership agreement announced £80 million of extra spending, about half the amount of Liberal Democrat commitments during the election. The explanation for where that money came from was around 25 words. Where is the detail of where that money has come from? How can there be an announcement without telling us where the money has come from?

I will finish on the issue of the private finance initiative and public partnerships. During the election we proposed a Scottish public service trust to fund public services by the issuing of, for example, low-priced bonds on the open market, and holding services in trust for the nation. The Minister for Children and Education scoffed at that in a press release on the Sunday afterwards in a somewhat ill-informed comment. I was delighted to read the document "Pathfinders to the Parliament", the business agenda launched by Lord Macdonald of Tradeston three weeks ago. On the issue of transport, page 68, paragraph 3 states that one "idea is the early launch of a Scottish Transport Bond".

Sounds familiar.

"The Bond would bear interest at near gilt-edged rates which are much cheaper than the venture capital costs of PFI funding."

Sounds familiar.

"We believe this innovative financial arrangement should not count as part of PSBR".

Thanks very much for that endorsement of Scottish public service trusts. Maybe some of the back benchers in the Labour party who opposed PFI, such as Mr McAllion who made the statement during the election that PFI was another Tory idea living on, would do well to try to have open minds in government. If we can give the Executive any ideas and help with its research on that matter, we would be delighted to do so.

In closing, I say to the Government that a lot more substance and a lot more open minds would be useful in this legislative programme. Talk and spinning got the Government through an election campaign, but it will not get it through four years of government with a proper Opposition, which we expect to be.