Legislative Programme

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:30 pm on 16th June 1999.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Nick Johnston Nick Johnston Conservative 4:30 pm, 16th June 1999

Have I? Thank you, Mr Reid.

It is easy to be generous with other people's money, and it is indicative of the Executive's approach that when the First Minister was asked how his legislative programme would help industry and commerce, all he had to offer was increased public spending, which probably includes the public spending on the Holyrood project, an issue on which he seems to have got his sums wrong.

Murray Tosh and David McLetchie have laid out our policies on road tolls and parking charges. As a fellow of the Institute of the Motor Industry, I would point out that the adoption of an anti-car culture would spell the end of 400,000 jobs in the motor-related industry in the UK and 50,000 jobs in Scotland.

Rather than slam the poor motorist for more revenue, the Executive should bring forward measures to aid the people of rural Scotland who suffer from such high fuel prices and long distances to travel, and for whom the car is a necessity, not a luxury. As someone who has had to suffer the Forth road bridge every day for the past 10 years, I add my plea for a re-examination of the Fife rail routes, to allow those who want to travel by rail to do so.

Business and industry need an infrastructure to allow them to compete on level terms with our major competitors. They are entitled to ask the Scottish Parliament to introduce measures that will allow them to succeed and to make a profit, to reinvest and to continue to contribute a fair share of the tax burden. Those measures include a low-tax, entrepreneurial environment and a series of measures to encourage start-up. The uniform business rate should be retained, free from the greedy paws of local government. There must be accountability at every level, with minimum bureaucracy. Business support must be integrated at all levels and all the totally unnecessary icons of control, such as petty planning regulations and building controls, must be abolished. Finally, there must be a review of health and safety legislation.

If the Parliament follows a business-friendly agenda, we will be able to instigate the policies that we want, to banish from our society the social evils that we all want to disappear.