We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Job Losses (Dumfries and Galloway)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 5:06 pm on 16th June 1999.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party 5:06 pm, 16th June 1999

I congratulate Mr Mundell on securing this debate. One of the most important parts of debating in this chamber will be the debates under rule 5.6(c), in which members can express concerns from their area and receive assurance, which I am sure that there will be, and possibly even promises of action from the relevant minister. We look forward to that.

I also want to commend Dr Elaine Murray, who has already taken a useful initiative by inviting members for South of Scotland to meet from time to time to discuss issues. I have been slightly tardy in replying to her, but have done so now and hope that she will take the lead in convening the first of those meetings. The members from the Scottish National party will be happy to attend them and to find a consensual way of addressing the problems in the south of Scotland as far as we can.

Mr Mundell is right to say that when one talks about rural deprivation, as with land reform and other matters, the emphasis is always on the Highlands. All of us who know the south of Scotland know that there are many problems there that are similar to or more grave than the problems in the Highlands and Islands-an area that I know well-but which receive little direct attention.

However, we must not take a simplistic view of any region of Scotland. Alex Johnstone talked earlier about there being a stark difference between rural and urban Scotland. That stark difference does not really exist. There are certainly different problems in rural, urban and small-town Scotland, but they are all problems to do with people. Often they are to do with how people earn their living and how they can continue to live and work in the area that they choose or in which they were born. We must find a way to address that issue. It will be a major job for this Parliament in the next four years.

There must be concern, but also action. Mr Mundell has put together concern with a requirement and a request for action. This Parliament will be better served, because it will focus more closely on the regions of Scotland. Certainly, the fight in the south of Scotland will be helped immensely by the fact that the Government's professional mummers, Mr Brian Wilson and Lord Macdonald, who were always on hand to mourn at the funeral of jobs in the south of Scotland, are no longer with us. Mr McLeish, who will be, I am sure, of a much jollier countenance-