Point of Order

– in the Scottish Parliament at 10:00 am on 17th May 2000.

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Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party 10:00 am, 17th May 2000

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Will you advise the chamber whether you have received notice of a ministerial statement to explain the Executive's sudden, albeit welcome, change of policy on section 2A?

Photo of Tom McCabe Tom McCabe Labour

On the same point of order, Presiding Officer. There is perhaps good reason for a fuller explanation, Sir David. An amendment was lodged with all-party support. The committee asked the minister with responsibility to consider the matter and he has done so. I am pleased to say that the amendment received all-party support in the committee. The Executive's view is that there is a good case for people taking time now to consider the situation. It is very easy for people to misinterpret this situation. The committee has spoken and passed its view, and the entire chamber will have the opportunity to discuss this at stage 3. Therefore, the Executive does not think that a statement is necessary.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

The answer to the point of order is that I have not received a request to make a statement.

Glasgow RegenerationThe Presiding Officer (Sir David Steel): We move now to the debate on motion S1M-858, in the name of Wendy Alexander, on Glasgow regeneration, and on two amendments to that motion. I remind members that the first part of the debate will end at 12 noon, and that the second part will commence after lunch. I invite members who wish to speak this morning to press their request-to-speak buttons now. They will not necessarily all be called—some will be held over until this afternoon—but it would help the chair to know who would like to speak this morning.

I call Wendy Alexander to speak to and move the motion.

Photo of Wendy Alexander Wendy Alexander Labour 10:06 am, 17th May 2000

On the day on which the Parliament meets for the first time in Glasgow—many of us hope that it will not be the last—it is right to start with the future of this great city.

Not far from here, in the Briggait, which is at the far end of Clyde Street, on the site of the old fish market, there is a distinctive tower. The purpose of the old tower was to give a vantage point to see ships— [Interruption.] Members should not worry, as it was not to shoot people from; it was not for defensive purposes. The purpose of the tower was not to take pot shots from but to allow people to see ships coming up the river and spot the new trade in those days. Three hundred years ago, when trade was opening up with the new world, tobacco and textiles were the market leaders of the economy of their day.

In even earlier times, in Molendinar, where I am going later today to open new houses, the Moldendinar burn flowed into the River Clyde, at an intersection that was one of the best salmon fisheries in the land. The horizons of opportunity kept changing and Glasgow kept changing with it.

Those of us who come from Glasgow are, of course, hugely committed to it. For the first time in the chamber I declare my own interest: I am a Glaswegian. However, as a minister in Scotland's first Executive, I am totally convinced that what is good for Glasgow is also good for Scotland—it has always been so. Furthermore, as a Labour minister, I am determined to give new horizons to a city that has always been loyal to Labour, just as we have striven to be loyal to it.

Glasgow, second city of the empire in the 19th century, can, in the 21st century, once again spot the new horizons and become the standard bearer of the new Scotland. Many members know the city well, with its heady mixture of an ancient, medieval university, a pre-reformation cathedral, the Victorian legacy of confident architecture as well as its despairing peripheral estates and poor health record. All too often, the headline writers have been hard on Glasgow, but Glasgow deserves better. The city deserves to be known not as the victim of some heroic yet cruel past, but as a place of vast potential for all her citizens. The "no mean city" of the 20th century is giving way to the cutting-edge city of the 21st century.

As we know, Scotland's headline writers have not only been hard on Glasgow, but in recent months have echoed with the cry: "What has this Parliament done for us?" Today, I want to answer that question for all Glaswegians, particularly for those loyal Labour voters who looked forward to home rule as a strategy for better homes, schools, hospitals and more jobs. I want to lay out our vision for the new Glasgow—the story of a renaissance that has just begun.

Big problems need big solutions. From the biggest housing project in Europe, to the biggest schools building programme in Britain, to Scotland's biggest industrial company bringing jobs to this city, we are turning it around.

In the struggle for justice and decency through the years, the city of Glasgow has been a battleground. The past battle honours of the Labour party would have had inscribed upon them the names of battles fought and won in the name of decency and fairness: Pollok, Castlemilk, Drumchapel, Easterhouse. Those were battles fought to escape the overcrowding and unsanitary conditions that went before. Yes, mistakes were made and things could have been done better, but that is all said with hindsight. At the time, those names pointed to great struggles won by the Labour party seeking to serve Glasgow. Today, we seek to serve Glasgow in new ways.

Photo of Dorothy-Grace Elder Dorothy-Grace Elder Independent

The minister must recognise that those were not mere housing mistakes. Her loyal Labour voters in Glasgow have suffered abject misery in wretched schemes for 40 or 50 years. Labour has had plenty of time to rectify that.

Photo of Wendy Alexander Wendy Alexander Labour

That is why we do not want the small solutions that come from small minds.

Our radical housing plans aspire to an ambition laid out nearly a century ago by John Wheatley, when he proclaimed

"the prime aim of Labour's Housing Policy is not to rescue people from the slums but to prevent them from ever getting there".

John Wheatley would have no truck with those people who place ideology and nostalgia before a new beginning. He sought housing fit for the 20th century and we seek housing fit for the 21st century. We need a big project, worthy of the city's proud past and the key to its new future. This is redistribution on a large scale: the lifting of the debt, new investment of—on average—£16,000 per house, guaranteed security of tenure and the promise of new jobs. To those who say wait, I say the city has waited long enough.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

Does the minister agree that her proposals, which have not been finalised, would release £1.6 billion over a period of 10 years? Is she aware that, between 1982 and 1997, this city had £2 billion invested in it? On that basis, what makes her great, grand project any different from the failed policies of the 1980s?

Photo of Wendy Alexander Wendy Alexander Labour

It is different because instead of acting for the people, we are going to let them act on their own behalf. Let me make this real for the critics: the inaugural meeting of the interim board of the Glasgow housing association took place last Friday. No minister was present for the main deliberations; six tenants were at the table, and one of them was elected to the chair.

Later today, we will go to Molendinar to open 61 new homes. That is the way of the future, and there is a chance to vote next year for 90,000 new and modernised homes. Today, we are announcing a further £12.5 million to make real that commitment. Together, we can create something that all Scotland can be proud of, and something that future generations will be proud to inherit. Where Glasgow leads, others will follow.

The new Glasgow is not just about hope for housing; it is also about excellence in education, in a city where, for so many years, brawn not brains paid the household bills. For Glasgow's children, their and their families' future depends on lifelong learning. Broken buildings, peeling paintwork or crumbling masonry disrupt and discourage learning.

Glasgow City Council has acted to deliver 11 brand-new secondary schools, 18 refurbished secondary schools and world-beating information and communications technology for all her pupils, to destroy the digital divide in this city before it destroys the life chances of its children.

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

Would the minister care to comment on the secret plans of Glasgow City Council that have supposedly been drawn up in consultation with the Scottish Executive to close 48 primary schools, a fifth of Glasgow's primary schools? Would she care to comment on the impact that that would have on class sizes across Glasgow?

Photo of Wendy Alexander Wendy Alexander Labour

Small minds, small solutions. This is from the woman who told us that the national grid for learning was not needed and that our secondary schools did not need rebuilt.

Let me turn to health. Glasgow's health challenges are well known. The city had the vision in the last century to pipe Loch Katrine's water to purge cholera from its closes. Today, we need the same vision to plan for tomorrow's hospitals. Too often, patients are left to trek around scattered departments in obsolete and shabby buildings, just to face delays and postponements. We can do better.

That is why Glasgow's health organisations have come together as never before to take a fresh look at health services in their city, to modernise NHS services to meet the changing needs of patients and the changing demands of medicine, to deliver more convenient, flexible and responsive services.

Photo of Sandra White Sandra White Scottish National Party

The minister mentioned modernising the health service. Does that include closing down the heart transplant unit at Glasgow royal infirmary? is that what she calls modernising?

Photo of Wendy Alexander Wendy Alexander Labour

It is not closed. [Interruption.]

Photo of Wendy Alexander Wendy Alexander Labour

Let us not scare people, let us come to the nub: small solutions for small minds.

Let me explain the issue in reorganising Glasgow's health service. Under the proposals that are now before us, more than 85 per cent of visits that Glaswegians make to their hospitals will still be in facilities close to their homes. As well as that, the people of Glasgow have the right to access world-class care and treatment in centres of excellence for once-in-a-lifetime emergencies or vital operations, when only the best will do. We have a chance to work for patients in Glasgow.

I will now turn to jobs. My colleague Henry McLeish will say more about jobs this afternoon, but, after a generation of decline, we have jobs growth in this city once again. Glasgow's sickness has been worklessness. It has crippled lives and has brought depression, despair and isolation. However, we are turning Glasgow around by an economically led regeneration strategy—another big solution. Since Labour came to power, unemployment is down by 25 per cent across Scotland. However, in the Baillieston, Maryhill and Rutherglen constituencies, it is down by more than 30 per cent. Long-term youth unemployment has been halved in every single constituency in this city.

The Parliament is starting to deliver for Glasgow: homes, schools, hospitals and jobs. We are supporting Glasgow in renewing itself. Many people here will remember, in 1993, in this chamber, the founding of the Glasgow regeneration alliance. Working with Scottish Homes, Glasgow Development Agency, Greater Glasgow Health Board, the private sector, the voluntary sector and the police, that has grown into Glasgow alliance, which is setting a new vision for the city. We intend to work with it. However, we also need to engage better the citizens of Glasgow in the regeneration of their city. Last year, the first citizens panel said that crime was the No 1 priority. Strathclyde police is now involved in the board of Glasgow alliance.

The next big issue was drugs. Tomorrow sees the start of the Glasgow's people's juries—three juries on tackling drugs, one of which is made up of young people. Each jury will make recommendations. However, it is not just about talk. In the autumn, the juries will reconvene, when the responsible agencies in this city and beyond will report back on the steps they have taken to act on the recommendations of the juries.

I can announce today that greater Easterhouse, the east end, north Glasgow, greater Pollok, Govan, Gorbals and Drumchapel will get almost £1 million over two years to put their communities at the heart of local plans for anti-drugs work. We want to see local family support groups, parental and community awareness events and school projects.

Photo of Wendy Alexander Wendy Alexander Labour

No, let me finish.

Glasgow's big problems deserve big solutions. Devolution is delivering for Glasgow: homes, with the biggest housing project in Europe; hospitals, with the largest ever sustained funding increase for the national health service and a new maternity hospital; schools, with the biggest school building programme in Britain; jobs, with youth unemployment halved and employment growing once again. A lot has been done but there is a lot still to do.

Photo of Wendy Alexander Wendy Alexander Labour

Labour—indeed, new Labour, if you like—is about that old, old story of how Glasgow finds new horizons; how Glasgow harnesses the new economy for the new century. It is a very human story. Glasgow will flourish with new growth and will blossom with new beginnings. We are delivering.

I commend the motion to the Parliament.

I move,

That the Parliament endorses the wide-ranging action being taken by the Executive to ensure that all of the key agencies work together with the citizens of Glasgow to tackle the deep-rooted challenges facing the city; recognises the excellent work being done by the key players who form the Glasgow Alliance and the role they have to play in tackling these challenges; and notes the part the Executive has played in supporting the significant developments which will prepare Glasgow's economy, housing, education provision and hospitals for the 21st century.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party 10:22 am, 17th May 2000

I hope to cut out the clichés and to talk a wee bit more directly about the regeneration of this city. In doing so, perhaps I shall bring a bit of Zen into the debate, as is customary in my presentations. I take great pleasure in speaking to the amendment in my name, S1M-858.1, before the chamber today. Here, in the holy city of Glasgow, second city of the empire, and on behalf of the SNP, I would like to thank Glasgow City Council for generously allowing us the use of its facilities. I hope that we do the lord provost justice.

I start by thanking the Minister for Communities for her contribution this morning. She combined her by now customary mixture of sincerity and spin. Her sincerity of belief is not in question, but the spin applied would be enough to make a trapeze artist lose his or her bearings. Listening to the minister, I am left wondering whether the coalition parties truly understand the complexity of the problems facing this great city and whether they understand the size and nature of the task confronting us.

It is unfortunate to open on a negative note, but it is important that, if this debate is to mean anything to ordinary Glaswegians, we must not hide behind false consensus or manufactured agreement. Glaswegians are tired of being patronised. They may not all understand fully, or care for, terms such as social exclusion, but they understand what it means to be working class and poor, and what it will take for Glasgow's new-found prosperity to be shared by all its people.

Glasgow is a city divided: between those who enjoy the premier lifestyle of the city's more prosperous residents and those who are relegated to the peripheral estates; between an affluent west end that enjoys the highest quality of life and a devastated east end, in which quality of life is merely an aspiration, or an ambition for a future generation. What unites Glaswegians is belief—belief in themselves and in the city that they are proud to call home. The people of Glasgow know that, through their own efforts, they have dragged their city back from the brink. They know that Glasgow is still the greatest city in Scotland. They know that despite the complex issues that Glasgow faces, the city is still capable of achieving greatness in the future.

Sometimes, when we listen to commentators and pundits talk about Glasgow, it is as if the problems that beset the city are of its own making. It is as if the decisions that were taken by the Scottish Office in the 1960s and 1970s to focus manufacturing investment outwith Glasgow and in our new towns were Glasgow's fault. It is as if the economic downturn and shift in policy, which has cost the city 75,000 manufacturing jobs since 1974, was somehow an act of God, visited upon a recalcitrant people.

There has been little or no debate on why Glasgow was allowed to slide throughout the 1970s and 1980s and on why Glasgow's reinvention as a service sector city was perceived as the only route open to it. Today, I will offer a critical analysis of why past, and indeed much of current, Government policy is failing the citizens of Glasgow. Through that, I hope to offer a positive vision of where Glasgow can be in the years ahead. Before that, I offer a helpful definition of terms. I make a distinction between city and citizens not out of pedantry, but because the difference is vital to understanding the problems and, as important, finding the solution.

The strategy for reinventing the city has, clearly, been a success. As mentioned earlier, the city centre, west end and parts of the south side are as prosperous and successful as any part of Scotland. Employment growth in tourism—albeit often in low-wage, low-skill and seasonal employment—and the booming media and creative sectors are all testimony to those who pioneered Glasgow as a city of arts and culture as well as a city of industry.

Glasgow has consistently recorded the highest economic output of any unitary authority in Scotland. The most accurate calculation available of gross domestic product estimated that Glasgow's economic output was £8.7 billion, which represents more than one sixth of Scottish GDP. Industries that show strong actual and potential growth in Glasgow include transaction processing, call centres, software and opto-electronics.

Employment in transaction processing activities increased by 26 per cent over three years. The number of software companies in Glasgow has increased from 80 in 1993 to 300 now; over that period, aggregate sales turnover of software companies increased by 60 per cent and employment by 250 per cent. The number of bioscience companies has also increased, from 10 to 38.

In the growth industries such as call centres, Glasgow has carved out a dominant niche position. Glasgow's 59 call centres represent half of all Scottish call centres and 45 per cent of all call centre employees in Scotland. Scottish Enterprise estimates that Glasgow will capture most of the 21,000 call centre jobs that are expected to be created in Scotland over the next two years.

Glasgow is now the media and culture capital of Scotland. The two big broadcasters, the BBC and Scottish Television, are based in Glasgow, while more than half of all jobs in radio and television are located in the city. Eight of Scotland's daily newspapers are printed here, an increase from three 10 years ago. Over 40 feature films have been produced in Glasgow in the past four years, contributing an estimated £10 million to the city's economy each year.

Glasgow has 46,500 students in higher education, including 8,500 postgraduate students. The city boasts 34 per cent of Scotland's higher education student population and 3.3 per cent of the UK's; for postgraduates, those figures are 39.5 per cent and 3.7 per cent respectively. The three Glasgow universities are a vital part of the city economy, with total annual revenue of around £370 million, and employ 10,000 people. However, I sound a note of caution: many service jobs are taken by students who are trying to survive without a grant and that has led to the displacement of those who would otherwise be in employment.

The successes are there to be seen and praise is due to the politicians, public servants, entrepreneurs and citizens who have made them happen. Equally, the failures of the strategy must be acknowledged if we are to move forward. The city and its image may have been transformed, but for tens of thousands of ordinary Glaswegians, that might as well have happened on the moon. The story of Glasgow is of a city enjoying its reinvention and celebrating its return from what was once seen as terminal decline, and a citizenry for many of whom life is increasingly unbearable.

That is why the debate today must focus on the people who live in this great city. It must focus on what we will do to bring a share of the future to all of Glasgow's citizens. It must reject right-wing socio-economic dogma and the attempt to create a false definition of a deserving and an undeserving poor. It should bury the lie that the people of this city are somehow responsible for the economic and social conditions that are assailing them.

We should concentrate today on moving forward, on learning from the mistakes of the past and on ensuring that those lessons are applied to public policy for Glasgow in the future. Today, I will concentrate on employment, infrastructure and housing. There is much more that I would like to say on health, education, transport, enterprise and so on, but I will leave that to my colleagues.

On researching today's debate, I came across evidence submitted to the House of Commons Employment Sub-Committee by David Webster, the chief housing officer at Glasgow City Council, on the jobs gap in Glasgow. As part of that substantial body of work, Mr Webster did a comparative analysis of jobs lost and created in Glasgow from 1981 to 1991. The analysis concluded that not only was the number of jobs lost greater than the number created, but the new jobs were not comparable to those lost. The only sector to experience substantial growth in that period was the senior managerial and professional sector, while the greatest jobs losses occurred in the skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled sector. The net figure of jobs lost and gained in the city masks a greater problem: the people losing jobs are highly unlikely to fill the jobs created.

According to Glasgow City Council's figures, 27 per cent of the resident work force in Glasgow have no qualifications and only 16 per cent gained three or more higher grades in 1997 and 1998. According to Glasgow's careers service, 22 per cent of Glasgow's school leavers are still unemployed four months after leaving school, compared with 4 per cent in Edinburgh. That gap between the qualifications and the experience of the citizens, combined with the type of job being created, has led to half of the jobs in Glasgow being filled by non-Glasgow residents. According to the "Glasgow Economic Monitor", that trend is set to continue. In 1981, 63 per cent of the city's work force lived in the city, but that figure had fallen to 51 per cent by 1991. By 2007, it will fall to 45 per cent. An additional 25,000 commuters are expected between now and 2006.

Mr Webster goes on in his evidence to demonstrate that, despite the fact that Glasgow has seen a significant upturn in its economic fortunes, real unemployment remains stubbornly high across the city. By measuring economic activity as well as unemployment levels, Webster comes up with a figure that he describes as real unemployment. Economic activity measures the percentage of the population within working age and economically active. The "Quarterly Labour Force Survey" moving average for 1999, which is the most accurate estimate available, gives the average economic activity for Great Britain as 79.6 per cent, 77.8 per cent for Scotland and 64.6 per cent for Glasgow. Glasgow's economic activity rate is 15 per cent below the British average and 13 per cent below the Scottish average. If that 15 per cent is presumed to be hidden unemployment and added to Independent Labour Organisation unemployment of 13 per cent, there is a real unemployment rate for Glasgow of 28 per cent. In 1997, Glasgow's unemployment rate was the eighth worst in Britain. It is now the worst.

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

Order. There is a lot of ambient noise, which makes it difficult for members to hear. Conversations should be kept fairly quiet.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

Is it not the case that that clamour was coming from the Labour benches? Perhaps the reason for that is that Mr Gibson is presenting too many hard-hitting facts for the Labour group. We should recognise that we had only platitudes from the minister. While I do not agree with everything that Mr Gibson has said, at least he is presenting the facts and the figures.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

I thank Mr Gallie for that useful intervention. Perhaps I should slow down for the hard of thinking.

The figure for real unemployment of 28 per cent is down only 2 percentage points on the 1997 figure and only 1 point on the estimated figure for 1991. During the last 10 years, real unemployment in Glasgow has stuck firmly at around 28 per cent. That demonstrates that the jobs gap identified by Webster for 1981 to 1991 is still relevant and that the election of new Labour and the introduction of supply-side measures such as the new deal have not dented Glasgow's real unemployment level.

The problem for new Labour and the coalition is that supply-side measures such as the new deal and the working families tax credit can work only where there is employment demand. The reality for large parts of Glasgow is that there is no employment demand for those who live there, given the skills that they possess.

If the Government accepts that, it must also accept that training people for non-existent jobs is a con and that announcing tax incentives to go to work when there is no work available is even worse. The only alternative would seem to be to take the advice of Norman Tebbit—and now, presumably, of Gordon Brown—and do what 400,000 Glaswegians have done in the last quarter of a century: get on your bike.

That cannot be the solution, however. The devastating effect that outward migration has had on Glasgow has been well documented. Public policy towards Glasgow must recognise that programmes such as the new deal will not eliminate endemic unemployment in Glasgow. We need to channel resources into the infrastructure of Glasgow and change the nature of the argument.

As members will be aware, Glasgow has the highest rate of derelict and vacant land of any local authority in Scotland. According to Glasgow City Council, 9.1 per cent of land is vacant and half of that figure has been in that condition for 10 years or more.

Photo of Frank McAveety Frank McAveety Labour

I would like to make a contribution to Kenny Gibson's speech, to suggest some of the solutions that he is trying to get to. He has listed a series of concerns. Will he say what the agencies in Glasgow are doing, led primarily by the Labour-dominated Glasgow City Council, in addressing many of the issues that he is concerned about? They are trying to tailor their regeneration, education and housing strategies to the kinds of concerns that he has raised.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

Thanks for that speech. If Frank McAveety had listened instead of talking to his colleagues during the first two thirds of my contribution, he would have realised that I am getting to the solutions.

Half of the derelict land has lain in that condition for 10 years or more. Bringing such land back into productive use is a key requirement for regenerating the city. Vacant and derelict land often correlates directly with the worst areas of unemployment in the city. Bringing it into productive use would create employment potential in the areas in which it is most required. Tyne and Wear, Sheffield and West Lothian are examples of striking success in doing that. Indeed most cities in England and Wales now place strong emphasis on promoting manufacturing and related service employment through site development. It is not accidental that most comparable English cities—Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester—have benefited more than Glasgow from the economic upswing of 1994 to 1999. Indeed, in Glasgow the Govan initiative has been very successful through land reclamation and the establishment of business parks and purpose-built accommodation. Why cannot the rest of Glasgow follow suit?

The experience of the new towns shows that provision of purpose-built units with good infrastructure is a powerful incentive to investment. Resources currently ploughed into the new deal in Glasgow would be better spent on developing the city's infrastructure. The completion of the M74 northern extension is central to that infrastructure. I know that Glasgow City Council supports that, as do Scottish Enterprise Glasgow and the Glasgow chamber of commerce, among others. All have expressed extreme disappointment that the M74 northern extension will not be completed as previously agreed. Planning permission was granted in 1995. At present the M74, the main corridor linking Scotland and England, runs 100 miles from the border and then stops in a field in Cambuslang. Extending the M74 into Glasgow is crucial for the economic development and continuing vitality of the city. Failure to extend the M74 is a lost opportunity to redevelop huge areas of vacant and derelict land in south-east Glasgow and Rutherglen.

Photo of Janis Hughes Janis Hughes Labour

I support the northern extension of the M74. Will Kenny Gibson tell us how the SNP would propose to fund that extension?

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

That is the same kind of pathetic intervention that we get from Labour backwoodsmen in every debate. Labour controls Glasgow City Council, Labour controls the Scottish Parliament and Labour controls Westminster. Why does Janis Hughes not discuss with her colleagues down south how Scotland can get money— [Interruption.]

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

—and the investment needed to turn around this city once and for all?

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

Will you begin to wind up, please? Order.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

Who would believe that Janis Hughes and I are actually going out to dinner together next Tuesday?

The "Complete to Compete Report on the M74 Northern Extension" claims 6,000 jobs are directly dependent on the M74 extension.

There may be concerns about increased urban road investment but, as English urban development corporations have shown, substantial investment in roads and public transport infrastructure is required to open up sites for development. That can be done through an environmentally sustainable refocusing of development within existing built-up areas. A direct link between Glasgow airport and the Scottish rail network would act as a further spur to investment.

A concerted effort to bring structural investment into the city and develop its latent potential would reap benefits for all Scotland. By developing derelict land in Glasgow for housing and industry we relieve the pressure on the green belt. By ensuring Glasgow's future as a viable economic entity we enhance and secure the prosperity of the 1.5 million people who live in the hinterland of the city.

Employment has to be at the top of the agenda in any vision for Glasgow. For real employment to be created we must tackle the infrastructure of Glasgow. To do both, we need to tackle Glasgow's chronic housing crisis.

Much has been said about the stock transfer in Glasgow. Listening to the Minister for Communities it would seem a veritable panacea. The minister should be warned that Glasgow has been a test bed for many social experiments in the past, and that the catastrophic result of them can be seen in every corner of the city.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

I am winding up.

My colleague Fiona Hyslop will concentrate on our principal objections to what the minister proposes. The Executive should be warned that, if the coalition does not intend to take tenants with it in its proposal, it is doomed to failure. If the coalition does not attempt to gear up and fill the massive skills gap that exists in Glasgow in the building trades, the much-vaunted 3,000 new jobs will go to cowboy builders the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

Indeed, I shall.

The minister should be aware that, in the past four years, only seven glaziers, five heating engineers and nine plasterers have qualified for apprenticeships in Glasgow. The reality of the Minister for Communities' position is this: if the coalition's eggs in Glasgow have all been put in one basket, and if this ballot fails, the city will be faced with an investment crisis of unparalleled proportions, having suffered a starvation diet up to the ballot stage.

Regardless of any arguments that we have over the validity or otherwise of the stock transfer proposal, we know one thing to be true: if there is no real growth in employment throughout the city, there can be no regeneration. Without comprehensive regeneration, Glasgow is destined to remain a city divided.

We, as a Parliament, have to make a decision on Glasgow. We must carry out a comprehensive review of regeneration policy, examine the successes and failures of the past and analyse thriving models of urban renewal that exist elsewhere. We must act now to halt Glasgow's remorseless population decline. I hope that, through today's debate, we will send a clear message to the citizens of Glasgow that the Parliament is resolved not to let that happen. Rather, we must "Let Glasgow flourish".

I move amendment S1M-858.1, to leave out from "endorses" to end and insert:

"notes the activities being undertaken by the Executive with regard to regeneration in Glasgow; congratulates the key agencies, organisations and citizens involved in regenerating the city; recognises that despite these efforts levels of poverty, sickness and unemployment far exceed the Scottish and UK averages, and agrees that the Executive should undertake a comprehensive review of regeneration policy in Glasgow with specific regard to stimulation of employment demand, examination of the successes and failures of the past and analysis of thriving models of urban renewal elsewhere."

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

While the Presiding Officer has no objection to rumbustious debate, the constant buzz of ambient conversation makes it rather difficult to hear.

Photo of Bill Aitken Bill Aitken Conservative 10:41 am, 17th May 2000

In moving the amendment in my name, I associate the Conservative group with the remarks that were made earlier, and thank Glasgow and the lord provost for the facilities and hospitalities that have been provided. As a Glaswegian, I would have expected nothing less.

It is entirely appropriate that this debate, the first that the Parliament is holding in Glasgow, should deal with the topic of Glasgow's regeneration. It is also significant and gratifying that the Executive recognises that there is a problem that must be addressed, and it is to be congratulated for lodging its motion.

For far too long, Glasgow's name has been synonymous with poor public sector housing, unemployment, industrial stagnation, poor educational attainment and a serious law-and-order problem. In the course of today, my colleagues and I will address those issues, sometimes with criticism but also with constructive solutions in mind. It is important for those constructive solutions to be advanced.

Photo of Bill Aitken Bill Aitken Conservative

I shall make one or two points before giving way.

It would have been a less unfortunate start to the debate if, instead of berating people for having simple, small minds and small solutions to the problem, a small lady had been a bit more generous and had accepted that any minds and solutions that could ease the problems that Glasgow faces are to be welcomed. It is on that basis that I intend to proceed.

Photo of Johann Lamont Johann Lamont Labour

I am interested to note that the Tories are going to address the problems of Glasgow in the next few hours. It might have helped if they had addressed them over the past 18 years, instead of compounding the problems of the people of Glasgow who, although they indicated over a long period what they thought of the Tory approach, unfortunately suffered it for all that time.

Photo of Bill Aitken Bill Aitken Conservative

That is a bit rich, coming from a member of a party that has presided over Glasgow with almost non-stop failure over the past 50 years. If Johann Lamont listens to the remarks that I have to make, she may learn something. She may direct her mind towards some constructive solutions, although I do not hold out any great hope.

Clearly, Glasgow has many problems. The main problem is encapsulated in the fact that there has been such a significant population loss. That is the issue that must be addressed. If we can find out why Glasgow is losing its population, we will be in a position to determine what needs to be done to resolve matters. Glasgow was the second city of the empire—most of us might still claim that it was the first—but its population has almost halved, from 1.2 million to the most recent estimate of 611,000. That has happened partly by design, through the overspill arrangements that were made in the 1950s and the creation of the new towns, but it has also been the result of a net migration from Scotland.

We acknowledge those facts, but all the agencies that are involved in the regeneration of Glasgow must surely be concerned by the fact that so many people who are Glaswegian by birth and by instinct choose not to live in the city. That must be addressed. Why have so many people voted with their feet?

There are economic aspects to consider. People ask why they should live in Glasgow when they can live outside the city for 65 per cent of the cost of living in it, because Glasgow's council tax is so much higher. That is one of the issues that must be addressed.

The city's reputation is not good, but it deserves to be good. We have suffered in the years since some idiot wrote a book called "No Mean City", which condemned Glaswegians to bad publicity that was totally undeserved. The book was totally fictitious and, indeed, defamatory to the people of Glasgow.

Why is Glasgow's council tax so high? There are a number of reasons. The council tax base is narrow and it is so because Glasgow needs to attract at least 50,000—dare I say it—middle-class citizens who are able to pay that council tax and to contribute to the economic well-being of the city. It is ironic that a city that has demonstrated time and again its entrepreneurial abilities should have been stymied so often by policies that have been promoted by the Labour party.

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

I am interested in Bill Aitken's point about the council tax base being narrow. Can Mr Aitken remind the chamber who it was that set the boundaries for Glasgow City Council?

Photo of Bill Aitken Bill Aitken Conservative

Mr Swinney's point—which, no doubt, some of the members of his party will elaborate on—is that we should give Glasgow metropolitan status by extending the boundaries to which he referred. There is no point in forcing people in the suburbs to live in Glasgow when they do not want to, thereby incurring resentment. I want people to want to stay in Glasgow and to come to live in Glasgow. That is the relevant issue.

Let us deal with Glasgow's problems and let us acknowledge that the Executive's proposal for the transfer of Glasgow's housing stock is a potential solution. It is not a panacea—I am sure that Wendy Alexander would not claim that the transfer will solve 100 per cent of Glasgow's problems. There has been progress, but I can hardly deny that because the minister has again stolen Conservative Government policy. The Conservatives have, however, some criticisms to make of the stock transfer. Wendy Alexander is aware of the concern that we have articulated that a one-off stock transfer will mean that we risk alienating the tenants, who will not see such a transfer as a local solution.

Two elements of Scottish housing have been an undoubted success story in the past 20 or 30 years. The first is the effect of the Tenants' Rights etc (Scotland) Act 1980, which enabled about 62 per cent of the population of Scotland to own their own homes. There was significant uptake of the right to buy in Glasgow. The other success has been housing associations. The answer is simple: when people are given ownership of their problems, they will accept responsibility and contribute constructively and positively.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

Bill Aitken mentioned his concern about council tax payers in Glasgow. Is he aware that the Government's proposal is not to transfer the debt in Glasgow, but to give money to Glasgow to service the debt? Should any future leader or Administration decide that the housing budget will be cut and the money will not be provided, Glasgow council tax payers will have to pick up the tab.

Photo of Bill Aitken Bill Aitken Conservative

With all due respect, if we are talking about political realities, I cannot see such a situation ever arising. The fact of the matter is that I do not want to anticipate what Fiona Hyslop will say in her contribution. Is she seriously trying to say that council housing has succeeded? Of course it has not. It has failed and it has condemned many of the people of Glasgow to live in third-world conditions. If she thinks that council housing has been a success, let her carry on with the proposals that she has articulated to date, which suggest that, merely by adjusting the public sector borrowing requirement rules, we could carry on as before. We cannot carry on as before, because the system has simply not worked.

Kenny Gibson was right to highlight the difficulties of educational attainment in Glasgow. We were horrified, but perhaps not surprised, to learn the other day of the problems with literacy and numeracy in Glasgow. Our schools are failing our children and the children leaving our schools now are not perfectly rounded academically. If more investment were coming in, we would not be able to provide skills locally to exploit it. We do not want Glasgow to become the site and studio for a future version of "Auf Wiedersehen Pet", but that is the way it could go.

Who is responsible for the failure of Glasgow's education system? The self-same people whom Johann Lamont sought to defend have been in charge. Her party has been in charge of the education system in Glasgow and Strathclyde for many years and has failed.

Photo of Johann Lamont Johann Lamont Labour

For information, my name is pronounced Lamont—with the stress on the first syllable.

Photo of Bill Aitken Bill Aitken Conservative

A rose by any other name.

The failure of the new deal has been manifest and we must recognise that it has simply not worked in Glasgow. We must examine how we may direct our minds to easing the problem. Henry McLeish is not here at the moment, but he must also be concerned at this morning's headlines, which say that the Confederation of British Industry is highlighting the failure of the Labour Administration in Westminster to co-operate and succeed with business. It is quite clear that employers face far too many restrictions at the moment. That must be addressed as a matter of urgency, as must the matter of the M74.

I ask the Administration to recognise that some vision is necessary and that clarity in vision is vital. Accordingly, we call on the Executive to recognise that need by appointing from within the present bloated ranks of ministers a minister with special responsibility for Glasgow. That minister would liaise with all agencies, with Glasgow City Council and with other Government departments to ensure that Glasgow gets a fair deal. The Parliament—not by intent—has let Glasgow down. Time and time again, matters are sucked into Edinburgh. I will not enter into a sterile argument about Glasgow v Edinburgh, but Glasgow supported the Parliament and demands its fair share.

Photo of Bill Aitken Bill Aitken Conservative

I am winding up now.

Let that minister be responsible for the regeneration of Glasgow. Let him report to a committee of the Glasgow MSPs. Let it be a constructive, thoughtful and active way forward. Glasgow deserves nothing less.

I move amendment S1M-858.2, to leave out from "endorses" to end and insert:

"notes with grave concern the levels of unemployment, education failure, serious health problems and population loss affecting the city of Glasgow; recognises that these are testament to the failure of the Labour local authorities to address these problems over two generations; further notes that the response of the Labour Government and the Scottish Executive has to date been inadequate to deal with these problems; asks the Executive to address these problems in Glasgow as a matter of urgency; requests that the Executive specifically notes the failure of the existing local government system to cope adequately with Glasgow's problems; urges the Executive to institute appropriate steps to allow for a democratically and directly elected Lord Provost for the city with an executive role; further urges the Executive to appoint a Minister, from within its Ministerial team, with specific responsibility for Glasgow whose remit would include liaison with departmental ministers, the newly elected Provost, the city council and all agencies connected with the regeneration of Glasgow, and believes that the Parliament should set up a Committee, comprising all Glasgow Members, to oversee the performance of that Minister, thus ensuring that Glasgow's problems receive the attention which they not only deserve but are necessary to ensure the city's future."

Photo of Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat 10:52 am, 17th May 2000

I, too, thank the city and the lord provost for hosting the Parliament's presence in Glasgow. I notice that, having heard me speak in the chamber before, the lord provost does not wish to stay any longer and has left the public gallery—perhaps that is understandable.

This is a welcome and overdue debate. As a Liberal Democrat MSP for Glasgow—the first of many, I trust—I must confess that I have tended, like others, to consider specific issues such as stock transfer, drugs, acute hospital proposals or Govan shipyards. This debate, however, is a chance to look at the bigger picture and discuss how it hangs together and how Glasgow relates to the rest of Scotland. As has been implied in a number of speeches so far, this is a tale of two cities right across the board.

Glasgow has the UK's second biggest student population outside London, with about 100,000 students, yet fewer pupils—about 18 per cent—go on to further or higher education here than elsewhere; the national average is 31 per cent. Glasgow has an enviable reputation in medicine, yet it has the oldest hospitals in Scotland and the worst health record in the UK by far.

Two million visitors come to the city each year. They are attracted by the vibrant hotels, restaurants, night life, museums and parks. There has been a one-year increase of 26 per cent in economic benefit from conferences alone. We are ranked the third best city in Europe for business environment, quality of life and labour quality. However, most of that does not touch the vast bulk of citizens in the housing estates and beyond. Two fifths of all our households and 82 per cent of our council tenants are on housing benefit. That is a significant measure of poverty and deprivation in the 21st century. Almost 10 per cent of our land is derelict or vacant; that is the equivalent of 7,000 full-sized football pitches.

Glasgow's problems are Scotland's problems, in a real sense. In 1974, Scotland had 9.3 per cent of the UK population. By 1998, the figure was 8.6 per cent. On present trends, it is projected to be 7.5 per cent by 2036. Most of the drop to 1998—218,187—was from greater Glasgow.

As David Webster, to whom Kenny Gibson referred, pointed out in a perceptive article in the recent Fraser of Allander Institute "Quarterly Economic Commentary", the fall does horrible things to the level of Scottish public resources available under the Barnett formula—he describes them as "unfavourable fiscal consequences"—at the very time excess spending is required on social security, social services and health to relieve the distress of Glasgow and the inner Clyde valley.

David Webster contends that the loss of population has been caused by a straightforward collapse in local demand for labour, which saw Glasgow lose a third of its manual jobs between 1981 and 1991. The consequence is not a move to other parts of Scotland, but that many economically active people leave Scotland altogether. The basic problem, which policy makers have known in their hearts for years, is that the only way to stem Scotland's loss of population is to improve employment performance in the greater Glasgow area.

As Kenny Gibson has rightly said, education and training are important—as is the demand side. From the Glasgow eastern area renewal project through new life for urban Scotland to the Glasgow alliance and social inclusion partnerships, it is difficult to fault any Government for lack of good will, but the achievements in housing, community regeneration and environmental improvement cannot disguise the signal failure to date on the economic front. The minister is right to stress the importance of this issue. It is a nut that is still to be effectively cracked.

A number of aspects are worth considering. First, there is a problem of structure and accountability. The social inclusion partnerships are a worthy attempt to bring direct resources to bear on the issues, but I remain to be convinced that local communities have been given ownership of their own futures in this way. The Glasgow alliance and its various agencies do not have clear lines of accountability—rather the whole thing goes round in a circle and the buck never seems to stop anywhere. There is at least a question about how much of the significant sums that are allocated get to the front line, and how much supports the bureaucracy. The minister was, again, right to stress the need to make progress on this front.

There is a different issue of accountability for the council. Glasgow's problems will not be solved—with great respect to Bill Aitken, who put his proposal in a modest way—by superficial gimmicks such as a minister for Glasgow or directly elected provosts. The prospect of Pat Lally in the role of Ken Livingstone, a bearded Frank McAveety in the role of Frank Dobson, and Michael Fry as Steve Norris would not be redeemed even by the idea of Christopher Mason flying the Liberal Democrat flag of common sense. Nobody can seriously defend the obscenity of a so-called democratic system of election that gives the Labour party in Glasgow 74 out of 79 seats on 49.6 per cent of the vote, with five seats going to all the rest who together polled over 50 per cent of the vote.

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

I take it from the member's comments that he believes the coalition will stand or fall on the issue of PR in local government.

Photo of Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat

That is a tempting one. However, the point I wanted to make is that it is a paradox that this Parliament—an achievement of the Labour party in association with the Liberal Democrats and others—should be meeting in this city, which has an electoral system that was swept away in the countries of eastern Europe during the velvet revolution. When Glasgow was the second city of the empire, it was represented by Liberal members.

Once we have sorted out the issue of accountability, we must deal with the issue of resources. There is a case for saying that Glasgow should be both a Scottish and a UK priority. It would be no bad thing if Gordon Brown could be persuaded to open his multi-million pound war chest a bit more for that purpose. This not just a begging-bowl issue. Under the uniform business rate, Glasgow contributes vastly more than it receives. A general ability to invest the results of its business success in dealing with the desperate needs of the city should be a key component of the review of local government finance that the Executive is edging towards.

It can be argued that national policy has, perhaps unconsciously, channelled investment away from the city. Researchers at Glasgow University found that despite the fact that it has 12 per cent of the Scottish population, Glasgow has only 5 per cent of manufacturing employment in overseas-owned plants. Glasgow Development Agency expenditure per claimant unemployed in 1998-99 was only 75 per cent that in Lothian. As Kenny Gibson said, it is indisputable that the new towns were favoured over older cities such as Glasgow when it came to investment. The Arbuthnott report has identified that for years health services in Glasgow have also been significantly underfunded.

It is not just the amount of resources that is important, but the effectiveness of spend. The key component of the project 2002 for schools, the acute hospitals investment and, above all, the stock transfer, is the sheer level of extra investment in Glasgow—£1.6 billion in the case of housing. Those massive funds will achieve regeneration objectives in themselves, but they will also give a major boost to the city's economy, creating 3,000 construction jobs alone. That is at least part of the answer to Kenny Gibson's point about employment demand.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

Does Robert Brown recognise that in 1990-91, City of Glasgow District Council had £162 million available to invest in housing? That is now down to £46 million, which makes today's announcement of £12.5 million a drop in the ocean of what has been lost. If the previous level of investment had been sustained for the period that is proposed under the stock transfer scheme—until 2012—we would be getting the same amount of investment that is envisaged under that scheme now, rather than in 10 years' time.

Photo of Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat

I get a little cheesed off with the SNP's constant bleating, because of its shilly-shallying over stock transfer. This is a major step forward that needs to be agreed in principle and proceeded with. There are many details that need to be sorted out—to do with tenant control, rent guarantees and the level of investment—but those who have set their face dramatically against stock transfer or who try to pretend that they are on the side of everyone except investment, do Glasgow an enormous disservice. For political reasons, they have stirred up an artificial debate that has obscured proper discussion of the real issues: how to get jobs to local areas; how to ensure that young tradesmen are trained and given experience; how to ensure that the breathing space and the leg up that stock transfer will give local economies in Easterhouse and Drumchapel will lead to a more widely based economic revival that is sustainable after the stock transfer is complete. Why, for example, are lecturers at South Lanarkshire College, which specialises in building and construction, being laid off at the very time when those skills are at a premium?

I will finish where I began. Glasgow is a city of unacceptable contrasts.

Photo of Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat

No, I am finishing.

Glasgow has unacceptable levels of poverty and deprivation, but it is a city with a future that is vital to itself and to Scotland. It needs to harness the talents and ideals of all its citizens—and the ideas of the opposition groups. It needs the united and effective endeavours of all the agencies of government and the ever-willing voluntary sector.

The Executive—the partnership between Labour and Liberal Democrats—recognised the issues and made a good beginning. Even the Opposition amendments somehow lack their usual spleen. Let us ensure that this Executive and this Parliament—especially through its committees—play their part in the regeneration of Scotland's first city.

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

The debate is now open. Members should limit their speeches to four minutes, plus interventions.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour 11:04 am, 17th May 2000

I am delighted to be one of the first Glasgow MSPs to welcome the Parliament to Glasgow. I strongly welcome the decision to move here, albeit temporarily. I certainly belong to Glasgow and, today, so does this Parliament.

The location and focus of today's debate are fitting and deserved. Glasgow is a city of great people, effort and history. It has made a significant contribution to Scotland. However, it is also a city of great needs and challenges, as we have already heard.

One issue has not yet been raised. We have a tradition of strong and direct women. Rather than honour those who are perhaps better known, I would like to pay tribute to the women who have kept families, communities and organisations going in the face of insurmountable odds—especially during the blight of the Tory years.

Glasgow faces a terrible dilemma. We have to tackle the unfair stereotypes that fail to recognise the city's diversity, humour and achievements. Glaswegians rightly feel aggrieved when they see those stereotypes in the national media. However, we must also articulate the deep-seated needs of our city and its citizens.

The statistics speak for themselves. Of the 10 most deprived constituencies in the United Kingdom, seven are in Glasgow. In Glasgow, the figure for those staying on to S5 at school is 14 per cent lower than the overall Scottish figure. For participation in higher education, the Glasgow figure is 16 per cent lower than the Scottish average.

The fundamental issue that we in Glasgow must face is the concentration of problems. Progress in one area is often undermined by compounded difficulties in another. As we know, it is easy to talk about joined-up solutions but very difficult to deliver them.

Today's theme—properly—is regeneration. I could not believe my ears when I heard Bill Aitken speak; but at least now, after 20 years of denial, we have a programme of energetic intervention. We are not quite there yet; we have much work to do and many problems remain in Glasgow—I see them daily—but we must acknowledge that we are moving in the right direction.

I would like to raise a point that is often raised by commentators who are concerned with urban and city regeneration. Too often, economic and structural policies are emphasised at the expense of social policies. And vice versa. I have a very simple message today: we need a double-barrelled strategy that addresses people and place. We must bring people back from the margins and give them their stake in society; we must tackle underachievement and drug misuse; we must release the potential of individuals and of areas; we must tackle social and personal barriers; and we must tackle area regeneration in all its forms.

I appreciate that the Executive is grappling with those problems, as is the Glasgow alliance. Glasgow alliance is doing a good job. We welcome the drive to stem population decline and ensure that Glasgow's residents benefit from the programmes that are brought into Glasgow, especially in terms of jobs, but we must urge that the connection between the economic and the social is made more explicit. There must be more emphasis on delivering community engagement in, and ownership of, all aspects of the regeneration process. That has not been achieved to date.

Social inclusion demands that mainstream services address the poverty agenda. That is easily said, but I wonder whether it is wholly accepted. Many challenges for the professions whose services we demand lie further down the road, especially for professions that are not involved in front-line services. I want to emphasise that there are huge issues for general practitioners, for planners and for many others who have not yet been involved in the social inclusion debate. There must be more radical practice in future.

This issue concerns more than just the public sector. For people in the public sector, it is sometimes very frustrating that the public sector is always in the front line for criticisms such as we have heard from the Tories. We need to make clear the social responsibility of the private sector that we have heard so much about. I am deeply concerned about the level of service I get in my constituency—from the banks, for example. Much more must be done about that.

I know that some people will reject the Executive's strategy; many criticisms have been made by the Opposition. The Opposition often intrigues me. It is beyond me why the Tories have decided now that they want a minister for Glasgow. Bill Aitken said that Glasgow has become too much like a city of social workers. I understand that there are more social workers than Tories in Glasgow, but there are more lollipop ladies than Tories in Glasgow.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

Yes, if that is okay with the Presiding Officer; I am running out of time.

Photo of Annabel Goldie Annabel Goldie Conservative

I am grateful to Margaret Curran for giving way.

Could it be that, in proposing a minister for Glasgow, the Tories are giving a remarkable demonstration of adapting to devolution, which the Executive is failing lamentably to do?

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

I do not know whether Annabel Goldie got clearance from David McLetchie for her comments, given that he has systematically criticised the Executive for creating ministries to respond to different problems. I am pleased with the Executive's creation of the post of Minister for Communities to address Glasgow's problems.

Some will reject my position, but Glasgow always provides space for the utopian and the cynic and those who just want to complain all the time. There is always space for them, but that space is never a substitute for delivering. This Executive is about doing the hard, hard work that needs to be done in Glasgow, which I am proud the Executive is tackling today.

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party 11:10 am, 17th May 2000

As I listened to the minister's speech this morning, I was reminded of the motto of my old school: "Respice, Prospice" which means "Look backward, look forward". If I may say so, the minister was all respice and nae prospice.

The minister presented what for once is, I hope, an additional £12 million for Glasgow's housing. However, with all due respect to her, £12 million is a drop in the ocean compared with the needs and problems facing Glasgow. It would have been far more exciting if the minister had told us this morning that she has reached an agreement with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that Glasgow is to get its share of the £22 billion of mobile phone money. It would have been an announcement worth making if she had said that she had earmarked, say, £500 million for investment in Glasgow.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

Does Alex Neil acknowledge that that £22 billion is a consequence of the privatisation programme of the Tories? Does he welcome that fact?

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

The answer to Phil Gallie's question is no—I do not recognise that that £22 billion comes from privatisation.

I agreed with the minister when she said that the root cause of the problem in Glasgow is the level of unemployment and worklessness. The challenge that faces us all is how to tackle that problem of deep-rooted unemployment, which is the source of poverty, deprivation, food poverty, malnutrition, low educational achievement, poor health and all the rest. In her discussions with the chancellor, I hope that, when she addresses the problems of Glasgow, she will turn his attention to the research published yesterday by Nuffield College at the University of Oxford that demonstrated that cities such as Glasgow, Newcastle and Liverpool suffer most from the fact that the pound is over-valued by 25 per cent. The problems of Glasgow require national as well as local solutions.

Worklessness and joblessness are at the core of the problem, as is depopulation. Where there is both unemployment and depopulation, the result is a vicious cycle of decline. As young people leave the city, they take with them purchasing power, which, in turn, results in more unemployment. More unemployment and fewer job opportunities then result in more depopulation. The problem of Glasgow's depopulation is not only the crude figure of a net loss of 200,000— [Interruption.]

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

I will give way in a minute, but to which minister—the good-looking one or the other one?

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

I know how to cause confusion on the Labour benches.

Photo of Wendy Alexander Wendy Alexander Labour

If Alex Neil shares our commitment to tackling unemployment, perhaps he can explain why he was against the windfall tax that delivered the new deal and the national minimum wage. Furthermore, can he explain why half of his party is against both the navy, which is the only chance to save the shipbuilding industry in this area, and the partnership financing that is building the new hospital at Glasgow royal infirmary? Indeed, we do not know whether the SNP is against the new apprenticeships in the housing industry.

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

There is one thing about small minds—facts never confuse them.

The fact of life is that the SNP has been in the vanguard of the campaign not just for a minimum wage but for a far better minimum wage than we now have.

When we examine the problem of what to do about Glasgow, we should remember that the issue does not concern just Glasgow: what is good for Glasgow is also good for Scotland. Glasgow is the hub for the whole of the west of Scotland.

I want to make some suggestions, particularly about the level of investment. Glasgow is neither the first nor the only city to face these problems and the Executive should consider what other cities in similar situations have done. For example, Austin in Texas faced similar problems and adopted a strategy to make itself the brains capital of America. However, making Glasgow the brains capital of Scotland might be a difficult task for Glasgow Labour councillors. [Laughter.]

If Barcelona and Boston can resolve such problems, Glasgow can do it too—but that will happen only when the Executive is prepared to invest real money and not a pittance of £12 million.

Photo of Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour 11:16 am, 17th May 2000

Like many members, I feel passionate about Glasgow's character and history. Features such as the Barras and Paddy's market at the Trongate illustrate for many of us what really lies behind Glasgow. I believe that a true Glaswegian knows where Paddy's market is; if any members want a bargain while they are in Glasgow, that is where to go. However, attractions such as the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre and its recent addition, the Clyde Auditorium—known as the armadillo—show the breadth of development in Glasgow.

It is interesting that many of the developments and features that members have mentioned are in Kelvin, which is my constituency. As I am the constituency MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, I want to take this opportunity to welcome everyone to this building, which is also in the Kelvin constituency.

I will address some of the issues that face many of my constituents not because I want to be parochial but because the diversity of the constituency's features, from Scotstoun to Saltmarket, illustrate the breadth of the regeneration project.

Alex Neil talked about how Glasgow has been blighted. Over the past few months, we have heard much about the city's deep-rooted problems. In this debate, we should not characterise Glasgow through its problems; instead, we must highlight the city's strengths and the features the regeneration project can build on.

The Scotstoun shipyard is at the top end of Kelvin. Although I am pleased by the all-party debate on the subject and the Executive's commitment to shipbuilding, the issue is not just about keeping shipbuilding alive. As Margaret Curran mentioned, a sense of community goes with the industry; every time a ship is launched from Scotstoun, 5,000 people turn up because they feel they have a share in the manufacturing process and want to experience the 20 seconds when the ship goes into the water.

Not so far away from this chamber is Anderston—the red-light district of Glasgow. Women from all over the city are involved and we now know that the problem is not so much prostitution as drugs. I welcome the approach of Glasgow City Council, which has not turned its back on this very sensitive and difficult issue and has gone so far as to say that we must get these women into employment. We must consider the possibility of allowing them to apply for jobs at Glasgow City Council, which is one of our biggest employers, without having to declare that they have a conviction for prostitution. If we are not hard about these things, we will not get women out of prostitution. I welcome the council's radical approach.

There are many areas of hidden poverty, even in this constituency. I think it was Robert Brown who mentioned the number of students who live here. Other members have talked about student poverty. I welcome for this city the forthcoming legislation on houses in multiple occupation. I suppose I should declare an interest: the street on which I live has the largest number of HMOs in the whole of Scotland. It is time something was done about them—students have died because of the lack of decent laws. I welcome the Executive's commitment on the matter.

This city will benefit from innovative ideas. The city centre, which is also part of Kelvin, has the key institutions for economic change. I welcome the jobs that have come to Glasgow. Call centres are a feature of modern life; we must attract quality jobs and should not accept call centres providing bad conditions and treating our workers badly—I commend the Communications Workers Union.

Before I finish, I will mention a great success for Glasgow. We are one of the few cities in the country that has failed to utilise its waters. One of the most exciting projects over the next three or four years, which will be led by Glasgow City Council, is to build 3,500 new houses—I hope some of it will be social housing—and leisure complexes beside the Clyde. The Clyde may even be used as part of the integrated transport system. The utilisation of Glasgow's features will be one of the most fantastic things to happen in the city.

We need to work hand in hand with local government and the UK Government. If the Parliament does that, Glasgow can truly be the city it should be.

Photo of Sandra White Sandra White Scottish National Party 11:21 am, 17th May 2000

I am pleased that the Executive has chosen my member's motion for the first debate of the Parliament in Glasgow. I thank it for that. [Interruption.] I am sorry that some members are mumbling, but it was a member's motion—I do not want to quarrel with members.

I will concentrate on an area that has been sorely neglected over the years. Pauline McNeill mentioned it; I will expand on it. I refer to the River Clyde, which is the main artery of this great city.

Alex Neil talked about employment and transport. Was it not the River Clyde that provided transport and employment for the people of Glasgow and those from outwith its boundaries? Without the Clyde, this great city would not survive, but over the years it has been sorely neglected. The blame for that must be laid, fairly and squarely, on successive Tory and Labour Governments. The Labour council in Glasgow cannot escape blame either, as for many years, through incompetence and sheer neglect, the waterfront was left to rot, and was not developed.

I know that we are now talking about development on the Clyde, but I want to expand on this point. Although there have been various developments and plans in recent years, they have been piecemeal and they have done little for local communities. Unfortunately, most of the regeneration in Glasgow has taken place in the city centre and has neglected deprived inner-city areas and the peripheral schemes. For example, the Gorbals regeneration scheme did little for local people; the benefits went to house builders and businesses.

Glasgow City Council carried out a plan review in 1998. It noted that the River Clyde corridor is a key development location and that a rejuvenated river is one of the top 10 physical challenges. However, the detail on how to achieve development is very scant in the review. Glasgow needs a clear and coherent plan for regeneration. One of the keys to regeneration must be redevelopment of the riverside. The Clyde waterfront must be opened up and developed for the benefit of all our citizens. It must become an amenity. I welcome the plans of Clyde Port Authority and others. The Clyde must become an amenity that will be treasured by our citizens for generations.

Planning must not be driven purely by market forces. Strategic planning in the interests of local communities and the entire city must drive the plans for regeneration. Local communities must be involved and consulted.

The key to regeneration is public investment. We need more public investment in this great city. We know that there is money for such investment—Gordon Brown has billions in his war chest, which was recently boosted by the mobile phone franchise windfall. Without a share of that cash, Glasgow cannot flourish. I ask the Executive to ask Gordon Brown to open his war chest and release money to Glasgow. Glasgow has kept Scotland going for many years and we need and deserve some of that money.

To Glasgow City Council and Alex Mosson, the lord provost, I say that they should get it right this time. We must not make a mess of it again. The Clyde is our greatest asset. I ask the council to use it rather than to continue to abuse it.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative 11:24 am, 17th May 2000

I am the first non-Glasgow member to speak in today's debate. [Interruption.] I apologise, Alex Neil was the first.

I must register my appreciation of the fact that we are in Glasgow. There is a hint of regret that the Parliament was not permanently housed in Glasgow.

Discussing Glasgow's regeneration, Johann Lamont referred to the years of Tory Governments. That must be considered. It was during the time of Mrs Thatcher's Government that the regeneration of Glasgow really began. It started in the buildings and fabric of the city, through the housing repair and maintenance programme that allowed private owners and landlords to improve the housing stock. Instead of using the failed policies of the 1960s and 1970s—the new build concrete jungles—

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

What I say about Glasgow— [Interruption.]

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

Instead of walking along the streets with our eyes on the pavements—although that is recommended, given the state of the pavements these days—we should keep our eyes upwards and look at the buildings and the fantastic architecture. They are evidence of the skills of the past of which we should be proud. Every Glaswegian should boast of those skills and it is to our shame that the city was partly demolished in previous years.

Photo of Jamie Stone Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat

Is it not the case that Glasgow's pride was founded on its manufacturing industry in the last century and the century before that? Was it not Maggie in particular who sent those industries down the tubes?

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

Not at all. Glasgow's structure, its whole—[MEMBERS: "Being."] Thank you. Being. [Laughter.] That came about because of the entrepreneurial skills of people who lived in Glasgow, dating back to the times Jamie Stone mentioned. However, Glasgow did not modernise. It was stuck in a rut. The old industries were still here and had to be moved on. That was the problem Mrs Thatcher addressed when she introduced massive amounts of inward investment to Scotland.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

I do not have time to give way.

I want to address one or two of the points Wendy Alexander made. She talked about salmon fisheries. It is with great pride that I look on the Tory record of improving the quality of the River Clyde; the salmon are coming back to the Clyde.

The minister also commented on Glasgow being loyal to Labour and Labour being loyal to Glasgow. One of the real problems faced by Glasgow is the fact that Labour has controlled the local authority for so many years. I draw members' attention to the points made by Bill Aitken in his amendment, those raised by Kenny Gibson and even the comments of Government-supporter Robert Brown about the current difficulties faced by Glasgow.

I would also like to comment on law and order, which nobody seems to have picked up on. We should all be proud of the fact that Strathclyde police is about to celebrate 25 years of existence. It has been a very successful force. However, I look back to the "Chief Constable's Annual Report for 1998-99" with some concern. It shows the inheritance from the Tory Government: crime figures in 1997-98 were the lowest ever. In 1998-99, however, there was a 4.5 per cent increase in crime figures.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

I suggest that it is no coincidence that with the incoming Labour Government, and now the Labour Executive, police numbers have fallen. As the chief constable of Strathclyde police says in his report, there has been

"a real cut in resources".

Strathclyde Police has risen to that, however, and adopted a targeting approach. It is to be congratulated on that.

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

Come to a close, please, Mr Gallie.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

If we examine current Strathclyde police figures, we see that serious assault, knife carrying and assaults on police officers are on the increase. I ask ministers to address this serious point. There has been a pilot project on CS gas. Does the Minister for Justice have the results of that pilot? If so, will he have a chat with the chief constable of Strathclyde police and consider bringing it into use in Glasgow?

Can I make another point? Glasgow—

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

No. Close please, Mr Gallie.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

I am just winding up—I will finish. Glasgow now has three universities—

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

There are three universities in Glasgow. I note that Brian Souter made a £1 million donation towards a magnetic resonance imaging unit for heart research in Glasgow. I have heard nobody commend him for that today. Perhaps others who speak in this debate could do so.

Photo of Paul Martin Paul Martin Labour 11:31 am, 17th May 2000

Like my colleagues from Glasgow, I would like to say how proud I am as a Glasgow member of the Scottish Parliament to take part in this debate.

In this debate, we should bring forward constructive action points—which is what I want to do in this speech—and not talk down Glasgow with negative soundbites. There are key points to Glasgow's regeneration. Many positive points about Glasgow have appeared in the contributions of many agencies and authorities. In particular, Glasgow City Council has been the catalyst of much regeneration and improvement, which has arrested the downward trend of some time ago.

We must acknowledge that a mammoth task faces us. We must consider the fact that Glasgow has the infamous statistic of having five constituencies with the highest unemployment rates in Scotland. We must also take into account the positive stories about Glasgow, including the 70 per cent growth in the tourism industry since 1991, the 15,000 new jobs since 1995 and the fact that we provide work for 18 per cent of Scotland's population. We should reflect on that and ask why, then, our communities have been by-passed with regard to the distribution of jobs in Scotland.

I mentioned action points. My action point for tackling unemployment must be to follow the St Rollox initiative in my constituency. We are encouraging a major employer, Tesco, which is bringing 600 full-time jobs to the area. It is committed and contracted to bring those jobs to the local community and to give local people an opportunity to take them up. We should encourage that—to ensure that Glasgow jobs go to Glasgow residents.

We should also consider our approach to tackling unemployment. We should streamline it to ensure that unemployed people do not feel excluded in any way. If we are to regenerate Glasgow's housing successfully, we have to consider genuinely how we might improve the city. As a former Glasgow councillor, and now as a Glasgow MSP, I am forever touched by the commitment of the many communities in my constituency that are committed to their local areas, such as Sighthill, Ruchazie, Springburn and Royston. People in those areas look to us for options for improving housing in their areas. That is why I welcome that, for the first time in 20 years, the council—in partnership with the Scottish Parliament—has introduced a proposal for improving housing in Glasgow.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

I respect the sincerity of the member's argument, but does it not distress him that between new Labour coming to power in 1997 and 2002, which is the first opportunity to get investment in, Glasgow will have lost out on £150 million because the Executive, and the new Labour Government before it, has cut borrowing consent in Glasgow?

Photo of Paul Martin Paul Martin Labour

Fiona Hyslop is talking about a small solution—capital borrowing. We are talking about major investment and new ways of dealing with the large problems in Glasgow. It is not for us to decide what is good for people. We will put the options to Glasgow tenants and let them decide whether that is the best way forward.

I am glad that the minister made her announcement today. We should ensure that this information is brought to tenants as a matter of urgency and that they are not left in limbo with the various pieces of information that have been provided to them. I will allow tenants to decide.

Photo of Paul Martin Paul Martin Labour

I am sorry, but I have been asked to wind up.

If we wish to regenerate communities, we must consider crime as a major issue. Phil Gallie touched on the issue of Strathclyde police. We must consider how we manage police authorities and the way in which police authorities manage local communities. I would call for a full review of Strathclyde police so that we can consider ways in which to regenerate areas such as Glasgow, bringing employment into Glasgow and improving the city's housing.

I commend the motion to the chamber.

Photo of Margaret Smith Margaret Smith Liberal Democrat 11:36 am, 17th May 2000

I feel like a bit of an interloper here, as if I am at one of those Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. I should really stand up and say, "My name's Margaret and I'm from Edinburgh." However, my remarks are heartfelt. Having heard the speeches that have been made this morning—no doubt this will apply to those that are still to come—I hope that anybody from Glasgow who is listening to this debate will see that the debate is of relevance not only to them but to the people of Scotland. Indeed, if Glasgow flourishes, Scotland flourishes. The converse is also true.

We have heard many of the different strands that make up the problems that Glasgow faces. Importantly, we have also heard—from Paul Martin, Pauline McNeill, Robert Brown and others—about some of the challenges and opportunities for Glasgow. The Parliament should do everything it can to make those opportunities a reality.

When I was doing some background reading for today's debate, I was struck by the following quotation from a Government white paper:

"The Secretary of State concluded over a year ago that extra effort was required in Glasgow in view of the exceptional scale and severity of problems in that city."

Members might think that that comes from a new Labour document, of a couple of years ago, when Donald Dewar was secretary of state. Other members have commented on reports from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the University of Bristol, showing the level of health deprivation in Scotland. However, the secretary of state was Bruce Millan and the year was 1977.

Many members have looked back today and blamed the Tories. That is very easy and it is very nice. We all enjoy it and it gives everybody—apart from the Tories—a good feeling inside.

Photo of Annabel Goldie Annabel Goldie Conservative

I do not enjoy it because the charge is invariably unfounded, inaccurate and untrue. Mr Gallie has already alluded to what the Tories, in government, tried to achieve. I think we all recognise that, in many significant areas, it was Tory policies that started to address the problems we are discussing today.

Photo of Margaret Smith Margaret Smith Liberal Democrat

It is clear to everybody—small mind or large—that the Tories presided over more devastation in terms of the gap between the rich and the poor than any Government before them. I am trying to move on and to say that it is easy for us to blame the Tories. It is easy for us—particularly for the Liberal Democrats—to blame lack of democracy in Glasgow City Council. It is easy to look back; it is much more difficult to look forward.

Over the past few weeks, the Health and Community Care Committee has been examining the health budget. In our discussions about the public health aspects of the budget—or, rather, the lack of them in that document—we have heard about what the Finns have done. They have been radical and said, "We cannot accept ill health. We cannot tinker round the edges, putting a few million pounds here or there." I agree with Alex Neil—£22 billion from mobile phone licences is the sort of money we could do something with. We should be putting such an amount into urban regeneration and tackling health inequalities in cities such as Glasgow.

Photo of Dorothy-Grace Elder Dorothy-Grace Elder Independent

Why, therefore, does Margaret Smith not tell her beloved coalition partners to put that money into health?

Photo of Margaret Smith Margaret Smith Liberal Democrat

I am in the lucky position of not having to be in coalition in two places. In the place where we are not in coalition, the Liberal Democrats urge the chancellor strongly, at all times, to put more money into public services. That is a Westminster issue and the money should have been used not to service debt, but on public services.

Photo of Margaret Smith Margaret Smith Liberal Democrat

No. I have given way twice and I must move on.

Over the coming months, there will be much debate in Glasgow, quite rightly, about acute services reviews—the best pile of bricks and mortar, the best place to put beds and the best buildings in which to conduct health care. However, such matters are only part of the issue. We must also ensure that the diseases that affect Scots—cancer, coronary heart disease and stroke—are dealt with not at the end, by the acute services, but at the beginning. That means working in our schools and communities; putting together all the necessary cross-cutting measures; and taking on board and working with the agencies that Margaret Curran talked about, in communities and the voluntary sector.

I will not bore members with the statistics on Glasgow's and Scotland's health, but they are appalling. We have to be radical. Some radical solutions in the Parliament—such as stock transfer, or anything else—will be uncomfortable, but we cannot tackle the health problems that Glasgow and Scotland face unless we are prepared to be radical.

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party 11:41 am, 17th May 2000

Transport is an integral part of the social and economic regeneration of Glasgow. It should be acknowledged that Glasgow has many advantages. In the underground and the local rail network, it has a transport network that cities such as Edinburgh can only aspire to. However, there is one significant and growing problem: congestion on the M8—the Kingston bridge in particular—which will not go away and must be addressed. The only way to address that problem is to construct the M74 north extension.

Congestion is not simply a traffic problem; it is a social and economic problem. It jeopardises jobs and prevents jobs being brought to the area. Only a few months ago, the Evening Times highlighted what Glasgow City Council was pointing out in private: that it could not invest in areas such as Easterhouse to generate jobs because it could not cope with the resulting increased traffic on the M8. An area with one of the lowest rates of car ownership in the United Kingdom—yet one of the highest rates of male unemployment—losing out on jobs and investment as a result of congestion is a travesty and an injustice. That is a Labour double whammy.

Socially, jobs are integral to the regeneration of the city. It is not all down to work, but work plays a significant part. Unless we give people a sense of self-worth and take away the opportunities that the devil finds for idle hands, the city's problems will continue. That is why it is socially and economically necessary to improve the transport infrastructure by proceeding with the M74 north extension.

Whatever needs to be done, it will not be done by warm words or workplace charging. If we check the records, we find that in 1992 Strathclyde Regional Council—the former holders of the building that we are in today—published a proposal for the M74 north extension.

Eight years on, the Minister for Transport and the Environment gives us a further consultation document, to be carried out by the precursors and successors of Strathclyde Regional Council. That is not acceptable.

Janis Hughes asked how the scheme would be paid for. Allow me to give some facts in response. First, the motorway network south of the border has been completed. Secondly, the oil revenues from off our shores have bankrolled Governments—Tory and Labour—for a quarter of a century. Thirdly, fuel duty at 80p in the pound continues to fund the Chancellor of the Exchequer's burgeoning war chest. Yet Glasgow continues to wait. Not one metre has been laid.

I believe that the M74 north extension is critical and is a national responsibility, not a responsibility for the council tax payers of North Lanarkshire and the city of Glasgow. Scotland and the chancellor must provide the funds. People ask where the money will come from. I remind Janis Hughes that a few months ago John Prescott said that he had more than £80 billion to spend over 10 years on transport infrastructure. If we had our share of that, not only could we complete the M74 north extension, we could probably pave it with gold.

Rightly or wrongly, people worry that they will get the problems associated with roads, not the benefits. People worry that they will have a motorway laid over the top of them while the jobs pass by them. We have to address those fears. One way to do so would be to create enterprise zones up to a mile or a half mile adjacent to the newly constructed road or, indeed, in areas not too far away. That would show people that the issue is one of bringing in not just goods and commuters, but jobs and employment.

Will anyone suggest that many of the areas that have been blighted by the flight of past industries would not benefit from an influx of new ones? That view would help avoid people seeing only the problems associated with the extension. The Executive and its cohorts in Westminster must provide the funds for this important piece of transport infrastructure for Glasgow and Scotland at the beginning of the 21st century. I say to the minister: get a grip, construct the road, create employment and get Glasgow going.

Photo of Des McNulty Des McNulty Labour 11:47 am, 17th May 2000

I am a representative of Clydebank and Milngavie and support the regeneration of Glasgow. I want also to make an important point about the conurbation of west central Scotland. The success of Glasgow is fundamental to the success of the areas around it. Clydebank shares many of Glasgow's problems. I hope that successful solutions to Glasgow's problems will be associated with successful solutions to the problems of Clydebank and the surrounding areas.

Economic growth in Glasgow and the economic prosperity of Glasgow are fundamental to the economic success of many of the areas surrounding the city. The point has been made that Glasgow's success is the success of Scotland. I support that, but would underline the fact that the success of Glasgow is crucial for the success of west central Scotland.

The regeneration of Glasgow is not a new issue. Much work has been done in the past 25 years. We are in the chamber of Strathclyde Regional Council, where that council's social strategy for the 1980s was proposed and put into effect. Here, people such as Geoff Shaw, Ronald Young, Dick Stewart, Charles Gray, Charles O'Halloran, Leonard Turpie, a Conservative, and Christopher Mason, a Liberal Democrat—I do not think that there was a significant contributor to that debate from the SNP—tackled the problems of economic decline and need in west central Scotland. Many of the things that those people did have set the foundations for what we are engaged in now.

Continuity with past policies is needed—with the policies that Strathclyde Regional Council pioneered, aimed at tackling multiple deprivation, advancing educational opportunity, improving housing and dealing with social need through developing the social work service. We need those policies to be carried forward in the next 25 years with some of the success that Strathclyde had. It is important to recognise that for the past 25 years the public agencies have not been failing but have had relative success—although not success in overturning the indicators of deprivation as those are the result of deep-seated economic processes that worked to the disadvantage of the city.

In many ways, the work by the health service, by local government and by the economic development agencies in Glasgow has been heroic and has transformed a situation that could have been very much worse than it is. Many of the solutions devised by those agencies should be put into practice. For example—

Photo of Des McNulty Des McNulty Labour


Glasgow needs investment in brown-field sites—that has been known for a long time. We need to clear up some of the disused manufacturing sites, put resources into them and bring in new industries. We need and will now get sustained investment in housing. That was denied in the past; it required Government money. People in Glasgow knew what was needed but were not given the resources by central Government to provide solutions. It is the job of the Executive to provide that funding and to make sure that Glasgow gets sustained investment. I want us not to be reliant on challenge funding or small initiatives. We need sustained investment in education, housing, health and social care.

The future of Glasgow depends on the Parliament actually making a commitment—ending the empty rhetoric, the wee party political points. Glasgow needs real energy and a real commitment that unites the Parliament and is not subject to politicking.

Photo of Linda Fabiani Linda Fabiani Scottish National Party 11:51 am, 17th May 2000

In 1726, Daniel Defoe wrote:

"Glasgow is indeed a very fine city . . . 'tis the cleanest and beautifullest, and best-built city in Britain".

Mistakenly, he added, "London excepted", but we can ignore that.

We should have aspirations to match those words. If the Parliament does its job properly, this will be the first of many times when we consider how we address Glasgow's needs. There is a danger that we see the city only as a problem; it is also a great opportunity.

I have heard it suggested that the potential of west central Scotland could be realised without tackling Glasgow's decline. I do not agree. Doing so would not be in the interest of the adjacent communities either. Glasgow should be the hub of west central Scotland. It is a major resource for employment, shopping and other services and provides up to a quarter of a million jobs, with earnings above the Scottish average. The city has a positive as well as negative international reputation. Its shopping, leisure and service sectors are developing apace. Officials and politicians wax lyrical about the remaking of the city.

A number of years ago I was involved in a housing campaign that many here will remember, with the slogan "Glasgow's Miles Better—Miles to go". That remains an apt summary of Glasgow today.

Part of the city's international reputation is based on its community-based housing associations' work in regenerating the inner city. It is ironic that, 25 years after they started that work, in many parts of Glasgow the Executive's commitment to social inclusion is being drowned out by the return of the bulldozer as an instrument of urban policy.

Even without the addition of further sites, the backlog of vacant and derelict land undermines the city's competitiveness. Glasgow contains almost a quarter of Scotland's vacant derelict urban land. Although it is worse in Glasgow, the problem of derelict land is Scotland-wide. Almost 40 per cent of Scotland's vacant and derelict land has lain unused for at least 20 years. The minister has identified that the present situation is a waste of resources; the question is, when will concerted action be taken to tackle the problem?

In its stock transfer plan, Glasgow City Council identified proposals to demolish up to 15,000 properties. If that programme is badly handled, that scale of demolition will represent a major risk to the city. The evidence from previous clearance programmes is that, when people are detached from their communities, it is difficult to determine where they will settle. Neither the city nor Scotland can afford the continuing draining away of Glasgow's population. Between 1981 and 1996, Glasgow suffered a net population loss of 95,000, which is clearly the principal component of Scotland's net loss of 52,000 people during the same period. Members will be aware that Professor Arthur Midwinter has warned that, if that process continues, the city's finances will be unsustainable.

Despite the warnings, I remain optimistic about Glasgow, which has been called the city that refused to die. To date, central Government has failed to support Glasgow's efforts to reinvent itself. In the interests of Glasgow and Scotland, this Parliament must change that situation.

Photo of Mike Watson Mike Watson Labour 11:56 am, 17th May 2000

I welcome my colleagues to Glasgow. It will not have escaped their attention that we have provided some traditional Glasgow weather, although that might come as a surprise to those from airts and pairts who do not set foot in the dear green place very often.

In his opening remarks, Kenny Gibson said one thing that I agreed with: it is true that Glasgow is a city divided. The inequalities in Glasgow are well known, and many more people will know of them by means of today's debate. We must tackle those inequalities, as the Glasgow Alliance has begun to do, by bringing together the various agencies. That is the proper approach to dealing with Glasgow's multiple problems, as problems of social deprivation cannot be viewed, addressed or resolved in isolation: there must be joint working on them. The opportunities of a good education and training, a job and an affordable house, and the ability to live a healthy life, should be the rights of every Scot and of every Glaswegian.

The strategy of the Glasgow Alliance is beginning to turn the situation round, not least through social inclusion partnerships and its multi-agency approach. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to participate in the Castlemilk Partnership, which continues much of the good work that was undertaken by the new life in urban Scotland partnerships. The Castlemilk Partnership is building on that work, through the Castlemilk Economic Development Agency and many local groups. Much remains to be done in Castlemilk, although improvements—visible and tangible—have been made, and no one underestimates that.

The statistics are revealing: 25 years ago, 40,000 people lived in Castlemilk, yet its population is now 18,000. That decline mirrors Glasgow's decline in population, which we have heard much about. I am concerned about the fact that less than half the people who work in Glasgow live in the city. That might not be unusual for large conurbations, but the proportion of people who live and work in Glasgow has plummeted over the years, which has had serious repercussions for the city's tax base.

I will not make myself popular with my colleagues from some of the constituencies that abut Glasgow by saying this but, sooner or later, the question of Glasgow's boundaries will have to be addressed. We will have to grasp that issue, and it will not be easy to deal with. I firmly believe that the people who work in Glasgow and contribute to Glasgow's economy should make a personal contribution as well, as they benefit from the amenities that the city has to offer outwith working hours.

My own solution—a crude one, perhaps—is that the boundaries of the Greater Glasgow Health Board, with one or two adjustments, should define the boundaries of Glasgow City Council, otherwise Glasgow will continue to lose out. About £200 million is remitted to the Scottish Executive through business rates, but less than half of that is reinvested in the city. That has a serious effect on Glasgow City Council's ability to act decisively to address some of the inequalities that I mentioned.

I am also concerned about Glasgow's skills base—that is one of the reasons why I welcome the alliance's multi-agency approach.

I have heard stories that worry me greatly. There is no shortage of investment in the city of Glasgow, but there is—which might come as a surprise—a shortage of people who are able to take up the jobs that result from that investment. The problem is serious if jobs in Glasgow can be filled only by people who live outside the city. We must examine that if we are to turn the situation round. If we are to give Glasgow a new future, it must be based on young people who have the skills to build a life in the city.

Although I am highlighting some of Glasgow's problems, I do not want to suggest that other parts of Scotland do not also have problems. I do not want to belittle the fact that there are severe problems elsewhere; highlighting what needs to be done in Glasgow does not detract from accepting that.

Other members have said that what is good for Glasgow is good for Scotland—I echo that. Parliament is here for three weeks and we will use those three weeks to highlight what must be done in Glasgow. However, the weeks, months and years ahead will be the acid test—Glasgow must be given the resources that will ensure that it can flourish again.

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

That concludes this part of the debate; the debate will continue after lunch.