Scottish Enterprise (New Chief Executive)

First Minister's Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:09 pm on 12th June 2003.

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Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party 3:09 pm, 12th June 2003

To ask the First Minister what arrangements are being put in place to recruit and appoint a new chief executive of Scottish Enterprise. (S2F-65)

Photo of Duncan McNeil Duncan McNeil Labour

Or a new chief executive of the SNP.

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

As I said last week and said again to Robert Crawford personally earlier this week, I want to put on record our thanks—thanks that I am sure will be shared across the chamber—for Robert Crawford's contribution to Scottish Enterprise over the past few years. The decision that he has made will have been difficult for him. Those of us in public life in Scotland will know exactly how he was feeling and will admire him for making the decision in the way that he did.

Responsibility for taking forward the appointment of a new chief executive for Scottish Enterprise lies with the board of Scottish Enterprise. I would, however, expect the new chief executive to take forward our strategy for a smart successful Scotland.

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

I associate myself and, I think, my whole party with the First Minister's comments about Robert Crawford. Also, for the benefit of Duncan McNeil, I declare that I have no interest to declare in the matter.

Does the First Minister agree that it is very unfortunate indeed that the perception exists, rightly or wrongly, that the existing chief executive of Scottish Enterprise has been hounded from office by a right-wing campaign to do in Scottish Enterprise? If we are to attract the right kind of talent to regenerate the Scottish economy, no public official should be subjected to the kind of unfair attacks that were made on Robert Crawford. That should not happen to his successor. It creates a bad image for Scotland; it is bad for the economy and bad for the future of our country.

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

I do not intend to speak for Robert Crawford; he is perfectly capable of speaking for himself. He has made his points very clearly this past week. However, there is a degree of cheek around among those who are willing to jump on the bandwagon and try to make some political capital out of Robert Crawford's resignation, but who, at the same time, on the Conservative benches, have spent months campaigning for something like a £200 million cut in his budget. Although I accept that Mr Neil should have no responsibility for—and certainly none of the blame for—the SNP's manifesto for the election back in May, it is the case that other members of the SNP have tried to do the same thing. To campaign for months for a substantial reduction in the training and skills budget of Scottish Enterprise and then to jump on the bandwagon when the chief executive resigns is very false indeed.

We do not support organisations or individuals; we support action for enterprise in Scotland and that is what we are going to deliver.