Secretary of State for Scotland (Meetings)

First Minister's Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 12:03 pm on 9th March 2006.

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Photo of Shiona Baird Shiona Baird Green 12:03 pm, 9th March 2006

To ask the First Minister when he will next meet the Secretary of State for Scotland and what issues he intends to discuss. (S2F-2164)

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

I meet the Secretary of State for Scotland regularly to discuss a range of issues, which are all of importance to Scotland.

Photo of Shiona Baird Shiona Baird Green

With energy issues so high up the media and political agendas, does the First Minister believe that small-scale micro-renewable energy for our homes and businesses can play a part in providing our future energy needs? Is his Executive committed to supporting the micro-renewables industry?

Photo of Shiona Baird Shiona Baird Green

I was hoping that the First Minister might expand a little bit on his support. I would like to have suggested that his words were not being backed up by action.

The First Minister might not be aware that the Scottish community and household renewables initiative is oversubscribed and has run out of cash. It gets a mere, paltry £2.2 million a year, which is miserable compared with the multimillion pound support that the nuclear industry receives from the Government. Will the First Minister commit his Executive to increasing support for micro-power? What is his message to those who want it but cannot get it and to the businesses that are—rightly—alarmed that the market is not getting the boost that it really needs to take off?

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

I am happy to expand on my earlier lengthy answer. I believe that it is important for the Government to support and encourage micro-renewables within the public sector, within businesses and within individual households. I strongly support further development in that area. I am delighted that the current programme is oversubscribed, which I think shows an increasing interest and demand in Scotland, which can only be healthy not just for the industry but for our environment in the years to come. What I suppose is a change in attitudes and an increasing interest in this area in Scotland is a good thing, which I am sure that the Green party would acknowledge and support.

That raises a budget issue for us, which I know that the Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning and his deputy are considering. I am absolutely certain that if we can increase the resources in years to come, we will do so, but I would rather leave a statement on that to them.