I welcome tonight's debate and I commend Mr Baker for lodging the motion that has allowed the debate to take place.
The proposed UK energy technologies institute represents an opportunity for all of Scotland, but our bid must be led by Aberdeen because that is where our expertise in energy lies. The bid will require partnership working; it should be led through our academic institutions but it will also require industry input and international input. As Mr Baker rightly pointed out, the connections between industry, our academic institutions and the international dimension exist in Aberdeen.
Because the Department of Trade and Industry has not spelled out all the detail, we have a wonderful opportunity to drive the project. We have a chance to create an institute that will work for us all—in fact, one that will work for the benefit of mankind, if members will forgive the motherhood-and-apple-pie approach. The proposed institute is not intended just to be a profit centre; it is about making the required changes to our approach to energy for the good of us all.
A key point is the fact that the bid will focus on who is to head up the institute. It will be a partnership between academic institutions, the private sector and aspects of the public sector, but the DTI is looking for a key individual to be the director. I hope that Scottish ministers will help to identify a suitable person from the great wealth of experience that we have in the field. Someone from the private sector who has an academic background might well be the individual who is needed. As I understand it, although there might be a real campus, the hub will revolve around a virtual campus, and that will depend on who is chosen as the director. I hope that the energies of the Executive and its partners are focused on identifying suitable individuals who could head up the institute.
I commend the Executive for the work that it is already doing with its partners in the field. I am aware of that work, having attended a number of meetings that have been held in Aberdeen and which involved all the interests and were focused on the efforts of Aberdeen City Council. I particularly commend its efforts in organising the groups that need to be involved in the initiative.
Yesterday, I received a written answer to one of the questions that I have lodged on the issue. It is disappointing that the Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning did not go as far as his colleague Richard Baker and those of us
"a significant proportion of the Energy Technologies Institute's research funds to centres of excellence in Scotland, including Aberdeen."—[Official Report, Written Answers, 25 October 2006; S2W-28860.]
I was looking for a dynamic approach to getting the institute here in Scotland. The sensible place for it to be is Aberdeen. Of course we should involve partners, but the minister was asked a specific question but did not particularly endorse the proposal. We need to create partnerships throughout the academic world in Scotland. That is happening now, but the minister's response did not have the enthusiastic approach to an Aberdeen-led bid that I expected.
I think that I have taken as much time as the Presiding Officer will allow. I commend the motion to the minister and hope that he will give a positive response.