Efficiency Savings

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Finance and Public Services and Communities – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 8th March 2007.

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Photo of Stewart Maxwell Stewart Maxwell Scottish National Party 2:15 pm, 8th March 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive how, in advance of publication of the Howat report, it is possible for the public to assess the achievability of the savings the Executive has targeted. (S2O-12254)

Photo of George Lyon George Lyon Liberal Democrat

As we have always made clear, the recommendations of the budget review report are being considered as part of the preparation for the next spending review. The budget review report will be published when the spending review is completed. The public will be able to assess savings as part of the normal budget scrutiny process following the publication of the spending plans of the next Administration.

Photo of Stewart Maxwell Stewart Maxwell Scottish National Party

Is it not the case that the current Lib-Lab Executive is well known for trying to hide reports that do not suit its spin? Will the minister give me a precedent for a report that has been sat on for a year before its intended publication, or is the Howat report so bad for the Executive that it is the only example of such inordinate delay?

Photo of George Lyon George Lyon Liberal Democrat

As the member will know, advice to ministers is always protected. Ministers have always made it clear that once the spending review has been completed, the report will be made public. Indeed, a future Administration might decide to take an alternative position. However, today we give the guarantee that the Howat report will be published as part of the spending review in 2007.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

In achieving targets to reduce spending, will the deputy minister say to what extent the Executive has taken account of direction and regulation from the European Union? I point to the £15 million that has been wasted through compliance with EU regulations on tendering procedures for the Clyde ferries.

Photo of George Lyon George Lyon Liberal Democrat

The minister made his position on the matter very clear yesterday. He and I agree that that money might have been better spent on investing in and improving services for our islanders. However, we have to comply with EU rules and regulations in this area. To date, none of the Opposition parties, which have traipsed many times to Brussels, has come back with an alternative view on how to comply with EU cabotage and maritime regulations.