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Public Services Reform (Scotland) Bill

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:39 pm on 25th March 2010.

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Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party 4:39 pm, 25th March 2010

I thank all seven parliamentary committees that were involved in scrutinising the bill, as well as the witnesses, various civil service teams and public body staff who all played a valuable part in developing the bill to this final stage.

The Public Services Reform (Scotland) Bill makes a significant contribution to the development of the Government's wider public services reform agenda. That agenda, which the First Minister announced two years ago, is focused on simplifying and integrating public services and on promoting the sharing of services through closer collaboration on matters such as procurement. We are working closely with local government and with public bodies as part of our effective public bodies programme to improve the alignment of objectives towards achieving the Government's overarching purpose of sustainable economic growth.

The Government's simplification programme, including the proposals in the bill, will deliver net financial savings of around £127 million over 2008 to 2013 and recurring annual savings of around £40 million thereafter. Derek Brownlee made points about the need to go further and faster, particularly bearing in mind the current economic climate.

Important points were made in the debate—not least by Derek Brownlee, Margo MacDonald and Malcolm Chisholm—about how the order-making powers in part 2 of the bill will be exercised. That is critical. None of us, whether in the Government or any party in the Parliament, should assume what will happen. The will of the Parliament will prevail in the exercise of those powers.

I am pleased that, if we pass the bill, we will take a further step on the way to establishing social care and social work improvement Scotland and healthcare improvement Scotland by April 2011. They will provide more streamlined, better co-ordinated, proportionate and risk-based scrutiny and will focus on supporting improvement, which is important. I emphasise that the expertise and staff of HMIE's current child protection team will move to SCSWIS and, in SCSWIS, will still be able to work with the remainder of HMIE. I hope that that gives members some reassurance, particularly on child protection. The new powers in the bill will allow bodies to build a comprehensive picture of how the needs of the people who use their services are met.

The Parliament has also approved a package of amendments in relation to the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland. The commission will focus on the needs of individuals with a mental disorder or learning disability and will be able to work with other scrutiny bodies. There is also an update to the commission's governance structure, which will ensure that service users and others with expertise and knowledge of mental health services are more formally involved in its work.

I am delighted to say that, if it is passed, the bill will also establish the long-awaited single, unified national body for arts and culture: creative Scotland. I regret the Liberal Democrats' rejection of that. The development of creative Scotland has not been smooth or easy, but the final organisation should be all the better for the work that has been undertaken over the past 12 months.

In successive generations, Scotland has produced musicians, sculptors, writers, painters, dancers and composers whose hugely varied talents have received national and international acclaim. That wealth of talent exists in Scotland and needs to be nurtured and supported. I expect creative Scotland to help realise the potential contribution of art and creativity to every part of our society and economy. I say to Pauline McNeill that the use of the Scottish Screen brand will be an operational matter for creative Scotland, and I will pass on her remarks to the body.

Creative Scotland will help to promote Scottish culture at home and internationally. It will be modern, vibrant and progressive; it will draw on our rich heritage but project Scotland in a contemporary way. I am ambitious for the body and what it can achieve. The appointment of its chief executive designate has been well received. His contract was negotiated as a new contract without a bonus—a negotiation that was without prejudice in law in advance.