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Environment and Climate Change (European Union Referendum)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 27th October 2016.

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Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

I start by declaring an interest, as others have done. I have been a species champion of the corncrake and the tree lungwort—but not at the same time, I stress.

The purpose of these debates is to try to discover common ground and to hear new and positive ideas. That is the same idea that motivates the meetings that I am having with party leaders and much of the discussion that I am taking part in across Scotland.

Unfortunately what we have learned today, which we learned at the very outset of this debate, is that the Scottish Conservatives do not want to take part in that process. Mr Golden was very testy about it in his opening speech. Finlay Carson also pooh-poohed it, although I am glad to see that my reasonable friend John Scott welcomed the fact that these debates were taking place.

The reason why the Scottish Conservatives do not want to take part in these debates is that they expose the emptiness of their position, because if the debates are about bringing ideas and imagination to help Scotland move forward, the Scottish Conservatives are found wanting.

I think that bringing ideas and imagination to this chamber and standing up for our constituents and for Scotland is our day job. I suggest to the Scottish Conservatives that they get back to their day job and start to bring some ideas and thoughts to this chamber rather than simply complaints.

I am delighted to be involved in the debate—