The next item of business is stage 3 proceedings on the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill. In dealing with the amendments, members should have the bill as amended at stage 2, the marshalled list and the groupings of amendments. The division bell will sound and proceedings will be suspended for five minutes for the first division of the afternoon. The period of voting for the first division will be 30 seconds. Thereafter, I will allow a voting period of one minute for the first division after a debate.
Members who wish to speak in the debate on any group of amendments should press their request-to-speak button as soon as possible after I call the group. Members should now refer to the marshalled list.
Amendment 9 amends the agency’s aims so that it is clear that it should further “sustainable” social and economic development rather than simply social and economic development. At stage 2, the bill was amended to call for sustainable economic growth, which was a welcome addition. However, amendment 9 makes clear that, when it comes to the implementation of the agency’s aims, the principle of sustainability should inform decisions across the board, not only those that are expected to secure economic growth. For example, that includes environmental sustainability and support on the sustainability of communities or the sustainability of vital but not necessarily profitable services, if that furthers the aims of the agency. Therefore, sustainability should be a key priority for the agency. Amendment 9 will ensure that the legislation reflects that.
By adding reference to it in the agency’s aims, amendment 2 clarifies the importance of
“supporting rural businesses, enterprises and communities”.
It reflects the fact that large parts of the region are rural and, as a result, those communities have specific challenges and opportunities. That support can take several forms, such as recognising the importance to the region of rural-based industries, such as forestry, aquaculture and agriculture, or recognising that creating a handful of jobs in a small rural community by supporting many small and micro businesses could be as important to the sustainability of that community as creating 100 jobs in a large town. Amendment 2 makes clear that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work in the south of Scotland and ensures that we learn from the difficulty that the current Scottish Enterprise model has had in properly responding to the unique needs of different parts of the area that it covers. It is essential to ensure that the agency delivers for our rural communities and recognises that that will require a different approach. Amendment 2 emphasises that aspect by placing it on the face of the bill.
The cabinet secretary’s amendment 3 tidies up the language used in my amendment that was agreed to at stage 2, which ensures that supporting “social enterprises and co-operatives” is a key aim of the agency. I am more than happy to support that amendment.
My amendment 10 adds the need to promote
“the development of affordable housing” to the agency’s aims. At stage 2, amendments relating to promoting digital connectivity and transport infrastructure were added to the agency’s aims on the basis that those are key challenges in the region that the agency will have a role to play in tackling. I believe that the shortage of affordable housing is the other major issue of that kind, so there is again a role to be played by the new agency. As with transport and digital connectivity, I am not suggesting that the agency should be the only body to deliver on such an aim. In relation to social housing, for example, the main role will be played by the local authority and social housing landlords, but amendment 10 calls for the agency to promote
“the development of affordable housing” in order to reflect the leadership role that it should have in tackling problems in the area that are having an impact on things such as economic growth.
This week, I met the largest social housing provider in the region. It highlighted the skills shortage facing the area in various trades and the need for the new agency to work with it and the local colleges to support and grow a programme for tradespeople. The role of the agency in fulfilling the aim in amendment 10 would be to work with stakeholders to develop solutions to the challenges that the region faces with regard to affordable housing. Making it an aim of the agency stresses the importance of the issue to the south of Scotland.
Joan McAlpine’s amendment 11 adds a reference to “cultural heritage” to the agency’s aims, calling on the agency to maintain, protect and enhance that heritage. Members will not be surprised that I fully support that addition to the bill, having lodged the same amendment. The region has a rich cultural heritage and it is one of our key social and economic assets. It is right, therefore, that maintaining, protecting and enhancing our cultural heritage as well as our natural heritage is reflected in the agency’s aims.
Finally, Emma Harper’s amendment 12 clarifies the language of my stage 2 amendment on the agency’s responsibility to support the transition to net zero emissions. That is a crucial aim, so I am more than happy to support that small but important amendment.
I move amendment 9.
3 is a technical, tidying-up revision to ensure that the bill’s terms are reflective of the full range of models that co-operatives and social enterprises come in. It is to do with a technical defect in Mr Smyth’s amendment at stage 2, which we welcomed. I am pleased to hear that he agrees that the form of amendment 3 is acceptable.
Turning to amendments from other members, I am happy to support amendment 9 lodged by Colin Smyth. I agree that the agency should be involved in furthering development in the region that is both economically and socially “sustainable”.
I am also happy to support Joan McAlpine’s amendment 11, which emphasises the importance of
“protecting and enhancing the ... cultural”,
as well as the natural heritage. I thank Finlay Carson for highlighting the issue at stage 2. It builds on the good work of members of the south of Scotland economic partnership such as Paula Ogilvie and Dame Barbara Kelly in bringing experience of book festivals and arts trusts to the south of Scotland. I will also be supporting Emma Harper’s amendment 12, which brings the bill’s wording into line with climate legislation.
I am getting off to an extremely positive start, Presiding Officer, which I hope is appreciated by all. However, I have some concerns about Mr Smyth’s amendments 2 and 10. I start by saying that I understand what he is seeking to do, but I do not think that the amendments are technically felicitous.
I understand the point that Mr Smyth is making with the reference to “rural businesses”, but I contend that all businesses in communities in the south of Scotland are predominantly rural, including those based in some of the bigger towns such as Dumfries and Galashiels. If, by rural, Mr Smyth means those businesses that are considered to be rural industries, such as farming, forestry and fishing, it is absolutely the case that the agency will take a closer-than-ever interest in those industries, which are vital to the south of Scotland. I hope that members would expect nothing less and they are right to do so.
I appreciate the aim of amendment 10 about “affordable housing”, which is key to inclusive growth as well as to achieving the aims of the proposed agency. However, I am sure that Mr Smyth would not want to rule out supporting other types such as mid-market housing and housing developments, not all of which may be affordable.
Although his amendment is not intended to rule that out, it may have that effect.
I do not consider it necessary for the bill to refer to the promotion of affordable housing, because that is already absolutely clearly implicit in the aims that are set out in the bill and the ways in which those aims will be supported. For example, I refer members to sections 5(2)(f) and 5(2)(ba), which are already in the bill and through which the agency will support communities
“to help them meet their needs”,
which of course incorporates affordable housing, and increase
“the number of residents in the South of Scotland who are of working age”.
I encourage members to support amendments 9, 3, 11 and 12 and to resist amendment 2.
My amendment 11 emphasises the importance of protecting and enhancing the cultural as well as the natural heritage of the south of Scotland. During stage 2, the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee was keen that cultural heritage be included in the bill in recognition of the role of culture alongside that of natural heritage. That resonates with people across the south of Scotland, who are rightly proud of their culture, which is why I would like amendment 11 to be supported.
The vibrancy of our area’s culture is renowned locally, nationally and internationally. From the abbeys in the Borders to the castles and standing stones of Dumfries and Galloway, the south has a heritage of which to be proud. That heritage spans centuries, and many genres and forms. In 2021, we will celebrate the 250th birthday of Walter Scott and, next year, we will celebrate the 160th birthday of J M Barrie. I was pleased to attend the opening of Moat Brae storytelling centre, which is in the house in Dumfries in which J M Barrie found inspiration for Peter Pan.
In the south of Scotland, our summer starts with the Borders book festival and closes with the Wigtown book festival. Kirkcudbright thrived as an artists’ town, leading Dorothy L Sayers to say:
“in Galloway, one either fishes or paints.”
Of course, that historical success is being built on through the wonderful new art gallery that recently opened in Kirkcudbright. Coming right up to date, our success continues with the Dumfries born and Brit award-winning DJ Calvin Harris.
Culture and the creative economy are more than simply means in themselves, and are more than means of boosting tourism; they are also ways of developing community capacity and aiding regeneration. I cite the work of the Stove Network, which is an artists collective in Dumfries, in driving the Midsteeple quarter initiative, which is aimed at regenerating the High Street through housing and other economic activity. Part of the Stove’s work includes the creative futures project, which is building community capacity in west Dumfries. That is a good example of art and culture playing an important role in engagement and in energising communities and community development—which is, of course, very much in the spirit of what we are doing with the bill.
Amendment 11 makes it clear that one way in which the new south of Scotland enterprise agency can further its aims is through maintaining, protecting and enhancing the cultural heritage of the south of Scotland. I urge members to support the amendment.
I welcomed the amendments at stage 2, first from the Scottish Government and then from Colin Smyth, that committed the new south of Scotland enterprise agency to working to support our climate change ambitions.
Although Colin Smyth’s amendment at stage 2 helped to move the framing of the provision into the appropriate net zero space, the language is not quite appropriate. My amendment 12 would therefore revise the language that was agreed to at stage 2: its aim is to bring it into line with current terminology in environmental legislation, and to provide better alignment with the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.
Parliament is also considering the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill, which would set a world-leading statutory target for net zero greenhouse gas emissions, and is the flagship legislative response to the climate emergency. It is appropriate that we link what we are trying to achieve on environmental policy and legislation with the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill, so I encourage members to support amendment 12.
I support amendment 11. It is essential that the new agency supports the wide-ranging cultural aspects of the region, which Joan McAlpine described so clearly.
I agree with the cabinet secretary about amendment 10, which could lead to duplication in relation to housing developments, given that local authorities, housing authorities and the Scottish Government all share an aim to build affordable housing. Duplication is not the goal.
I thank John Finnie for making that point. The Scottish Government is committed to building affordable housing in rural communities; that essential programme is in place. I am not keen for there to be duplication, and there are already concerns about multiple agencies and people not knowing what is the best direction in which to go. Affordable housing is essential, but its promotion does not need to be mentioned in the list of the agency’s aims.
Like the cabinet secretary, we have issues with amendments 2 and 10. Amendment 2 is too restrictive. It would include in the bill the aim of “supporting rural businesses”. We all want to support rural businesses, of course, but if we were to put that in the bill, what would we be saying about urban businesses? I do not think that amendment 2 would achieve what Colin Smyth is aiming for, and I do not think that such a provision should go in the bill.
Amendment 10 would add the aim of
“promoting the development of affordable housing”.
Liberal Democrats very much believe that mixed housing provision is necessary to support employment and to bring people into the south of Scotland. Reference to just affordable housing, important though it is, is too restrictive.
I represent that part of the world, where there is an acute problem with affordable housing. The arguments that Mr Rumbles and other members have made have not convinced me that any harm would come from making such an aim explicit in the bill. Will he explain his position?
That was a helpful intervention; maybe I should explain more. Housing is a really important issue. Everyone deserves to live in a decent house. It is a fundamental human right, and we are not currently meeting that need. However, I think that the aim in section 5(2)(f), which is
“supporting communities to help them meet their needs”,
is an enabling element.
Two members have referred to other aims of the agency in relation to support for communities. The same argument could have been made about the changes that we made at stage 2 to include transport and digital connectivity—and digital connectivity is a reserved issue. Will Mr Rumbles explain why he thinks it appropriate for the new agency to have aims that are about promoting improvements to transport and digital connectivity, but not to have an aim that is about promoting housing? Housing, transport and digital connectivity are probably the three biggest issues that face the south of Scotland.
Colin Smyth has misunderstood me. I just said that everybody needs a decent house to live in. I said that it is a fundamental human right, on which we need to focus. However, I am worried about including in the bill an aim that is about only affordable housing. We must have affordable housing, but if we are to attract employment to the south of Scotland we need to promote a mix of housing, for everyone. The Government has taken the right approach with section 5(2)(f), which talks about
“supporting communities to help them meet their needs”,
That is the enabling provision that I prefer to support.
I welcome the support from the cabinet secretary and other members for some of the amendments in my name in the group, but I am disappointed that there is no support for my substantive amendments on
“promoting the development of affordable housing” and
“supporting rural businesses, enterprises and communities”.
I have to say that the arguments against the housing amendment are exactly the same ones that the Government put at stage 1 against including transport and digital connectivity, which is a reserved issue. One of the aims of the agency will be to improve connectivity, so it is disappointing that the Government does not believe that housing—which is probably the third major problem that the area faces—should be included.
The reason why we think that amendments 2 and 10 should not be accepted is that affordable housing already falls within the definition of communities, and the matters that are to be pursued. The agency will already deal with that. Also, as Mr Rumbles indicated, singling out one type of housing, could—
We are hearing a lot of noises off.
By including one type of housing—which we all in the chamber absolutely support—we run the risk that the interpretation of law by the courts would be that the agency should not promote other types of housing. Surely that is not something that any member would wish.
Nobody is suggesting that the agency will take the lead on housing: it will not take the lead on transport, which is the role of Transport Scotland. The point is that we in the region have a challenge in respect of affordable housing. Housing is being built across Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders. Where the shortage exists, where we need intervention and where there is market failure is in affordable housing. That is one of the reasons why every day we see young people leaving the south of Scotland and moving to the central belt to get jobs and educational opportunities. They cannot afford housing in the south of Scotland and there are not job opportunities for them there.
Everybody recognises that that is a big challenge for the area. We should be recognising it by putting it on the face on the bill and making it an aim for the new agency.
On amendment 2, which would include “supporting rural businesses”, it has been implied that that would somehow mean not supporting urban businesses, which shows a complete misunderstanding of the rest of the aims in the bill, which include
“supporting inclusive and sustainable economic growth” and
“encouraging business start-ups and entrepreneurship”
The bill already covers all businesses, but there is a specific challenge when it comes to rural businesses. Amendment 2 recognises that sometimes, to make a small community sustainable, four or five jobs might need to be created, which is as important as creating 100 jobs in a town or city. That is missing from the current economic development support that our region receives.
Likewise, amendment 2 recognises that in rural communities additional support is needed to make that happen and to make a difference. That is why it is important that the bill specify rural communities. It also encompasses the importance of the industries—from forestry, to agriculture, to aquaculture—that will make a big difference to the economy of Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders, going forward. That is why so many organisations, including the NFU Scotland, very much support the amendment.
Colin Smyth said that it was “implied”, but it was not implied: I said straight out that just putting “supporting rural businesses” into law could easily be interpreted as saying that urban businesses may not be supported. That is the point. We have no revising chamber, so it is really important that we get it right at stage 3.
That interpretation means, frankly, that Mike Rumbles has not looked at the rest of the aims of the bill, which talk about
“encouraging business startups and entrepreneurship”
Those are covered, but the distinctive way in which we need to support rural business is not. One could argue, in the same way, that we should not include transport or support for digital connectivity because they exclude other things. That would be a ridiculous statement to make. Amendment 2 emphasises the importance of the new agency focusing on rural businesses. That is why I am happy to support amendment 2 and amendment 10, which, disappointingly, other members do not appear to support.
Amendment 9 agreed to.
The Presiding Officer:
The result of the division is: For 52, Against 60, Abstentions 0.
Amendment 10 disagreed to.
Amendment 12 moved—[Emma Harper]—and agreed to.
I declare an interest as a member of the Co-operative group of members of the Scottish Parliament.
Amendment 13 would add to the aims in section 5 a requirement to encourage
“persons and bodies with an interest in the environment to co-operate in achieving environmental objectives”.
I have brought the amendment back from stage 2 because I strongly believe that the requirement should be in the bill. It would enable and facilitate—the cabinet secretary is not listening—a whole range of bodies and individuals, such as farmers, land managers and communities, urban and rural, to work together. The amendment would encourage groups to take environmental projects forward on a co-operative model.
I emphasise that it is about not only co-operation but a more robust model of co-operation. I am disappointed that the cabinet secretary does not grasp the importance of that. In commenting on the amendment at stage 2, he stated:
“It is essential that everyone works together and co-operates, but that is not really about the agency. The bill is not really about telling third parties what to do—that does not really come under the scope of the bill. People need to work together across the whole scope of government—that is expected and desirable—but it is not really within the scope of any bill that establishes a new body to state that third parties should co-operate. That should happen anyway”.—[
Official Report, Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee
, 8 May 2019; c 36-7.]
The “persons and bodies” that would be interested in the model would be self-selecting; there would be no obligation. The amendment is not about “should”, but “could”. It is not about telling people what to do, as the cabinet secretary stated was his interpretation at stage 2, it is about facilitating co-operative action.
The cabinet secretary also stated at stage 2 that the term
“with an interest in the environment” is vague. I disagree with that, and I will give examples of things that would be far more difficult for individual, small-scale farmers, land managers and community groups to do without support and advice on working co-operatively.
One example is river basin-wide work—including such actions as riparian tree planting—to mitigate flooding and bring shade to salmon spawning grounds.
Another example is the removal of non-native invasive plant species, such as giant hogweed, from a wide area. That is less worth doing on a small scale because of the likelihood of the species continuing to spread despite being tackled.
Another example is agroforestry schemes, which would enable action that would, because of economies of scale, make tree planting more possible across smaller landholdings in a way that would otherwise be more difficult.
My final example is woodland planting. There are already many good examples of communities doing that, in Peebles and other places in South Scotland. That would be further enhanced. My amendment would support and facilitate communities working on that and many other issues with advice and support from the agency.
In view of the recent United Nations report on nature and the extinction warnings therein, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning about remaining below an increase of 1.5°C, the new commitment by the Scottish Government to net zero emissions by 2045, which is welcome, and, more broadly, the climate and environment emergencies and the cabinet secretary’s commitment to look at all policies in those contexts—certainly in the context of climate change—I am clear that amendment 13 adds to the aims in a way that would facilitate a co-operative approach to positive environmental and climate change objectives.
That support for co-operation for environmental purposes is surely exactly the sort of policy marker that the Scottish Government should make explicit in this relevant bill. In view of those imperatives, the amendment is in the public interest. I hope that, even at this late stage, the cabinet secretary will reconsider his position and agree to my amendment, in view of the arguments that I have put forward.
The Presiding Officer will be pleased to hear that I will leave the other two amendments in the group to the members who lodged them.
I move amendment 13.
During the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee’s consideration of the bill, it was clear that, with a number of bodies operating in the south of Scotland, it would be important to ensure that the new agency did not duplicate existing activity, but enhanced the current landscape. My amendment 14 makes it clear that, in working to deliver its aims, the new agency should encourage and facilitate collaboration. Collaboration can effectively contribute to advancing the agency’s aims, whether the collaboration and co-operation are between the various agencies that operate in the region, or other persons or bodies.
Claudia Beamish and Colin Smyth similarly recognise the need for collaboration and co-operation to be mentioned in the bill, but their amendments place a narrower focus on the purpose of that collaboration and the bodies involved. Collaboration will be important to the delivery of all the aims of the new agency, whether they are environmental, economic or social aims, and we should not be prescriptive about that collaboration.
My amendment seeks to emphasise the importance of the new agency working collaboratively and promoting collaboration in pursuit of its aims. It provides the necessary flexibility to drive collaboration and co-operation in the most appropriate way and with the most appropriate bodies.
I ask members to support amendment 14.
My amendment 19 places a duty on the new agency to facilitate co-operation between relevant bodies. That serves a specific purpose that relates to the practical operations of public bodies in the region. It is about not just supporting the broad concept of co-operation but making co-operation a requirement.
There is no doubt that one of the key concerns that local stakeholders raised with the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee during stage 1 was how the new agency would work with existing bodies. The risk of duplication or gaps was raised, and most stakeholders stressed the need for a cohesive and collaborative approach to achieving aims.
The new agency will work alongside Scottish Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, the business gateway, the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council, two local authorities, whatever governance structure is introduced to run the Borderlands initiative, and many others.
The cluttered landscape and concerns about poor co-operation between existing bodies have been real problems in the region in the past. As we add a new agency to the list of existing bodies, we cannot afford a repeat of such a situation in the future. Simply saying that co-operation will take place is not as robust as it being underpinned in legislation. The REC Committee recognised that in its stage 1 report, which called for
“the development of appropriate mechanisms to facilitate collaboration and coordination between the new agency and all of the various existing agencies operating in the region, including the Strategic Board.”
An example of such a mechanism was provided by the leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Elaine Murray, who gave evidence on behalf of the council and all the groups on the council. She suggested that there should be a memorandum of understanding between the various public authorities.
Amendment 19 is not prescriptive about the approach that should be taken. We can talk all we like about promoting improved transport and digital connectivity, but that will be meaningless unless we make it a priority—indeed, a legal requirement—for there to be clear collaboration and co-operation across agencies. The best way to focus minds on the need for such collaboration is by making it a legal requirement.
Amendment 13, in the name of Claudia Beamish, calls for the agency to take a role in encouraging co-operation to achieve environmental aims. Such co-operation could cover a range of models, from formal co-operatives or catchment-based co-operation to more general collaboration, and that would clearly be a positive move. Given that the new agency will have a social and an environmental remit as well as an economic remit, it is fair to ask the agency to play a role in encouraging such co-operation.
Likewise, amendment 14, in the name of Maureen Watt, calls for the agency to facilitate collaboration in the region. Amendment 14 would be a worthwhile addition to the bill, and I lodged an amendment with the same wording. However, the new agency needs to have a leadership role in the region on issues that are relevant to its aims, and I do not think that amendment 14 goes far enough in delivering that. I do not believe that amendment 14 is in any way a substitute for amendment 19, as Maureen Watt seemed to imply; it will complement amendment 19.
In differing ways, amendments 13, 14 and 19 all seek to impress upon the new agency the importance of working collaboratively and promoting collaboration. A culture of co-operation has been a key characteristic of the work across the south to date that has been taken forward by the south of Scotland economic partnership. Indeed, we have already seen the willingness of the partnership to work with other agencies and communities to deliver for the region. I am confident that the relationships that it has forged and the fresh dynamic that it has brought to discussions and activities will continue.
The Government strongly encourages co-operation and alignment in order to deliver maximum impact. First, we highlight that theme in the strategic guidance letters that we issue to agencies, and I intend to do the same in the guidance letters that we will send to the south of Scotland enterprise agency. Secondly, co-operation is a key theme of the work of the enterprise and skills strategic board, which, by its very existence, is concerned with creating greater synergy and alignment across the planning of our enterprise and skills agencies. In addition, the chair of the new agency will be a member of the strategic board. Thirdly, we are committed to establishing regional economic partnerships across Scotland.
It would not make sense for all three amendments in the group, which seek to do the same thing, to make it into the bill. Saying the same thing in legislation several times in slightly different words tends to make the law not clearer, but more confusing. I therefore encourage members to support amendment 14, in the name of Maureen Watt, and to reject the other amendments in the group. I will set out the reasons why.
Amendment 14 is the most complete statement about the sort of collaboration that I am sure everybody in the chamber wants the new agency to engage in and promote. The amendment makes it clear that the new agency should work collaboratively with others and that it should encourage and facilitate others to work co-operatively among themselves to support the delivery of all the agency’s aims, including furthering sustainable “economic and social development” and improving
“the amenity and environment of the South of Scotland”.
In contrast, amendment 13, in the name of Claudia Beamish, relates only to collaboration on achieving environmental aims. I welcome the fact that Ms Beamish has lodged the amendment to highlight the undoubted importance of collaboration on environmental goals. However, if the bill were to underscore the importance of collaboration on environmental matters only, it would suggest that collaboration on economic and social development was less important. I do not think that that is the message that anyone, including Ms Beamish, wants to send through the bill, which is concerned with setting up an enterprise agency.
Amendment 19, in the name of Colin Smyth, is also narrower than amendment 14. Whereas amendment 14 and, for that matter, amendment 13 are rightly concerned with the promotion of co-operation among all persons, be they public, private or third sector, amendment 19 is limited to dealing with co-operation in the public sector and makes no reference to bodies in the private or third sector. It further confines the agency’s role to facilitating co-operation between itself and other public authorities operating in the region instead of acknowledging that the agency might also wish to encourage co-operation between and with any public body that might play a part in achieving the agency’s aims, even if that body operates or is based outwith the region. As a result, amendment 19 ignores the importance of the agency working co-operatively with, for example, neighbouring local authorities in Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire, in spite of the committee’s strong view at stage 1 that it would want the agency to work in co-operation with them.
For those reasons, I encourage members to support amendment 14, in the name of Maureen Watt, which will be helpful in fostering co-operation and collaboration in an expansive way, and to reject the other amendments in the group.
As Colin Smyth said on amendment 19, stakeholders have stressed the need for the new agency to work in a cohesive and collaborative way with existing bodies. However, his comment about a cluttered landscape is really important. With any form of collaboration, the lines of communication have to be really clear.
As a resident of Clydesdale who represents the whole South Scotland region, I take the point about working with other local authorities that are not included in the area covered by the agency, but I do not think that amendment 19 excludes anything. In fact, it is inclusive with regard to collaboration, and it is disappointing that the cabinet secretary is not prepared to support it. Including it in the bill would have brought clarity.
I do not want to add very much to what I have said about my amendment 13, but given the climate and environment emergencies that have been called, I believe that it is a dereliction of duty on the part of the Scottish Government not to support it, given what it says about environmental co-operation. My amendment is not exclusive and it does not prevent social and economic co-operation. It simply emphasises the importance of this particular aspect in light of the climate emergency.
I will leave it at that, Presiding Officer. We will see where we go.
Amendments 15 to 17 set out requirements and timescales for the new agency to review and consult on its action plan. During stage 2, having lodged a number of amendments on that issue, I agreed to consider the committee’s feedback on them. However, the principle remains exactly the same: consulting communities will be essential to the new agency, and I believe that the bill must include clear requirements in that regard. We need an agency that is for and very much rooted in the south of Scotland. Unless we find local solutions to the local challenges and opportunities facing the economy and communities in the region, the agency will not deliver on its aim. That means listening to the communities in the south of Scotland.
Amendment 17 would place a requirement on the new agency to consult before making its first action plan and a maximum of five years after that. It is important that the agency’s action plan is kept up to date, to ensure that it is always relevant to the needs and priorities of the region, and consulting on the plan regularly would help to achieve that. A maximum five-year window would deliver the flexibility needed to allow the agency to make plans on its own terms and to synchronise with those of other enterprise agencies. I stress that the five-year period is a maximum—we should fully expect the agency to revise its plan often enough that that upper limit does not need to be enforced and to ensure that on-going consultation and community engagement are part of its regular activity.
Local input to any consultation is essential. The agency needs to reflect the views of the people whom it serves. Amendment 17 makes it clear that the new agency would have to consult
“people who live and work in the South of Scotland, and ... businesses and public authorities that operate” in the south of Scotland. However, I consider it crucial that local authorities in particular have the opportunity to respond, and the amendment would make provision for that in proposed new section 6A(3) by making it clear that the agency must specifically seek views from Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Borders Council. Proposed new section 6A(4) would require the agency to report on what it will do in response to the views obtained through the consultation process. In the interests of transparency, that report would have to be sent to Scottish ministers and local authorities and then laid before Parliament.
Amendments 15 and 16 are technical, and are required should amendment 17 be agreed to.
I move amendment 15.
I support amendments 15 to 17, which address key issues of whom the agency should consult, when and how often, and what it should do with the consultation findings. The amendments would give effect to key matters raised at stage 2, but without imposing an unduly bureaucratic burden on the agency.
By stating that the action plan must be reviewed at least every five years, amendment 17 will ensure that the agency’s planning cycle can be synchronised with that of the other enterprise agencies. I am pleased that the amendment also expressly states that the agency must consult those
“who live and work in the South of Scotland”,
as well as
“businesses and public authorities that operate” in the south, including both local authorities, which are critical partners for the agency.
I hope that members will join the Government in supporting the amendments.
Amendment 15 agreed to.
Amendment 16 moved—[Colin Smyth]—and agreed to.
Throughout deliberations on and scrutiny of the bill, much has been made of Highlands and Islands Enterprise being a comparator for the new agency. Over a number of years, Scottish Green Party colleagues and I have asked about the role of public moneys provided to companies in the defence sector. In 2017, I asked a series of questions, which culminated in a meeting with the chief executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, where she explained that—she gave a real example—just because a company is manufacturing batteries that are used in motor vehicles but could be used in tanks does not necessarily mean that they are working for the defence sector. I got a breakdown of the moneys that had been provided and I was assured that there was no promotion of such activities. Members can imagine my surprise when I received an invitation from Highlands and Islands Enterprise the following week that highlighted an event on aerospace and defence sector opportunities in the region. It said:
“Businesses in the Highlands and Islands are being invited to a free workshop to find out how the region can benefit from opportunities in the aerospace, defence, security and space industries.”
The event, which was held in Inverness, was organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and ADS Scotland. For members who do not know what ADS Scotland is, I will read out what it says on its website:
“ADS is one of the founding partners of the Defence Growth Partnership ... which aims to secure a thriving UK defence sector delivering long-term security, growth and prosperity for our nation. As a partnership between Industry and Government, the DGP is an important part of generating high-tech, export-led growth.”
I am listening intently to what the member is saying. Does he have any examples that relate to the south of Scotland? Why is he using an example from the Highlands and Islands?
I am grateful that the member is listening intently to what I am saying. If she continues to do so, I hope that my reason for using the example will become clear. I started off by saying that HIE and south of Scotland enterprise are comparator bodies.
ADS Scotland’s website goes on to say:
“The DGP is working to:
At stage 2, when I lodged an amendment on the issue that covered a range of services that could be made available to the military, I was told by a number of members that it was far too expansive. Therefore, I have lodged a stage 3 amendment that mentions the word “munitions”. Members might ask where that word comes from. It is frequently cited by the Scottish Government. Last year, my colleague Ross Greer asked the Scottish Government
“what information it has regarding whether any companies that it provides financial support to have supplied weapons or equipment that might have been used in the alleged war crimes in Yemen by the Saudi Arabian air force”.
In his reply, Paul Wheelhouse said:
“The Scottish Government has not used public money to support the manufacture or export of munitions from Scotland”.—[
, 23 February 2018; S5W-14272.]
Mr Stewart will know that there are a number of competitions for space moneys in the Highlands, in which HIE is actively involved. I am talking about the defence sector.
When he was asked what the definition of “munitions” was, Ivan McKee said:
“The ... definition for munition is a ‘weapon or ammunition—particularly for military use’. Scotland’s enterprise agencies do not support the manufacture or export of munitions.”—[
, 28 September 2018; S5W-18505.]
No, I do not think that that is remotely odd.
The subject was discussed during the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee’s stage 2 consideration of the bill, when, as I mentioned, I lodged a more expansive amendment on the issue. Fergus Ewing said:
“As the First Minister has made clear, the Scottish Government and its enterprise and skills agencies do not provide funding for the manufacture of munitions ... our enterprise agencies do not support the manufacture of munitions”.—[
Official Report, Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee,
8 May 2019; c 63-4.]
If that is the case, I cannot see why there would be any issue with the Scottish Government supporting amendment 1, but I understand that it does not plan to do so.
I turn to the south of Scotland. Penman Engineering in Dumfries received funding from Scottish Enterprise. Penman’s products include armoured vehicles for military purposes. I am told that one of its products is the Penman Metras MRV, which looks similar to a Humvee. [
.] The Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands says that it is used as an ambulance, but the company’s promotional material shows it with a machine gun mounted on the top. That is not my idea of an ambulance.
I am a big fan of ambulances. If they can be manufactured in the south of Scotland, that is really good.
In 2012, Penman Engineering applied for an export licence for military vehicles for Saudi Arabia, and it had previously applied for export licences for military vehicles for Libya.
We are repeatedly told that diversification is what it is all about, and that is commendable.
I have read out the information that I have about that. If the company does not make munitions, that is good.
Given the undoubted support of the Scottish Government for no funding to be made available for munitions, it will have no difficulty supporting amendment 1.
I move amendment 1.
Amendment 1 purports to be about the arms trade, but it is not about the arms trade. In the amendment, the Greens define the arms trade as being the sale of munitions “for domestic procurement”. This is not about the arms trade, and it is a bit false to pretend that it is.
John Finnie has had his say. He can come back later on, when he sums up.
Amendment 1 is not about the arms trade, despite what we have heard from John Finnie just now. What about domestic munitions such as shotguns for farmers and all that sort of thing? If a company making those wanted to set up in the south of Scotland, amendment 1 would run counter to that.
I spent 15 years in the Army. As long as we have an Army, it will need munitions; I hope that we all agree with that. Do the Greens not want us to have an Army with munitions? Do they not want us to have an Army at all? Let us be honest in this sort of debate.
This is a remarkably daft amendment, if I am allowed to say so, Presiding Officer. It was not supported by anybody else at stage 2 and it should not be supported by anybody other than the Greens at stage 3. I hope that we will send a resounding message that if we have an Army, it must have munitions, for goodness’ sake!
The Conservatives will certainly not be supporting John Finnie’s amendment, particularly in light of his suggestion that it might affect companies such as Penman Engineering in Dumfries and Helmet Integrated Systems in Stranraer, which produces cutting-edge technology for helmets that go to the American air force and the gendarmes in France. Removing funding from such companies would be disastrous for the south of Scotland, not just for Stranraer.
We will not support amendment 1 because it would not achieve what John Finnie intends.
The purpose of the products of Helmet Integrated Systems is safety. In other words, the helmets are for protecting people from incidents that happen in the field of war.
The 100 people who are employed at Helmet Integrated Systems will be listening carefully to this debate. The idea that the south of Scotland enterprise agency should be denied the opportunity to support that company, and other innovative companies that are genuinely saving lives in the most hazardous of conditions, is insupportable.
We cannot support amendment 1, although we acknowledge Mr Finnie’s right to bring it back to Parliament.
Put simply, amendment 1 could prevent the new agency from providing support to companies in the defence sector in the south of Scotland, even for business development activities and development into other areas.
As the First Minister has made clear, the Scottish Government and its enterprise and skills agencies do not provide funding for the manufacture of munitions. Our agencies’ support helps firms to diversify and develop non-military applications for their technology. We recognise the importance of the aerospace, defence and marine sectors in Scotland, which employ many young graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects. The agencies work proactively with those sectors to help them to diversify their activities and to grow and sustain employment.
That position would apply to the new agency as well. It is important to ensure that we do not restrict the flexibility of the new agency to be able to do that work, which amendment 1 would do. The defence, aerospace and marine sectors in Scotland matter to our economy and we do not wish to damage the contribution that companies in those sectors make, or the ability to respond at a future date, should exceptional circumstances that relate to the defence of the state mean that we wish to provide support to a business to enable it to provide goods and services to the military.
I, too, will mention Helmet Integrated Systems in Stranraer, which is part of Gentex Europe. The company employs more than 100 people, who have a mixed range of skills, and is a living-wage employer. It has been based in south-west Scotland since the 1980s. It currently manufactures safety helmets for police, fire and rescue crews, as well as products for various industrial applications and specialist helmets for civil and military aircrew. In short, it provides equipment that keeps those who put themselves in the face of danger, often daily, safe. The staff use their expertise, skills and knowledge to provide high-quality equipment that those who undertake dangerous and risky work rely on to keep them safe. Far from being an employer that the Government, and indeed its enterprise agencies, should stop supporting, it is exactly the sort of business that we wish to continue to help, should the need arise in the future.
I urge members to oppose amendment 1.
There have been some interesting contributions, but it would have been excellent if the members who contributed had actually looked at the amendment, rather than presume what it says.
For instance, Mr Rumbles somehow thought that the previous iteration of the amendment was trying to interfere with military involvement in emergencies such as flooding, and another member thought that I was trying to attack the knitwear industry in the Borders. Unless helmets are being used as weapons—and I do not think that any of us would suggest that—I wish all the companies that have been mentioned every success.
Of course, the word “diversification” is bandied about a lot, and we were told in an official answer that Lockheed Martin, which is the largest arms manufacturer in the world, is an information technology company that is based in Aberdeen.
The mantra of the Green Party is people, planet and peace. By supporting the amendment, members will have an opportunity to do something positive. I hope that members take that opportunity.
The Presiding Officer:
The result of the division is: For 51, Against 62, Abstentions 0.
Amendment 19 disagreed to.
Before we turn to group 5, members may have noticed that we have passed the agreed time limit for the debate on the previous group to finish. I exercise my power under rule 9.8.5A to allow debate on this group to continue, to avoid the debate being unreasonably curtailed.
We are about 10 minutes behind.
This Government wants Scotland to be a world-leading fair work nation by 2025. We believe that fair work is key to underpinning our economic success and the wellbeing and prosperity of individuals, businesses, organisations and society with more and better jobs and more and better working conditions.
We know that the south of Scotland is a low pay region, and that there is a need to enhance productivity; workers’ and employees’ conditions and relationships with their work are key to that. Although there has been welcome progress in closing the pay gap between men and women in the region and elsewhere in the rural economy, the gap persists. Issues that contribute to inequality and in-work poverty constrain economic growth, incomes and the wealth of the region and we are determined that the agency will help to address those issues. The establishment of a workers’ interests committee will help to achieve that.
Amendment 4 will ensure that worker engagement will be a core function of the agency and that workers’ voices will be heard and listened to. I envisage that the committee will encompass the widest range of workers’ interests, including those who are employees and those who are self-employed. It is deliberately wide so that the new agency will be informed by issues impacting on a broad range of working people. It is important that the perspectives of all those who work in the south of Scotland are heard. At just over 20 per cent, the south of Scotland has a much higher proportion of people who are self-employed than Scotland as a whole at 12 per cent. Indeed, among Scotland’s 32 local authority areas, Dumfries and Galloway has the highest self-employment rate and Scottish Borders the third highest rate, at 22 and 19 per cent respectively.
This is a specific, deliberate and concerted effort to ensure that the new agency will consider what can be done to advance workers’ interests, which will not only deliver an effective voice but result in effective and credible policies and actions.
Yes. I am happy to confirm that the term “workers” will incorporate employees and those who are in self-employment and not schedule E employees. For the reasons that I have just stated, that issue has been particularly important in the south of Scotland.
I expect the workers’ interests committee to include representation from business, which could be provided from organisations such as the Federation of Small Businesses, the Scottish Chambers of Commerce and the Institute of Directors Scotland, to name but a few. That will ensure that the new agency hears advice from different perspectives, so that its actions are properly informed.
Amendment 4 complements amendment 5, which we will come to shortly in group 7, which will require the Government to issue a fair work direction for the agency, and amendments 7 and 8 in group 8, which will ensure that the membership of the agency as a whole has experience or knowledge of the issues that face those who work in the south of Scotland.
I thank the Scottish Trades Union Congress for our constructive dialogue, which has helped to put our social partnership into action. Those discussions have been productive and I know that the STUC has welcomed the considerable progress that has been made on the matter of fair work. I want to build on those discussions as we implement the requirements in the bill to ensure that fair work is embedded in the new agency and that the voice of workers is heard. I am committed to doing so.
I move amendment 4.
I support amendment 4, in the name of the cabinet secretary, which will create a workers’ interests committee. At stage 2, I lodged an amendment that called for the agency’s board to include trade union representation, in order to ensure that the board would be responsive to the needs and concerns of workers in the region. That remains my preferred position and it is the preferred position of the STUC.
One of the biggest challenges that the agency faces is the need to tackle low pay and support the creation of high-quality, well-paid jobs in the south of Scotland. Trade unions have an essential role to play in that. A consistent trade union voice on the board would have been a big asset to the new agency. Although I am disappointed that the Government has not lodged an amendment to guarantee trade union representation on the board, I hope that the workers’ interests committee will be given sufficient authority and power to ensure that the voice of workers is heard loud and clear in the work of the new agency.
We had concerns regarding the appointment of a trade union member to the board. This is a good compromise that recognises the above-average level of self-employed workers in the south of Scotland.
We support the cabinet secretary’s amendment.
Amendment 4 agreed to.
Amendment 18 requires the agency’s annual report to include an assessment of progress against the agency’s aims, as set out in the bill, and its action plan. As it stands, the bill does not require the annual report to include performance monitoring; it requires the agency to report only on its activities, not on their impact or outcomes. Updating stakeholders and communities on delivery is essential. Amendment 18 guarantees that that will happen on an annual basis and adds an important additional element of accountability.
I move amendment 18.
I agree that annual reports are an important means of providing accountability and transparency and that they should assure people, not least in the south of Scotland, that the agency is working to deliver on its functions, aims and the priorities that were identified through consultation in its action plan.
Annual reports should demonstrate impacts and outcomes from the agency’s activities. That is why section 14 already makes clear that the agency
“must, after each financial year ... prepare and publish a report of its activities during the year”.
There is another way to ensure that that happens. As part of our governance arrangements with each public body, we agree a framework document. That is a requirement of the Scottish public finance manual, in which we set out requirements for annual reports and accounts in relation to outlining bodies’ main activities and performance against agreed objectives and targets; it makes abundantly clear what an annual report on activities should say.
Therefore, although I understand and support the intention behind Colin Smyth’s amendment, I do not believe that it adds anything necessary to the bill. I respectfully submit that it is self-evident that an annual report should cover delivery on the agency’s aims and priorities. I hope that Mr Smyth agrees and that he will withdraw his amendment.
If something is going to happen, as the cabinet secretary says it will, I do not see the problem with including it in the bill—unless it is perhaps not going to happen. Amendment 18 is a small amendment that makes it clear that the annual report should include performance monitoring. As things stand, that is not specified in the bill. Therefore, I find it difficult to understand why anybody would oppose this small amendment.
I press amendment 18.
I undertook at stage 2 to consider what, if anything, we might be able to put in the bill to further our ambitions on fair work. That required careful deliberation, because those ambitions are linked to reserved matters and we need to be certain that anything that we put in the bill is within legislative competence and would not create difficulties for the new agency.
Amendment 5 works within the constraints on legislative competence to ensure that fair work is embedded in the approach that we expect south of Scotland enterprise to take. It requires Scottish ministers to issue a direction to the new agency to make it clear that we expect it “to promote fair work” in all that it does. In the direction, we will set out our expectations of what the new agency should take forward. I anticipate significant alignment to the fair work action plan that the Government published last year.
Amendment 5 also requires that people representing the interests of workers and employers in the region are consulted about the fair work direction before it is made. That gives effect to our commitment that the new enterprise agency will act as an exemplar in the area to establish the dimensions of fair work—namely effective voice, opportunity, security, fulfilment and respect—both in its role as an employer and in its activities with business.
As members will recognise, we do not use direction-making powers lightly. The fact that we have taken a specific power affirms our determination to make fair work more than just an aspiration. The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee recommended in its stage 1 report that we include “furthering fair work” in the bill’s aims. I hope that members will accept that I have sought to give effect to that call and will support the amendment.
I move amendment 5.
I very much welcome the cabinet secretary’s amendment 5, which calls for a fair work direction to be issued to the agency that sets out its responsibilities in that regard. The agency has a vital role to play in promoting fair work in the region. At stage 2, I pressed for the bill to be amended to reflect that. The promotion of fair work will help to tackle many of the challenges facing the region, particularly around pay and working conditions, and it will help the agency to achieve a number of its other aims.
It is important that the agency’s responsibilities with regard to fair work are clearly set out in the bill, so that they are not considered either optional or secondary to the aims that are included in the bill. I am content that the approach in amendment 5 provides a way of delivering that while avoiding the legal challenge of legislating on employment law, which is a reserved matter. I am therefore happy to support the amendment.
Amendment 5 agreed to.
Amendments 6, 7 and 8 focus on the skills and expertise required of members of south of Scotland enterprise. Creating a new agency is an opportunity to bring a fresh approach to economic development in the south of Scotland. Members of the agency will be key to shaping its culture and approach in delivering for the area’s interests and needs, so it is vital for agency members to have the right mix of skills and expertise.
As demonstrated by the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018, this Government is committed to improving the diversity of our boardrooms, in order to ensure that they are properly representative of modern Scotland and, importantly, that public boards benefit from a wider range of skills, knowledge and expertise.
Although south of Scotland enterprise will be subject to the provisions of the 2018 act, amendment 6 seeks to go further by encouraging diversity in its membership. Paragraph 1(2A) of schedule 1 was added at stage 2. I listened carefully to the views expressed by a number of committee members during the debate on that amendment, particularly on the need to ensure that the issues facing workers in the region are represented on the board.
One of the key issues for the region is the need to increase the working age population and to encourage more young people to stay in and move to the area to live and work. That is now rightly recognised in section 5(2)(ba). It is also right that the agency’s membership reflects that aspiration. There is a risk that, by emphasising the importance of members having both knowledge and experience, paragraph 1(2A) of schedule 1 in its current form could inhibit people who lack experience—particularly young people—from becoming agency members.
To address the concerns that a number of members expressed at stage 2, amendment 6 would change the emphasis of paragraph 1(2A) of schedule 1 so that it refers to members having either knowledge or experience. Ensuring that the membership criteria do not inhibit young people from applying to be members will open up opportunities to hear the voice of young people and shows our commitment to seek opportunities to deliver a legacy from our year of young people in 2018.
Amendments 7 and 8 address workers representation, which is a key dimension, and the provision of effective work. Taken with amendment 5, which requires a fair work direction, and amendment 4, which establishes a workers’ interests committee—we have already debated those amendments—amendments 7 and 8 will sustain a culture of fair work and fair work practices in the long term, making the consideration of workers’ interests the norm in the agency.
For those reasons, I ask members to support those three amendments in my name. I hope that my explanation of why we are proposing changing “and” to “or” through amendment 6 will persuade Colin Smyth of the best intentions of the change. I am seeking to be as inclusive as possible. Accordingly, I hope that Mr Smyth will not move his amendment 7A but, if he does, I ask members not to support it.
I move amendment 6.
Amendment 6, in the name of the cabinet secretary, would be a step backwards from what is in the bill at present. The bill requires the membership “taken as a whole” to have “experience and knowledge”; it does not refer to members individually. At no point does the bill say that individual members must have knowledge and experience; it simply says that the whole board should have that. Amendment 6 would change that so that the board as a whole would need to have only experience or knowledge. I believe that the membership overall should have experience and knowledge. Given that the bill is clear that it relates to the board as a whole, the consequence of amendment 6 could be that the entire board could have experience but no knowledge of the region or vice versa.
The justification for amendment 6 appears to be to ensure that young people can sit on the board. It is somewhat patronising to suggest that young people who live in the region do not have any experience of it. Their experience as young people living in the region is exactly what we need on the board. The wording as it stands would not prevent any individual, including a young person with only experience or knowledge, from sitting on the board. I reiterate that schedule 1 refers to the board “as a whole”. Therefore, this is a completely unnecessary change and one that risks the quite absurd situation in which the entire board may have no experience or knowledge of the region. I think that that is what we call an unintended consequence.
Likewise, Fergus Ewing’s amendment 7 opts for “or” rather than “and”, and amendment 7A, in my name, seeks to change that. As I said, paragraph 1(2A) refers to the board’s membership taken as a whole and does not apply to every individual member. In my view, amendment 7 is already a disappointing addition to the bill that falls short of the dedicated trade union representation that I wanted. I see absolutely no benefit from weakening the bill further by requiring the board to have either knowledge or experience of the issues facing workers in the region rather than requiring the board as a whole to include members with a combination of both.
I commend the cabinet secretary for his amendments, which I particularly wanted to be in the bill. There are no unintended consequences—they are deliberate measures. The cabinet secretary has listened to the evidence that we presented and the points that we made. When we advertise outside the usual channels for membership of the board, we do not want to put off young people in any way from applying to be considered as members. If we put it in legislation that members of the board must have experience and knowledge of the issues facing those who work in the south of Scotland, that could be off-putting to some young people.
Colin Smyth made the point that the provision relates to the membership taken as a whole and not individually. I agree entirely with the sentiment that experience or knowledge is important but, when we look at the board as a whole, we can see that experience and knowledge are important.
I could not agree more, but the point that I am making, and the point that is being missed, is that if we are thinking outside the box and trying to go outwith the usual channels, to get young people on the board of the south of—
The member should let me address the point before he tries to intervene.
We want to think outside the box, and the minister is in charge of the process. If people see in the bill and in adverts that go out that board members must have experience and knowledge, they could be put off applying. That is the evidence that was put to me; I put it to the cabinet secretary and he listened. To keep the current wording would be a backward step.
I understand the intentions and the issue. The board as a whole can have knowledge and experience, but requiring both knowledge and experience can put people off applying. If we are in the business of change and doing things differently, we have to make every effort to encourage young people to take part.
“the desirability of ensuring that the membership (taken as a whole)—
(a) has experience and knowledge of the whole of the South of Scotland”.
Surely replacing “and” with “or” means that the whole board could simply have experience or simply have knowledge. Perhaps the cabinet secretary will explain why a change is needed.
One of the great problems that youngsters face when they leave the education system is getting their first job. When I was a graduate with a humble degree, I had three job offers. That ain’t the case now: I have family members, better qualified than me, for whom it has taken three years to get a proper job. We need to ensure that we do not create barriers, in the minds of applicants and in the application process, that prevent people applying who are probably better qualified than many who have experience, and who would bring their knowledge to bear on the problems that face the south of Scotland, where it is particularly difficult to retain young people. I will certainly not support amendment 7A.
I have listened to and enjoyed the debate. It is our desire and intention that we do not deter young people from seeking to apply and, if appropriate, becoming members of the new enterprise agency board. It is absolutely right that we avoid doing anything that stops or discourages that, which is the point that Mr Stevenson—
No, I will not.
Views were imputed to me by Mr Smyth that I not only do not hold but would not dream of holding, far less expressing. That is unfortunate. I confirm that I am not suggesting that all young people have had no experience—that would be absurd. What I am saying is that many young people, for various reasons, have not had the opportunity to amass experience of life and work beyond, for example, further and higher education.
It is abundantly clear that the incisive arguments that Mr Rumbles put forward—[
.] I see that there is a lot of support for that sentiment. It is clear that Mr Rumbles’s incisive arguments should be preferred. We, at least, are determined that young people should not be left behind and should play an active, positive and growing part in the business of south of Scotland enterprise as it does its job for the south of Scotland.
The Presiding Officer:
The result of the division is: For 87, Against 27, Abstentions 0.
Amendment 7 agreed to.
That ends consideration of amendments. As members will be aware, at this stage in the proceedings, I am now required under the standing orders to decide whether, in my view, any provision of the bill relates to a protected subject matter; that is, whether it modifies the electoral system and franchise for Scottish parliamentary elections. In my view it does no such thing, and therefore it does not require a supermajority at stage 3.