We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Transport (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 9th October 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

Amendment 38 builds on Colin Smyth’s proposal at stage 2 for the introduction of a set of underpinning transport principles. It requires the Scottish ministers to produce a national transport strategy that sets out their strategic vision for transport in Scotland. In doing so, they must have regard to the contribution that transport can make to a range of important issues, including the realisation of human rights, social and economic wellbeing, the environment, and health and wellbeing. That demonstrates the importance that the Government places on transport as a key enabler in respect of those matters.

Amendments 39 to 42 set out the consultation, publication and reporting requirements in relation to the strategy. Amendment 132 is a consequential amendment to the long title of the bill.

We are consulting on our draft national transport strategy, which will ensure that protecting our climate and improving lives will be at the heart of future strategic transport planning. The Government will ensure that the requirements that are imposed by amendments 38 to 42 are met through finalising the strategy post consultation and reporting to Parliament on the final strategy and the consultation process. I urge members to accept the amendments in my name in the group.

Jamie Greene’s amendments seek to adjust the content, consultation and reporting requirements of the strategy. We envisage that the national transport strategy will guide us over a 20-year period. I do not support setting timescales or cost estimates at the start of a 20-year strategy. In the strategy, we note the need to be flexible, given the lack of future certainty, and actions will be best developed over the lifetime of the strategy through the monitoring and delivery plans. A more appropriate source to determine future costs to Government for strategic transport interventions will be contained in, among other things, the second strategic transport projects review, which will be published during this parliamentary session. Therefore, I cannot support amendments 38B and 38C. For similar reasons, neither can I support amendments 42A and 42B.

On amendment 38A, developing “measurable policy objectives” for a 20-year strategy would not be analytically robust, given the broad range of factors that may impact on the complex and multifaceted issues that are highlighted in amendment 38. The monitoring framework, which the Government has committed to taking forward, will contain measurable indicators that will demonstrate the progress of the strategy and its contribution to those issues. Therefore, I cannot support that amendment.

I am happy to support amendments 38D and 38E, because I consider that the needs of older people and the importance of education are already implicit in references to social and economic wellbeing. The same is true of economic development and growth, but I am concerned that a specific reference to that as a driver of social and economic wellbeing might be too narrow a focus. The Government takes a more holistic approach to inclusive growth and a broader approach to outcomes through the national performance framework, and therefore cannot support amendment 38F.

Amendments 39A and 39B seek to add further consultees, including Parliament. However, amendment 39 already requires ministers to consult widely, including with the general public. That is sufficiently flexible, and there is no need to specify any particular consultees.

On amendment 39A, establishing Parliament as a consultee would be unusual, as Parliament is, of course, not a stakeholder, but exists to hold the Government to account. Moreover, it is not clear how Parliament could be expected to speak with a single voice for the purposes of any consultation. I agree that the Government must seek to take account of the views of members of the Scottish Parliament on the draft strategy—in fact, we have already written to all MSPs for that purpose. I will welcome any views that members might have before the consultation on the strategy closes on 23 October.

I propose to make a statement to Parliament when the strategy is laid, of course. Although I see no need for that to be a statutory requirement, I am willing to support amendment 40A, to reaffirm my commitment in that regard.

I urge members to support all the amendments in my name in the group and to support Jamie Greene’s amendments 38D, 38E and 40A, but to reject his other amendments in the group.

I move amendment 38.