Museums and Heritage Sites (Support)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Jamie Halcro Johnston Jamie Halcro Johnston Conservative

Following funding cuts to cash-strapped Moray Council, the future of the award-winning Falconer museum in Forres is under threat. It is a fantastic example of a local museum that is grounded in its community and works to appeal to visitors and local people alike. Will the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs look into the situation and outline what other funding solutions might be possible to keep the Falconer museum going, as a vital part of our heritage?

Photo of Kenneth Macintosh Kenneth Macintosh Labour

Mr Halcro Johnston, I think that you have asked your supplementary question, rather than the main question. I ask the cabinet secretary to respond to the published question.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

The current council administration in Moray is having to deal with the incompetence of the Conservative-led administration that walked away from leadership. That is only been compounded by the incompetence with which the Conservative member, Jamie Halcro Johnston, just asked—or did not ask—his proper question.

The Scottish Government supports direct revenue funding of National Museums of Scotland, National Galleries of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland, the National Mining Museum Scotland, the Scottish Fisheries Museum, the Scottish Maritime Museum and Historic Environment Scotland.

Museums Galleries Scotland supports local, independent and private museums, including the one that Jamie Halcro Johnston asked about in his question, which I will try to answer. It might be helpful if administrations—

The Presiding Officer:

I will give Mr Halcro Johnson another chance to ask the supplementary question.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

I have heard it and am quite happy to answer it.

I am keen for the next question to be asked, so I will answer the supplementary question.

Museums Galleries Scotland stands ready to act, and has already proactively contacted Moray Council about the Falconer Trust. I share the concerns of the people of Forres and I understand how important the museum is to them. However, it is important for Moray Council to make contact with Museums Galleries Scotland, which has, as I said, already contacted the council.

Let us try to find a solution that helps the people of Forres and ensures that the heritage of that vital part of our country is celebrated. Museums Galleries Scotland stands ready to support Moray Council constructively. I hope that that offer is accepted.

The Presiding Officer:

I will allow Jamie Halcro Johnston to ask the end of his supplementary question.

Photo of Jamie Halcro Johnston Jamie Halcro Johnston Conservative

I apologise for being so keen to get an answer from the cabinet secretary that I got a bit ahead of myself. Unfortunately, although I asked the cabinet secretary my second question, I did not get an answer.

The question is about a decision that was made by Moray Council, which has been underfunded time and again by the Scottish Government. Rather than the cabinet secretary giving a list of examples of bodies that are being sponsored, can she tell me specifically what she can do to help Falconer museum, which is being underfunded by an SNP council—[

Interruption

]—that has been underfunded by the SNP Government?

The Presiding Officer:

Colleagues, I see that you are in a lively mood, but I suggest that we should hear the question then the cabinet secretary’s answer.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

I acknowledge—in a constructive way—that we regularly discuss fair funding of local government in the chamber. I have made the offer that

Museums Galleries Scotland, as the relevant development body, talk to Moray Council. If Jamie Halcro Johnston was really serious about the museum, he would—rather than the party-political point scoring that he tried incompetently—encourage all those who are interested in the matter to have a constructive dialogue with Museums Galleries Scotland. That would be the competent way to carry out his duties as a responsible MSP.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

On behalf of my constituents and the trustees of the Trimontium museum of Roman Scotland, in Melrose, can I thank the Government for the substantial investment that was recently announced for an extension to the museum?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

I am delighted that my colleague Fergus Ewing was able to announce that funding. To add an important point, I say that I am delighted that the south of Scotland economic partnership is taking heritage culture and tourism seriously through supporting museums and recognising the economic contribution that heritage makes to the economic wellbeing of the member’s constituency and the rest of the south of Scotland.

The Presiding Officer:

Before we move to First Minister’s question time, I invite members to join me in welcoming to our gallery Linda Scott, who is the High Commissioner of the Republic of Namibia to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. [

Applause

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