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Language: English / Gàidhlig


Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Meeting of the Parliament 05 February 2020

Agenda: Portfolio Question Time, Transport Strategy, Independent Care Review, Tax and Public Spending, Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3, Points of Order, Business Motion, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, Cheyne Gang Singing Group


Points of Order

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Rhoda Grant made a point of order in the chamber last week, maintaining that an intervention that I had made on her speech in the previous week was incorrect. She had said that air traffic controllers at Wick John o’Groats and Benbecula airports had not been consulted on the changes to the centralised air traffic control system, and I challenged that assertion. In her point of order, Rhoda Grant said:

“Perhaps Gail Ross would like to take the opportunity to amend the record, apologise for misrepresenting her constituents and join me in attempting to save these vital jobs.”—[Official Report, 29 January 2020; c 80.]

Perhaps Rhoda Grant would like to do some research before her next point of order, because I have here a list of all the engagements that the air traffic management strategy—ATMS—programme has had with the staff at both Wick and Benbecula airports. They include engagements in 2018, on 1 November, 7 November and 5 December; in 2019, on 4 February, 17 April, 23 April, 1 May, 3 May, 30 May, 26 June and 11 November; and, most recently, in 2020, on 16 January.

Will she now admit that my point was correct and that there has been engagement with staff, with 16 meetings with both airports and opportunities for one-to-one phone calls? I look forward to her apology for the insinuation that I do anything but my absolute best for the people of my home town of Wick.

I thank Ms Ross for advance notice of that point of order. I highlight that it is not actually a point of order. In fact, I am going to repeat almost precisely what I said to Ms Grant last week. There is a procedure for making corrections to the Official Report if a member believes that a correction is needed. I encourage the members to write to each other, and then a member can correct the Official Report if necessary. These are not matters for me to adjudicate on in the chamber.

Having said that, as I said to Ms Grant, the point that Ms Ross has made is now on the record. I suggest to both members that they have made their points and that they do not raise the matter any further in the chamber. Thank you.

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Giving evidence to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee this morning, Jim McColl, the chairman of Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd, said that the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work, Derek Mackay, told him that the board of Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd, which is a company wholly owned by the Scottish Government, had written a legal letter to the cabinet secretary, saying that they would all resign if he intervened in the Ferguson dispute.

On 3 September 2019, in response to questions from Willie Rennie and me, in which we both asked the finance secretary directly whether it was true that the CMAL board had threatened to resign if the Government intervened, he told the Parliament this—I quote directly from the Official Report:

“I am not aware of the position that members have expressed to me.”—[Official Report, 3 September 2019; c 59.]

Presiding Officer, I am sure that it would be of concern to all members if the finance secretary had misled Parliament on 3 September as to the existence of that letter. Has he approached you with a request to make a statement to Parliament in order to correct the record?

I also thank Mr Fraser for advance notice of the point of order. Clearly, accuracy in the chamber is a matter of great importance. However, that is a matter of contention among members. It is a matter that is being pursued by the committee, and it is my understanding that the committee will provide a forum in which members can pursue the matter further. In fact, I understand that the cabinet secretary will appear before members at the committee at a future date. Thank you.

I was expecting another point of order, but it is good to hear that there is not going to be one.