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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Thursday, June 15, 2017

Meeting of the Parliament 15 June 2017

Agenda: General Question Time, First Minister’s Question Time, Stink Pits, Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body Question Time, Education Governance, Edinburgh Festivals, Business Motion, Decision Time


Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body Question Time

Garden Lobby Roof

To ask the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body what plans it has to address the pooling of water on the roof of the garden lobby. (S5O-01130)

As the member might recall, a question relating to the garden lobby roof drainage was raised on 10 November 2016, when members were given the following advice:

“An inspection of the roof was carried out in 2007 by our property service consultants, Lee Boyd. The garden lobby roof consists of stainless steel”

cladding and glazed panelled

“roof lights which are designed as leaves and positioned close together. Combined with the three-dimensional form, that creates a complex roof arrangement. The inspection confirmed that the design can lead to water pooling in certain areas after heavy or persistent rainfall. The bespoke roof has shallow falls and raised seams, which are part of the original architectural design. Our consultants advised that the issue does not affect the roof’s waterproof structure. ... we clean the roof regularly to maintain its appearance and to check that the drainage points are clear and free flowing.”—[Official Report, 10 November 2016; c 42.]

However, areas of pooling are still expected to occur.

Members of the corporate body will be aware that, in recent weeks, standing water has covered a large area of the roof and, in addition, a red algal bloom has developed on the roof. Has the corporate body considered installing one or several small electric float pumps, discreetly located, to drain off the pond of water and, thereby, to reduce the area that is covered by standing water? In the long term, notwithstanding Mr Stewart’s reply, that will help to maintain the integrity of the roof, as well as reducing the annual cost of £7,000, or thereby, of cleaning the roof. An investment in such a roof drainage solution would probably pay for itself in one year.

There you go, David Stewart. That was a thorough question.

Perhaps it would be helpful if I added a little bit more information for the member.

Facilities management has been aware of the issue since occupation of the building in 2004, and it commissioned an inspection by the property service consultants, Lee Boyd, as I said. Following the inspection, facilities management undertakes regular reviews of the standing water on the roof, and there is currently an effective maintenance regime to clear the standing water and to remove any discolouration that is caused by the algal growth.

FM regularly reviews the issue with the on-site contractor to ensure that there is no change in the roof’s integrity, and the maintenance interventions are frequent enough to keep the issue under control. However, I am happy to arrange for officials to meet Mr Scott again to discuss the issue further and to assess the constructive suggestions that he made this afternoon.

Electric Vehicle Charging Points

To ask the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body whether it plans to increase the number of electric vehicle charging points. (S5O-01133)

Yes. There are plans in place to increase the number of electric vehicle charging points from the current two spaces to four. We have already applied for grant funding for additional electric vehicle charging and the Energy Saving Trust has provisionally awarded us 75 per cent of the costs, up to a cap of £1,500. The full cost of installing a vehicle charging point, which serves two parking spaces, is between £2,000 and £3,000.

The additional charging point is on the corporate body’s project list and we will progress it in due course. Currently, both existing charging points are in use on most business days, so the corporate body is proactively planning for the future by ensuring that capacity is available.

We currently have access to an electric car as part of the Enterprise car club and members might wish to know that it can be booked for exclusively business journeys. It offers members, members’ staff and corporate body staff the option of undertaking journeys in a more environmentally friendly way. They should register on the Enterprise car club website to book the vehicle.

I welcome that positive response. However, given the targets to vastly increase electric vehicle usage, will the corporate body revisit the number of charging points that are allocated as and when required?

Again, it might be useful if I provide a slightly more detailed answer for the member.

Obviously, the Scottish Parliament works hard to reduce its carbon footprint, and we already have a target to reduce it by 42 per cent by 2020, in line with the Scottish Government’s targets. We are on track to achieve that, with emissions already down 37 per cent on the 2005-06 baseline figure.

We encourage members to register with the Enterprise car club. If members or staff are converting to electric vehicles, we will encourage them to inform officials in advance so that we can incorporate that information in our future plans for further electric charging points.

Claudia Beamish has a supplementary question.

I note the positive answer from my colleague David Stewart but, given that the transport sector is now the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, which contribute to global climate change, it is, of course, important that we continue to lead by example in the Scottish Parliament. In addition to the charging points, what is the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body doing to encourage modal shift in the Parliament to ensure greater use of public transport and active travel? What information does the corporate body hold on the transport choices of the Parliament to inform its future actions?

That question is a bit outwith the original one, but Mr Stewart may wish to answer it.

The Scottish Parliament has an extensive sustainable travel plan, which is available on our website. That plan details measures that are taken to encourage staff and visitors to adopt active and sustainable travel.

I agree with the points that Claudia Beamish has raised. It is clear that we want to achieve our climate change targets.

Garden Level Restaurant (Portion Size)

To ask the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body what consideration it has given to reducing the portion size of food served in the garden level restaurant. (S5O-01134) [Interruption.]

I hear groans all round on that one, Mr Mason.

The portion sizes that are served in the garden level restaurant are based on standard catering practices for workplace restaurants. We have no plans to reduce portion sizes—

Members: Hear, hear.

I must come back here more often. Customers can ask for smaller portions and our catering staff will be happy to oblige.

In developing the menus, our executive chef considers that lunch may be the main meal of the day for many customers. However, lighter options are available.

On a serious note, we are told by the cancer and diabetes sectors that obesity is one of the major problems that they face. I accept that some people need to eat more than others do, but the assumption in the restaurant seems to be that the norm is a very large portion, and people have to ask for a smaller one.

Members: No.

Last week, very large pizzas plus chips were offered to us, although half a pizza was sufficient for me.

I think that the people have spoken.

The garden level restaurant holds the healthyliving award plus, which means that all meals are nutritionally balanced and a wide choice is available to customers. We are regularly audited for the award to ensure that our meals continue to meet the criteria. Where possible, we will indicate to customers the calorific value of a meal to allow them to make a more informed choice.

I dread what is coming. Murdo Fraser has a supplementary question.

What comfort does the corporate body have for all the growing lads and lassies around the chamber who would occasionally like larger portions?

I fear that we are descending into some nonsense, but David Stewart may feel that he wants to answer that question.

We are thinking of reallocating members’ rooms so that members who need more exercise would have to go to the top floor.

Security Staff (Lethal Weapons Seized)

To ask the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body how many potentially lethal weapons have been seized by security staff in 2017. (S5O-01129)

The parliamentary security office does not—I have not put my card in the console. [Interruption.]

Some people are enjoying your misdemeanour.

The parliamentary security office does not use the definition “lethal weapon”—Mr Stewart might be a bit of a lethal weapon himself—but the term “knives and bladed articles” is used.

All knives, penknives, scissors and other sharp objects carried by visitors are retained by security staff for the duration of a person’s visit. The total number of such objects that security officers have retained in 2017, up to and including 8 June, is 841. Knives that can be carried legally in a public place in Scotland are returned to the visitor when they leave. The number of knives that have been surrendered to Police Scotland in 2017 is 70.

It is paramount that visitors, staff and members feel safe in the Parliament building. What additional measures have been introduced in recent months to allay any fears and tighten security?

In partnership with the parliamentary authorities, Police Scotland recently undertook a comprehensive review of the Scottish Parliament building and external policing arrangements. The corporate body has now received the review report and noted its recommendations, which will be taken forward by the Parliament’s head of security, in collaboration with Police Scotland and other relevant agencies. It would not be appropriate to discuss any particular recommendations, as they pertain to the security of the building and those who work and visit here.


To ask the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body what assessment it has made of the danger of cyberattacks on its information technology systems. (S5O-01132)

The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body recognises the danger that cyberattacks pose, and our advisory audit board recently considered an independent review of our cybersecurity maturity. The review looked across the three critical security domains of technology, people and crisis management, and it offered assurance that sufficient and effective arrangements are in place to manage cyberthreats and risks. For obvious reasons, I will not go into detail, but we also take advice from the police, the security services and the national cyber security centre.

Is further advice available to staff and members on any actions that they can take to protect themselves from online hacking? In particular, is any advice available on the use of USB drives on parliamentary devices?

The member makes a number of excellent points. Cybersecurity is of course a critical risk area that organisations need to understand. It is a risk that continues to evolve and it should not be seen solely as an information technology issue. All users of the IT systems have a responsibility in the area. I recommend to all members the information security guide that is available from the business information technology office, which gives advice on actions that members should take. The BIT office has a number of tools to identify any irregular and unusual activity.

As a requirement of CGI’s contract with the Scottish Parliament, it prepares monthly reports of network performance, server capacity and certain aspects of security-related management information, including the identification of malware, the status of anti-virus software across the desktop estate and any threats that have been blocked by existing firewalls.

That concludes questions to the corporate body. I look forward to seeing the portions that John Mason will now receive in the canteen.