02/11/2011 Politics Scotland


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Hello and welcome to Politics Scotland. Coming up on the


programme: A major finance group says green energy companies should


be cautious about investing due to uncertainty over the independence


referendum. It's round two of the minimum price


for alcohol debate. We will see if the arguments have moved on. And


what will a Greek referendum on the euro bail-out mean for our economy?


Here at Westminster that issue is very much on the minds of MPs as


well. And how to pay for public sector pensions.


First, a major finance group has urged extreme caution over


investing in Scotland's renewable energy sector, partly because of


the independence referendum. Citigroup said the process of


constitutional change could create huge uncertainty. Here's our


business correspondent David Henderson.


He wants Scotland to be the Saudi Arabia of renewables, and this week


he is taking that message to the Middle East. But will Alex


Salmond's drive for independence scare off investors? The The SNP


see wind, wave and tidal power as a vast untapped resource to be used


to power Scotland and be exported to other parts of Europe. But that


will require a huge amount of investment. Today a major finance


group warned of the risks of investing in Scotland as it debates


independence. The financial giant Citigroup said the independence


referendum will create huge uncertainty and that renewable


investors risk seeing their assets stranded in a newly independent


Scotland. It's been seized upon by the SNP's opponents. When it comes


to vital industries like green technology the combination of a


green investment bank sponsored by the United Kingdom Government and


the many natural advantages there are in Scotland, can actually make


this a great industry for people in Scotland, but will only do that if


we keep our country together. recent times we have seen �750


million invested in renewable energy in Scotland and therefore,


if investors were scared away that wouldn't have happened and they've


all known of our plans for a referendum. The independence debate


is creating tension between business and the SNP Government,


but now the debate is entering stormy waters.


I am joined by our political editor Brian Taylor to discuss this


further. Good afternoon, Brian, thank you for joining me. How much


weight does this analyst from Citigroup carry, do you think?


not the weight of the individual analyst nor of the group, although


they're a large one, it's the weight of the arguments perhaps


relevant in this regard. Broadly, this Citigroup report is making two


points. Firstly, that the referendum itself, the process per


se carries with it uncertainty and that in their world equates with


risk. They argue that post- independence should that come about


there would not be sufficient consumer base in Scotland to


support the subsidies they believe will continue to be required for


renewables, against that Scottish Ministers here at Holyrood put two


points. They say that there are companies flocking to Scotland


right now to invest in renewables at a time when they know exactly


that there's going to be a referendum. Secondly, they believe


that in the new energy market across Europe, not just across the


UK, but Europe, there will be a continuing requirement, a


continuing demand, if you like, for renewables, and that of itself will


generate funds that will be required to continue that energy


development. This line of uncertainty is an emerging theme


from big business, the CBI mentioned it in September, as well.


How damaging is it do you think for the Scottish Government hearing


about these claims? It's difficult, because it obliges them again to


defend the timing of the referendum, they're putting back for three or


four years, because they said they promised to do in the second half


of the parliament, also because in strategic terms they believe now


with economic uncertainty would not be a reasonable time for them to go


ahead with suggesting independence to the people of Scotland. So it


poses a challenge to Ministers, but as you say they've heard it before,


it's not one they haven't encountered previously. So, Alex


Salmond this morning on the radio was very robust in criticising the


approach taken by the report and also Ministers here at Holyrood are


doing exactly that. A tricky this one for the opposition parties,


particularly when it comes to renewables I suppose, they don't


want to talk Scotland down? They don't. On the one hand we have a


statement from Labour which they're pointing out the sal kwrepbt point


in the report about the uncertainty of the timing of the referendum and


uncertainty of the process itself. You also have the situation, they


don't want to go too far, if they get overeager in pursuing the


campaign against independence it might seem as if they're talking


Scotland down to some extent with regard to the energy pros --


prospects of the country. The temptation to seize upon this


report for the opposition will be great but equally we have Scottish


Ministers against that adamant on the points that companies are


already coming here, already investing as Alex Alex Salmond put


it, you don't need to listen to one broadcaster, you can read the book.


Secondly, the belief in the longer- term Scotland's marine renewables


particularly would be a huge contribution to European energy


needs. It's a question of confidence, are you optimistic or


pessimistic about Scotland's energy pros text -- prospects?


Thank you very much. With me for the duration of this


afternoon's programme is Lorraine Davidson of The Times. Good


afternoon, thank you for joining me. It's a tricky one this for assix --


Alex Salmond, we are hearing from business about this uncertainty.


It's not helpful for the sector or the Government. Alex Salmond has


had this pressure from op sis parties -- opposition parties. That


line of attack hasn't really had great reasonance among the public.


People are not marching to squares around Scotland saying give us our


referendum now. Part of the reason it hasn't taken off is because you


haven't had big business coming in and saying we are not sure about


coming to Scotland, unless you guys know what you are doing. But it's


the age-old problem, we know businesses don't like uncertainty.


The SNP have been dealing with this issue nor for 20 years in the run-


up to devolution, I think they did badly in the 99 election partly


because of the idea of uncertainty and business being very hostile.


Business in Scotland is not now hos till, they're -- hostile. At the


end of the day they will be able to say businesses don't like


uncertainty, we accept that, but at the end of the day they're


pragmatic and if Scotland has this vibrant sector, this untapped great


resource in tidal and wind energy, quarter of what's around in the


whole of Europe, then businesses will come in. But you can probably


expect to see Citigroup invited around faster than the Bishop of


Paisley was. Now, we are in the middle of


National Adoption Week, the charity Barnardo's Scotland is launching a


national adoption service saying there is a need to increase and


speed up adoptions where it's in the best interests of the child.


Their call will be echoed in Holyrood this afternoon during a


Scottish Government debate on the issue. Stephanie Stone from


Barnardo's Scotland is here now. Thank you very much for joining me.


What is it you want to hear from the Scottish Government this


afternoon on their adoption strategy? We hope that they will be


bringing in measures that will minimise the time scales it takes


for young children in particular to be adopted. At the moment we have a


number of young children, hundreds of young children in the care


system, maybe of -- many of them under five who need to be adopted.


Delaying these khaeurpb's lives is -- children's lives is of crucial


importance. We know the emotional damage that delay means to these


children and we need ways of hastening the processes. Adoption


is not just about social work processes, it's about the court


system and it's about the children's hearing system. So there


needs to be something done that ensures that once a child enters


the process that there are time- scales adhered to and the process


happens quickly for them. It's a difficult balance to strike, you


want to hasten it but you don't want to rush it because such a


momentous decision for that child? Absolutely, it's a huge decision


for the child and there has to be clear evidence that says that a


parent is not going to be able to resume the care of that child


safely before these decisions are made. But, unfortunately, for so


many of our parents they have such entrenched problems that it will


take them some years to get over these difficulties, particularly if


they're around the areas of mental health, or substance misuse and for


very young children their lives are on hold whilst parents address


these problems. So it's a very difficult decision for social


workers to make. But we have to find ways of once these decisions


have been made of pursuing adoption much more quickly. Thank you very


much. Stay with us, we are going to go live to the chamber at Holyrood


and hear what Angela Constand -- Constance the Minister has to say.


As you say, the Minister is at the moment on her feet, she's


acknowledged there are still delays in the adoption system and has said


that a multiagency approach is needed where everyone is working


together. Labour, however, want to see a definitive, definite


timetable on improvements, on what's for many a emotive and at


times harrowing issue. Let's cross now live to the chamber.


It could be Taylored to meet the individual needs of a child and


provide them with security, stability and greater


predictability in their lives. The Scottish Government brought this


legislation into effect in 2009 and along with this we introduced


legislation which provided recognition for kinship carers for


the first time. This also can provide stability, security and


predict kwrabgt in --ability in the lives and experiences of looked


after children and parliament has come together to debate the role


and support the kinship carers receive and we discussed the work


that the Scottish Government is involved in to secure the access to


benefits and support for these carers. Yes. The parliament


welcomed the steps taken by the Government to ensure that kinship


carers received the same benefits as foster carers, but that hasn't


been implemented throughout Scotland. What steps will she take


to make sure that there's not a postcode lottery in support and


financial support for kinship carers? As Miss Grant is aware


local authorities are best placed to make decisions about financial


support, both for kinship carers and children at that local level. I


think that's a very important part of local democracy that we should


support and cherish. I think we also have to acknowledge that


kinship care is distinct from foster care and that kinship care


is very much a fundamental, a type of family care that families have


done for generations and I am sure that we can all look at the history


of our own families and see examples of kinship care. Now this


Government has done more than anyone else to support kinship


carers and we will continue to engage with the Westminster


Government constructively, particularly on the issue of


welfare reform. I suppose no matter where we stand on these issues


politically, I do think we all agree that kinship care is another


important option to provide permanent care for our children and


that's made possible by the looked after children regulations and


permanence orders, both of which are unique to Scotland. I do very


much cherish this consensus that we have for our looked after children


and I won't be using our most vulnerable children as a political


football. But what I would say is that if I need to ruffle a few


feathers to make progress for our looked after children, I will,


because I think what this Government is about in partnership


is that we have to support and challenge each other, both within


this parliament and both at local and national Government and, of


course, within the voluntary sector. The children looked after


statistics shows that whilst fewer children are being received into


care, they are coming into care younger and are being looked after


for much longer. While aspects of this are given a clear sign that we


are getting it right for more of our young people, in the sense that


those who are at risk are being identified younger and earlier, but


what we now need to focus on is the overall care journey and the length


of time that journey takes. And we all recognise I am sure that formal


attainment and securing improvements in a child's life


chances is only possible with the secure attachments that safe,


stable, nurturing home environment can support. Appropriate, timely


and child-centred care planning will ensure that these placements


are achieved. However, we will all have examples of where intervention


could have happened earlier. This was highlighted in the care and and


permanence planning for looked after children report and this


report was published on 20th June 2011 by the Scottish childrens


report administration. The report found children are still waiting


for a significant period of time in a system that should be working


with their needs and and rights at the centre. Two years may not seem


long for adults, but it is an eternity for children and some may


say that this time-skaeubl is -- scale is justifiable but it it


never be acceptable for a child to be more than ten years for a


permanent home - nor can it be acceptable for the majority of


children as is the case in this report, to have waited more than


four years. I will take the point. I mow, Minister, you are aware I


adopted a daughter and have some knowledge of this, but I wonder if


you would agree with me that time is still required in these issues,


particularly when it comes to home assessments and the suitability of


those who are going to adopt a child. That time should not be cut


in any way. We must be very, very careful in how we deal with those


who are going to benefit from having a child that is not a birth


child, so that the time - I do say that the bureaucracy thereafter


then we should take side to that, Pather son will agree that we can


both achieve thorough and timely assessments. While I can imagine


where parents often contest or birth parents often contest an


adoption in court, I can see how an adoption would take for example two


years. But in terms of other examples, other options to achieve


parents for children, whether it is foster carers, a parents' order.


That does not need to take two years. I think across the system we


have to remember that time is off the essence. Our children grow and


develop from the day that they are born. At the end of the day they


only have one childhood. The report is very important and I


published the Scottish Government's response to the report on 21 June


outlining our plans to address the issues raised. Our aim is nothing


less than a radical shift? Care planning towards fewer placements


for children, early permanence decisions for every child, and a


system that puts the child at the very centre. And this offers


children in care the best possible chance for securing an adoptive or


permanent placement. Our response lays the building blocks towards a


goal that sees the care system deliver every child a safe, stable


and enoughing home. A child's journey through care starts with an


assessment of the parents' capacity to provide the consistent care that


a child needs to attain their potential. Therefore, we recognise


the need for more robust assessment tools to determine parental


capacity and to identify the support that parents need in order


to provide the care for the child. Through the work supported by the


early years framework we are committed to identifying children


at risk and taking the steps to prevent that risk materialising. We


are committed to taking effective action to help parents, families


and communities to develop their own solutions using accessible


high-quality public services. Whether that's parenting classes,


therapeutic support for parents experiencing drug and alcohol


problems, and support with health and disability issues as opposed to


name but a few. We want to support every child in their whole journey


through care, the transition they experience and beyond. We need to


ensure that appropriate decisions are made quickly and that support


is in place to provide permanent care for children, who cannot live


with their birth parents. Our response looks to highlight and


share good practice in these areas. We plan to make use of our new


centre for excellence for looked after children, which launched in


September. We are asking the centre to work collaboratively with our


partners to improve the experiences in the lives of all looked after


children, their families and care leavers. Will it work to ensure


that all those involved in the care of looked after children have the


appropriate skills, knowledge and support, and this any decisions


about looked after children are well evidenced and always have the


child's welfare and rights at is paramount consideration.


This Government places great importance on working in


partnership in order to deliver our ambitions for Scotland's children.


And we are in a period of engagement with key stakeholders


about how to translate the key areas of work into specific


activities. I have written to local authorities seeking their


involvement in this process. The Scottish Government started the


work to create a more responsive system. Very already mentioned the


centre for excellence, which will be instrumental in the future work


being undertaken. But we have also created Scotland's first national


adoption register, which is already providing greater opportunities for


placing children in stable and permanent families. I I urge local


authorities to make a commitment to use the national register by the


ends of this year. As corporate parents I would ask each one of us


to challenge local authorities, health service, organisations and


our own constituencies to engage with this work being undertaken.


Every organisation involved in the lives of looked after children will


have examples of practice which works to promote the wellbeing of


the children it serves. Each of hawse a duty to help, identify and


promote good practice as widely as possible. I do also intend to


increase the pace of change. I will be asking all local authorities to


provide me with their adoption services plans by April 2012. And I


will expect to see an bottom Britishous approach and evidence


that every local authority has clear plans to raise the numbers of


young people afforded permanence or adoption.


We are after all... One of the issues facing minority communities


in particular visible mirnt communities is the fact that --


minority communities is that adoptions are not taking place in


their own communities. Children are being denied those opportunities.


They lose language and culture and a religious background. I wonder if


you can instruct local authorities to try to marry these up by traig


to make the adoption system easier and better understood by the


minority communities, so they can play a fuller role in the


community? I thank the member for that point. That's an example of


the type of work that we would want to see evident in the adoption and


permanence plans that local authorities will have to provide me


by 2012. I will be vigilant to the point that he makes.


Finally, Presiding Officer, I want to say that we are all as corporate


parents responsible for ensuring that the care system is child-


centred and provides appropriate and timely decisions and secures


permanent placements as soon as possible. And that we owe it to


looked after children to ensure that they have access to the


opportunities that this can provide. I move the motion in my name.


APPLAUSE Angela Constance, the Minister. And


Stephanie Stone from Barnardo's Scotland is still here with us.


She's been listening to that statement. They were talking about


taking a scythe to bureaucracy. Did did Minister ace words mean much to


you? Did you get much of a commitment to taking that scythe to


bureaucracy? Obviously it is encouraging that they are going to


ask for adoption plans. Hopefully local authorities will say how they


are managing their attitude to adoption and how they are


evidencing what they are doing. In terms of the assessment of adoptive


pcts I think the Minister said, and I agree with her, that rigorous


assessment and the length of time it takes are not necessarily one


and the same thing. So assessments can be rigorous and they can be


very well evidenced without necessarily taking the length of


time that they have been taking. There is the other aspect, of


course, of the length of time it takes to get children through the


courts system. The two things go hand in hand. One didn't start


after the other stops. We need to be working concurrently so that


Children's Plans are processed quickly at the same time as we are


assessing is families, taking on the task of adoption. I want to


pick up on the dialogue between the Scottish Government and the local


authorities. What's happening at the moment? Is the Scottish


Government keeping a close enough eye on local authorities? We were


hearing from David Cameron this week, in England he was naming and


shaming local authorities? I think the system? Scotland is slightly


different. Yes the Government obviously looks at the figures and


is interested in them and will be taking note where they are not


happy, but it's a different system. I don't think you can transfer


necessarily the style of one to the style of the other.


There's a big change with the national adoption register, I take


it that's just started, so it is maybe difficult to assess its


success so far. The national adoption register is welcomed by


everybody in the adoption field in Scotland. And in fact it's one of


the reasons Barnardo's moved back into adoption. Having that register


enables speedy linking of families available for adoption with the


children who are looking for adoptive families. To the best of


my knowledge the register is doing well. There are already a number of


links they are pursuing. I'm not aware if matches have taken place


yet but I do understand there's a number of links that are being


pursued. The Minister mentioned the centre of excellence. Can you tell


us more about that, and is your charity involved in that? Yes, some


people from our charity are on the steering group. The centre of


excellence is very much welcomed as the Minister said. We are looking


for them to assist local authorities and organisations like


ourselves in evidencing how we move forward with the best plans for


children. Why do you think adoption is


hitting the headlines just now? We are hearing from the Prime Minister,


we have a statement in Parliament today. It is National Adoption Week,


but it is certainly an issue that's raised, that is going up the


political agenda, compares to years past? It is. I think it is because


we are so much more aware of the numbers of children who've remained


in care for an unhealthy length of time. These children have remained


in the care system. They are part of the reason why the numbers of


looked after children has increased. These children weren't placed for


adoption many years ago when some of them should have been. This has


become an urgent issue. We know the emotional damage that's inflicted


on these children because they are not living in homes where they've


been claimed. I think people realise that this has to change.


Stephanie Stone from Barnardo's Scotland, thank you.


You're watching Politics Scotland from the BBC. Still to come on the


programme: It is not a magic bullet solution but it's a crucial part.


It is the missing piece of the jigsaw in Scotland. As the Scottish


Government relaunches plans to tackle problem drinking, political


opponents brew up challenges to minimum alcohol pricing.


The UK Government has revised its plans to change public sector


pensions to try to avert strike action at the end of this month.


David Cameron was asked about that during Prime Minister's Questions,


and he was also asked about the latest on the euro crisis. Here's a


flavour of what happened. Speaker, with the average 60-year-


old living ten years longer than in the 1970s public sector pension


reform is essential. Will the Prime Minister ensure that reform is fair


for my constituents, in terms of the taxpayer, and public sector


workers? My honourable friend makes an important point and the Chief


Secretary to the Treasury will be making a full statement to the


House. It does seem to be absolutely vital that we do


something that's fair to taxpayers and to public sector workers. The


costs of our public sector pensions system is up by a third in the last


decade. It isn't fair to go on as we are, but the new arrangements


must be fair to people who work hard in the public sector and on


whom we are all relying. Can I tell the House that low and middle


income earners will see getting more from their public sector


pensions. Everyone will keep what they've built up so far. Anyone


within ten years of retirement will see no change in their pension


arrangements. At the end of this people in the public sector will


actually still get far better pensions than people in the private


sector. It is time the party opposite was clear they do not


support the strikes later this month.


THE SPEAKER: Ed Miliband. Mr Speaker, does the Prime Minister


believe that grove of 0.5% over the last year and unemployment at a 17


year high point to the success or failure of his economic plan?


Obviously everybody wants the British economy to grow faster.


That's what everybody wants. But I have to, I have to, very to say to


the honourable gentleman, yesterday's figure of 0.5%, which


was better than many people expected, isn't it noticeable that


he cannot even bring himself to welcome news like that?


The key issue I think we value to address is this. There is a global


storm in the world economy today, and it is in our interest to help


others confront that global storm, but we have also got to keep the


British economy safe. We won't keep it safe if we add to our deficit,


add to our debt and put interest rates at risk.


THE SPEAKER: Ed Miliband. Speaker, first he blamed the Labour


Government, then he... First he blamed the Labour Government, then


he blamed Europe. Yesterday he was apparently blaming his Cabinet


colleagues for the lack of growth in our economy. The truth about


this Prime Minister is when things go wrong it is never anything to do


with him. People in my constituency in north Belfast and right across


the country are desperately worried about the increasing costs of gas,


electricity, home heatling oil -- home heating oil. What will the


Prime Minister do to help people in this situation? And will he reverse


the cuts to winter fuel allowance, which hits senior citizens? It is


not good enough surely to say he's following the plans of the


opposition. He's done so many things differently from the


opposition, why isn't he going to do something different with winter


We have kept the plans set out by the last Government. On the cold


weather payments we have actually taken the increase in cold weather


payments that was meant forever one year and maintained that so if


there is a phrrly cold winter people will be getting that help.


The other steps is making sure that energy companies give people proper


information about the lowest tariffs they can get and we have


proper reform of the energy market. Again something that the party


opposite has now suddenly started to talk about but did nothing about


in Government. When the Prime Minister goes to G20 meeting over


the next couple of days, will he try and persuade his colleagues of


the urgency of coming up with some detail on the eurozone settlement


reached last week. It's not at all clear how Greece is going to get


out of the difficulties, even if this referendum passes. European


banks will need shoring up well before next summer and as for the


new rescue fund which may be needed sooner than we think, it doesn't


actually exist. Will he not accept the G20 now now needs to show the


same urgency and sense of of purpose two years ago when it met


in London. Otherwise governments are going to be condemned to being


dragged along in their weight. is right in what he says about the


urgency of this meeting and the necessity of its agenda. I think


some progress was made at the European Council meeting a week ago


where actually for the first time they did accept a proper write down


of Greek debt which has to be part of the solution. Also a proper


recapitalisation of Europe's banks, done to a credible test, rather


than the incredible test we have had in months gone by. And the


final element which he refers to rightly, which needs to have more


detail added and more substance added, and that is to make sure


there is a proper firewall to stop contagion in the eurozone. The need


has got even greater. Of course we can't involve ourselves in Greek


domestic politics but it's become even more urgent to put meat on the


bones of these plans to show that we are removing one of the key


obstacles to tphroeble growth -- global growth, which is the failure


to provide a proper plan to deal with problems in the eurozone.


will be back to Westminster in a few moments. First, Scotland has


taken a major step towards becoming the first country in Europe to


introduce a minimum price for alcohol. The Scottish Government


has launched its plans for a vote on the issue during this


parliamentary session. It was defeated last time, but here's a


flavour of the arguments for and against in this second round.


Moderate and responsible drinkers will not be affected by minimum


pricing, partly because they don't drink very much but also because


the products they tend to drink are not those that will be affect.


Minimum pricing is about targeting the very cheap, very strong


products that are doing so much damage to our communities. The


relationship between the price of alcohol and the consumption of


alcohol is well known. We see it emerging evidence from Canada that


a minimum price reduces consumption, so it's not a magic bullet solution,


we never said it is, but it's a crucial part of an overall approach


and right now it's the missing piece of the jigsaw in Scotland.


Our view it won't tackle the people this is aimed at. For example, it


won't have impact on people who drink in pubs, because the price is


unlike throeu reach that level. Also, for the small amount of extra


money those people are likely to carry on spending anyway. It will


penalise responsible families who the might want to share a bottle of


wine at home, they might have to pay more. Let's go to the Scottish


parliament garden lobby now, I am joined by Jim Eadie from the SNP


and Dr Richard Simpson from Labour. We have seen last time and now time


the overwhelming evidence in favour of a minimum price for alcohol. We


have been hearing Labour talk about their problems during the Scottish


election campaign, perhaps they should have got on board with


backing minimum pricing for alcohol, why in this second round are you


not supporting it? First of all, the word overwhelming isn't correct.


There's only one study and that is the Sheffield study which is a


modelling study and there is a little evidence from Canada in


terms of the social responsibility pricing. And the Scottish police


forces and the Chief Medical Officer for for Scotland. That's


not evidence, that is opinion. There is a lot of opinion out there


in favour of it, I accept that. But the fact remains that it is a


single modelling study, that's only been tried once and that's in an


Aboriginal community in us a and it was a particular situation that


wasn't apply to Scotland -- Australia. It's an opinion, but


it's gathered from their own frontline evidence, isn't it?


it's not gathered from their own frontline evidence because they


don't know about minimum pricing. Many people are actually


understandably very concerned about alcohol, as is the Labour Party,


they also set, as we do, that price and sraeupblt are -- availability


are major issues, but the problem with minimum pricing is first of


all there is a question of its legality, will the courts strike it


down? And the UK Minister skapb Milton has said the advise she


received that will happen. It will give �140 million windfall to


supermarkets. It will not deal with binge drinking and the Sheffield


group have admitted that. Fourthly, it will not tackle heavy drinking


in the 18-24-year-old, where even the doctors have grave concerns


about the substantial increase. The Sheffield study show it is will


minimally affect that group. That's some of the reasons. There are many


more. I will give you one more, and that is that it will only affect


the poorest 30%. The least well-off. The top 70% of earners will not be


affected at all and therefore hazardous drinking which is much


more in that particular group, that's the richer people drink more,


they will not be affected. We need a cultural change. Let's turn to


Jim Eadie, what do you think of that, there is a raft of arguments


against that Dr Simpson has put forward and particularly on the


point about this opinion as opposed to evidence coming from the Chief


Constables, for example? Can I deal with that. It will not do for


Richard Simpson to talk about the problem but to do nothing about it.


The Scottish Government is determined to listen to what the


healthcare professionals on the ground, people who work in GP


practices, in our health centres, the people who know the reality of


alcohol misuse in our accident and emergency departments. What they


tell us is they want the Government to do this, they want to us


introduce minimum pricing and that is why we are determined to tackle


this, this time around. Now, if you consider the point that was made


about teenager drinkers t cannot be right that in Scotland today a


young person, a teenager, can buy enough alcohol to kill themselves


for �5 or less. This Government is determined to tackle that. We will


Bring It On Home forward -- we will bring forward minimum pricing. It's


time, frankly, that you listen to them, instead of lecturing them


about what they should be saying on this subject. What about that, Dr


Simpson? Well, as usual, they try to compound evidence out of opinion


and that is not correct. I will say this, to suggest that we do not


want to take this issue seriously is rubbish. I was the deputy


justice Minister that commenced the process that led to the licensing


bill which has not been fully operational until 2009 and has


already demonstrating a reduction in deaths, so to say we are not


taking this seriously is rubbish. I will tell you the other thing, and


that is that the public out there and the professionals indeed want


the parties to have a discussion about all possible measures. What


the Government has done with this minimum unit Bill is to introduce a


Bill that's so narrow it will not allow any debate, discussion, it it


treats it as a magic bullet. That's not the case. If he can assure me


today that Bill can be amended, I will be very, very happy but I tell


you... Take him up on that point. He is sticking his head in the sand.


The Government has always been willing to discuss with other


parties. We will look positively at any constructive proposals that are


brought forward, provided they are evidence. But the reality is, and


you cannot escape this, Richard, that the healthcare professionals


on the ground want this to happen. The Chief Medical Officer for


England and for Wales and for Northern Ireland and for Scotland


wishes this to happen. The directors of public health in every


health board in Scotland say they need minimum pricing if we are to


rebalance Scotland's damaging relationship with alcohol. This


Government is determined to tackle the problem and if the other


parties want to join us in their battle we are absolutely prepared


to work with them to achieve that. Dr Simpson, one more point about


you mentioning that Anne Milton said it may be illegal, in this


case as some people have said is the law not an ass in this case and


we could actually try and put minute phoupl pricing -- minimum


pricing forward and it could be challenged by the European Union


but let's go ahead and do it? it's khaplged by the European --


challenged by the European Union it will be be -- challenged. We are


part of Europe, the law is what it is. I will say if Jim Eadie is


saying to me today that Bill that they have just produced is capable


of amendment, with the substantial number of proposals which Labour


has come forward with, then I will be much happier. But tkoeu not


believe that is the case. We will find that the amendments we were


proposing will be ruled out. The only recourse for the Labour Party


will be to actually go for a private members Bill in order to


address some of the problems that we accept are there and can be


addressed and should be addressed, but by a raft of other measures.


Minimum unit pricing penalises the least well-off in our communities.


It does not address the culture. Take up on that point, Jim Eadie.


They do have concerns about this single measure. The evidence


produced by the Sheffield model study, and which will be rerun


before the Scottish Government sets a price, made it clear in the first


year would you save 50 lives and prevent hospital admissions, that


has to be something worth doing. -- it's what the healthcare


professionals want. This Government will rise to the challenge and do


what is necessary to tackle our damaging relationship with alcohol.


Thank you both very much. Let's rejoin Lorraine Davidson from


The Times to talk about this more. A very heated debate there,


obviously. Nothing has cooled down over the year, what do you make of


it? The Labour Party are now in danger of tying themselves


newspaper knots, they got very difficult time at the election and


in part it was because of this kind of oppositional attitude. Their


arguments now around this are basically that it could be illegal,


well the Scottish Government can't bring forward legislation unless


it's passed through their lawyers and has been deemed as something


that can stand up to a challenge. There is a case of tobacco that was


set at minimum price in Italy which did fall foul of EU laws and it was


a similar public health argument. So, there are fears around that but


they must have legal advice that tells them they can go ahead. The


offer of the sunset clause could have been grabbed back, all the


arguments about it won't make much difference, she was putting forward


a sensible proposal of let's bring it in, let's try it because at the


end of the day Scotland has a serious problem with this and it's


kids, young people going out drinking cheap stuff on street


corners, getting completely boozed up, and committing extreme acts.


They are rerunning the Sheffield study to look at the price, do you


think it might be ramped up to even 50p a unit? I don't think that


would be surprising if that were to happen T could be critical the


level at which this is set in terms of the impact. Certainly, for


people who are going out and yes they might be drinking too much


Chablais or whatever over a weekend but they're not the people causing


complete and utter carnage. It's the stuff at the lower end and


actually even at the 45p level it's the cider and all this, the cheap


vodkas that young kids are using to get boozed up on that are the real


problem and even at 45% the difference to that is significant.


Let's widen out the debate. We saw a heated exchange there. We have


seen between Labour Party and the SNP a number of heated exchanges


over the independence referendum, the argument at Westminster, we


have seen the Lib Dems being criticised for having a - do you


think there is there is tension? think tension is putting it lightly.


Certainly feelings are running very high at the moment. Labour feeling


really done down after the election. SNP perhaps getting carried away in


the way New Labour did, after a landslide, you feel invincible.


They need to be careful of that and shouting down anyone and everyone


that disagrees with them and there is some stuff, if you look at


social media, if you say anything that's remotely critical of the SNP


or the Scottish Government, Ian Grey had a point, you will be


attacked and it's pretty nasty stuff. So they need to find a way


of putting a lid on that and taking people with them and continuing in


the consensual approach they had before the election. There is a


danger with politicians that the SNP have got very good


communications structure, but you get amateurs coming in, youngsters


that think they're doing the right thing, think they're being on


message but they cross a line and get carried away and you get people


who have actually never been in the real world and they live in this


political bubble, they think that's what you do, they think politics is


about being nasty to people. People out there are fighting to keep jobs


and pensions, the last thing they want is politicians getting down to


the level of, he wasn't very nice to me, and I think he is a dictator.


It's absolutely pathetic and just really puts people off politicians.


OK, thank you. With the surprise announcement by


the Greek Prime Minister to put the euro deal to the people of Greece


in a referendum grabbing the political agenda, there are now


real and genuine concerns for the future of the single currency. With


that and the other issues being discussed at Westminster today,


let's cross to our correspondent No shortage of topics featuring


amongst MPs here. We have the issue about Greece, the euro and whether


Greece will default on its payments. We also have the thorny issue of


public sector payments and the political row which has blown up


today about renewable energy and the uncertainty that could be


caused by an independence referendum. In shortage of topics


for me to discuss with my four guests.


That warn from Citigroup today that the instability caused by will we


have a referendum and when will that be is potentially putting


investors off coming to Scotland. It is utter nonsense. A lot of


investment is going into Scotland in renewables at the moment from


companies likes Mitsubishi and others. We have a great deal of


businesses supporting us in the last election. We made clear we


would have an independence referendum. This is not a problem


for businesses investing in Scotland at all. Malcolm Bruce you


represent a north-east constituency. Are you seeing any companies


hesitating putter their hands in their pockets to invest because of


the referendum question? There is uncertainty. Tax changes by


Government also causes uncertainty, and I've made my views known about


that. You can't dismiss Citibank as being ill informed. They are saying


future investors may look askance at Scotland because of the


uncertainty this presents. We have enough trouble in the eurozone


because of the Greek referendum. Uncertainty is what the markets


make. You cannot just dismiss that as irrelevant because it doesn't


suit your argument. David Mundell, cue decide between referendum on


Scottish independence is going to be held. The Scottish Government is


in the best place to resolve it in the short term by telling us what


they propose in their referendum. We've got no detail on it, when it


will take place, what the questions are. We've repeatedly asked for


answers. Nothing's been forthcoming. That's why we do have the uncertain


ti. They want to know what's happening with the referendum and


when it's taking place. Surely if a company thinks it is a good


business proposition to invest in Scotland the politics wouldn't be a


determining factor. I don't agree with that. Particularly at the


moment, in terms of renewables, where the renewable obligation


comes from the whole of the country, that's the uncertainty that


Citibank were pointing to. Why would poim invest in a situation


where the renewables would be severely cut in Scotland or


consumers' bills will go up very high. It is not good enough to


dismiss and belittle people he doesn't agree. There's a serious


issue for him and the SNP to address. Public sector pensions. We


seem to have the unions, despite the meetings today, still on a


collision course with the Government. I think any collision


course is the fault of the Government for the way in which


they've behaved in these negotiations up until now. I hope


there's a negotiated settlement. I'm a former trade union official


and I know from my experience that getting a negotiated settlement is


the best way forward. If there is any difficulty it will be the fault


of the Government. If the Government was more generous there


wouldn't be threats of strikes? Government wants a negotiated


settlement. Negotiations are ongoing. It is disappointing we've


got the prospect of strike action before there is an opportunity for


those negotiations to conclude. I Fawley understand that those people


who are affected by decisions like this are not going to be happy


about it but we have to be realistic about public sector


pensions in the long term, and make sure that they are sustainable and


that we have the money that people can get the pension that they are


expecting. From a party political point of view, are you happy that


it is your party and indeed your Chief Secretary to the Treasury,


Danny Alexander, who seems to be digging his heels in on this and


saying no, we are not going to go any further? I'm happy that we have


a coalition Government that is determined to tackle the financial


and economic problems facing this problem with a sense of purpose and


unity, that are giving us lowest interest rates in Europe outside


Germany. That I think is a huge benefit to the people of Scotland


and the whole of the UK. We have to take these difficult decisions and


see them through. Of course we have to negotiate and of course we've


got to accommodate people's concerns and come one the best


outcome. If we did not and took the advice of other parties, interest


rates would shoot up. Economic uncertainty would increase and the


economy would be in a much worse state than it is now. Is this going


to be one of those rare occasions between Government in Scotland and


in London actually speak with a common voice? The position of the


Scottish Government is quite clear. They don't want to increase pension


contributions. It's the wrong time to do so. That's taking more money


out of hard-pressed families at a difficult time. It is going to do


nothing for consumer confidence. There's a real issue that people


may opt out of these schemes rather than pay the increased


contributions that they can't afford. That's a disaster waiting


to happen in future. The difficult the Scottish Government face is the


Treasury have made clear if they don't implement the rules the


budget will be slashed. But, if the money has got to be saved or if you


can't afford the pension bill as it is, surely not good saying to


people, we are not going to expect tow pay any more into your not


but it's the timing as well. People are very hard pressed at the moment.


The economy is bumping along. Consumer confidence is very low. To


take money out of people's pockets at a time like this is the wrong


thing to do. It will reduce confidence and spending and make


matters worse rather than improve them. We seem to have what is


almost an opera going on in Greece at the moment, agreeing a deal and


then saying they'll have a referendum on it. For someone with


a financial background like yufrbgs how worried shwe be about what's


happening in Greece? I think we should be very worried, and the


Greeks should be worried to. A small economy, which isn't that


important, is holding us to ransom, because it is unable to meet its


commitments, having signed up to a deal. If Greece says no, we have a


crisis with the euro, our biggest trading partner. We've got to


recognise that it has long-term implications for Scotland. An opt


Scotland doesn't even know what it is currency is, nor what the


conditions are, is adding uncertainty on uncertainty, which


is catastrophic. Britain is in a difficult position. We are on the


outside looking in. We are not a member of the euro, so we are not a


member of the key countries making those decisions. Yet we could be


hugely influenced and affected by what happens. Well, we are going to


be impacted by what happens with the euro that's why it is important


to us that there's a dealing on Greece, a deal that holds, that


sustains and that there's a deal on the whole euro issue. We want to


see more flesh on the bone, in relation to that. There's been a


number of discussions, most of which have been good words but not


actually action. We need that to be followed through in the forthcoming


days.. We can't pretend that there'll not be an impact on


Britain by a failure of the euro. Whilst I wouldn't support Britain


being in the euro, I don't want to see it fail. There must be a sigh


of relief that your party did not take introduce the euro when you


were in Government? I don't think the economic conditions were ever


right to make that decision, so it didn't happen. What's important now


is that there is real leadership from the Government at the G20 in


Cannes. We need to get international action to get this


resolved as quickly as possible. We have seen the toxicity of the


European issue for the Conservative Party at Westminster that.


Shouldn't stop David Cameron trying to take leadership in the G20 to


try to get this resolved. A yes or no answer to look into your


economic crystal ball, is Greece going to default on its payments,


and will the euro survive? I think it is likely that Greece will


default. I think it is likely if it does it will crash out of the euro


and the euro will have to rethink its parameters? It is possible but


tinge euro will survive. Yes, they will default but the euro will


survive in some form. Thank you all. Gentlemen, thank you for joining us.


There you have it, Andrew. Pessimism about Greece's position


and also some concern about the euro and the future of the euro as


well. It is an issue I think we'll be returning to in the weeks and


months ahead. Indeed, David. Thank you.


I'm joined for a final time by our political commentator from The


Times, Lorraine Davidson. Let's pick up on the European issue.


David said it was an opera going on in Greece. Malcolm Bruce said he


was very worried. How worried should we be and what would the


impact be in the UK and Scottish economies? It is disastrous. It is


more of a Greek tragedy really. It's a very unwelcome development,


having a referendum which, as all the politicians have pointsed out,


it is difficult to see how could it be won. It is going to have


terrible implications for the your open. Our economy is intrinsically


linked to Europe's. We've got politician there is saying phew,


isn't it good we didn't go into did euro! All it means that we didn't


go into the euro. Our economy is linked to theirs and yet we are not


at the important meetings where we can influence the debate and rescue


the euro. It is almost the worst possible position. This will impact


on us massively and yet we are not in there fighting. In fairness to


Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, they did put together a sustainable


deal to ensure the survival of the euro. Our panel there pretty much


thought that Greece would default. If they did, the contagion might


spread? It might, you could end up with people thinking we can't play


about with this, we are now staring down the barrel of the gun. If


everybody starts dropping like flies, the disastrous impact of


that right across Europe, I think reality might kick in. Committee


can get into did Domesday scenario. That's why we are seeing the


markets falling, because they always look at worst case scenarios,


because they have to, but I think in reality it could be contained in


Greece. There was a Greek mirror to Scottish politics, the Greek


referendum causing uncertainty about the euro. We heard about


Citigroup causing uncertainty. That was denied strongly in that


discussion. One of the SNPs' problems in materialy days of the


Scottish Parliament was the uprising of business. That's gone


away, because they've been in government. They've been pretty


business friendly. Alex Salmond's problem was that he stood up at


conference and he said it would be powered on the back of renewables.


Now a serious player is saying don't go near Scotland, this is a


bit of a problem. So, they seem to be linking that to the referendum


rather than the aftermath of the referendum. So I can see a


situation now where the opposition are going to be buoyed by this and


they are going to be trying to stir up other companies. If David


Cameron had any sense he would be trying to wind people up and using


his business contacts to make this more of a debate in Scotland.


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