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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
19th June
2008


I’ve done a few things this week – again a fair bit of stuff I can’t tell you about and some that I can.

What I want to do, though, is just talk about one thing in the main – because it’s quite important.  On Wednesday, the Creative Scotland Bill finally came to the chamber for its Stage 1 debate.  I was on the committee that spent time looking at this Bill, we spent ages taking evidence and preparing the report for Parliament.

At the end of the evidence sessions and the report writing, there was a general agreement that every party wanted the Bill to proceed.  We had different opinions on whether it should be amended and how it should be amended, but we were all in general agreement that it should continue its progress.

We’d heard from lots of people who work in the creative industries about how this Bill was a good move, a step in the right direction, something that the whole sector needs.

On Wednesday we debated it in chamber, and then the opposition voted it down.  One opposition Member even going as far as trying to infer that one of our Ministers has misled Parliament.

I should make it a bit clearer – Parliament approved the general principles of the Bill and then voted down the Financial Resolution – the bit that talks about the costs and benefits in money of the legislation.  When that happens, the Bill falls.

A Lib Dem MSP spoke against the Financial Resolution:

Iain Smith (North East Fife) (LD): Thank you, Presiding Officer. I will be brief.
I speak against the financial resolution on the ground that we have had further confusion this afternoon in relation to the financial consequences of this particular bill. It is difficult to see how the Parliament can agree to the financial resolution when there is such a lack of clarity about what is being proposed.

We heard a speech from the minister at the beginning of the debate that appeared to suggest that all the money for the creative industries and the enterprise companies was being transferred to creative Scotland. At the end of the debate, she made it clear that that was not the case. There was also some confusion about the additional money that she announced in the debate. As a consequence, it is difficult for Parliament to decide on the financial resolution at this stage. I therefore wish to move against the financial resolution.

I’ve read through the Official Report (which you can find at
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/officialReports/meetingsParliament/or-08/sor0618-01.htm), and I’ve examined Linda’s speech very carefully.  There’s not a single place where it can be imagined, even with a massive imagination stretch, that she talked about moving all the money for the creative industries and for the enterprise companies to Creative Scotland.  It would be ridiculous for one thing, and unwieldy for another to have an arts body holding all the money for the enterprise companies.

Perhaps Iain Smith intended to say all the money the enterprise companies currently spend on the creative industries but she never said that either, and since the enterprise companies decide for themselves how much they spend on the creative industries each year, how do you decide how much money should be moved?

Only at one point in her opening speech did she mention the enterprise companies:

Creative Scotland will continue to evolve complementary specialist advice and information services for creative enterprises. In order for it to do that, I can confirm today that the resources that are devoted to that purpose by Scottish Enterprise will, from the beginning of the next financial year, transfer to creative Scotland.

But that simple and common-sense phrasing was not understood by the opposition:

Jeremy Purvis: I am glad that the minister will be able to respond to my question.
Scottish Enterprise told the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee that the administrative funding of 100,000 is being transferred for the cultural enterprise office. However, the Government's policy was clear. Its manifesto said that it would transfer the budgets for the creative industries from Scottish Enterprise to creative Scotland. Scottish Enterprise said that those budgets came to more than 2.5 million. What is it that is being transferred from Scottish Enterprise to creative Scotland?

Linda Fabiani: Quite clearly, what is being transferred is the 100,000 for the cultural enterprise office, which is there to help people find the right way forward—using the route map that will be drawn by the creative industries forum—and to ensure that they get the best advice. At the heart of this process are creators and artists who must get good advice.

Malcolm Chisholm: On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I believe that there is a discrepancy between what the minister said in her opening speech and what she is saying now. Earlier, everyone in the chamber assumed that a new announcement was being made about the transfer of money, but we are now being told that the money that is being transferred is the 100,000 that was announced weeks ago.

The Presiding Officer (Alex Fergusson): I can only ask the minister to respond to that.

Linda Fabiani: I will repeat what I said in my opening speech:
"Creative Scotland will continue to evolve complementary specialist advice and information services for creative enterprises. In order for it to do that, I can confirm today that the resources that are devoted to that purpose by Scottish Enterprise will, from the beginning of the next financial year, transfer to creative Scotland."

The cultural enterprise office will provide those services, the budget for which comes to 100,000. That budget has been provided by Government since 2004. In addition, I announced the creative Scotland innovation fund, for which 5 million will be given to creative Scotland in its first two years, in addition to the already announced grant in aid. That shows that this Government is committed to making a success of creative Scotland and to investing in Scotland's culture.

Ken Macintosh: On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Is it in order for you to check exactly the minister's form of words in her opening statement today and in her closing remarks? The minister has come within a hair's breadth of misleading Parliament. She certainly led members in the chamber to believe that she was making a fresh announcement about the SNP's manifesto commitment to transferring budgets, and yet she made it clear at committee—on that specific point—that that was not going to happen. Between her opening and closing speeches, the minister has managed to blow the good will of the chamber by trying to mislead us. I ask her for further clarification, and possibly an apology, on that point.

Then they voted the Bill down, damaging Scotland’s cultural sector.  Did they really not understand or was it wilful misrepresentation of the position?

I hope they will have the grace to apologise in due course.


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