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Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Ailsa Brown

All times stated are UK

That's it for this week

That's it from us for this week, remember the week's chamber business and selected committees can be viewed on demand at

BBC Scotland's Democracy Live website.

Holyrood at night

Have a lovely weekend.

Decision time

MSPs are voting on the motion and amendments from the economy debate.

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie's motion is not agreed to, with 31 MSPs backing it, 64 against and with 15 abstentions.

MSPs voting
MSPs voting

Tory MSP Gavin Brown's amendment falls with only 15 MSPs backing it.

Finance Secretary John Swinney's motion passes with 58 MSPs backing it but with 52 MSPs voting again

Debate closes

Mr Swinney concludes by turning to the oil and gas industry .


He calls for the costs and fiscal regime to be changed at a UK government level to maximise economic recovery.

Scottish Business Pledge

Mr Swinney says the "Scottish Business Pledge" can only work if businesses work with the Scottish government.

The Scottish Business Pledge will invite companies to commit to extending the living wage, involving their local communities, and investing in youth training and employment, according to the government.

Money over saltire

In return, they will be offered a package of tailored support on skills, innovation and exports, to help them grow and prosper.

The deputy first minister says government, the trade unions and business must all work together to try to encourage the creation of a shared economic agenda.

Government closing

Finance Secretary John Swinney says the government's economic strategy will be confirmed in March.

A big laugh, when Mr Swinney mistakenly says there is "nothing new", but he quickly corrects himself and changes that to "nothing wrong" with including in the strategy things the government is already doing.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney
Deputy First Minister John Swinney

The deputy first minister says Willie Rennie and Murdo Fraser make up a "fanzine for the UK government".

Single most urgent immediate issue

Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald says he wants to focus on the critical issue of challenges facing the oil and gas industry.

Mr Macdonald says it is "the single most urgent immediate issue facing the Scottish economy today and entirely absent from Scottish government's motion".

Labour MSP Lewis MacDonald
Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald

He calls on the Scottish government to assess the impact on a 50 dollar barrel of oil.

Resilience fund call

Mr Macdonald says Scottish Labour has proposed a resilience fund not just for the oil industry, but any sector of the economy under pressure.

"Our challenge to the Scottish government is to begin to take this crisis seriously."

Competitive Scotland

Mr Fraser goes on to say that bringing in the living wage too rapidly might turn out to be disadvantageous.

Close up of £20 note

The Conservative MSP says what we need is a more competitive Scotland.

Conservative closing

Scottish Conservative Murdo Fraser says the UK is the fastest growing economy in the world and wages are now rising faster than prices.

The SNP likes to claim all the success for that, but the SNP opposed the approach of Chancellor George Osbourne to economic recovery.

Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser
Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser

Mr Swinney and Ed Balls could almost be twins jokes Mr Fraser, a proposition rejected from a sedentary position by the finance secretary.


The price of

Brent crude oil has fallen below $50 a barrel for the first time since May 2009.

It fell more than a dollar to $49.92 a barrel in early trading on Wednesday before edging back above the $50 mark.

Slowing global growth and increased supply of oil and gas have pushed prices sharply lower in recent weeks.

Aerial view of Golden Eagle Development

The price of oil traded in the United States, known as West Texas Intermediate crude, has already fallen below $50.

Many observers expect the price of oil to fall further as North American shale producers continue to supply increasing quantities of oil and gas, and the oil-producing group Opec resists calls for cuts in production to support prices.

Lib Dems

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie says the SNP complains it does not have the economic powers, but as soon as there is an improvement or growth they are quick to claim credit.

Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie
Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie

Mr Rennie says the UK has the strongest recovery in the EU and the G7 and it would be to the SNP's credit if they admitted they were wrong when they said the UK government coalition's plan would not work.

'Significant difference'

Conservative MSP Gavin Brown says he welcomes Mr Swinney's announcement that there will be an updated economic strategy in coming months.

Mr Brown says he hopes it's a strategy that has genuinely new approaches and "not just a fresh cover and a lick of paint".

Saltire money bank
Getty Images

He says whilst the Scottish government have delivered some improvements, most of main macro-economic levers are held at UK level and it is right to give credit to the UK government too.

Actions the UK government have taken have made a "significant difference" he says.

Referring to Fergus Ewing's statement on oil and gas Mr Brown says he found it "staggering" that the energy minister in an 8 minute presentation didn't' mention the price of oil once,

Conservative view

Scottish Conservative finance spokesperson Gavin Brown's amendment says that the UK's economic growth continues to be among the highest of major developed world economies.

Conservative MSP Gavin Brown
Conservative MSP Gavin Brown

Mr Brown says he believes that measures taken by the UK Government, such as cutting employer national insurance contributions and maintaining the lowest level of corporation tax in the G7, are providing considerable benefits to Scottish businesses.

He calls on the Scottish government to reduce the burden on businesses

'Cost of living crisis'

Ms Baillie tells the chamber working people are experiencing the worst cost of living crisis in a decade.

There is nothing to be complacent about, says the Labour finance spokesperson.

She highlights zero hours contracts, low wages and under-employment.

Children in Glasgow

The Labour MSP again calls for a resilience fund for the oil and gas industry.

She says the SNP are "missing in action".

The Labour MSP again calls for a resilience fund for the oil and gas industry.

Labour amendment

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie says in her amendment the Scottish government needs to ensure that the benefits of economic growth improve the prospects of the workforce at large and address increasing inequalities.

Ms Baillie calls on the Scottish government to recognise the fundamental importance of the oil and gas industry to the success of the Scottish economy and calls for cross-party talks on sustaining the future of the oil and gas industry.

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie

She further calls for the establishment of a resilience fund to be used in exceptional times of crisis to deal with the consequences on local economies of large-scale redundancies and to publish an updated Oil and Gas Bulletin.


Mr Swinney concludes by saying the government will encourage more and more companies to adopt the living wage.

He says there is progress being made in the Scottish economy, but it must be done sustainably and as part of an effort to tackle inequality.

'Must change'

Mr Swinney insists the Scottish government will do "all it can" do within the powers given to the Scottish Parliament.

The crucial point is reducing the cost base of the North Sea oil and gas sector, the taxation and fiscal regime, presided over by the UK government, must change he says.

Looking up at oil rig

The finance secretary calls for the introduction of an investment allowance, the phased reversal of the increase in the supplement charge and finally the introduction of an exploration tax credit.

Economic resilience

Mr Swinney says Scotland's economic recovery is now "well established" and the economic outlook is the strongest its been for many years.

He says there is much to be positive about regarding recent economic data however the Scottish government are aware that structural challenges remain within the economy.

pound coin

The deputy first minister says it is worth remembering the Scottish economy has shown resilience in the recent economic climate.

He goes on to says recent volatility in oil prices has helped some businesses and households but put pressure on those working in the oil industry and calls on the UK government to do more to help.

'Social equality'

Mr Swinney says the Scottish government is taking action to foster a supportive business environment, invest in infrastructure, and support entrepreneurship.

The government has also taken action on innovation and internationalisation, and to help to ensure that economic growth is characterised by income, regional and social equality, he says in his motion.

Finance Secretary

Finance Secretary John Swinney gets us underway.

In his motion the deputy first minister says he welcomes the continued growth of Scotland's economy and the fact that Scotland's unemployment rate is the lowest in the UK.

Mr Swinney further welcomes the fact that, since 2007, Scottish exports have increased by a third, business research and development has risen by 29%.

The total number of registered businesses in Scotland has grown by 10% he says .

Deputy First Minister and Finance Secretary John Swinney
Deputy First Minister and Finance Secretary John Swinney

The cabinet secretary says delivering sustainable economic growth and addressing longstanding inequalities are reinforcing, and not competing, objectives.

Economy debate

That concludes the ministerial statement on oil and gas.


We move now to the Scottish government's debate on the economy.

Perilous state

Green MSP Patrick Harvie asks how there can be a statement on oil and gas where climate change is "not so much as uttered".

Green MSP Patrick Harvie

It cannot be just business as usual, he says, "when it is business at usual which brought us to this perilous position".


SNP MSP Alex Salmond asks how we can impress the urgency of this matter, as, he says the Treasury has a tendency to "move like lightening to increase tax" but move at a "snail's pace" when the opposite is true.

SNP MSP Alex Salmond
SNP MSP Alex Salmond

Mr Ewing says Mr Salmond is absolutely right and he will put his points to the UK government.


Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser says those in oil and gas industry want to see the two governments working together.

Mr Fraser says the minister is refusing to take responsibility and trying to pass the buck entirely to Westminster.

"What we want to know is what is this minister and this government going to do themselves to help the industry"? His statement was "devoid" of any help, he says.

Fergus Ewing says he works constructively as far as he can and to the best of his ability with the UK government.

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser
Tory MSP Murdo Fraser

Mr Ewing also says it is not just the Scottish government saying fiscal change is needed - "it's the industry itself".

It is "beyond any shadow of doubt that the clear consensus" amongst almost every business in Aberdeen is to bring about these changes he says.

"These are what the industry wants, it's what they need and they need it this March".

Resilience fund

Mr MacDonald calls for a "resilience fund" for the oil and gas industry.

Energy Secretary Fergus Ewing says Labour have not indicated any details about such a fund, just an "unspecified sum for unspecified beneficiaries from an unspecified source".

Mr Ewing says it "is important not to work ourselves up into a panic".

Oil and gas

Aberdeen has been here before - the oil price does fluctuate he says.

He says Labour had 13 years to set up an oil fund and had £93bn from oil to do so, but did not.

Jobs impact

Labour MSP Lewis MacDonald says when he and Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy met with representatives of the oil and gas industry the said 2,000 jobs have already been lost.

Lewis Macdonald
Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald

There is little sense in the minister's statement of the "potential crisis" says Mr MacDonald.

Highlighting the fall in the price of oil over the last few months he asks what assessment of the impact on jobs and businesses has been made.

Minister concludes

Mr Ewing says "speedy action from the UK government on these areas is vital".

These measures must be delivered in the budget this March, he says.

Minister's calls

Mr Ewing calls for an investment allowance which would simplify the fiscal regime and potentially boost investment by between £20 billion and £37 billion.

Secondly, he calls for a phased reversal of the increase in Supplementary Charge alongside a clear timetable to provide clarity for investors.

Oil and gas again
Total E&P UK

Scottish Government analysis based on industry data shows that these measures can potentially support up to 26,000 and 5,600 jobs respectively.

Finally he calls for an Exploration Tax Credit.

Fiscal changes

Oil platform

The Scottish government today published a

paper setting out the fiscal changes that we believe are necessary to support investment, encourage exploration and ensure that the North Sea is a competitive investment location.

Stable fiscal regime

The energy minister says it is "crystal clear" that it is the fiscal regime that needs to change.

"That responsibility lies with the UK Government".


He calls for a "competitive, predictable and stable fiscal regime."

The Scottish government published proposals in 2011, he says, including the introduction of an investment allowance to help mitigate the Chancellor's "shock tax grab", raising the Supplementary Change from 20% to 32%.

Barrier to development

Mr Ewing says the current fiscal regime is a barrier to development in the oil and gas sector.

More oil

He says the Scottish government's strategy set out a clear vision for the industry's long term future, and set priorities for future action.

Energy minister

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing gets us underway saying: "The oil and gas industry has been, is now, and will continue to be an enormous asset to Scotland.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing

"It has contributed over £300 billion in tax revenues to the UK and has turned Aberdeen into a global hub of innovation and engineering ingenuity."

Welcome back

Welcome back to BBC Scotland's Democracy Live coverage of the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 8 January 2015.

Man looking at platform

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing will shortly give a ministerial statement on oil and gas.

Debate closes, time for a rest

The minister concludes by saying having listened very carefully to the issues raised by members she wants to give some reassurance that the Scottish government does take animal welfare "very seriously indeed".

Sleeping dogs

Ms McLeod says she is open to further discussions around the issues.

That concludes the member's debate on electronic dog collars, we'll be back at 2.30pm with a statement on the oil and gas industry.

Ministerial response

Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Minister Aileen McLeod praises the various animal welfare organisations for their helpful briefings.

The Scottish government conducted a public consultation on electronic dog callers in 2007, the results showed it is a very controversial and sensitive issue, with organisations on both sides of the argument.

Environment Minister Aileen McLeod
Environment Minister Aileen McLeod

The arguments against electronic dog collar use are that they cause pain and distress and fail to address underlying problems.

Arguments in favour are that the research is out of date and new collars can produce a "mild tingle" and can save dogs that have worried sheep from having to be put down.

SNP MSP Dennis Robertson says surely it is down to the owner of the dog to prevent their pet from worrying sheep, which Ms McLeod agrees with.

A complete ban

Green MSP Alison Johnstone says she supports a complete ban in electric collars.

Ms Johnstone then says "We really do need to follow the example the Welsh government have set".

Green MSP Alison Johnstone
Green MSP Alison Johnstone

Positive rewards based training is what is dog owners need to do she says and anyone who thinks about using an electric collar should educate themselves first.

I want to live in a Scotland where animal cruelty is "intolerable and unacceptable" she says.

Mr Q and a call for a ban

SNP MSP Dennis Robertson says there is no such thing as an appropriate use of electronic dog collar

Any such use is "abhorrent", should never happen and "there is no need for it to happen."

"We must ban the use of these collars."

SNP MSP Dennis Robertson
SNP MSP Dennis Robertson

Mr Robertson's guide dog Mr Q listens attentively to the SNP MSP's speech.

Mr Q
Dennis Roberston's dog Mr Q

Mr Q is quite the political celebrity with his own Twitter account with over 1,000 followers!

Mr Q gets a snack
Dennis Robertson gives Mr Q a snack as a treat at the end of his speech

His reward for his avid attention to the speech from the Aberdeenshire West MSP is a well earned treat, reinforcing the Mr Robertson's view that positive affirmation is best.

Dog microchipping

Conservative SNP MSP Nanette Milne commends Christine Grahame for her work in this area, despite being a "well known cat lover".

Ms Milne praises Ms Grahame's interest in dog welfare.

Conservative MSP Nanette Milne
Conservative MSP Nanette Milne

She says a significant number of dog welfare issues have been raised in parliament recently and praises the government for its consultation on dog microchipping, but adds she is disappointed further action has not been taken on the issue.

Dog and microchip reader
Dog and microchip reader


Labour MSP Elaine Murray says "we ought to have banned these devices years ago".

Labour MSP Elaine Murray
Labour MSP Elaine Murray

'My friends'

Ms Grahame says shock collars can perversely cause further behavioural problems in dogs.

She says she has had pet animals for over 40 years and would never countenance using "pain to train" methods.

The SNP MSP says shock collars are easy enough to buy - they range from £20 to in the £100's - and "goodness knows who's buying them, whether they bother to read the manual and how and where they are being used".


She quotes some young pupils from Primary 7 at Mauricewood Primary School in Penicuik, 100% of whom voted against the use of shock collars.

They said their use "would make dogs sad" and said "stop hurting my friends".