TWO LABOUR MEMBERS of the Scottish Parliament serving the Highlands and Islands, which includes Moray, have been expressing their delight at being given shadow ministerial roles.
David Stewart MSP was this week given the brief as a Shadow Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.
He has also been given a role as part of the powerful Scottish Parliament Corporate Body Committee (SPCB) which oversees the general running of the Parliament.
Mr Stewart said: “I have had previous experience with environmental issues so in that respect I am on familiar ground with an overarching responsibility also now for Climate Change and Land Reform.
“All three issues will have far reaching effects on Scotland’s economy, its people and its environment – I am determined to do my bit to hold the Scottish Government to account with regards their performance in relation to these issues.”
“In relation to Land Reform – Farming tenancy arrangements are considered in part 10 of the Land Reform Act 2016. Agriculture tenancies are valuable as an entry into the sector. A vibrant tenanted sector is vital to ensuring we get the most from Scotland’s land, but we know already that Scotland has one of the lowest proportions of rented land in Scotland, so there is much work to be done.”
Meanwhile Rhoda Grant MSP said she was delighted with the role which covers a large brief and impacts greatly on the Highlands & Islands, that of spokesperson on Rural Economy and Connectivity.
Rhoda, who with David Stewart will be providing insideMoray readers monthly updates on what is happening at Holyrood, said: “Covering issues such as agriculture, forestry, transport, connectivity, co-ordination on Islands is both a very challenging, interesting and far reaching brief which I am delighted to take on board.”
“Connectivity is possibly one of the most important issues facing rural Scotland today. We lag behind urban areas in accessing broadband while we have most to gain. It can break down geographical barriers delivering health and education closer to home. It can open up opportunity to people living in remote rural areas and bring their markets closer to them.
“In terms of agriculture, If we consider that almost 25,000 jobs in the Highlands & Islands are related to agriculture then we see how important this industry is for jobs and the economy of rural Scotland.
“In terms of the Common Agricultural Policy, Richard Lochhead, the former Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs has fallen on his sword. Now Fergus Ewing will try and sort the mess out whilst many farmers struggle.
“We all knew that CAP payments would be complex, but the Government should have ensured that the system works. The fact is that the computer system that was used by the Government was spectacularly over complex and overdesigned and completely unreliable.
“There was systemic failure, which has contributed to delays. Farmers, and the thousands of rural jobs and communities that rely on them, deserved better. It is my job to hold the Government to account and more importantly make sure they get this mess sorted out as soon as possible.
“I am also delighted to have oversight of islands policy. All but two of our inhabited Islands are in the Highlands and Islands region, they face differing challenges and these need to be met.”