On Tuesday, the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee took evidence from Marine Scotland representatives on regulations concerning the conservation of salmon. The background to the regulations, as Keith Main explained, is the
“continuing downward trend in salmon returning to Scottish waters.”
When John Scott asked about how the expected introduction of beavers might impact on salmon numbers, the “beaver deceiver” was mentioned, which is a method of managing the effect of beavers on the fish population that involves the use of a pipe to allow smolts and salmon to migrate through beaver dams. The name comes from the fact that, because the entrance to the pipe—which reduces the water level behind the dam—is some distance upstream of the dam, the beaver
“cannot figure out why that is happening and it tries to repair the damage rather than block the pipe.”
On Wednesday, the Finance and Constitution Committee considered the highly complex issue of Scottish VAT assignment. At times, the answers of the panel, which included the director of the Fraser of Allander institute and the chief executive of the Scottish Fiscal Commission, had members of the committee scratching their heads. For example, when it emerged during the discussion that the methodology used in the assignment model relied heavily on the living costs and food survey, the sample size for which struck several members as small, Adam Tomkins asked:
“Why should we not be thrown by it? Why should we feel reassured that 720 respondents is a big enough number?”
John Ireland’s response—
“You should feel reassured because the statistical properties of samples do not vary in size with the sample size; they vary in size with the inverse of the square root of the sample size”—
prompted laughter and bemusement in equal measure.
Anyone taking a stroll in the environs of the Parliament on Thursday will have been able to see the Black Arrow, the UK’s only rocket to successfully launch a British satellite into orbit, which, until recently, had remained where it crash-landed in the Australian outback 48 years ago. The occasion for its appearance in front of the Parliament was Thursday afternoon’s chamber debate on Scotland’s strength as a space nation, which Ivan McKee, the Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, opened by declaring:
“These are exciting times for the space industry in Scotland … At a time when Scotland aims to be the first place in Europe capable of launching small satellites into orbit, it seems fitting that the Black Arrow is now here in Edinburgh, and I congratulate Skyrora—one of Scotland’s rocket manufacturing businesses—on successfully bringing it back to the UK.”
Another exciting happening outside the Parliament last week was the school strike for climate that took place on Friday morning, which was trailed by several members in Wednesday afternoon’s debate on the year of young people 2018. It was also mentioned in Tuesday’s fair work debate by Alison Johnstone, who argued:
“there cannot be fair work unless our economic model is fair to the planet. This Friday, hundreds of our young people will gather outside the Parliament to ask us to take action to address climate change, which is not an unconnected issue”.