It’s been a while since I posted an editor’s pick, and now you can see why: we’ve been improving our appearance and our functionality. As well as moving editor’s picks to a blog, we’ve put a lot of work into our landing page on the Parliament’s site. We hope that it is a friendlier page that makes our content more accessible. During the working week, new features on the page will keep you abreast of what we’re publishing that day. I’d love to hear your views about what we’ve done and what you’d like us to think about for the next improvements. There’s a comment facility below this post – although please note that all comments will be moderated – and there’s a contact form on the “About the Official Report” page that you can use to get in touch. Alternatively, you can email official.report@scottish.parliament.uk.

Although the redevelopment – and the need to publish Official Reports before I can reflect on them – have made it difficult for me to post editor’s picks, I have been keeping a wee list of things that have instructed, amused and alarmed our editorial team. 

Drew McFarlane from the actor’s union, Equity, talked to the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee about the token moving of creative industries out of London. He said that the union was

fed up with only a cough-and-a-spit part going to the odd actor who is based up here

and in the process he taught us another name for a bit part.

Actors aren’t happy, and neither are the dairy farmers. The Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee took evidence over a couple of weeks on an issue that inflames passions.  Michael Russell MSP was pushing Chris Brown from ASDA on the need to support the Scottish dairy industry, when Mr Brown shared this thought with the committee:

I was the milk buyer at one stage and I had some great products that, unfortunately, nobody bought. It still rankles that bubblegum-flavoured milk did not win.”

Longannet power station has been much in the news and was the subject of  a Conservative debate on energy strategy. Patrick Harvie, winding up for the Greens, gave a passionate four-minute speech, which he began by saying that

security cannot be achieved on a stand-alone basis. No man is an island, it is said. No country—even one that looks like an island geographically—is an island in energy terms. It will be increasingly important that we have interconnectivity not only to the rest of the UK but across the North Sea to the rest of Europe“.

He concluded that

In the final analysis, we need to recognise that this brief little blip in the planet’s history—this tiny century in which a bunch of allegedly smart apes have become so hooked on every form of fossil fuel that can be extracted, which has bound us intimately and intricately with those products—is coming to an end. Unless we get to grips with the need for a just transition, we will be failing to meet not only our ecological needs but our social and economic needs.”

Finally, in one of the best debates that the chamber has seen for a long time, on privacy and the state, we were momentarily distracted from the seriousness of the subject and the quality of the speeches when Christine Grahame tried to intervene on Jackson Carlaw. He refused her thus:

Ms Grahame does not come naked into the chamber without form before her. Had any other Government proposed the same thing, she would have been throwing her jewellery at the ministers.

Words of note:

Martin Reid, from the Road Haulage Association, stood up for hauliers when asked about his priorities for the transport infrastructure:

If I had my druthers, money would be spent on rest areas for hauliers, including wash-out facilities. Many of those guys are treated as second-class citizens when they stop at petrol stations and try to use the wash facilities. That is a basic human right, and I would like that to be added on to any infrastructure list that was on the go.

Astonishingly, this appears to be the first instance of the use of “druthers” in the Official Report. Chambers dictionary defines it as a US-influenced noun meaning choice, or preference, deriving from a contraction of “I’d rather do”.

A discussion at the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee on the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, which is UK legislation, focused on exit payments to public sector senior staff. Patrick Harvie and Fergus Ewing had an exchange during which Mr Ewing offered the following explanation:

We are perhaps straying off piste here but, in general, the public sector has defined benefit pension arrangements, whereas increasingly in the private sector that is a rara avis. It is impossible to equiparate the public and private sectors. Therefore, interesting and perfectly legitimate though Mr Harvie’s question is, it is perhaps one for consideration on another day.”

I’m still not entirely sure whether “defined benefit pension arrangements” can be a singular “rara avis”, or whether they should be “rara avises” or “rarae aves”.

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