Christine Grahame is SNP MSP for Tweeddale and Lauderdale

Parliamentary Committees

As one of the Deputy Presiding Officers of the Parliament I am not a member of a committee (though I am a substitute on Rural Economy if a colleague is off). However, in the past couple of weeks I have visited a couple of committees where Borders’ issues were on the agenda. As a visiting MSP it is up to the Convener of the committee when and how much you get to question but I have been lucky with both conveners who let me get stuck in. First up was Borders Health Board. Now the board oversees the workings of the NHS here on your behalf. I have always described myself as a critical friend of the board but I was more critic than friend when it came before the committee. In 2018 they received an additional £10 million as a bail-out but it has required the Cabinet Secretary to send in a fire-fighting team, a management team called Bold Revolutions to show them the way in management and budgets. I have to say that before the committee they did not cover themselves in glory appearing as if their financial crisis had come out of the blue. Let’s hope in the coming months there is a turnaround in the board’s capabilities. This of course, thankfully does not impact on the fine delivery of care across the Borders but that is despite the failings of the board.

Next it was the Rural Economy committee with Alex Hynes, chief executive of Scotrail, up to explain his 'remedial plan' including the Borders. Just the week before I had raised this with the First Minister and described Scotrail as being in the Last Chance Saloon with which she agreed. Well by the time he reached committee there were still problems and I told him so. It turns out when questioned by me about there not being enough staff to drive the trains that it was because and I quote “not due to not having enough train crew, they were due to not having enough train crew trained”. Bit like the wrong kind of leaves on the line! Actually it turns out Scotrail didn’t have anyone specific dealing with forward planning for staff and in fairness to Alex Hynes that was before he assumed office. But blow me that’s basic. Again this week I raised the matter of cancelled and overcrowded trains at FMQs and I have now invited Alex Hynes to travel with me from Tweedbank to Waverley on a morning peak hour train. I’ll let you know how that goes. By the way, all of this is on my FB pages.

Final committee was Audit and I was there because it was reviewing the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010, my very own act of Parliament. I challenged the Minister because of its lack of publicity. As a member’s Bill and not a government Bill it only gets publicity of the government does it, as members have no resources for this. It’s a pity because it’s a good piece of law.