By Kenny MacAskill, East Lothian MP

WESTMINSTER voting arrangements may be farcical, but parliament still affords an opportunity to question ministers.

I asked the business secretary about grid transmission charges. As offshore wind increases in scale and importance, it’s here that much of its energy lands. Cockenzie and Torness are transmission points, even if turbines are sited out at sea.

There’s room for many more, and the scale of the turbines is far bigger than those onshore, causing less aggravation yet producing more power. Scotland’s ideally placed to benefit, with our weather – which we often curse – being to our advantage. It’s reckoned that 25 per cent of Europe’s wind resource blows off our shores.

That should be a blessing, being clean and plentiful. But ensuring that we benefit is what matters. At the moment grid charges, dictating the cost of transmitting energy, mitigate against sites in Scotland and the north of England. It’s perverse as that’s where they’re located yet it’s made most expensive to locate or produce from here.

As I said to the Tory minister, Scotland missed out on its oil and gas wealth. As we now, rightly, have a renewables revolution, it cannot miss out again. Not just these renewable energy resources but the onshore manufacturing jobs are badly needed.

More widely, many constituents were in touch about the UK Government’s plans to merge the Department for International Development into the Foreign Office. I share their concerns and am raising them.

Organisations such as SCIAF, who I know well, rightly point out that it should be about addressing the needs of people and assisting developing countries, not promoting British foreign policy. This is a moral argument, not an administrative arrangement. Whatever challenges we face, the plight of others is far worse.

Finally, I wish Iain Gray well. Our paths have crossed in Holyrood and now here. We’ve disagreed on Scotland’s constitutional situation but have agreed on much more. He’s a man of principle and has served the constituency well.