National Pharmaceutical Company

THE Covid-19 pandemic has exposed how reliant the health service is on imported medicines and medical equipment – and how unreliable this supply chain can become in a crisis, the think tank warns. Other problems highlighted include the dominance of big profit-driven pharmaceutical companies in the medicines market. Following the Covid crisis, the Common Weal says it has extended the scope of work looking at setting up a publicly-owned centre, which would be closely linked to Scotland’s universities and medical research institutes and dedicated to working for the public good. “This national company would now become a manufacturing centre for the NHS as well, set up to produce things like PPE or other essential equipment,” it says. “It would also be a research centre which, in the current crisis, could rapidly have developed capacity for testing and tracing. Having this capacity domestically would mean Scotland would never need to be caught out ill-prepared for a medical crisis ever again.”

Scottish Energy Development Agency

THE report says the end goal for Scotland should be to move to an “entirely renewable” system of energy in Scotland in public ownership, including electricity and heating. A new agency should be set up to get the entire project “shovel-ready” – which would include quadrupling the volume of renewable energy generation using on-shore and off-shore wind generation. Another vital step of decarbonising heating in Scotland “will not be easy”, it warns, and will require the “massive task” of installing district heat networks. These distribute heat to buildings from a centralised source, meaning new technologies can be introduced with minimum disruption to individual households. But the report adds: “This is not enough; the failure of Scotland to capture anything like a meaningful proportion of the manufacturing associated with the renewable energy sector is nothing short of a national scandal. So Scotland should set up a National Energy Company to develop the plan for the new generation capacity, commission and install it and own it publicly.

READ MORE: Common Weal unveil plans for New Green Deal in independent Scotland

National Commission for Scottish Independence

THE report says much in the plans outlined is deliverable under the current powers of devolution, which would achieve an “enormous amount of positive change” in Scotland. However, it notes it would also push the limits of these devolved powers and says this would move the country to a point where “it needs to make a decision”, suggesting a commission should be set up to outline the case for independence. The think tank says delivering a Green New Deal would require action in areas which are currently reserved to Westminster, such as energy and regulation. But it warns: “It would not be possible to proceed even if these powers were devolved. The reason is the fiscal and monetary situation. “Phase three is the full transition to a green economy – and it requires significant investment.” It adds: “Even if the Scottish Parliament was given unlimited borrowing powers and could borrow all the money required, the fiscal benefits of the stimulus would largely be captured by Westminster because it controls most of the tax base.

National Community Service

THE Common Weal also makes the case for people in Scotland taking part in a year of community service, for which they would be paid and learn “socially useful skills”, ranging from social care to landscaping. It suggests this could then be followed by occasional refresher courses, which would provide a constant pool of people with various skills which could be called on in the event of any future crisis. “An army of people with repair and maintenance skills could help communities if they were hit with flooding, an army of people who learned food production could have been brought in now to help with harvest, an army of people with basic training in health care support might be invaluable in a future pandemic,” it says. “Such a proposal is certainly not without risks and especially so if it was compulsory or unpaid and there may be other ways to achieve the same end. “But building up the useful skills in a nation and increasing the prestige and recognition of civic contribution would be a fitting tribute to the sacrifices made during the Covid crisis.”