15 August 2001


During my vacation on the west coast, the report was published into the crash at Glasgow of an aircraft en route to Aberdeen with Airtours staff. Eight people died in that accident and it was right and proper that the Air Accident Investigations Bureau spent a painstaking 18 months researching every aspect of so that lessons could be learned and applied.

As it happens I had a personal interest as the captain of that flight, one of those who died, was a personal friend and someone whose skill and judgement I respected. I was able to read the accident report on the Internet and like anyone else, learn any lessons that I as a private pilot might learn apply to my flying.

Here in the North-East we also see the Marine Accident Investigations Bureau resuming their investigations into the sinking of the Trident all these years ago. We know that any lessons learned will be published.

There have been a spate of accidents on our roads which have already caused more deaths in our area than either of these flying or marine accidents. As I was told by a constituent about one of these, the police spent a considerable period studying the causes of one of these.

In fact it seems clear that this accident may be a repeat of one only a year ago and that that road conditions are likely to have been a major factor.

For air or sea accidents, we have specialist units centrally funded and with an absolute focus on safety who investigate all accidents.

There seems to be no equivalent unit focussing on roads. And yet it is roads which kill more of our citizens than ships or planes.


By now students across Banff & Buchan will have received their exam results. Although it seems that we have to treat any statistics coming out of the SQA with a bit of caution it does seem that they confirm one trend. Girls get better results than boys.

In my business career I employed large numbers of women and many of those were the most effective performers in my teams. And those who were, shared one defining characteristic, they were hungry for success.

Things have changed a great deal for many women. I recall that some 20 years ago my wife, who then held a senior position with a London merchant bank, used to have to use the gents toilet whenever she was in their headquarters. Why? They didn't have a ladies toilet!

On average women still earn less than men so the battle for equal rights may not be over. But at least the doors appear open to today's young women of talent and the SQA's figure suggest that they're motivated to walk though them.

The challenge now is to bring the loons' performance up that of the quines'. With worldwide research showing that small classes in early primary school are a major contributor to later success, it reinforces my view that class sizes of no more than 18 should be our target.

Stewart Stevenson
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