MSPs in row over £300,000 salary for deposit return scheme chief

The Scottish Government faced questions from MSPs after the salaries of those running the scheme were revealed.

Lorna Slater faces questions over deposit return scheme amid row over £300,000 salary for company chief STV News

A minister has said it would be inappropriate to interfere in the company overseeing Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS) after an MSP likened it to “Frankenstein’s monster”.

Circular economy minister Lorna Slater faced questions from MSPs after it emerged the chief executive of Circularity Scotland was on a £300,000 salary.

David Harris and other executives at Circularity Scotland Ltd will receive a combined £670,000 in annual wages and fees.

The company was set up as a non-profit organisation by the Scottish Government to administer the DRS, an initiative to boost recycling of empty containers.

On Tuesday, Labour’s Colin Smyth asked the minister if the chief executive’s salary was appropriate.

Slater said: “Circularity Scotland is separate from government and we have no role in the recruitment of staff or their pay levels.”

Decisions on pay are made by the company’s board, she said, noting that other countries operate deposit return systems in similar ways.

Smyth said Circularity Scotland was only being led by big businesses, rather than small companies, and asked if she had expressed concern over its salaries.

Amid shouts from the backbenches, she said: “It would be inappropriate for ministers to interfere.”

The Labour MSP said: “The minister needs to learn to answer the questions she’s asked.”

The SNP’s Fergus Ewing, a vocal critic of the DRS, said: “Circularity Scotland Ltd is a creature entirely out of control.”

He asked Slater: “Have you not, on behalf of the Scottish Government in creating Circularity Scotland Ltd, created a monster, a modern-day 21st century Frankenstein?”

She replied: “The approach of an industry-led and industry paid-for scheme was supported by Scottish Labour and the Conservatives and is the same as schemes around the world.

“We are not reinventing the wheel here, Scotland’s scheme is in line with successful schemes around the world.”

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