Thursday 9 February
The Scottish Government led a debate on the recently announced closures of job centres across Scotland and I joined with my SNP colleagues in condemning the callous Tory government cuts that are set to hit some of Scotland’s poorest communities.
The proposed closures, which are going ahead without prior consultation as part of an ideologically-motivated campaign by the Tories, are set to have a deeply damaging impact on the most vulnerable people across Scotland – raising travel costs and making services less accessible.
The cuts, which will close more than 20 job centre sites across Scotland, have been condemned by the Scottish Government, the TUC, the Church of Scotland and charities including One Parent Families Scotland. SNP MSPs and MPs are calling on the DWP to carry out a full equality impact assessment to study the damage that the closures will have on people across Scotland. These reckless UK government cuts show just how little they care about protecting our communities and providing people with the support they need.
You can read my contribution and the full debate here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=10780&i=98842
The Scottish Parliament this week overwhelmingly voted against triggering Article 50, in line with the decisive wishes of the people of Scotland in the EU referendum.
The vote also comes as the UK government has failed to set out how they will effectively consult with the devolved governments over an agreed UK-wide negotiating approach.
The Tories voted in favour of allowing the UK government to press ahead with a hard Brexit – despite Ruth Davidson saying after the EU referendum that our single market membership should be the “overriding priority” in negotiations.
The people of Scotland voted decisively to remain in the EU, and only one of Scotland’s 59 MPs at Westminster has backed the triggering of Article 50.
The born-again Brexiteers in Ruth Davidson’s Tories are happy to write the UK government a blank cheque – having already ditched their demands for a soft Brexit when Theresa May’s direction of travel became clear – but the Scottish Parliament has spoken clearly.
Theresa May has a choice – and if she chooses to push ahead with her reckless proposals for a hard Brexit, and to ignore our compromise proposals to protect our place in the single market, then that will send a very strong signal about whether Scotland’s national interests can be properly served within the UK negotiating process.
The Scottish Palriament European Committee published a unanimous cross party report on EU Migration and EU Citizens’ Rights.
The committee says that 181,000 EU nationals living in Scotland are experiencing “imposed uncertainty” as they wait to find out whether they will be able to continue to live and work in Scotland. The report says “EU citizens who have made their homes throughout Scotland should be allowed to remain” and calls on the UK government to clarify their status without further delay.
The report also highlights “strong evidence of the importance of EU migration to Scotland and the contribution that EU migrants have made to the Scottish economy and Scottish society”. Evidence shows that EU migration since 2004 has helped reverse a decline in the Scottish population and increased the number of people of working age in Scotland.
The report states that the demographic risks for Scotland of a reduction in the number of EU migrants are more acute than for the UK as a whole.
The official opening of ACCA’s new office in Queen Street took place on Monday and I had the pleasure of attending.
This is a major endorsement for Glasgow – that it has the skills to support a growing international organisation.
ACCA said the new office strengthens their position as a quality employer, and they believe this new Glasgow home will give ACCA a dynamic, inspiring and sustainable place to work, in the heart of a thriving and dynamic City centre. Who could not agree with these sentiments!
My colleague Bill Kidd MSP a long standing anti-nuclear campaigner led a Holyrood debate on Trident this week, outlining the economic, moral and defence case for scrapping Trident as outlined in the Jimmy Reid Foundation report – Trident and its Successor Programme.
It was revealed last month that the UK government failed to disclose a serious malfunction in a Trident test launch just before Westminster voted on its renewal.
With the Institute of Fiscal Studies revealing in a report today that UK spending on public services has regressed to 2003 levels, the £205bn cost of renewing Trident demonstrates the misplaced priorities of Theresa May’s Tories.
You can access the Jimmy Reid Foundation report here: http://reidfoundation.org/portfolio/stop-trident-renewal/
A new teacher recruitment campaign has been launched by Deputy First Minister John Swinney.
The ‘Teaching Makes People’ campaign targets university undergraduates studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects as well as people currently working in STEM industries.
The campaign is based on research showing people attracted by and suited to teaching are generally motivated by helping to develop others and making the most of their own knowledge. It builds on the success of last year’s ‘Inspiring Teachers’ campaign which saw a 19% increase in applications for education post graduate diplomas (PGDE) at Scottish universities compared to the previous year.
You can find out more information at www.teachinscotland.scot
Mosque Open Day
It was a pleasure to attend Al-Furqan Mosque on Carrington Street at the weekend with my colleague Patrick Grady MP. Having visited the mosque on many occasions we were invited as part of the Visit My Mosque Day where the doors were opened for all members of the public to attend.
Visit My Mosque now in its third year aims to bring people together in the spirit of friendship and conversation giving members of the local community an engaging insight into the life of local Muslims and to promote a greater understanding of Islam.
We also met up with Dr Bhutta (pictured) who took the time to chat about their current exhibition which illustrates the historical connections between followers of Islam and Scotland.
Chinese New Year
Following on from my visit to the mosque I then attended Chinese New Year celebrations at the See Woo Restaurant in Saracen Street.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Cheung Cheung the Chairman of the Glasgow Wing Hong Elderly Group and Mr. Sam Chau the Headteacher of the Glasgow Chinese School for the kind invitation.
The celebrations were fantastic with a wonderful performance from the choir (pictured) as well as some delicious food and great company.
Trained doctors who have come to Scotland as refugees are to be given support to re-enter the medical profession in Scotland.
Funded by £161,692 from the Scottish Government, the New Refugee Doctors Project is unique in the UK in supporting medically trained and qualified refugees to achieve medical registration and contribute their skills to NHS Scotland, as well as offering a long-term package of support.
Run by the Bridges Programmes in partnership with the BMA and NHS Education for Scotland, and Clyde College and the City of Glasgow College, the funding will help suitably qualified refugees access training, language support and professional mentoring to help them meet the standards for professional registration with the General Medical Council and practise medicine here in Scotland. As part of the funding, the doctors have committed to working for NHS Scotland.
The programme is unique in the UK – unlike other refugee doctor programmes, there are placement and clinical attachments around understanding the structure, culture and ethics of NHS Scotland. It also gives doctors access to postgraduate study and dedicated support for learning English, meaning doctors are supported not just through the GMC registration, but on-going support through post-registration and job hunting. It is also the first in the UK to involve a partnership between the third sector, further education and NHS.