Thursday 15 March
I was delighted to accept my Carer Positive Award from Simon Hodgson this week in the Parliament. Carer Positive is a Scottish Government funded initiative launched in June 2014 and operated by Carers Scotland.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of the growing numbers of carers in the workforce, and to award recognition to those employers with good practice in supporting employees.
To date 70 organisations have been recognised as ‘Carer Positive Employers’, covering around 250,000 employees in Scotland.
These include local authorities, health boards and other public bodies; utility companies; further and higher education institutions; and a range of voluntary sector organisations and private companies.
I would encourage local businesses and organisations to become recognised as Carer Positive employers. Carers Scotland provides support and advice to help employers achieve this, and a range of information resources are also available.
You can find out more at www.carerpositive.org
It was the pre Stage 2 debate this week before the Finance and Constitution Committee members debated the amendments to the Bill. I took the opportunity to contribute to the debate highlighting the concerns that have been raised by many to the Health Committee.
You can read my full speech here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11415&i=103724
The UK Government meanwhile has this week tabled amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill which have not been agreed by the devolved administrations and comes despite opposition from the Scottish and Welsh Governments to proposals that impinge on devolved powers after Brexit.
In a letter to all members of the Scottish Parliament, the Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe Michael Russell has said that while the Scottish Government are not opposed to UK-wide frameworks in certain areas when these are in Scotland’s interests, this must only happen with the agreement of the Scottish Parliament.
Asif Dean and his colleague Naveed Malikzai very kindly travelled to the Parliament this week with these beautiful flowers as a gift to thank me for my assistance for the recognition and support of afghan interpreters.
Following my correspondence with the Minister for Further and Higher Education support will now be offered to Afghan interpreters who worked for the British army to attend Scottish universities and colleges following the Scottish Government changes to residency criteria.
I was delighted that the Scottish Government took appropriate action to help Afghan interpreters who served with UK forces build a new life in Scotland. This discrepancy was caused by the fact that Afghan interpreters were given temporary, rather than indefinite, leave to remain – unlike Iraqi interpreters. That UK government decision left Afghan interpreters ineligible for student support. I’m glad that, after I raised this issue, the Scottish Government has taken action and will allow these brave interpreters to access education.
Many of you will have knowledge of the various student accommodation development plans for the local area. Most of you will also know my feelings on this subject and the negative impact these developments are having on the local community.
These developments are swamping the area whilst housing associations are desperate to build but all the land has been bought up by the developers. They are being priced out of the market making it impossible to build decent affordable social housing for families.
Glasgow City Council have called for a fresh report to review the provision of student accommodation across the city and I will be very interested to see the final report.
What a great opportunity this week to meet up with Nobel Laureate Beatrice Fihn who was visiting the Scottish Parliament this week.
Ms Fihn is the Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
ICAN is a global civil society coalition working to promote adherence to and full implementation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The campaign helped bring about this treaty. ICAN was launched in 2007 and counts 468 partner organizations in 101 countries as of 2017.
The campaign received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.”
You can find out more about their work here: http://www.icanw.org/
The Scottish Parliament’s European and External Affairs Committee have called for a way for Erasmus+, the EU education and training programme to continue after Brexit.
The committee report published this week states thousands of young people, volunteers, teachers and students from a range of backgrounds – not just university undergraduates – stand to lose out if the UK Government cannot, or will not, negotiate the UK’s continued participation in the scheme beyond 2020.
The committee says Scotland must therefore look for alternative ways for its participation in the programme to continue after Brexit and called on the Scottish Government to explore using existing ‘institutional structures’ such as Education Scotland and British Council Scotland to secure the future for the programme.
The WWF were in Parliament this week promoting Earth Hour.
The first Earth Hour took place more than a decade ago and over the years the number of individuals taking part has soared.
Hundreds of millions of individuals from a record 187 countries and territories took part in the world’s biggest Earth Hour yet last year.
In Scotland alone, 165 national and local landmarks went dark, joining over 3,000 others around the globe.
Scotland was the first country on record to gain support from all local authorities, continuing to make its mark on the international Earth Hour map.
If you would like to take part have a look at the information on WWF website here https://www.wwf.org.uk/earthhour