Thursday 29 March
Many of you will be aware of the European Arrest Warrants issued by the Spanish Government this week. I took the opportunity to raise this issue during topical questions.
I am horrified by the actions of the Spanish Government and will continue to support the Catalan people’s right to self determination and support those elected Catalan politicians who now find themselves exiled or imprisoned.
You can read the full exchange here: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11448&i=104000
I wanted to extend my thanks again to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and the crew members who attended the fire at Sauchiehall Street. Firefighters showed great courage and professionalism ensuring the blaze was brought under control as quickly as possible.
With Monday 26 March Purple Day for Epilepsy I took the opportunity to meet up with members of Glasgow based Epilepsy Connections this week and in particular the members of their Epilepsy Futures project and Project Manager Peter Dale.
The project aims to support adults isolated by epilepsy to make positive, sustainable changes to their lives. I spoke to members of the group about their own personal experience and realised the enormous benefits this project is bringing to those diagnosed with epilepsy.
Over £200 million of debt has been repaid since the reform of the Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS) in 2011 with more than 6,000 people having now completed a debt payment plan.
The Scottish Government has announced improvements to DAS which will make the scheme more appealing to those struggling with problem debt.
More information on the scheme can be found here: https://www.aib.gov.uk/debt-arrangement-scheme
It’s always a pleasure to meet up with members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Elders Association and Sunday was no exception.
There was a huge celebration and ceremony at the Baitur Rahman Mosque to acknowledge the immense efforts in raising money for extremely worthy causes through the Charity Walk for Peace.
A huge thank you and well done to Ahmadiyya Muslim Elders Association for their commitment and dedication to helping others and for their exceptional hospitality.
Families of young children may be entitled to extra financial support, under Scottish Government plans.
Worth up to a total of £1100, Best Start Grant will be one of 11 benefits to be paid as part of the new Scottish social security system.
It will replace the UK Government Sure Start Maternity Grant in Scotland, offering low income families a £600 birth payment when they have their first child and two new payments per child of £250 when the child can access a nursery place and when he or she starts primary school.
In a further significant improvement to current UK arrangements, support will be reintroduced for the second and all subsequent children of a £300 birth payment per child together with the two later payments of £250 each.
A 12-week consultation on how the scheme will operate is now open.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) welcomed another delegation of Palestinian firefighters to their training centre in Cambuslang.
I had the opportunity to meet with the firefighters and attend their awards ceremony last week.
The SFRS and the FBU with support from the Scottish Government have been offering lifesaving training to the Palestinian firefighters as well as essential equipment.
This training and equipment is essential for them to carry out their jobs, attending to emergency situations which is made even more difficult under oppressive conditions.
With one year to go before the UK is due to leave the EU, the Scottish Government today set out its top priorities for the Brexit negotiations.
Michael Russell, Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, said Scotland had so far been excluded from the Brexit process by the UK Government but the voice of the people of Scotland must now be heard.
The government has published a report, Protecting What Matters – What’s at stake for individuals in the Brexit talks, which sets out the key issues people want answers to about Brexit and their future.
Mr Russell said it is essential Single Market membership is put back on the table in order to resolve many of the concerns raised.
You can read the full report here: https://news.gov.scot/resources/brexit-protecting-what-matters
Food Standards Scotland (FSS) were exhibiting in the Parliament this week and I took time to stop by and chat with them about their work.
FFS ensure that information and advice on food safety and standards, nutrition and labelling is independent, consistent, evidence-based and consumer-focused.
Their primary concern is consumer protection – making sure that food is safe to eat, ensuring consumers know what they are eating and improving nutrition.
FSS develops policies, provides policy advice to others, is a trusted source of advice for consumers and protects consumers through delivery of a robust regulatory and enforcement strategy.
Please note the Ebrief will resume week beginning 16 April due to the Parliamentary recess.