Thursday 12 September 2019
My colleague Bill Kidd MSP kindly arranged for the Scottish Parliament’s Time for Reflection to be delivered this week by Mr Ameed Versace the Strategic Engagements Director of the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society.
It was a pleasure to meet up with Mr Versace after he had addressed parliamentarians on Tuesday afternoon.
I am pictured with the Deputy Presiding Officer Linda Fabiani MSP, Mr Versace, Bill Kidd MSP, Alex Neil MSP, Keith Brown MSP and a delegation from the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society.
An extremely timely debate was scheduled this week in Parliament on The Impact of the UK Government’s Planned Immigration Policy and Mobility Restrictions on Scotland’s University and Scientific Research Sectors.
Representing three highly regarded universities University of Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian University and Strathclyde University I took the opportunity to contribute to the debate to raise the concerns those universities have expressed.
You can read the full debate and my contribution here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=12240&i=110607
In the same day the UK Government, thanks to the unrelenting determination of the Scottish Government have u-turned on the withdrawal of the post-study work visa.
The Scottish Government has been consistent in arguing for the reintroduction of a post-study work visa following the decision by the UK Government to end the previous route in 2012. This is a welcome step forward but only one of many measures required.
It should not have taken seven years for the UK Government to accept the arguments from partners across Scotland and reverse their decision.
It is almost certain a general election will be called and I would encourage those of you who have not already done so, to register to vote. With the shambles we have witnessed in particular over the last few weeks in Westminster, it is imperative that we all use our democratic right.
You can register here: https://www.mygov.scot/register-to-vote-scotland/
I’m pictured with a representative from Breast Cancer Prevention Scotland. They are run entirely by a group of volunteers who are passionate and determined to prevent breast cancer.
They believe that it’s time to change the conversation about why the incidence of breast cancer continues to increase, why more younger women are being diagnosed and why only 23% of breast cancers are considered to be preventable.
If you would like to find out more about their work go to: https://www.breastcancerpreventionscotland.org/
The Citizens’ Assembly will bring together people from across Scotland to consider the issues we face in uncertain times.
Whilst the Scottish Government is debating how best to involve citizens in the country’s future the UK Government has shut down parliament and the voice of the people.
You can access the full debate here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=12242&i=110613
The CPG on Palestine welcomed Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) volunteer Jane Dallas Ross to a meeting this week to present on her recent trip to Palestine.
Jane spoke of the incredible work that is being carried out to support the Palestinians and in particular women but also impressed that the situation is desperate for people.
You can find out more about the work of EAPPI here: https://eappi.org/en
It was great to welcome the Singing Children of Africa back to the Parliament this week where they again staged a wonderful performance.
The choir is part of the larger Educate the Kids organisation which was established in 1998 in Kenya. The organisation has worked tirelessly to transform the lives, aspirations and individual potential of people living in six villages in Kenya.
The core of their work has been securing land and building a primary school. The School now provides education for 600 sponsored children annually whom without this would not have been able to receive any formal education.
The organisation’s success in providing for the needs of these children and their community in a robust and sustainable way gives them a unique opportunity to make a better life for themselves.
For more information please see www.educatethekids.com
Offenders will be required to contribute to the cost of supporting victims of crime from November.
A new financial penalty will be imposed on all criminals who are sentenced to pay a court fine and the money raised will be banked in the Victim Surcharge Fund.
Victim support organisations will be able to apply to the fund to cover the costs of providing short-term and practical support such as new windows and locks for burglary victims or funeral expenses for families of murder victims.
Regulations laid in Parliament today, subject to MSPs’ approval, will apply to crimes committed on or after 25 November 2019 and payments from the fund will start to be made six to 12 months later.
It was a pleasure to meet central Asian Artist and Ambassador of the ATOM project Karipbek Kuyukov at the Parliament this week at the unveiling of two of his new pieces.
Karipbek is well known for overcoming disability (caused by exposure to nuclear radiation in utero) to become a world renowned artist, and for using his experiences to speak for the 1.5 million people in Kazakhstan born with similar nuclear-testing caused disabilities.
Born without arms, Karipbek is an advocate for nuclear disarmament and raising awareness of the humanitarian cost of nuclear weapons testing. His work as an artist has inspired many, and it was an honour to have the rare opportunity to see seven of his paintings during the special parliamentary viewing.