Thursday 22 March


Legislation to protect Scotland’s devolved powers has been passed overwhelmingly by the Scottish Parliament.

The new legislation will both protect the devolved settlement and prepare Scotland’s laws for the UK’s exit from the European Union.

The UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill will come into effect if the Scottish Parliament decides not to consent to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill and will prevent what ministers in Scotland and Wales have described as a “power grab”.

The Welsh National Assembly has passed similar legislation for devolved matters in Wales.

Anderston PS

03.18 Anderston PS

What a great visit I had to Anderston Primary School last week as an invited guest of the students and staff to their pop-up restaurant.

This project is the culmination of a programme of learning facilitated by the Food For Thought funding they received from the Scottish Government.  The programme has encompassed healthy eating, sustainable production and food education in context with the children gaining direct experience of the hospitality industry.

The pop-up restaurant was an ideal platform to showcase what the students have learned whilst improving the health of the children in Anderston. I thoroughly enjoyed both the food and the company and would like to say a huge thank you to the students and staff for the kind invitation.


Good news this week for the Scottish Youth Theatre with a short-term funding agreement being reached to enable them to remain open beyond July 2018, allowing young people to benefit from their programmes.

The Scottish Government will provide £150,000 to match private sponsorship secured by the theatre from Baillie Gifford.

This package of public and private funding will allow the theatre to continue to operate throughout 2018 – including fulfilling important activity in the Year of Young People. It will give them an opportunity to identify a long-term funding solution, and to consider how to further develop work beyond Glasgow, and any partnerships that would make that possible.

Garden of Light

03.18 Garden of Light MC 2Many of you may have visited the Garden of Light exhibition on the concourse of Glasgow Central Station last weekend which highlighted and celebrated Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal.

The daffodils represented all the people Marie Curie supported in Scotland in March 2018 – whether that was through nursing or hospice care, or information and support.

I had the pleasure of visiting at the end of last week meeting up with Marie Curie staff and volunteers to chat to them about their work and their fundraising efforts.

If you would like further information or would like to donate to the Great Daffodil Appeal visit here

Fire Safety

All homes will have the highest level of protection from smoke and fire. Following a consultation on fire and smoke alarms, the existing high standard required in private rented housing will be extended to all homes.

This includes at least one smoke alarm installed in the room most frequently used, at least one smoke alarm in spaces such as hallways and landings and at least one heat alarm in every kitchen.  Additional requirements will include specifying a maximum age of ten years for alarms and a carbon monoxide detector will be required in all homes.

The Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 will be amended to reflect the new requirements.  The amended standard will cover all homes.  Once the Act has been amended there will be a two year grace period for compliance.

Frank McArthur

03.18 SW and Frank McArthurI was absolutely delighted to see stalwart Glasgow Kelvin political activist Frank McArthur in the Scottish Parliament last week.

Frank and his family were guests of the First Minister, meeting up with old friends and political colleagues, Fergus Ewing MSP, Christine Grahame MSP and Bruce Crawford MSP as well as sitting in on First Ministers Question Time.

I have known Frank for many years his campaigning has spanned many decades – he was intrinsic in the election of Jim Sillars in the 80’s, as well as my own election campaigns in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011.

Frank was an enthusiastic and dedicated campaign team member and I thank him for his lengthy and unstinting contribution.

Fire Safety

All homes will have the highest level of protection from smoke and fire. Following a consultation on fire and smoke alarms, the existing high standard required in private rented housing will be extended to all homes.

This includes at least one smoke alarm installed in the room most frequently used, at least one smoke alarm in spaces such as hallways and landings and at least one heat alarm in every kitchen.  Additional requirements will include specifying a maximum age of ten years for alarms and a carbon monoxide detector will be required in all homes.

The Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 will be amended to reflect the new requirements.  The amended standard will cover all homes.  Once the Act has been amended there will be a two year grace period for compliance.

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons

03.18 RCPSGIt was great to meet with the President and the Chief Executive of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (RCPSG)this week.

I was lucky enough to receive a tour of their fabulous facilities before discussing how we can best continue recruiting the top Doctors & Consultants to Glasgow.

Membership of the RCPSG has grown to over 10,000 physicians, surgeons, dental professionals, specialists in the field of travel medicine and podiatric medicine across the UK and worldwide. RCPSG offer ongoing career support to their members by providing wide ranging, high quality, relevant education, training, professional development, education and assessment.

The College is one of Glasgow’s historic sites and, as a charitable organisation, we make a positive contribution to the wider community.

SThree Jobs

Good news this week with the announcement of a new specialist recruitment facility which will bring 200 jobs to Glasgow this year.

The Centre of Excellence is being opened by international recruitment firm SThree, which provides specialist recruitment services for the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) industries and has 40 offices across 16 countries.

The investment is backed by £2million Regional Selective Assistance funding from Scottish Enterprise.


Local heritage, community and sports groups across Scotland can benefit from National Lottery good cause cash, as part of a new £550,000 fund, aimed at helping change the lives of young people.

You can find out more by contacting or 0131 225 9450 for more details or support with the application.


Glasgow City Council have today announced that they are planning to amend the parking scheme for Garnethill, and as such there is to be a public exhibition/consultation taking place this Thursday 22nd March (2 – 8pm) and Saturday 24th March (12 – 4pm) in the Garnethill Multicultural Centre, 21 Rose Street. There will be Council officers on hand to answer any questions you may have. In addition this event may offer residents an opportunity to hopefully find out details of how the scheme could work.

Whether your family has a car on the road, or are just interested in what is being proposed for your community, I would encourage you to take the opportunity to contribute to the consultation and make your views known. 🚗🚙🛵🚚


Thursday 15 March

Carer Positive

03.18 Carer PositiveI 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


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:

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.

Afghan Interpreters

03.18 Afghan InterpretersAsif 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.

Student Accommodation

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.

Nobel Laureate

03.18 Beatrice FihnWhat 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:


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.

Earth Hour

03.18 WWF Earth HourThe 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





Thursday 8 March 2018

International Women’s Day

IMG_0623Celebrating International Women’s Day my colleague Gillian Martin MSP launched a campaign for a tourist trail of Scotland’s monuments to women. This comes on the day that a statue (long awaited) of Mary Barbour is being unveiled in Glasgow, a prominent activist who led the rent strikes of 1915 and the first woman councillor in Glasgow.

I wholeheartedly support plans for a tourist trail, highlighting memorials across the country that mark the contribution made by Scottish women. How we commemorate our history is enormously important – it shapes how we understand our society, and is a vital part of our thriving tourism industry. Too often our public memorials can be about Kings and Generals and not about the ordinary and extraordinary Scots who’ve shaped our country – and women in particular are shockingly underrepresented. The Scottish Parliament also marked the day with a debate in which I participated highlighting some of the extraordinary young women and their contribution not just here in Glasgow Kelvin but reaching as far as Rwanda.

You can read my full contribution here:

And finally I’m pictured with Eve Gardiner an S5 pupil at Coltness High School in Wishaw who is doing a photography project entitled Empowered Women. Eve came into the Parliament to photograph female MSPs of whom she said I am inspired by the dedication, resilience and ability to disrupt stereotypes that female politicians have.

Scottish Youth Theatre

I was completely shocked to hear the Scottish Youth Theatre will cease in July this year due to funding cuts by Creative Scotland. The Scottish Youth Theatre have been a stalwart of the creative youth scene here in Glasgow and across Scotland for over 40 years and its closure will be a huge blow for our young people and our creative industries.

I took the opportunity to question the First Minister on this during FMQs in the chamber today and pressed for a resolution to ensure this fantastic resource for young people is not lost.

You can read the full exchange here:

First Mentor

The ‘First Mentor’ initiative, which gives a young woman aged between 18-23 a chance to be mentored by the First Minister, will run again in 2018.  Following the success of the 2017-18 opportunity, a new round of applications will open today.

To enable more young women to benefit from the programme, Scottish Chambers of Commerce have committed to match some of the shortlisted candidates with mentors in their network.

You can find out more about the scheme here:

Scottish SPCA

03.18 SSPCAThe Scottish SPCA have been helping animals in need for over 175 years and I was delighted to see them in the Scottish Parliament this week highlighting and promoting the work they do.

Rescuing animals and nursing them back to health before finding them loving new homes or releasing them back into the wild is just one aspect of the work they do. They are at the forefront of preventing cruelty to animals investigating animal abuse across Scotland with their inspectors enforcing the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006.

They are committed to supporting the welfare of all animals – domestic, farm and wildlife – and are continually deepening their welfare expertise through their ground breaking work and research with partners.

Education is at the heart of what they do and they play a vital role in supporting and educating the public on animal welfare issues. Their free interactive Prevention through Education programme for Scottish primary schools reaches over 300,000 children each year.

You can find out more about their work and in particular their educational work here:


03.18 respectmeI caught up with respectme the Scottish Government funded anti-bullying service whilst they were in the Scottish Parliament this week. respectme, Scotland’s anti-bullying service, was launched in March 2007.  The service is fully funded by the Scottish Government and is managed by SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) in partnership with LGBT Youth Scotland.

They work with all adults who play a role in the lives of young people, to give them the practical skills and confidence to deal with bullying behaviour wherever it arises.

Their vision and what should be everyone’s is of a respecting, just, equal and inclusive Scotland in which all children and young people can live free from bullying and harassment and are encouraged to reach their full potential.

Bank Closures

The closure of more than a third of Scotland’s banks since 2010 is set to come under the microscope, as the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee calls on local businesses and consumers to ‘speak out’ on the impact on local communities and economic growth.

Bank closure numbers vary across Scotland. According to 2018 figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) with around half of all banks closed in Glasgow.

You can participate in the survey here:


03.18 AirbnbRepresentatives from Airbnb were in Parliament this week to discuss their business and the contribution this venture makes to the tourism industry.

Airbnb was set up to offer both homeowners and travellers the opportunity to stay in a home from home.

I’m pictured here with Dani from Glasgow who rents rooms within her house. I took the opportunity to chat to her and others about the various issues related to the Airbnb business model.

Mental Health

Workplaces across Scotland will receive a suicide prevention and mental health training programme under proposals announced this week.

The Scottish Government is seeking views on the creation of a nation-wide training programme, aimed at embedding mental health training in workplaces.

Other proposals in the draft Suicide Prevention Action Plan include:

making more use of social media to provide information and support

building stronger partnerships between public, private and third sector organisations

better use of data and evidence to ensure more effective interventions

The draft plan is open for public comment online for seven-weeks as well as six public events being held during March and April, with a view to publishing the final plan in the summer.

You can access the consultation here





Thursday 1 March 2018

Belhaven Nursery

02.18 Belhaven NurseryWhat a wonderful time I had with the children and staff at Belhaven Nursery on Monday. They gave me a very warm welcome and Gillian M Carlin-Kulwicki the Headteacher gave me a tour of the nursery before we had a sit down and chat with the children whilst they tucked in to their tasty lunch.

I commend the dedication and commitment of the staff at the nursery. They have created a great learning environment for the children.

EU Withdrawal

An EU Continuity Bill has formally been introduced to the Scottish Parliament to protect devolution and prepare Scotland’s laws for Brexit.

The Bill is being introduced after UK Government legislation was called “incompatible with the devolution settlement” by a cross-party Holyrood committee.

The UK legislation – the EU (Withdrawal) Bill – would mean the UK Government taking control of some devolved powers such as aspects of farming and fishing, after Brexit.

The Continuity Bill will come into effect if the Scottish Parliament decides not to consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill and will prevent what ministers have described as a “power grab”.

The Scottish Parliament will be asked to consider the introduction of the Continuity Bill as an Emergency Bill, to ensure that the Continuity Bill is passed before the EU (Withdrawal) Bill becomes law.

The purpose of the Continuity Bill is to ensure Scotland’s laws will work properly on the day the UK leaves the EU.

Education Funding

02.18 Glasgow UniWith Glasgow Kelvin being the home to thousands of students as well as our prestigious universities and college I very much welcome the allocation of £1.8 billion of public funding to individual universities and colleges for the next academic year.

Universities will share over £1.1 billion of funding while the revenue budget for colleges will increase by 8.3% to nearly £600 million, with the college capital budget also increasing by nearly £30 million to a total of £76.7 million.

The indicative allocations, published by the Scottish Funding Council, also show core student support funding increasing by £3.6 million, with an extra £5.2 million set aside for the implementation of the Independent Review of Student Support.

Investment Bank

A Scottish National Investment Bank is one step closer, following the publication of the implementation plan which can be read here:

Developed by Benny Higgins, CEO of Tesco Bank, the plan has recommendations covering the remit, governance, operating model and financing of the new bank.

The plan recommends that the bank should:

Be publicly-owned and mission-driven, focused on supporting Scotland’s economic

priorities and promoting inclusive growth

Operate in an ethical and transparent way

Cowork to crowd in, not crowd out, private sector investment

Be supported by long-term capitalisation of at least £2 billion over the first ten years

Become self-sustaining in the longer term, raising its own capital to fund investments

Provide long-term, patient finance for both smaller firms and larger projects

Create opportunities and new markets for the private sector to invest in

Arms Trade

02.18 CAATThe Campaign Against Arms Trade Scotland were exhibiting in the Scottish Parliament this week and I took the opportunity to have a chat with them about their work.

The arms business has a devastating impact on human rights and security, and damages economic development. Large scale military procurement and arms exports only reinforce a militaristic approach to international problems.

Their campaign aims to raise awareness of the impact of arms sales from the UK on world armed conflicts as well as to end the trade of weapons that are used by repressive regimes against their own citizens and in regional conflicts, sometimes in contravention of international law. They also want divestment from the arms trade and planned transfer of jobs into more responsible sectors, such as renewable energy.

Eating Disorders

Young people struggling with eating disorders are being provided with peer support and advice through new online resources.

An online peer support tool allows young people to pair with a trained volunteer who has recovered from an eating disorder (ED) such as anorexia and bulimia.

This is alongside a new website, the CarED platform, that hosts video tutorials and links for parents and carers, and a database of services across the country. The Scottish Government funded NHS Lothian to build the site, and the health board has worked with eating disorders charity Beat and young people who have recovered from EDs to develop the resources.

Supporting the resources is an action in the Scottish Government Mental Health Strategy. The Scottish Government is providing £129,187 over two years.

Anorexia nervosa affects, on average, about 1 in 250 females and 1 in 2000 males. It has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder of adolescence. About five times as many young people suffer from bulimia.

To register for the peer review service, email


01.18 The Clydeside DistilleryOne of the members debates this week focussed on the contribution of Scotch whisky to our tourism industry and I had no hesitation in participating.

The debate gave me the opportunity to highlight the new Clydeside Distillery in the constituency, a first for over 100 years! I had the opportunity to take the tour thanks to a very kind invitation from the owner Tim Morrison. This is a coming home for Tim and his family as his great grandfather built the iconic tower which they have lovingly restored.

I also took the chance to enlighten my colleagues on the part Glasgow had in the whisky industry and its very rich heritage as well as a few skirmishes!

You can read my full contribution here:

Healthier Choices

The Parliament debated obesity and diet on Tuesday and I took the opportunity to participate in this very serious issue. The Scottish Government is committed to taking forward a package of bold measures to make it easier for people to make healthier choices and to empower personal change.

I highlighted some of the work being carried out across Glasgow Kelvin through support from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde with weight management services, Live Active sessions and third sector support through initiatives such as the Woodland Community Garden project.

You can read my full contribution here: