News

Catalan Politicians on Trial

Sandra White MSP has today lodged the following motion in the Scottish Parliament highlighting the start of the trial of 12 political leaders and civic leaders at the Supreme Court in Madrid.

Motion Number: S5M-15829
Lodged By: Sandra White
Date Lodged: 12/02/2019

Title: Catalan Politicians on Trial

Motion Text:

That the Parliament notes with grave concern the legal proceedings that are commencing on 12 February 2019 in the Supreme Court in Madrid of the Catalan political pro-independence leaders and civic leaders who stand trial for organising and holding an independence referendum across Catalonia in 2017; understands  that 12 people will face trial accused of rebellion and sedition for their role and could face up to 25 years in prison; considers that the future of Catalonia is one that must be democratically taken by the people of Catalonia and their elected representatives, and not by the imprisonment of those elected representatives in order, it believes, to suppress Catalonia’s right to self-determination.

 

Ebrief

Thursday 7 February 2019

Chinese New Year

02.19 Chinese New Year.docxOn Sunday I was a guest of the Chinese Community Development Partnership (CCDP) to celebrate Chinese New Year and the Year of the Pig.

I was joined by Provost Eva Bolander who also addressed the event to watch the performances from Glasgow Hong Lok Dragon and Lion Dancing Troupe, Glasgow Oriental Dancing Association, Hong Wo Tai Chi Association, Glasgow Chinese Basketball and Tai Chi Club, Glasgow Chinese Women’s Association, Amy Yuen and Tsuchigumo Daiko.

Annie Mead the Chairperson of CCDP opened the celebrations and the Consulate General Pan Xinchun gave an address.

This was a very special afternoon and my thanks go to everyone involved in the organisation of the event.

Celtic Connections

Celtic Connections is to be supported from the Expo Fund for the second year running, Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has announced.

Ahead of this year’s successful event closing on 3 February, the Scottish Government has confirmed £100,000 for the 2020 event from the Expo Fund. The funding will deliver eight new works by Scottish composers, which will be developed by composer Greg Lawson into a single symphonic piece to be performed by the GRIT Orchestra.

Townhead

02.19 Townhead Gardens 2

Once a month I hold my surgery at Townhead Village Hall Community Centre where the service from the staff and volunteers is fantastic.

They offer a friendly and flexible base for various community groups as well as excellent recreational facilities, a large accessible garden and Click and Connect Learning Centre.

If you have some spare time they are currently looking for volunteers to help in the café, garden area (and as you can see from the photo it’s a lovely space) and in general caretaking.

If you want to find out more about the centre or the volunteering opportunities go to http://www.townheadvillagehall.org.uk/news

Higher Education

With Glasgow Kelvin home to the majority of our further and higher education institutions I am increasingly concerned about the impact of the UK Government’s post-Brexit immigration policy on prospective EU students and universities.

In the event of a no deal, the UK Government is proposing a European Temporary Leave to Remain of three years, while the majority of degrees in Scotland are four years – meaning prospective students will be put off applying to Scottish universities with no guarantee they will be able to complete courses.

Around 9% of Scottish university students and 27% of full time research staff are EU nationals.

British Heart Foundation

02.19 BHFBritish Heart Foundation (BHF) were in the Parliament this week for their annual parliamentary reception.

It was great to meet up with their representatives including, fundraisers, volunteers, researchers, clinicians. As well as those living with the effects of heart and circulatory disease.

I had the opportunity to chat about the challenges that remain with the disease and how we can play a part in combatting it.

Fireworks

The use and regulation of fireworks is the focus of a public consultation which aims to ensure everyone can enjoy displays safely.

The consultation asks for views on issues such as whether the sale of fireworks to the public should be banned, and what other measures can help ensure fireworks are used safely and responsibly.

Responses will inform on-going discussions about whether changes to legislation and regulation of fireworks in Scotland are needed, following concerns about their misuse and the potential impact on public safety and animal welfare.

Legislation on the sale and storage of fireworks is reserved to the UK Government while laws covering their use is devolved.

You can access the consultation here: https://consult.gov.scot/safer-communities/fireworks/

Brewgooder

02.19 BrewgooderI had the pleasure of meeting up with representatives from Brewgooder in the Parliament this week to chat to them about the work they are doing.

Set up in 2016 they had a simple mission – to provide clean water for 1,000,000 people through the power of craft beer by donating 100% of their profits to clean water charities.

Clean Water Lager was borne and they now have almost 1,000 backers, over 30 bars, bottleshops and restaurants helping to raise money.

They have funded 60 projects for over 33,000 people in Malawi since 2016 and their mission is to never stop until they hit their target of 1,000,000 people impacted by great beer.

If you would like to find out more or find a stockist visit: https://www.brewgooder.com/browse

Bowel Screening

A new, simpler bowel screening test has seen levels of participation rise to a record high.

Scotland was the first part of the UK to introduce the Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) in November 2017. The new test requires the collection of just one sample, rather than three over a 10 day period as was previously the case.

Statistics show that from November 2017 to April 2018, 64% of those eligible returned their FIT. In the same period the year before, uptake of the old test (the Faecal Occult Blood Test) was 56%.

The biggest improvement in participation with FIT has been amongst those living in the most deprived areas – up from 42.0% to 51.8%.

The number of men doing the test also rose by more than nine percentage points, from 52.6% to 61.8% and there has been a marked increase (8.2% to 18.4%) in uptake amongst those who had never participated before, but previously had the opportunity to.

You can find out more here: https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/screening

Forces

02.19 Forces Reading ProjectReading Force were exhibiting in the Scottish Parliament this week and I had the opportunity to have a chat with their representatives about the scheme.

It is an innovative project set up in 2011 by Dr Alison Baverstock whose husband served in the armed forces.

It’s a shared reading activity that helps keep Service families close and connected by selecting a book and reading it together even if some family members are not at home using either Skype or Facebook.

There is also a scrapbook which all members of the family can contribute to making everyone feel part of a shared experience. This is particularly important for those members who are on active duty away from the family home.

You can find out more here: https://www.readingforce.org.uk/

Competition!

02.19 SP Logo At 20Young people from across Scotland are being asked to send a letter to the Scottish Parliament setting out their hopes and aspirations for the institution over the next 20 years.

A selection of the letters will be included in a new book published by Luath Press in June to commemorate the Scottish Parliament’s 20th anniversary. The book will also include a series of essays from well-known authors, academics and others which explore how well the Parliament is placed to tackle the big issues facing Scotland in the future.

The competition is being held in partnership with Young Scot who want to engage young people in this important milestone of Scotland’s democracy. The winning letters will be chosen by a panel chaired by the Presiding Officer.

The book is being joint edited by Professor James Mitchell, Professor of Public Policy at the University of Edinburgh and Dr Jim Johnston, a clerk at the Parliament. It will have a wide-ranging number of contributors with a range of experience of working with the Parliament including the Auditor General for Scotland and the author James Robertson. The authors will provide critical insights of the Parliament and crucially look to the future.

You can find out more here: https://rewards.youngscot.org/activities/2864-submit-dear-scottish-parliament

PLEASE NOTE THE NEXT EBRIEF WILL BE ISSUED WEEK BEGINNING 18 FEBRUARY

HOLYROOD COMMITTEE CALLS FOR URGENT WELFARE REFORM

A report published this week by the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee has called for the urgent reversal of UK government welfare cuts that have caused “significant damage” to the income of working Scots.

Introduced by the Tories in 2016, the working-age benefit freeze gives a real-terms cut to households claiming benefits such as Universal Credit, Housing Benefit, Child tax credits, and Tax Credits – forcing families to bear the brunt of what will be an estimated £3.7 billion in cuts by 2020.

The report found that, “the benefits freeze has a disproportionate impact on the poorest and those in most need.”

While the SNP has pledged almost £100 million for the coming year to continue mitigation of the Bedroom Tax and the UK government’s reserved welfare cuts, the committee has said it should not be left for only the Scottish Government to ensure the income of claimants north of the border does not drop in real terms.

The report, ‘Social Security and In-Work Poverty’, has also urged the UK government to re-think its controversial Universal Credit system, backing calls to end the five week waiting period for first-time claimants to receive a payment – suggesting a maximum of two weeks would be more appropriate.

The report continued, stating that “Universal Credit is a significant cause of the rise in demand for food bank services.”

The Trussell Trust, Britain’s largest foodbank charity, recently came forward with figures that show a 52% increase in demand at local foodbanks in the 12 months after the roll-out reaches an area.

Neither the Work and Pensions Secretary nor the UK Employment Minister accepted the committee’s invitation to give evidence during this inquiry.

Commenting SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, Sandra White said:

“Here in Glasgow Kelvin and across Scotland, families are falling behind on rent payments and daily living costs thanks to the Tories damaging welfare policies.

“More and more households simply can’t get by – forcing many of those on Universal Credit to rely on emergency welfare support and foodbanks to feed themselves.

“The UK government cannot continue to stick their heads in the sand – it’s time to listen to the pleas from claimants, campaigners and charity groups for fundamental reform of Universal Credit and an end the benefits freeze.”

ENDS

Notes: https://digitalpublications.parliament.scot/Committees/Report/SC/2019/2/6/Social-Security-and-In-Work-Poverty

Vodafone update

Since news broke of Vodafone UK’s decision to cull their services operating out of Berkeley Square, the office of Sandra White MSP has been working in conjunction with Alison Thewliss MP to seek an urgent reconsideration by Vodafone.

In the first instance a joint letter was issued by both elected representatives to Vodafone’s CEO and also their Head of UK Operations. A response from Vodafone’s CEO, Mr Nick Jeffery, has now been received and a copy of which can be seen below:
Sandra White MSP Vodafone

With no movement from Vodafone Sandra White MSP also submitted a request to the Scottish Parliament for a Topical Question to raise this matter formally in the Debating Chamber. Unfortunately this extremely serious and urgent question was not chosen despite strong indications that it would be. As such Sandra White has now contacted the Presiding Officer to seek clarity as to why such a gross oversight was made.

Despite these challenges Sandra White MSP has now secured a meeting with Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, next week. This meeting will allow Sandra White to discuss the ongoing situation and seek urgent assistance from the Scottish Government to ensure everything possible is being done to protect Scottish jobs and assist the affected workforce in Glasgow Kelvin.

BUDGET GETS HOLYROOD BACKING WITH BOOST FOR LOCAL SERVICES

SNP SUPPORT INCREASE IN INVESTMENT IN GLASGOW KELVIN

Holyrood has today backed the SNP’s budget plans, offering economic stability in the face of Brexit while giving a cash boost to the NHS, schools and other vital services.

Despite Westminster cuts of almost £2 billion in a decade to Scotland’s block resource grant, the SNP is proposing additional funding of almost £730 million for Scotland’s health and care services – including £76.7m specifically for NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde.

Under the deal reached, Glasgow City Council will receive an additional £39m from the Scottish Government on top of a total overall settlement of £11.1bn.

The budget also includes more than £180 million to raise attainment in schools, and almost £500 million for the expansion of early learning and childcare.

SNP MSP Sandra White said:

“With the UK government in complete chaos, the SNP in government are offering certainty and stability with a budget which protects public services, supports the economy, and helps build a fairer country.

“This budget uses our powers in a progressive way in order to protect and invest in our public services – with a major boost for the NHS.

“Giving our schools, hospitals and other vital services in Kelvin the money they need to deliver better services for our communities is vital to this government. This is why I welcome Holyrood’s support for the budget.”