Thursday 25 May 2017


My thoughts are with those affected by the horrific bombing at the Manchester Arena on Monday evening. This was a callous attack on innocent people enjoying a music concert and there is nothing more cowardly than attacking children and young people.

While raising the UK terror threat level to ‘critical’ has been judged a necessary response to the despicable attack in Manchester, we must not allow terrorism to triumph.

I urge everyone to be vigilant but not alarmed and, as far as possible, to go about their business as usual.

Police Scotland have already visibly increased their presence in locations such as transport hubs and city centres as a precaution. Security arrangements for upcoming public events, including this weekend’s Scottish Cup Final, are being thoroughly reviewed and the public should anticipate additional safety measures such as full body and bag searches.

Our emergency services prepare extensively for situations such as this, and those well-rehearsed plans are now being put into practice.

Scotland stands together, in solidarity, with the people of Manchester – we will not be divided by those who seek to destroy our way of life.

Child Poverty

As convener of the Social Security Committee I launched the publication of the report into the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill this week.

The Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill sets four income based targets against which child poverty in Scotland will be measured. The Bill also requires the Scottish Government to prepare delivery plans to report against the targets.

There is simply no room for child poverty in a modern Scotland, so any legislation aimed at tackling this is to be applauded for its ambition. The Bill before us contains challenging targets for measuring child poverty but we believe that these targets do not go far enough.

The introduction of interim targets would send a much louder message about the importance that is placed on tackling child poverty and they would create a sense of urgency which is needed if we are to really make a difference.

Of course, targets alone cannot eradicate child poverty. It is the delivery plans and progress reports that will detail the action being taken and how effective this action is. We need more information about the format and shape of these plans.

The Committee’s report also states that there must be stronger independent scrutiny arrangements in place to ensure this and future governments are held to account on meeting the child poverty targets. For that reason the Committee is calling for a statutory commission to scrutinise Scottish Ministers’ delivery and progress.

More information about the Committee’s consideration of the Bill can be found at:



I am delighted that the intervention made by the Scottish Government has helped to facilitate an agreement to end the dispute between the EIS and the College Employers’ Association.

The Scottish Government put in place arrangements to allow for national bargaining, it has always been the case that resolution of this issue lay in the hands of employers and the union.

The immediate suspension of the strike action will be very welcome news for students and the wider agreement reached will allow Scotland’s colleges to focus on delivering the high-quality education the sector is known for.

Fun Run

05.17 Charity RunCongratulations to all of the participants of the 5k Charity Challenge which took place on Sunday. I along with my colleague Alison Thewliss and Kirsten Oswald took up the challenge and completed it!

Everyone not only completed the challenge but raised much needed funds for the four charities, Cash for Kids, Children 1st, Humanity First and Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity. Organisers of the event the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association are to be congratulated on staging and managing such a worthwhile event. Well done everyone.

Trauma Support

Minister for Mental Health, Maureen Watt has launched a new training resource to help meet the needs of people affected by trauma and abuse.

The National Knowledge and Skills Framework for Trauma is designed to support people working in the public and third sectors in Scotland to support those affected by trauma, their families, carers and supporters.

The new framework includes four tiers of trauma informed practice:

  • Helping people be safe
  • Developing effective coping skills
  • Processing and making sense of trauma
  • Living the life they choose

Trauma and abuse can include sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect.

The training framework will be delivered by NHS Education for Scotland (NES) at the request of the Scottish Government’s Survivor Support team.

Different services have different training requirements but all services are expected to be trauma informed.

Changing Faces Campaign

Changing Faces are leading a campaign Face Equality Day which will be held on Friday 26 May. The charity was set up 25 years ago to support people who have any condition or injury which affects their appearance. They aim to empower, support and build 05.17 Changing Facesconfidence for those affected whilst also challenging prejudice and promoting respect.

Events will be held across the country and I would urge you to join in and support the campaign and commit to challenging appearance discrimination. You can get more information at www.changingfaces.scot


The 2017 EY Scotland Attractiveness Survey shows that Scotland has retained its position as the top location in the UK outside London for foreign direct investment (FDI), with investment projects up 2.5% on 2015.2016 was also a strong year for Scotland in attracting research and development inward investment; with 21 individual projects, Scotland has retained its position as number one in the UK for R&D projects.

In terms of projects secured, Scotland has three cities represented in the UK top 10, with Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen featuring in fifth, sixth and seventh place respectively.

As well as highlighting the record level of investment projects won by Scotland, the report also notes that Scotland now takes over one in 50 of all investment projects in Europe; a clear indication that Scotland is now firmly established as a location of choice for global investors.

2016 was a record-breaking year of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Scotland, according to the latest annual survey into FDI attractiveness published this week by Ernst and Young.


The next phase of the Health and Sport Committee’sSport for Everyone’ inquiry will examine community-based approaches to removing barriers to participation in sport and physical activity, including how to better promote volunteering.

The Committee is asking people to provide examples of where a community based approach has been successful in removing barriers, particularly among certain social groups.

MSPs also hope to address the reasons behind on-going difficulties in communities accessing the school estate for sport and physical activity.

The call for evidence closes on 30 June. It is available here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/104946.aspx

Boys Brigade

The Boys Brigade were exhibiting in the Scottish Parliament this week and I took the opportunity to chat to them about their work across Scottish communities.

05.17 Boys BrigadeThe Boys’ Brigade was founded in Glasgow on 4 October 1883 by Sir William Alexander Smith. From this one Company formed in Scotland the BB has grown in to a worldwide movement, having worked with millions of children and young people for well over a century.

In Scotland, the BB cares for and challenges young people through a programme of informal education in a fun way. Each week around 20,000 young people, aged 5 to 18, take part in one of its 430 groups.





Thursday 18 May 2017


A package of measures to support disabled people in accessing employment opportunities in public service and the public sector were announced this week prior to the Scottish Governments debate on Disability in which I contributed.

The measures include:

A new internship programme for disabled people in the Scottish Government from September as part of the 120 place programme in public and third sector and in politics;

In the first event of its kind to be hosted in Scotland, a major congress will take place in December on disability, employment and the workplace accompanied by a newly announced week-long programme of events which will explore employability issues in depth;

A new campaign to launch in June to raise awareness among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) of the benefits of hiring and retaining more disabled people;

A review, which will report back in the autumn, in to whether the Access to Elected Office Fund could be extended to support disabled people who wish to undertake public service other than standing for elected office. Currently the fund provides financial support to help disabled people overcome extra difficulties they may face in accessing elected office – such as transport costs – with 39 candidates supported in the recent local government elections and 15 elected as councillors.

During my contribution I raised the difficulties facing disabled people and how these have and will continue to be exacerbated by the punitive welfare cuts being imposed by the UK Government.

You can read the full debate and my speech at:



05.17 Palestine Rally 2A rally in support of Palestine was held outside the Scottish Parliament this week and it was great to see so many people standing in solidarity.

Many of you will know my longstanding support for Palestine and I took the opportunity to address those gathered.

The rally also happened to coincide with a visit from the Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev to the Parliamentary complex.

I believe that the EU position of a two-state solution, based on the 1967 borders, is the best way to secure stability and prosperity for the region, and strongly encourage Israel and Palestine to reach a sustainable, negotiated settlement under international law.

The Scottish Government stands with international partners to condemn any expansion of settlements which we view as illegal and an obstacle to peace and have previously stated that it is wrong to collectively punish the people of Gaza for the actions of their Government.


The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney made a statement to Parliament this week on the current industrial action by college lecturers.

In order to bring about a resolution to the situation Mr Swinney has felt it necessary to step in and appoint a mediator.

You can read the full text of his statement at: https://news.gov.scot/speeches-and-briefings/statement-on-national-bargaining-in-the-further-education-sector


05.17 WASPI 2I chaired the Cross Party Group (CPG) on WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) in the Scottish Parliament this week.

The group was set up to campaign about the changes to the state pension age for women as a result of the 1995 & 2011 Pensions acts and to raise awareness.

Our minutes and agendas are posted on the Parliamentary website at ttp://www.parliament.scot/msps/waspi.aspx

I also wanted to make you aware that there will be rally’s held in both Glasgow and Edinburgh on Friday 26 May.

The Glasgow rally will start at 11.30am in George Square. The procession will leave at 12 noon heading down Argyle Street via Renfield Street then along Queen Street and back to George Square for speeches. I would encourage you all to go along and show your support.


Many of you will have read the report in the weekend newspapers about the homelessness situation in Glasgow. I took the opportunity to question the First Minister on this issue in Parliament this week.

It is a blight on both Glasgow and the rest of Scotland that

You can read the full exchange here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=10952&i=100156

Cyber Attack

An action plan to help the public sector defend against cyber-attacks, including preventative guidelines for all organisations, is being accelerated following an urgently convened key cyber-resilience meeting.

The public sector action plan, which includes:

Developing a set of guidelines and standards for all Scottish public sector bodies to achieve by 2018

Support for all 121 public sector organisations to achieve accreditation to the Cyber Essentials standard as a minimum requirement

Production of a public awareness strategy for public sector organisations.


It is now an offence to give or make alcohol available to a child or young person for consumption in a public place. The provision is part of the alcohol licensing section of the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015 and is in place to help Police Scotland better tackle outdoor drinking dens.

Fun Run

It’s that time of year again with the return of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Scotland popular 5K Fun Run/Walk to raise thousands of pounds for vulnerable people and families across our communities.

This year the Youth group is organising their own 5K. The youth Mercy for Mankind 5K fun run/walk will take place on Saturday 21st May with registration at 10am at the Ahmadiyya Muslims Mosque premises and the race at Kelvingrove Park at 11am.

This is always a very successful event and I hope that some of you can join me. You can find out more information by contacting the organiser on 07729709579 or email at rq.scotland@khuddam.co.uk


Scotland has a new Consortium which brings together organisations and individuals05.17 Epilepsy involved in epilepsy.  They are founder members of the Epilepsy Consortium Scotland (ECS). It aims to inform future policies made by the Scottish Government, NHS boards and local authorities to benefit those who live with the condition.

I took some time to talk to them when they were exhibiting in the Scottish Parliament this week.

The Consortium gathers current, accurate information from its membership and also invites their views on a range of issues. It offers an important channel for comprehensive feedback on what is happening in the field of epilepsy at a local and national level.


Thursday 11 May

Forensic Medical Services

The current health and justice response for victims of rape and sexual assault in Scotland is to be transformed.

The commitment was made by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson as part of an update to parliament on the newly established Taskforce for the Improvement of Services for Victims of Rape and Sexual Assault – led by Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Catherine Calderwood.

The taskforce will work alongside Healthcare Improvement Scotland who will be undertaking a Scotland-wide consultation on new standards for forensic examinations for victims of sexual assault throughout the summer. Responses will help shape the Taskforce’s work plan and ensure that views from across Scotland, including remote and island communities, are fully considered as work moves forward.

National Standards will be published by the end of the year.

You can find out more here: https://beta.gov.scot/policies/violence-against-women-and-girls/


05.17 MalawiToday, more than 94,000 Scots are actively involved in a civic link with Malawi and some 46% of all Scots can name a friend or family member personally involved.

The Scotland Malawi Partnership is the national umbrella agency which coordinates, represents and supports these many civic links. It has more than 900 member organisations, not just NGOs but also 200 Scottish schools, every Scottish university, half Scotland’s local authorities and hundreds of churches, businesses, colleges, hospitals, diaspora and community groups.

I had the chance to visit their “Scotland, Malawi and the Global Goals” exhibition in the Parliament this week.

They were inviting MSPs to be photographed with one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which stands out for them and which they can help champion I chose clean water and sanitation.


Representatives from Stepchange debt charity were in the Scottish Parliament this week to discuss the assistance they can offer to constituents facing debt problems.

Wherever you live in Scotland, StepChange Debt Charity Scotland can help you, providing free debt advice tailored to your individual circumstances.

Whatever your situation, their expert advisors will be able to help. They will look at your individual circumstances, work out a manageable budget and provide you with specifically tailored advice that will help you deal with your debts and get you back on track.

You can find out more on their website at https://www.stepchange.org/DebtadviceinScotland.aspx

Care Inspectorate

05.17 Care InspectorateThe Care Inspectorate were exhibiting in the Parliament and I took the opportunity to have a chat with them about their work.

Set up by the Scottish Government the Care Inspectorate regulates and inspects care services in Scotland to make sure that they meet the right standards. They also jointly inspect with other regulators to check how well different organisations in local areas work to support adults and children.

It is the Care Inspectorate’s job to assure and protect everyone that uses these services.  They work to make sure that everyone gets safe, high quality care that meets their needs.

And if services are not meeting these needs the Inspectorate will work with them to improve their service.

You can find out more about the Care Inspectorate at http://www.careinspectorate.com/index.php/about-us

Police Code

Promoting public safety and preventing and detecting crime are the main aims of a new code of practice on stop and search powers.

In use from this week, the code was developed with an expert group led by John Scott QC, and received widespread public support during consultation and was unanimously approved by the Scottish Parliament.

The code sets out that use of powers must be necessary, proportionate and in accordance with the law and recognises that specific guidance on dealing with children and vulnerable adults is required.

You can access the code here: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2017/01/5821 


05.17 Stroke Association Make May PurpleMake May Purple for stroke is our annual stroke awareness month, taking place every May. Friends, families and communities are invited to show their support for people who have been affected by stroke.

By supporting Make May Purple, you can help the Stroke Association invest in research that will help to save lives and enable stroke survivors to make the best possible recovery – giving more people more of their lives back.

Stroke has been a clinical priority for the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland for more than 15 years. Over that time there have been significant improvements in the quality of stroke care, which has contributed to a reduction in the number of deaths from stroke.

Get involved with Make May Purple and help to change the story for stroke survivors. For more information go to https://www.stroke.org.uk/fundraising/make-may-purple

Tron Theatre

Congratulations go to local cultural hub The Tron Theatre and the Changing House on securing almost £40,000 from the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund. The funding will go towards a refurbishment programme.

I lodged the following motion in parliament highlighting their successful application:

That the Parliament congratulates the Tron Theatre on securing almost £40,000 of funding from the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund; understands that the award will be used to refurbish the theatre’s Changing House, including the fitting of air conditioning, new seating and redecoration; welcomes this investment for one of Glasgow’s cultural hubs, which has been producing and presenting an eclectic programme of work for over 20 years in the 16th century Tron Kirk building, and wishes the Tron Theatre and the Changing House continued success. 

Animal Welfare

A wide-ranging package of measures designed to improve animal welfare has been announced, alongside the introduction of a bill to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses.

The bill prohibits the use of any wild animal in a travelling circus in Scotland on ethical grounds.

Setting out a number of measures to strengthen animal welfare legislation, Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, also confirmed the Scottish Government will:

  • Introduce measures to require the registration or licensing of animal shelters and rehoming activities
  • Update regulations governing the licensing of dog, cat and rabbit breeding and dealing, including the irresponsible breeding and sale of these animals
  • Modernise the legislation on performing animals other than in circuses
  • Introduce tight controls restricting the use of electronic training collars
  • Review the penalties available for animal welfare offences
  • Lay legislation permitting vets to shorten the tails of spaniels and hunt point retrievers intended for use as working dogs to reduce the number of tail injuries suffered.


05.17 SSPCA RehomingI had no hesitation in offering my support to the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals rehoming campaign which is running from 8 – 14 May.

The campaign is a chance for the SSPCA to let people know about the benefits of rehoming an animal from their care. Last year they rehomed almost 6,000 pets but their centres are still full of animals looking for their forever home.

You can help them spread the message that #RescuePetsMakeGreatPets and shout about Scottish SPCA Rehoming Week 2017 on social media.Snap a picture of you with the template, with or without your furry friend, and share it on Twitter, Facebook or InstagramRemember to include #RescuePetsMakeGreatPets and @ScottishSPCA so they can share it too.

For more information on rehoming a pet from the Scottish SPCA please visit the rehoming page at https://www.scottishspca.org/rehome/

Scottish Thistle Awards

Nominations are now open for the Scottish Thistle Awards 2017/18. Glasgow won last year with the 2015 FIG World Gymnastics Championships in the Best Sporting Event category.

However, I am sure many of you will agree that there are many other worthy nominees across the city and I would encourage you to take the time to nominate, whether that’s a sporting event or a cultural event or a Special Commendation award.

For more information go to https://www.scottishthistleawards.co.uk/nominate/

These awards celebrate recurring events that are part of Visit Scotland’s ongoing tourism offering which, include, inspire and involve all participants, whether local or visiting, and provide a platform for Scotland to show off its greatest features.

Sandra condemns Labour PFI school shame as Glasgow faces £54m bill and largest charge in the country.


 Labour’s disastrous PFI schools scheme continues to cost Glasgow City Council millions of pounds every year, analysis by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre has revealed – proving they are a party which cannot be trusted to manage vital public services.

 The duff deals made by Labour during their time in power at Holyrood will cost local authorities across £426.8 million in this financial year – with Glasgow facing a stunning £54m bill, the highest in the country and 4.5x the national average, demonstrating Labour’s short-term thinking and profligate use of public money.

 SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin Sandra White has slammed Labour’s toxic legacy, which continues to rob our local authority of vital funding for education and other public services. The total nationwide cost of the toxic PFI legacy across all projects topped £1 billion in 2015/16, with this figure continuing to rise.

 Commenting, SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin Sandra White, said:

“Labour’s decades-long mismanagement of our city witnessed with its toxic PFI legacy has left this city facing a £54m PFI bill – the largest in the country. Glaswegians of today and tomorrow have been lumbered with these irresponsible decisions, and we will have to foot the bill for Labour’s mess.”

 “The toxic legacy that Labour’s PFI deals have left our schools and Glasgow City Council continues to cost millions of pounds every year – and proves once again that only the SNP can be trusted to deliver on education and local funding.

 “While Labour carp from the sidelines about the SNP’s record, it is increasingly clear that we are still paying for the mess that Labour left over a decade ago – with payments in 2017/18 to be as high as £426.8 million across all our council areas, and Glasgow facing a bill of £54m.

 “Labour’s spendthrift and reckless handling of our public finances continues to rob Glasgow of funds which could be put towards delivering better local services. And let’s not forget the potential consequences of Labour’s dodgy deals on jerry-built schools across Edinburgh – forced to close for nearly 500 days because of fundamental safety concerns.  

 “It’s high time that Labour apologised for this toxic legacy that they’ve left for our schools, Glasgow and local authorities across the country.”

Sandra White MSP welcomes £6.3m US jobs investment announced during First Minister’s US visit

Sandra White MSP has welcomed announcements of a £6.3m jobs investment and a key climate deal during the first day of the First Minister’s visit to the United States of America encouraging trade, tourism, and partnership.

£6.3m of inward investment from US companies supported by grants from Scottish Enterprise will create 44 new jobs for the data analytics and life sciences sectors.

Sandra White MSP for Glasgow Kelvin said:

“I welcome this news from the First Minister’s visit to the US which continues to build on the strong economic and partnership ties between our nations -securing more investment and jobs alongside our ambitious climate change priorities.

“While the UK works to tear us out of the world’s biggest single market and develops diplomatic tensions with our European friends, this is a great example of our First Minister ‘doing the day job’ and delivering for Scotland with an ambitious, outward, and global attitude.”

The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP said:

“The US is Scotland’s biggest source of inward investment and, in the wake of Article 50 being triggered and the risk of a hard Brexit, it is vital we continue to build on the success of our current ­business relationship with the US.

“Scotland remains open for business and I’m delighted these companies have chosen to expand here. It further demonstrates our position as a prime location for inward investment.”

The Scottish Government have already made one announcement linked to the visit – that US technology firm Xilinx Inc are to invest £3.8million in their research centre in ­Edinburgh, creating 12 new jobs and protecting 30 existing roles.