Thursday 10 January 2019

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Welcome back and Happy New Year to you all! I hope that you had time to relax and enjoy the festive season with family and friends and that you are re-invigorated for the fresh challenges 2019 will bring.

20th Anniversary

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It’s hard to believe, however this year marks the 20th anniversary of the re-convening of the Scottish Parliament on 1 July 1999.

This photograph was taken on 12 May 1999 and shows the first cohort of elected representatives after they had been sworn in. I was privileged to be part of the first session of our new Parliament representing the Glasgow Region and I am still here 20 years on privileged still to have the opportunity to represent the Glasgow Kelvin constituency.

The Presiding Officer has announced a year-long programme to mark this milestone with events to showcase the positive impact the Scottish Parliament has had on the lives of those living in Scotland over the last two decades.

The Parliament is also starting a nationwide search for the babies that were born on 1 July 1999 to invite them to take part in the celebration on Saturday 29 June. The young people were central to the Parliament’s 10th anniversary in 2009 and the Parliament are asking them to make contact. Any young people who were born on 1 July 1999 in Scotland should contact 20years@parliament.scot.

You can keep up to date on the programme of events at www.parliament.scot

Animal Welfare

01.19 foxLegislation will be introduced in this Parliament to close potential loopholes in the law protecting foxes and other wild mammals.

Delivering a statement to Parliament on improving animal welfare, Minister for Rural Affairs Mairi Gougeon announced her intention to bring forward a bill that will implement changes proposed by the Right Honourable Lord Bonomy’s review on the subject.

These changes will limit to two the number of dogs that can be used to flush or find a fox.

The Minister also announced an intention to explore the option of a licensing scheme to permit the use of more than two dogs, if it were deemed necessary for pest control.

Additionally, the bill will include pre-emptive measures to address the likelihood of ‘trail-hunting’ becoming established in Scotland.

Social Security

Scottish Ministers are on course to invest over £125 million in 2018-19 to mitigate the worst impact of UK Government welfare reforms and to protect those on low incomes.

Meanwhile, as at the middle of December, the new Social Security Scotland agency had spent £34 million making over 150,000 payments of Carers Allowance Supplement and Best Start Grants, with applications for the latter only opening on 10th December.

In the first three months of its operations Social Security Scotland has been able to provide significant extra help to carers and low income families with children.

However these figures starkly illustrate the significant challenge the Scottish Government faces in providing support to those who need it without having all the powers to make a greater difference.


Legislation is to be brought forward this year requiring abattoirs to record on CCTV all areas where live animals are present.

This is intended to ensure the highest standards of animal welfare in abattoirs, by helping those responsible for enforcing welfare legislation.

The proposal was backed by the vast majority of respondents to a recent consultation carried out by the Scottish Government.


10.18 CoGC Campus VisitThe Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee has launched an inquiry to understand the challenges of Scotland’s construction sector, and is looking for a wide range of views on how the industry can be developed to help further drive the Scottish economy.

Specific areas that will be explored are economic impact, access to finance, skills, procurement, infrastructure, and innovation. The Committee is also keen to hear views on how to encourage young people to take up apprenticeship roles in construction and particularly to tackle the gender gap in the industry.

I’m pictured at City of Glasgow College Construction Department which I visited in the Autumn of last year. They offer fantastic facilities and resources for apprentices.

You can find out more on the inquiry at https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/110467.aspx

Mental Health

01.19 breathing spaceThe Mental Health Minister has encouraged people experiencing depression, low mood or anxiety to seek help particularly at this time of year.

The Minister was visiting the Breathing Space call centre in Glasgow. Breathing Space is a free, confidential phone line offering advice to people experiencing anxiety, depression or low mood. Support is also available at Living Life, which offers more in depth telephone-based and online therapy, and Samaritans, who provide confidential non-judgmental, free emotional support 24 hours a day for people struggling to cope.

If you need someone to talk to call 0800 83 85 87, 6pm to 2am Monday to Thursday; and 24 hours at the weekend. Calls to Breathing Space are free from landlines and from mobile networks. Breathing Space provides a wide range of useful information and advice about coping with low mood, depression and anxiety.

You can find out more information on the Scottish Government’s plans on this at https://www.gov.scot/publications/programme-government-delivery-plan-mental-health/

Organ Donation

More people than ever are signed up to the Organ Donor Register in Scotland, latest figures show.

In 2018, there were 148,000 new registrations from people willing to be organ donors, and the new registrations mean that the total number of people registered in Scotland has risen to a record high of almost 2.8 million – or 51.7% of Scotland’s population.

Meanwhile, in the last year 829 people in Scotland received a transplant. However there are currently more than 550 people in Scotland waiting for an organ transplant which could save or transform their lives.

The Scottish Government is working on a package of measures to further increase the number of potential donors. This includes legislation introduced to the Scottish Parliament to move to a soft opt-out system for organ and tissue donation. A public consultation in 2017 showed 82% of respondents supporting this move.


University of Glasgow’s 568th Anniversary Recognised in Parliament

Glasgow Kelvin MSP Sandra White has recognised the 568th Birthday of the University of Glasgow in a Parliamentary Motion lodged on anniversary of its foundation.

Sandra White MSP for Glasgow Kelvin said:

“The University’s centuries-old contribution to academia, innovation, and scientific pursuit has been of considerable contribution to the world, and part of the fabric of Glasgow, Scotland, and beyond.

“Building on its rich history, the University continues to inspire people and change the world. It is my pleasure to recognise this achievement in a Parliamentary Motion on its anniversary today”

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the whole University of Glasgow community and alumni on this wonderful anniversary.”

Parliamentary Motion:

Motion Number: S5M-15257
Lodged By: Sandra White
Date Lodged: 07/01/2019

Title: 568th Anniversary of the University of Glasgow

Motion Text:

That the Parliament congratulates the University of Glasgow on its 568th anniversary; notes that the university was founded on 7 January 1451 by the Bishop of Glasgow, William Turnbull, following the issuing of a papal bull by Pope Nicholas V at the request of King James II; further notes that the institution is the fourth oldest English-speaking university in the world, and the second oldest university in Scotland; understands that it commands a global reputation for centuries of pioneering research and academic excellence, and continues to be ranked as one of the world’s leading higher education institutions; recognises the university’s centuries of contributions, which have been of huge significance to generations of students, and the city of Glasgow, Scotland and beyond, and wishes the university and its alumni a happy anniversary and continued success as it builds on its rich history in its mission to “inspire people and change the world”.

Photo: Gary Paterson

Scottish Government funded infrastructure sees £1.12bn invested in Glasgow

The Scottish Government’s strong commitment to investment in infrastructure in Glasgow has been highlighted today, as it was revealed that the area benefits from £1.12bn of funding for infrastructure projects being delivered in 2018.

Local projects such as the Woodside Health Centre and the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme are due to be completed during 2019 and 2020 benefitted from over 1 billion pounds of funding, and there are a number of new projects and schemes being lined up to be started next year.

The Scottish Government has reiterated its commitment to investing in key projects across Scotland, in 2019 – even in the face of Westminster cuts to funding of almost £2billion.

The last few years have seen number of high-profile projects completed in Scotland, including the Queensferry Crossing, Borders Railway, and new college campuses in Glasgow, Inverness and Ayrshire. 

Commenting, SNP MSP Sandra White said:

“Investing in infrastructure means better public services, enhanced connectivity, more jobs and growth in our economy.

“I am delighted to hear that the SNP government invested a record £1.12bn in significant infrastructure projects being delivered in Glasgow. This has not only created jobs and boosted the local economy in the short-term, but will also contribute to a lasting economic legacy in the area.

“But Scotland has the potential to do so much more in building for the future and transforming communities.

“With full powers over our economy in the hands of the Scottish Parliament, we could create more jobs and reverse Tory cuts and the damage of austerity in Glasgow.”


ScotGov’s £2m Library Investment Pays Off as Visitor Numbers Increase



An SNP MSP has welcomed new research that shows that more people in Scotland are using public libraries than ever before.

Last year, there were over 43 million visits to public libraries in Scotland – including both physical visits and virtual visits. This marked a 2.5% increase on the previous year.

In Glasgow each visit represents £2.16 of investment, with 74% of library visitors recording satisfaction in the service.

The Scottish Government, via the Public Library Improvement Fund, has invested almost £2million in libraries across Scotland and recently announced that every public library in Scotland will receive a complete collection of Muriel Spark novels, as part of an initiative announced by the First Minister.

Commenting, SNP MSP Sandra White said:

“Local libraries are a critical part of our society, which is why it’s so great to see that more and more people are taking the time to use library facilities in Glasgow.

“Literacy and education are vital in ensuring that every child in Scotland gets the best start in life, and for older people visiting a library can be an excellent way of combatting loneliness and mental health issues.

“It’s deeply inspiring to see the work of those library workers and volunteers, who are vital in enabling people to access reading materials and computers, if they don’t have access to these at home.”



SNP MSP Sandra White has praised the contribution of Scotland’s Winter Festivals to Scotland’s culture,economy and heritage, as Scots enjoy a 3-month long programme of events.

The Winter Festivals celebrate Scotland’s spirit and diversity over the Christmas period and Hogmanay, also marking Burns Night on 25th January, with events across the country.

This year, the Scottish Government provided Scotland’s Winter Festivals with funding of £500,000. Edinburgh’s Christmas festival – one of the festivals supported by the funding – generated an economic impact of £113 million in additional output in 2017, equating to 2,260 full time jobs in Edinburgh.

SNP MSP Sandra White said:

“Scotland’s Winter Festival programme boasts a number of hugely exciting and diverse events – offering both Scots at home and abroad the chance to celebrate on national days such as St Andrews Day, Hogmanay, and Burns Night.

“This year’s celebrations recognise the shared values and inclusive view of the world that we possess in Scotland –something which is essential at this crucial time, when it is more important than ever to cultivate relationships with our friends in Europe and further afield.

“Our Winter Festivals attract thousands of local people, as well as performers and visitors from all over the world.

“Of course, everyone who lives here knows that Scotland is the place to be over the festive period – but it is great that we manage to attract so many international revellers over Christmas to celebrate this fantastic country with us.”