Concerns for Fundamental Rights and the Autonomous Institutions in Catalonia

Sandra White MSP has lodged a motion to the Scottish Parliament recording her concerns for fundamental rights and the autonomous institutions in Catalonia following the response of the Spanish Government to the October 1st Catalan independence referendum.

Motion S5M-07804: Sandra White, Glasgow Kelvin, Scottish National Party,
Date Lodged: 21/09/2017
 
Concerns for Fundamental Rights and the Autonomous Institutions in Catalonia 

That the Parliament condemns the reported raiding of Catalan Government buildings by national police and the detention of 12 senior officials, which it believes represents an unacceptable violation of the autonomous institutions of Catalonia; further believes that the Spanish Government’s use of armed paramilitary policing to confiscate political materials is a form of excessive and disproportionate force; acknowledges the reported statements from Catalan civil society, including Barcelona FC, rectors of Catalonia’s public universities and trade unions such as the Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) and Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT), demanding no political confrontation or limits to fundamental rights to freedom of expression and self-determination, and calls for the protection of democracy, civil rights and the autonomous institutions of Catalonia.

Ebrief

Ebrief

Thursday 21 September

Social Security

Great news announced this week with Scotland’s new Social Security agency having a site in Glasgow, bringing at least 750 jobs to the city. This is excellent news and proves yet again the Scottish Government’s commitment to supporting our city’s economy.

This new Social Security agency will be at the centre of the Scottish Government’s efforts to make sure that Scotland has a social security system with dignity and respect at its heart – in stark contrast to the punitive welfare regime currently operated by the UK Government.

Catalonia

The world is watching as the Spanish Government rescind the democratic process. I wholeheartedly support Catalonia and its people’s right and condemn the bureaucracy trying to silence them and have lodged the following motion in the Scottish Parliament:

That the Parliament condemns the reported raiding of Catalan Government buildings by national police and the detention of 12 senior officials, which it believes represents an unacceptable violation of the autonomous institutions of Catalonia; further believes that the Spanish Government’s use of armed paramilitary policing to confiscate political materials is a form of excessive and disproportionate force; acknowledges the reported statements from Catalan civil society, including Barcelona FC, rectors of Catalonia’s public universities and trade unions such as the Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) and Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT), demanding no political confrontation or limits to fundamental rights to freedom of expression and self-determination, and calls for the protection of democracy, civil rights and the autonomous institutions of Catalonia.

Community Halls

09.17 Community Halls 40th AnniversaryI had the pleasure of attending the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Community Central Halls last week.

This fantastic community resource was established in 1976 following a local community campaign to secure the continued use of the Methodist Central Hall.

In 1977 Strathclyde Regional Council bought the building for community use and handed over day to day management to a community development trust, Community Central Hall. Over the past 30 years CCH has evolved from providing community space for local organisations as well as providing a range of diverse vital community services. They have employed over 2,200 people; supported over 2,500 people not employed with work placements, employment training and jobsearch help; supported over 130,000 community events and delivered 181,600 hours of environmental improvement work – to name but a few of their achievements!

CCH has gone from strength to strength and I am sure will continue to provide for the local community building on their progress for many years to come.

Equalities and Human Rights

The Scottish Parliament debated equalities and human rights this week and I took the opportunity to contribute highlighting my work on the Social Security Committee.

A cornerstone of the Scottish Government’s approach to social security is the principle that it is a human right, as has been identified by the United Nations. That will help to eradicate the stigma that is associated with accessing benefits. Our system will be the first in the UK to reflect the UN principle that such systems should

“be established under national law and ensure the right of individuals and organisations to seek, receive and impart information on all social security entitlements in a clear and transparent manner.”

Our Parliament should be proud of that.

You can read the full text of my speech here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11089&i=101194

TIE Campaign

09.19 TIE CampaignThe Time for Inclusive Education set up stall in the Scottish Parliament this week and I was more than happy to endorse their campaign.

Their campaign pledge outlines five key strategic proposals that will help deliver LGBTI inclusive education.

64% of LGBTI people have been bullied at school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity; 95% believe that their experiences at school have had a long lasting negative effect on them and 27% of LGBTI youths have attempted suicide once as a result of bullying while 15% have tried more than once.

If you would like to find out more about the campaign go to www.tiepledge.co.uk or on facebook at tiecampaign

 

Young Carers

A new Young Carer Grant – worth £300 a year – will be part of a new package of support for  young carers. The grant will be awarded to young carers aged 16 to 18 who do at least 16 hours of caring a week, but do not qualify for Carer’s Allowance. It will help to improve young carers’ quality of life, assisting them to take part in employment, social or leisure opportunities.

The full package of support will be delivered throughout the course of this parliament. It will also include adding more entitlements and rewards for 11-18-year-old young carers to the Young Scot National Entitlement Card – which gives non-cash benefits to young people. Young Scot will work with young carers groups to develop the scheme.

At a later date, everyone receiving the Young Carer Grant will also be given a pass for free bus travel. This is in response to concerns that some young carers feel isolated by their caring responsibilities, and can find it difficult to meet transport costs.

Wear It Pink

09.17 Wear It Pink IIBreast Cancer Now’s wear it pink day is one of the biggest fundraising events and I caught up with them when they brought their campaign to the Scottish Parliament last week. I also took the opportunity to don some pink accessories to help highlight their campaign.

This year’s wear it pink will take place on place on Friday 20 October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, thousands of amazing people will wear it pink in their communities, schools or work places for the UK’s largest breast cancer charity, Breast Cancer Now.

Since the first event in 2002, over £30 million has been raised for life-saving research that’s working to discover how to prevent breast cancer, how to detect it earlier and how to treat it effectively at every stage so we can stop the disease taking lives.

If you’re looking for inspiration on fundraising go to https://wearitpink.org/

Homelessness

Further details of a new short term action group which will identify the actions and changes needed to end rough sleeping and transform the use of temporary accommodation in Scotland, has been announced by Housing Minister Kevin Stewart in a Ministerial statement today.

The announcement also included a new £50 million ‘Ending Homelessness Together’ fund which will be used to back the commitment and fund homelessness prevention initiatives over the next five years.

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of the homelessness charity Crisis will chair the action group and a panel of members will be appointed shortly. The action group will meet next month and will examine:

Plans to minimise rough sleeping this winter;

How to eradicate rough sleeping for good;

Ways to transform temporary accommodation;

How to bring about an end to homelessness in Scotland.

Havana/Glasgow Film Festival

For those of you who don’t know the 3rd Havana/Glasgow Film Festival will be launched on 28 September in Oran Mor and will run from 9 – 12 November.

I’ve lodged a motion in Parliament welcoming the festivals return and the continued cultural links with Glasgow and Havana.

You can get more information about the festival here http://www.hgfilmfest.com/

Register to Vote

As the new academic year begins, I’d like to encourage all new students to sign up to vote. While youth turnout was at its highest in this year’s General Election since 1992, and the gap between the number of older voters and younger voters decreased, young people are still noticeably less likely to vote and millions are still missing from the electoral register.

Decisions are being taken every day that will affect young people, not least on Brexit-related issues, jobs or indeed tuition fees. We need to encourage a registration revolution so that every one of voting age is represented on the electoral register. In Scotland, the SNP has legislated to grant 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote, however my colleagues at Westminster face an uphill battle to make the same changes at a UK level as well as to extend the franchise to EU nationals. My advice to anyone given the opportunity to register to vote, is to take it with both hands. Find out more at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Glasgow Woodside Mini Holland Project

More good news for the constituency with news of funding for Glasgow’s Woodside Mini-Holland project as part of the £22.5 million in Scottish Government grant funding for active travel and cycling infrastructure projects across the country.

Glasgow’s Woodside Mini-Holland project, takes inspiration from infrastructure in the Netherlands. The project will create an integrated cycle route from the city’s Charing Cross to Possil Road, connect to the Sauchiehall Street “Avenue” cycleway, which is currently being delivered, and expand the cycle network into the city centre, Great Western Road, Maryhill, Garscube Road and the Forth and Clyde Canal.

This project will encourage more commuters to travel to work by bike and will support the Glasgow economy, improve health and develop cycling provision across the city.

Ebrief

Ebrief

Thursday 7 September

Welcome back! I hope that you managed to make the most of the summer. There was plenty going on in and around the constituency and I took the opportunity of recess to get out and about.

Programme for Government

I very much welcome the legislative programme announced by the first Minister this week in Parliament. Seizing the opportunities of the low carbon revolution, investing in future economic growth and improving the lives of all our young people is central.

Action will be taken to phase out the need for petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032 and fast-track the development of a Scotland wide charging network as well as plans for a Scottish National Investment Bank to deliver long term financial support for innovative industries.

Education bill will be the centrepiece of the legislative programme for the year ahead, with major reforms also taking place in health and justice and a review of local democracy.

Other measures within the Programme for Government – which confirmed 16 new pieces of legislation – include:

  • support for key business sectors including low carbon, screen, manufacturing and financial technology
  • extending free personal care to all those under 65 who need it, known as ‘Frank’s Law’
  • rolling out new social security powers as part of a package of measures to tackle inequality, child poverty, end rough sleeping, reduce drug deaths and provide free sanitary protection to students in school, college and university
  • extending the presumption against short prison sentences to 12 months to break the cycle of offending and encourage the greater use of more effective community sentences
  • record investment in the NHS and a pledge to lift the public sector pay cap for NHS and other public sector workers
  • doubling the provision of free childcare
  • Improving public health with action on air quality, increased investment in active travel and measures to restrict the marketing of fatty and sugary food and drink
  • A discussion paper on the use of income tax in Scotland to support public services

I also took the opportunity to contribute to the debate focusing on social security you can read my contribution here:  http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/ormain.aspx

You can access the full programme here https://beta.gov.scot/publications/nation-ambition-governments-programme-scotland-2017-18/

Glasgow Gaelic School

09.17 Glasgow Gaelic School

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney MSP had a visit to the Glasgow Gaelic School during the recess which I attended. It was very productive and gave the staff an opportunity to discuss issues with both the Cabinet Secretary and myself.

I’d also like to draw people’s attention to the recent Scottish Women’s Award ceremony which saw the school’s Headteacher Dr Donalda McComb being recognised with an Award for Services to Education – many congratulations.

In accepting the award Dr McComb paid tribute to the parents, teachers and children at the school.

Universal Credit

Citizens Advice Scotland’s report on Universal Credit was the subject of a members debate in Parliament this week and as Convener of the Social Security Committee I took the opportunity to contribute to the debate.

The UK Government are railroading through a system which is causing financial hardship. For too many people, a system that is intended to support them through difficult times is making their situation much worse. Families are falling into debt and rent arrears and having to turn to foodbanks just to survive.

This situation is not acceptable. The UK Government needs to do more to reduce how long people have to wait for payments and to improve the support available. I as well as many others across the chamber are calling on the UK Government to pause in the accelerated roll-out of Universal Credit, so that these problems can be fixed before more families find themselves in crisis.

You can access my full speech here http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/ormain.aspx

New Ventures

09.17 KMR CandlesI found this wonderful new shop KMR Candles on the High Street selling handmade candles made with natural eco-soya wax.

Rebecca Macraild is the entrepreneur behind this business and is pictured with me in the shop. It’s great to see new ventures opening up in the city centre stocking handmade Scottish goods.

If you can’t manage into the shop they also have an online presence www.kmrcandles.co.uk

 

Workforce Development

The Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF) will be available to organisations across the private, public and third sectors who are subject to the UK Government’s Apprenticeship Levy. The FWDF was developed in line with the Scottish Government’s 2016 consultation on the UK Government’s Apprenticeship Levy, and is part of a range of support for Scottish Levy payers, which includes the expansion of our Modern Apprenticeship programme.

The one-year pilot fund will focus on the up-skilling and re-skilling of existing employees of any age, with individual organisations able to apply for up to £10,000. From today, Scotland’s employers can apply for part of a new £10 million fund to partner with colleges to deliver in-work skills training.

Brexit

The process for post-Brexit planning needs to change so that the position of the Scottish Government – particularly in areas that directly affect devolution  – is properly represented.

In a letter to the UK Government, the Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe has asked for the change in process to be made, setting out concerns over the lack of engagement on documents covering devolved areas such as science and innovation and areas that impact significantly on Scotland, such as future immigration and customs arrangements.

The process for post-Brexit planning needs to change so that the position of the Scottish Government – particularly in areas that directly affect devolution  – is properly represented.

PAMIS

09.17 Pamiloo PamisThousands of people with complex needs across Scotland are unable to attend events or visit outdoor venues due to the lack of appropriate toilets. While locations sometimes offer ‘accessible toilets’, these are not suitable for people with complex needs who need specialised equipment and additional space.

I met up with PAMIS (Promoting a more inclusive society) at Buchanan Galleries. They have just acquired the first Scottish Mobile Changing Places toilet, this vehicle – the pamiloo can now be used by families and used at leisure events held by PAMIS to provide fully accessible toileting facilities.

PAMIS are still fundraising to pay for the cost of the vehicle, and very much appreciate any support. You can make a donation to the campaign on JustGiving.

You can also take part in their fundraising efforts inspired by their 25 anniversary year – The PAMIS Challenge 25. They are looking for 25 teams from across Scotland to turn £100 seed money into £1000 for the Pamiloo. How you do it is entirely up to you! You can be as creative as you like. You can start your challenge on a date of your choosing and then you have 12 weeks to complete it. If you would like to take part, or would like more information, please contact Fiona Harper from our fundraising team on f.k.harper@dundee.ac.uk or call 01382 339560.

Franks Law

At least 9000 families in Scotland will benefit from the introduction of free personal care for everyone who requires it, regardless of age.

Known as ‘Frank’s Law’ after the campaign led by footballer Frank Kopel’s widow Amanda, the policy will take effect by April 2019.

This change will help thousands of families across Scotland and Mrs Kopel has played a crucial role in bringing issues around personal care for under 65s to light and in ensuring they have remained prominent in the public’s mind.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced free personal care for everyone who requires it, regardless of age, as part of the Programme for Government on Tuesday, September 5.

This has become known as Frank’s Law after a campaign led by Amanda Kopel. Mrs Kopel has campaigned for the change in care provision since her husband, the former Dundee United player Frank Kopel, was diagnosed with and later died from early onset dementia.

Landlord Registration

Guidance on regulating landlords in the private rented sector has been issued to all local authorities. The new guidance is available to read here- Landlord Registration Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities

The guidance will support local authorities to effectively regulate the landlord registration system, which requires councils to maintain a register of private landlords and ensure that only landlords it judges to be fit and proper are allowed on the register.

Landlord registration gives local authorities the ability to control and regulate who can operate legitimately as a private landlord.

The Scottish Government want to see a sector that is characterised by more good quality homes, being managed professionally and where tenants feel secure.  Where there are poor standards, local authorities should be taking tough, targeted enforcement to ensure every landlord is fit for purpose.

New plans for soft opt-out organ donation system unveiled

SNP MSP Sandra White has welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision to introduce legislation for a soft opt-out system of organ and tissue donation, which was backed by 82% of those who contributed to their consultation.

 

The 14-week consultation looked at various ways to increase the number of people being referred to the donation services in Scotland.

 

Currently in Scotland, organ and/or tissue donation after a person’s death only occurs if they have given advance authorisation or if their nearest relative authorises on their behalf.

 

A soft opt out, or deemed authorisation system, means that a donation can go ahead if the person has not opted out or told their family they do not wish to donate.

 

Commenting Sandra White MSP for Glasgow Kelvin said:

 

“Today’s decision to legislate for a soft opt-out system is great news for our health service & for many people who are waiting for life saving surgery.

 

“With the amazing help of donors and their families, NHS Scotland has already made great progress, including a 34% increase in donors this past year alone. Scotland now has the highest donor rate in the UK.

 

“However, we can do better and moving to a soft opt-out system is a really important step towards further reducing the number of people in Glasgow Kelvin waiting for transplants.

 

“We should always keep in mind the tragic circumstances that give rise to organ donation and forever appreciate the selfless acts of donors and their families that enable others to live. Organ and tissue donation saves lives and is one of the greatest gifts a person can give.”

 

ENDS

 

NOTES

 

https://news.gov.scot/news/increasing-organ-and-tissue-donation

 

Background

•             The consultation ran from 7 December 2016 to 14 March 2017.

•             Anyone wishing to join the Organ Donor Register can do so by visiting the Organ Donation Scotland website. This website can also be used by those who wish to update their registration details or to register their wish not to be a donor.

 

The Donation and Transplantation Plan, 2013-2020 has been the catalyst for meaningful improvement in organ donation in Scotland with:

•             146% increase (54-133 between 2007/8 and 2016/17) in the number of people who donated organs after their death.

•             In 2016/17, Scotland had the highest rate of donors per million of population of any UK country – currently 25.5 donors pmp.

•             45% of the Scottish population have joined the organ donor register (over 116,000 in 2016).

 

Ebrief

Ebrief

Thursday 22 June 2017

Finsbury Park

This was a horrific attack and my thoughts go out to everyone who has been affected. I know that everyone will be saddened to see yet another terrorist attack.

While there is no intelligence of any specific threat to Scotland, Police Scotland remain vigilant and visible across communities to provide reassurance to members of the public.

Muslim communities will understandably be anxious just now and it is in these moments that we must come together as a country and unite against extremism and hate from wherever it comes.

Social Security Bill

Historic legislation to establish Scotland’s first social security system has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament this week. The Social Security (Scotland) Bill will give the Scottish Government the powers to deliver eleven benefits devolved as part of the Scotland Act 2016.

It also provides powers to top up reserved benefits and provides a mechanism to pay a Carer’s Allowance supplement at the earliest opportunity.

You can access a copy of the Bill here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/105267.aspx

The first social security payments to be delivered by the Scottish Government from summer 2018 will be the increased Carer’s Allowance, followed by the Best Start Grant and the Funeral Expense Assistance from summer 2019.

Queens Speech

The UK Government must provide greater clarity on its Brexit plans following the Queens Speech particularly when the bulk of the speech centred on the legislation necessary for the UK to withdraw from the European Union, demonstrating that as well as being harmful to the country, Brexit is set to take up all the UK government’s resources, forcing other important issues to be sidelined.

Brexit must not see the UK Government attempt to reduce devolved competence or attempt to avoid the need for legislative consent from Holyrood.

Baby Box

06.17 BabyboxThe list of contents for Scotland’s Baby Box is now available at http://www.parentclub.scot/baby-box as registration for the nationwide roll out begins.

All babies due on or after 15 August 2017 will receive a box of essential items to support parents and promote a fair and equal start for all children in Scotland.

The final research of the successful pilot which took place in Orkney and Clackmannanshire has also been published. The findings have informed the logistics and contents of the initiative and responses have been positive, with some suggestions for improvement already implemented for national delivery.

Building Safety

The first meeting of a Ministerial Working Group, convened to examine building and fire safety regulatory frameworks, has taken place this week.

The meeting was chaired by Communities Secretary Angela Constance with Housing Minister Kevin Stewart and Community Safety Minister Annabelle Ewing. They were joined by officials from fire and rescue, building standards, local government and housing.

This group is overseeing a review of building and fire safety regulatory frameworks with an initial focus on high rise domestic buildings, following the Grenfell Tower fire in London. It will agree any improvements or actions identified.

Tron Theatre

06.17 Tron TheatreI had a great start to the week with a wonderful visit to the Tron Theatre.

Andy Arnold the Artistic Director kindly extended an invitation to me for a tour of the building and a chat on the theatres plans for the future.

The Tron Theatre is 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.

I was delighted with their recent funding success from the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund of almost £40,000 of which they will use to refurbish The Tron Theatre’s Changing House.

The theatre is going from strength to strength and for those who haven’t already attended one of their many productions I would highly recommend a visit.

Medicine

Applications for a degree course offering exisiting graduates a new route into medicine will open in September, Health Secretary Shona Robison has confirmed.

The four-year course will have 40 places available and is being delivered by the medical schools in St Andrews and Dundee in collaboration with the University of the Highlands and Islands.

The course, which will begin next Autumn, will be open to existing graduates from any discipline with an interest in pursuing a degree in medicine.

Details will shortly be posted on the medical schools’ websites, and a social media campaign will be used to encourage applications.

Candidates interested in the new course will need to sit the GAMSAT aptitude test by 4 August. UCAS applications will open in September.

Air Departure Tax

A bill to replace Air Passenger Duty in Scotland has been passed by the Scottish Parliament.

The Air Departure Tax (Scotland) Bill sets the structure of the new tax and how it will be collected and managed by Revenue Scotland. Detail on tax bands and tax rate amounts will be set out in secondary legislation in the autumn, as part of the Scottish Government’s budget process and alongside other devolved taxes.

Foodbanks

06.17 Food PovertyI took the opportunity to stop by the Kirkcaldy Foodbanks stall at the Parliament this week to discuss the latest initiative on food poverty.

Nourish Scotland and the Poverty Truth Commission are working together to develop a Dignity Framework with and for community food providers supported through funding from the Scottish Governments’ Fair Food Transformation Fund.

It is hoped that the framework can be a tool for community food providers and community members to consider how placing dignity at the heart of community food provision can support a transition away from emergency food aid as a primary response to food insecurity.

You can access more details on the project at www.nourishscotland.org

50/50

The Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill published this week sets an objective for public boards that 50% of non-executive members are women by 2022.

It will apply to certain public bodies, colleges and Higher Education Institutions in Scotland, subject to the Bill receiving parliamentary approval.

The Bill will drive further improvements, building on the success of the Scottish Government’s ‘50/50 by 2020’ pledge – which has seen nearly 200 organisations across the public, private and third sectors sign up voluntarily to improve gender balance on board.

Film Fund

A fund to incentivise film production in Scotland has generated £17.5m for the economy – returning £10 for every pound spent.

The Production Growth Fund, a combination of Scottish Government and National Lottery Funding administered by Creative Scotland, provides an incentive for major film and TV producers to base their work in Scotland. T2: Trainspotting, Churchill and The Loch were among the first productions to benefit.

Responding to Creative Scotland figures that underline the impact of the first £1.75m awarded, Ms Hyslop confirmed the Scottish Government will allocate an additional £250k to the Production Growth Fund, taking its total to £3.25 million.

MND

With MND Awareness taking place this week I was pleased to see that applications are now being taken for a scholarship fund set up in memory of motor neurone disease (MND) campaigner, Gordon Aikman.

The Gordon Aikman Scholarship is worth £50,000; with Scottish Government funding of £25,000 and MND Scotland announcing this week that it will match this funding.

It will support individuals affected by MND or their carers and healthcare professionals to research and develop practical improvements in the way people with MND are cared for.

Social Enterprise Awards

Scotland’s annual awards for achievement in social enterprise are open for entries – with just 3 weeks left to apply.

Social Enterprise Scotland is calling on all social enterprises to step up and demonstrate how they’re helping people or the environment – gaining real recognition for their many achievements and with many social enterprises across the constituency doing some great work I’d encourage you to get your applications in.

The deadline for award applications is Monday 10 July 2017. All information is at: socialenterpriseawards.scot

Policing 2026

A ten-year strategy to ensure Police Scotland is equipped to tackle new and emerging threats has been published.

Policing 2026 includes a commitment to recruit more civilian cyber specialists to counter the threat posed by cyber-crime and calls for greater emphasis on addressing vulnerability and mental health issues.

As well as maintaining officer numbers for 2017-18, the strategy also proposes a workforce model that frees up officers from support work to increase the number available for frontline policing.