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



Season’s Greetings!

This time of year gives us the chance to reflect upon the previous twelve months, to remember the good times and the bad and to think about how we can make next year better. 

2018 has brought many challenges both politically and economically which I do not see abating in 2019.

Whatever you have planned for the holidays, I hope all of you enjoy spending time with family and friends and that your festive celebrations are happy and relaxing.   I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

EU Citizen’s

Scotland’s Citizens Advice network will provide a new advice service to European citizens in Scotland affected by changes in the immigration rules as a result of Brexit.

Funded by £800,000 over three years by the Scottish Government, Citizens Advice Bureaux will begin increasing capacity to offer advice and support immediately, with a view to the full service being live at the beginning of March 2019.

Citizens Advice Bureaux will advise on rights, entitlements and requirements, many of which are devolved, which are affected by an individual’s immigration status. As an additional support to advisers, a solicitor-led helpline will also be established for difficult and complex cases.

In March, the UK Government will introduce a settlement scheme where EU citizens and their family members will be required to apply to secure their rights through an online system.

For more information on CAB services please go to: http://www.glasgowcentralcab.org.uk/index.html

Gaza Students

12.18 IUG Students 1It was a pleasure to welcome students from the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) currently studying through the ERASMUS programme at the University of Glasgow (UoG) to the Scottish Parliament.

The students had a tour of the building followed by time in the public gallery to observe First Ministers Question Time – a chance to see democracy at work.

UoG submitted two successful bids to the European Union Erasmus+ in 2017, for a total of €600,000.  This funding has made it possible for 20 students from IUG to study in Glasgow for International Credit Mobilities, the biggest ever single cohort from a university in Gaza.   

Baby Grants

Families are now benefitting from the new Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment which supports low income families.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met some of the first parents and babies to benefit from the payment which offers low income parents or carers £600 on the birth of their first child and £300 for any subsequent children.

Following its launch last week, the first payments have been made, with Social Security Scotland receiving more than 4,000 claims on the first day alone. That is around the same number of UK Government Sure Start Maternity Grants, which Best Start Grant replaces, for the whole of 2017-18 in Scotland.

More information can be found here: https://www.mygov.scot/get-help-applying-pregnancy-baby-payment/



The SSPCA were in the Scottish Parliament this week raising awareness of their Say No to the Illegal Puppy Trade campaign.

Puppy sales shoot up at Christmas please take the time to follow the guidance from the SSPCA to ensure you are making a good choice in buying a puppy and to make sure you are buying from a reputable breeder.

Many of you will know the puppy breeding business has become extremely lucrative but it is having a devastating effect on animal welfare in Scotland.  The launch of the Scottish Government’s Buy a Puppy Safely campaign is a welcome step forward in the fight against this illegal trade of misery. 




SNP MSP Sandra White has said the UK government’s proposals on immigration, published today, will damage Scotland’s economy, communities, NHS and public services.


The Tories plan to introduce a £30,000-a-year minimum salary threshold for EU nationals, promising to cut net migration to the UK to ‘tens of thousands’.


The UK government’s proposals could result in an 85% reduction in the number of EEA workers to Scotland – with Scottish Government modelling suggesting a fall of almost £6.8 billion a year in GDP by 2040 as a result of the Tories plans.


It is anticipated that the NHS and care sector in Glasgow will be among the worst hit by the proposals, with the tourism and hospitality industries also suffering.


The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland has also demanded an urgent rethink of the plans. Andrew McRae the FSB’s Scotland Policy Chair commented, “these proposals will make it nigh impossible for the vast majority of Scottish firms to access any non-UK labour and the skills they need to grow and sustain their operations.”


The SNP has repeatedly called on the UK government to fully devolve immigration powers so that the Scottish Government can bring forward a progressive approach that addresses Scotland’s specific demographic and economic needs.


Commenting, SNP MSP Sandra White said:


“Our NHS and care sector here in [Area] is in danger. These Tory proposals will cause catastrophic damage for our public services – it is absolutely vital that we continue to attract people to live and work here.


“Tory plans on immigration will also devastate local businesses, with a £30,000 salary threshold on EU migrants slashing the workforce available to Scottish firms.


“Comments today from the Federation of Small Businesses demonstrate the growing support from organisations in [Area], and across Scotland, for a tailored migration system for Scotland.


“The SNP has repeatedly made the case for a tailored approach to immigration in Scotland in order to address its distinct needs. If the UK government are intent on implementing their damaging post-Brexit immigration plans, then the Scottish Parliament must be handed control of migration powers to protect Scotland’s specific interests.”


Thursday 13 December


It doesn’t seem like a year since I was last meeting up with the staff at Clarence Drive Sorting Office.

My thanks to the Manager of the sorting office Andrew Mullen for organising the visit and sincere thanks to all the staff for their Christmas cheer and warm welcome.

The staff here in Clarence Drive and across the country work tirelessly to ensure our cards and gifts are delivered in time in the run up to the festive season.


I’m at a loss for words on the current status of Brexit and I also need to factor in the huge possibility that whatever comment I do make on the current situation could change rapidly!

The situation is an utter shambles. People are nervous about what the future holds and despite the Scottish Government offering an alternative the UK Government are forging ahead with a disastrous deal with extremely bad consequences.

Mackintosh Remembered

It was an honour to be invited to the unveiling of the sculpture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh by acclaimed artist Andy Scott.

It is believed to be the world’s first public sculpture celebrating Mackintosh, one of Glasgow’s most famous sons and takes pride of place in Anderston.

Mr Scott created the sculpture in clay before it was cast into bronze. The completed sculpture weighs three tons, is 2.8 metres tall and sits atop a 2.2 metre plinth. It shows Mackintosh sat on the famous high-backed chair he designed for Glasgow’s Argyle Street Tea Rooms.

The sculpture faces west from a section of Argyle Street reinstated during Sanctuary’s regeneration of Anderston.This sculpture is a truly fitting tribute to Mackintosh and particularly for this 150th anniversary.


Budget delivers increased funding for health, education and economic investment.A significant cash injection to health and care services and funding to help prepare Scotland’s economy for Brexit are at the heart of the Scottish Government’s spending plans for the year ahead. The 2019/20 Scottish Budget, proposes an increase of almost £730 million in health and care services.

This includes additional revenues generated by tax decisions that mitigate the shortfall in NHS funding promised by the UK Government.The budget includes more than £5 billion of capital investment to grow and modernise infrastructure – including a new £50 million Town Centre Fund to support the future of our high streets.Real terms increases in funding for local government, education, health and the police will support the transformation of our public services to meet new challenges, while investment in skills, social security and training will help ensure we deliver opportunity for all.

The Scottish Government will continue to deliver on its commitments to end homelessness and tackle child poverty, while investment in culture is also protected.

Mr Mackay also confirmed that the Scottish Government’s tax policy will ensure 55% of income taxpayers in Scotland will pay less than people earning the same income in the rest of the UK, while continuing to raise revenue to support investment in the economy and public services.

Christmas Shopping

Out and about across the constituency and I dropped by the Salvation Army shop on Dumbarton Road.

I was taking part in the Charity Retail Associations (CRA) ‘Good Cause Santa Claus’ Secret Santa Charity Shop Challenge. The CRA are asking people across the country to buy their Secret Santa gifts in charity shops.

I’d echo their calls for your support when you’re buying your Christmas gifts – check out your local charity shops we have an abundance across the constituency so plenty to choose from!



The Chris Mitchell Foundation were exhibiting in Parliament this week.

The Chris Mitchell Foundation was established in his honour to raise awareness around mental health and wellbeing for players, ex players and staff working in Scottish professional football.

Their vision is to dispel the stigma associated with mental health in Scottish professional football and for it to be integrated into physical health and fitness training programmes.

They want to bring to the forefront the need for awareness of mental health and wellbeing within the Scottish professional football industry, by sharing knowledge and skills and improve learning, forging cohesive and sustainable partnerships, connecting and supporting service users and campaigning to raise awareness on a national scale.

You can find out more about the Foundation here: https://cmfoundation.org.uk

Winter Surgery

I’m pictured with representatives from WarmWorks Scotland and my colleague Patrick Grady MP at the Woodside Winter Surgery which we co-hosted on Friday.

It was an open public surgery for local residents to come and get information about keeping safe and warm this winter.

Whilst aimed at primarily older and more vulnerable groups, all members of the community were welcome and we had a very good success story with an elderly constituent securing through assistance from WarmWorks a new boiler in time for Christmas!