James in Parliament.
Widening Access to Politics.
A report by Independent Living in Scotland entitled "Politically (in)correct - representation of disabled people in Politics" is concerned that while society is increasingly diverse, representative bodies do not reflect that.
Whilst almost one in five people in Scotland are disabled very few elected officials identify themselves as having a disability.
In his motion, James highlighted the general lack of support for disabled people to participate in society, few role models for disabled people in political office and the physiology of political activities presenting barriers to participation.
He noted the work that his local branch are doing to widen access to politics and asked the Minister for Equalities, Shona Robison, if she would look in to setting up an Access to Elected Office Fund similar to one Westminster runs which offers
grants to candidates looking for selection and election to allow them to undertake these tasks without accruing extra costs solely because of any disability.
He has also written to the Presiding Officer to see if the Parliament will investigate the possibility of an internship designed to get disengaged people involved in politics.
Scotland's Historic Heritage
I was delighted to take part in a debate on Scotland's Historic Heritage and strategy going forward. Scotland has an extraordinary historic and cultural heritage that touches every corner of this great nation.
Take the Cathcart constituency which is bursting with history, from the Battle of Langside, now on the Historic Battlefield Landmark, and one of the last acts of Mary, Queen of Scots on Scottish soil. It was defeat in this Battle which led her to flee Scotland, seeking exile in England under her cousin Elizabeth I, and we all know how that turned out...
But Mary Queen of Scots has a further connection to the constituency through her family, the Stuarts, who owned Castlemilk House until it was passed to the City Council in 1937 and demolished by them in the 1960's.
All that remained were the stables which were left to fall in to a state of disrepair by the council and were taken over by the local community and form the focal point of the Cassiltoun Trust.
This regeneration of the stables project has itself gone on to act as a catalyst for economic and environmental regeneration bringing new services, training, employment and recreational opportunities for the local community.
I firmly believe that the Cassiltoun Trust could act as a blueprint for how to regenerate and preserve our historic heritage going forward and I look forward to the historic strategy becoming a reality.
Oxfam's Our Economy Report
Oxfam Scotland have recently published a report titled Our Economy: Towards a New Prosperity and John Wilson's (SNP) Member's Debate was an opportunity to discuss some of the pertinent issues that the report raised, and the challenges and solutions to the widening inequality in Scotland.
Poverty is unjust and unacceptable and there is nothing inevitable about the levels of poverty in Scotland. The richest people in Scotland are 273 times richer than the poorest and that gap is widening.
The report is clear that trickle down economics doesn't work and that an overhaul of the current economic thinking is needed; a system that measures the well-being of citizens far more widely than on how much money is or isn't in their pockets.
I strongly agree with the aims of the report, but not with their suggestion that the delineation between Westminster and Holyrood is unimportant.
I share their aspirations but to me, it is clear that only one Parliament will be able to use this report as a blueprint to make a fairer, just and equal Scotland - and that is this Parliament elected by the people of Scotland.
And the power to make these changes will only come with a Yes vote in next year's referendum.
Holyrood Spotlight 16/05/13
Portfolio Questions - 11/09/2013
St Andrew's First Aid Member's Debate
I'm delighted to be associated with St Andrew's First Aid and their "Count me in Campaign" which aims to highlight the importance of first aid training for all. 34,000 people each year are admitted to hospital for treatment where basic first aid skills would have sufficied and it leads to more pressure on our frontline NHS services. Get more information on St Andrew's First Aid, and their campaign here
James took part in Holyrood Spotlight this week to discuss and defend the provision of certain universal services in Scotland, including free prescriptions, bus passes, and healthcare. Also discussed was the possible position of an independent Scotland in the European Union.
Equal Marriage Bill Passes.
Imam Hussain Blood Donation Campaign.
Thank you Presiding Officer – and I too congratulate Jim Eadie on bringing this debate to the Chamber and congratulate the work being done by the Edinburgh Ahlul Bayt Society in encouraging Muslim residents of Edinburgh and the Lothians to donate blood.
The Iman Hussain Blood Donation Campaign began in 2006 to increase the number of regular blood donors from Muslim Communities. The campaign also seeks to raise awareness about the work to Hussain - grandson of the prophet Mohammed.
And it is clear that tying this blood donation campaign to the work of Hussain has been a success. Too often people who do small charitable acts don’t see the bigger picture about what that half hour out of their lives has actually done – it has saved lives.
I want to repeat the statistic that Mr Eadie used in his opening because I think it is crucial to the debate - over the course of a year a woman could save up to 9 adult lives and 21 children’s lives, a man could save up to 12 adult lives and 28 children’s lives.
After all, as the campaign says - “blood is a precious resource which can benefit others and save lives.” I think that that is an extremely powerful message. We need 5,000 blood donations every week in Scotland just to keep up with demand and as we know, blood has an extremely short shelf life so it needs to be a constant stream of donations.
Therefore the Scottish Blood Transfusion Service, as well as their regular donation schedules, run a project called Blood Donor 24. This is Scotland’s emergency blood donor response team made up of folk who have pledged to respond within 24 hours should the need for a donation of their blood group arise.
Shortages in blood types can arise for many reasons from it being a bank holiday to a major incident or emergency. Who can forget the queues of people stretching around the block from the Glasgow offices after the Clutha Vaults tragedy. Such was the response that the service had to ask people to delay donating for a couple of weeks as they had too much blood.
However as important as blood is, how many lives can be saved each year by blood donations, it is still the case that only about 5% of eligible blood donors donate and that is something that we have to work on.
One area that the Service is working on is getting younger people to become donors. Recent research shows that only 46% of 17 year olds were aware that they could give blood. It is crucial that we engage with young donors because the average age of a donor in Scotland is now over 40.
I know that 20% of new donors come from the Give Blood School Talks programme which last year signed up 5,000 new volunteers. Their message is celebrate your 17th birthday and celebrate saving a life. I think this work is extremely important and I’ll be contacting the service to see if there are other ways that we can engage young people to give blood, perhaps through working with youth groups and sports or arts centres?
The work of the Scottish Blood Transfusion Service is critical in the excellent blood donation service that we have here in Scotland – a service that will get even better when the work on the construction of the bespoke National Centre is completed.
The National Centre will provide a flexible, modern, pharmaceutical industry standard environment for the service’s staff to continue to deliver a safe, efficient supply of blood components across Scotland. This will also provide an on-going contribution to our leading life-science research and development industry.
I congratulate the Imam Hussain blood donation campaign on the work that they are doing in getting more Muslims to donate blood, and the work of the Scottish Blood Transfusion Service to ensure that the blood is safe and used efficiently and look forward to working with the service to see how we can encourage more people to take part in this simple, but life saving act.
General Questions: 27/11 : Commonwealth Games Legacy
My Glasgow Cathcart constituency has a number of interesting legacy projects, including a plan to turn the disused St Martin’s church in Castlemilk into the Cathkin Braes mountain bike and activity centre. Will the minister come and visit the site of the proposed centre and meet those who are involved in the proposal? What assistance is the Government giving or intending to give to local and community projects to assist them with such legacy building in local communities?
Jamie Hepburn: I thank Mr Dornan for his welcome.
Having delivered the most successful Commonwealth games ever, we are determined to secure its legacy, and communities across Scotland are interested in playing their part. I encourage communities across Scotland to visit the legacy website to find out more about the on-going sources of support such as the legacy 2014 active places fund and the legacy 2014 sustainable sport for communities fund.
I am delighted to learn of the efforts in Glasgow Cathcart. I wish those who are involved well, and of course I will be happy to visit with Mr Dornan.
Violence against women is wrong in any circumstances. It is clear that we all agree with that. It physically hurts those who are attacked, but often the psychological scars that it leaves are even worse.
In many cases, the worst kind of violence is domestic violence. Members should just think how awful it must be to worry about what will set him off tonight—it is almost always a him, despite some of the emails that we have received—and to wonder whether he is drunk, has had a bad day or is just in the mood to take it out on his partner. What way is that for anyone to live?
That is why I want to talk about the Daisy Project, in my constituency. The project was formerly known as the Domestic Abuse Project or DAP. It is one of the many great groups across the country that do invaluable work to support women and families who have been affected by domestic violence.
The Daisy Project recognises that domestic violence does not happen in a vacuum and that it can have long-term and wide-ranging impacts. It knows that there is no one-size-fits-all solution and that each family has different needs. It is based in Castlemilk and it is easily accessible to people who require assistance. Over the past three years it has helped 300 people in the south side of Glasgow to address issues of domestic abuse. Services include one-to-one support, small-cell group work, personal development, training, access to services and agency assistance.
The project also set up the self-help group Women against Violent Environments—WAVES—which is led by the extraordinary Bessie Anderson. WAVES empowers women to address issues, including domestic abuse, to overcome the drawbacks of poverty, including the less-talked-about aspects of isolation and self-esteem, and to regain control of their lives. WAVES is supported in its aims by local housing associations and nurseries, which act sensitively when issues of gender-based violence are raised and try to do what they can to ensure that the women and children are housed and educated appropriately.
I feel privileged when I get the opportunity to meet and support such organisations, but the truth is that I wish I did not have to. I have seen how difficult life can be for families and I wish that they had never had to go through such experiences. I have heard about kids becoming withdrawn and about how long it can take to get them to come out of their shells, and I have seen how so often the male perpetrator’s behaviour can leave a family near financial destitution, with all the problems that that brings.
Every year I run a Christmas toy appeal in my constituency. People are invariably responsive, generous and kind. The toys are passed on to local churches and groups in the constituency, including WAVES. It broke my heart when I was told that for some of the kids their present will be the only substantial one that they get over the festive period—not because their mum does not love them but because of the mayhem that violence against a woman creates.
That sobering fact is behind my whole-hearted support for the Government’s violence against women strategy, “Equally Safe”, which was published in June. Lily Greenan, manager of Scottish Women’s Aid, said:
“The publication of Equally Safe is a significant step towards addressing and preventing that violence.”
The strategy was also welcomed by the police, the Solicitor General for Scotland and local and national bodies, including ASSIST.
We know that violence against women is, at heart, an issue of power. It is accepted that one of the primary causes of domestic abuse and one of the biggest barriers to tackling it is persistent and consistent gender inequality between men and women, which we all have a responsibility to address. I was pleased with the message that the First Minister sent out when we ended up with Scotland’s first 50:50 Cabinet.
Ban Ki-moon said:
“there is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable.”
It is clear that, across the chamber, we agree with that universal truth, and there is considerable political and civic will in Scotland for domestic violence to become an issue of the past. However, until it is—I hope that that day will come soon—I thank goodness that we have such important organisations as the Daisy Project and WAVES to assist the victims of that insidious crime.
Violence against Women Strategy
Getting it Right for Every Child
To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on progress with the getting it right for every child strategy.
The Minister for Children and Young People
The key driver of our getting it right for every child approach is the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, which received royal assent in March. The GIRFEC duties in the act are to be implemented in August 2016.
Does the minister agree that a large share of the credit for the success of GIRFEC to date should go to voluntary bodies such as Home-Start, which does invaluable work in my constituency, for the role that they play in the strategy? Will she agree to visit Home-Start to see for herself the good work that it does? Will she update members on what the Scottish Government is doing to ensure that that aspect of GIRFEC continues to thrive?
I thank the member for raising the good work that Home-Start has done in his constituency. I am aware of the good work that happens in other parts of the country, not least in the Highlands, to support families with young children and to ensure that parents have the necessary skills and confidence to build better lives for their children.
The work of Home-Start and other non-statutory bodies is a crucial component of getting it right for every child and young person in Scotland. That is why we have key relationships with a number of groups and organisations that do the sort of good work that Home-Start does and which James Dornan outlined.
I am happy to arrange a visit, although I am not sure whether it will be by me or my maternity replacement, Fiona McLeod. Regardless of who it is, we would be pleased to go and see the work to which James Dornan referred
When Parliament is in session it sits for three days a week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The mornings are given to Committee, where scrutiny of Bills and evidence and discussion on ideas takes place. I sit on the Education and Skills Committe as Convener.
The afternoon is given to Chamber Business including questions to the Government and debates. The evenings are opportunities for events and cross-party groups. I sit on the Cross-Party Group on Pakistan as covener and on the Cross-Party Group on Palestine.
Below you will find speeches I have made and questions I have asked in the Chamber. If you want to see my voting record, you can do so on my Scottish Parliament page here.
Celebrating Glasgow's Third Sector Debate
Living Wage in Scottish Football Debate
Delivering Future Enterprise and Skills Support
James Dornan MSP, speech on the creating a fairer Scotland, after the Scottish Government consultation which seen members of the public contribute what they believe a fairer Scotland should be.
Building a Fairer Scotland Debate
The Expansion of Early Learning and Childcare Provision
Topical Questions - Scottish Parliament
James Dornan asks the Scottish Government how it will take forward plans for the minimum pricing of alcohol
James Dornan MSP, speech on the future of enterprise and skills support during a debate in The Scottish Parliament.
The Committee considers and discusses issue which are relevant to areas of education and skills.
Education and Skills Committee
James Dornan MSP's speech at the debate on the expansion of early learning and childcare provisions at The Scottish Parliament.