Par­lia­ment could do much more for us

Stirling Observer - - INTIMATIONS - Claire Baker

The new par­lia­men­tary ses­sion has started and MSPs have heard the First Min­is­ter’s an­nual pro­gramme for Gov­ern­ment.

At the end of a dif­fi­cult sum­mer for the SNP, with sig­nif­i­cant elec­toral losses at the gen­eral elec­tion, this was sup­posed to rein­vig­o­rate the Gov­ern­ment. It in­cludes 16 new bills, yet last year they pre­sented 15 bills with only four com­plet­ing their jour­ney through Par­lia­ment. This does not look like a Gov­ern­ment fo­cused on the day job.

Of these 16 bills and fur­ther an­nounce­ments, so many of them are ei­ther taken from other par­ties man­i­festos or Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment re-an­nounce­ments. Ni­cola Stur­geon an­nounced lift­ing the pub­lic sec­tor pay cap although she and her MSPs voted against this ear­lier this year when it was a Labour pro­posal.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment will in­tro­duce a Bill to in­tro­duce an optout pro­gramme for or­gan do­na­tion, although they didn’t sup­port Labour MSP Anne McTaggart’s bill to do ex­actly that at end of the last Par­lia­ment, mean­ing it was nar­rowly de­feated. And they will in­tro­duce a scheme to ad­dress pe­riod poverty, an is­sue the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment had no plans for un­til pushed by Labour MSP Mon­ica Len­non.

The First Min­ster re­cy­cled an­nounce­ments on a Scot­tish In­vest­ment Bank, rais­ing the age of crim­i­nal re­spon­si­bil­ity and a can­cer strat­egy, among oth­ers, while push­ing ahead with un­pop­u­lar ed­u­ca­tion re­forms. Other head­line an­nounce­ments - a uni­ver­sal in­come, changes to tax­a­tion, pub­lic own­er­ship of rail­ways were all un­de­fined, un­der con­sid­er­a­tion, out for con­sul­ta­tion. Con­trary to SNP spin, this is a Gov­ern­ment lack­ing am­bi­tion and out of ideas.

In the year which marks 20 years since the ref­er­en­dum which se­cured pub­lic sup­port for the Par­lia­ment, I and my Labour col­leagues will work to urge the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to use the ex­ist­ing and new pow­ers of the Par­lia­ment to re­alise the hopes and am­bi­tions of the Scot­tish peo­ple when they voted “Yes” to de­vo­lu­tion.

While the pro­gramme for gov­ern­ment will oc­cupy most of the time in com­mit­tee and the cham­ber, the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment was de­signed to be open and wel­com­ing. Since Par­lia­ment re­turned I have had the plea­sure of meet­ing with or­gan­i­sa­tions from across Scot­land.

In the past week, I have spo­ken to cam­paign­ers rais­ing the is­sue of the chal­lenges met by peo­ple with a fa­cial dis­fig­ure­ment and met this year’s win­ner of the STUC He­len Downie Award for Life­long Learn­ing. I have lis­tened to aca­demics from Stirling Univer­sity talk about qual­ity of life for older peo­ple and thor­oughly en­joyed the de­bate cel­e­brat­ing 50 years of the univer­sity led by Bruce Craw­ford MSP and I caught up with the Chil­dren’s Com­mis­sioner and spoke to busi­nesses who are mem­bers of the Scot­tish Food and Drink Fed­er­a­tion con­cerned about the im­pact of Brexit on their in­dus­try.

I be­lieve that the ex­is­tence of the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment con­tin­ues to ben­e­fit peo­ple in Scot­land but I do be­lieve that the Par­lia­ment I cam­paigned for and am hon­oured to be elected to, could do much more to de­liver in­vest­ment in our pub­lic ser­vices, tackle poverty and in­equal­ity, and sup­port our so­ci­ety to be fit for the 21st cen­tury.

The next few years will be chal­leng­ing lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally, but the peo­ple I meet ev­ery day in my role give me con­fi­dence that Scot­land can flour­ish.

Par­lia­ment could do much more to de­liver in­vest­ment in our pub­lic ser­vices

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.