Detention but not the kind you get at
Last week I shot off to the cross party group
on refugees and asylum a group I am proud to be the co-chair of.
There was a big agenda and some very welcome visitors to the group.
First up we had Liz MacDonald from consumer focus who gave a
presentation on the new guide to help people access our health
service. The leaflet says your health, your language, your guide, it
comes in written, DVD and online and is a very helpful tool to
enable people to understand their rights to health and how to access
this. You can watch videos online
and it is available in 17 languages a truly inclusive example of how
we do things differently in Scotland, a very welcome level of
humanity applied to address the needs of people who may speak a
different language but who may not read that language. To get a copy
of the DVD go online at the above address or call 0800 22 44 88. We
then had a very informative presentation from Sanna one of our
representatives from the refugee Women's Strategy Group. Sanna
presented the findings of an inquiry to us entitled Asylum-Seeking
Women, Violence and Health.
The report looked at the asylum process,
violence, physical and mental health status and health care use. The
report has been formulated into advice and guidance for women in the
asylum system, a smashing piece of work that will support and guide
people through their rights and the extremely complicated asylum
system. It always makes me laugh when you hear some of the nonsense
spouted by right wing elements of our society say we are too soft on
asylum, it would be funny if it was not so serious a falsehood to
The next very special guest we had was the
Chief Inspector of UK Border Agency John Vine CBE QPM, he is wholly
independent from UKBA and he has done some excellent work in looking
at the internal workings of UKBA. He was very interested in the
presentations at the group and was very open about his role and
people certainly felt at ease asking him pertinent questions about
the failings of UKBA. He was also very open to suggestions on where
the system needs inspected and maybe some reform. It was a very
interesting session with everyone contributing on a whole host of
issues and concerns. I am hopeful that some of it will be looked at
and recommendations made to improve and very inflexible and at times
hostile UKBA. Last week we heard Tavish announce the end of
detention of children especially at Dungavel, I hardly dared believe
it to be true as I have a cynical although healthy mistrust of the
home office…that’s just raw experience. This is what he said;
Tavish: "Now that the UK Government policy is
changing and children are no longer to be detained behind razor
wire at Dungavel—Liberal Democrats in government having made that
happen—will the First Minister ensure that Scottish agencies and
councils are able to work with the UK Government to educate, support
and accommodate children? Is he ready to work for that fundamental
This is what I said when just a few days later
UKBA detained 25 year old Sehar and her 8
month old baby, Wania, who have been locked up in Dungavel Removal
So in response this is what I had to say;
"Danny Alexander and Tavish Scott's words mean
as little as Labour's did when it comes to Dungavel. Last week
the Lib Dems claimed the detention of children at Dungavel had
ended. Tonight an eight month old baby is being held behind
bars in Scotland in contrast to the claims of Lib Dems last week.
Children should not find themselves behind bars in a humane
immigration system and if the Lib Dems deal means anything Danny
Alexander and Tavish Scott must act to ensure this child, and all
others are not detained in Dungavel for one more day.
"The SNP has taken the lead in setting up
alternatives to detention for children of asylum seekers and asylum
seeking families. That is the approach Scotland wants to see,
not cheap talk and no action from another Scottish Secretary."
So moving on a few more days…..yes keep up…we
have the announcement from the new immigration minister Damian Green
that detention overnight for children in Dungavel will end
immediately- great I hear you cry. I thought that too but then
realised very quickly that children would just be shipped to
Yarlswood detention centre disgusted is not strong enough to explain
how I felt. If its Scottish countryside or English countryside a
child is looking at from behind bars it doesn’t really matter its
still detention and its still abhorrent.
The weekend saw me jaunting about the constituency catching up
with constituent issues and taking some things forward. Sunday was a
particularly busy day for me I was at Strathclyde park with a big
hooter…no not my nose a proper big hooter starting off the MND
annual charity run, you could run 4 or 6 miles around the loch, you
could walk, dance or just stroll if you liked. It was a brilliant
event and the biggest so far with 650 participants including Scott
Hastings who has told me I have to do it next year too so I better
get my trainers on a start running. Here's some pics of me starting
the race with my big hooter of course!
It was then a quick hop over the bridge to Hamilton Palace show
grounds to present the medals at the Davie Cooper soccer 7's another
fantastic year with 14 girls teams lining up for the trophy. There
was also about 20 boys teams. Both finals ended in penalty shoot
outs and you could have cut the tension with a knife every time one
of the young people lined up to take their shot. Some photos here
too that show the pride on everyone's face at the achievement.
Another brilliant event organised with cooperation from South
Lanarkshire council and Hamilton Sports Council.
If there's one thing we all love its good news
and there was some smashing news for Hamilton and South Lanarkshire
as a whole today. The first thing was;
MCKELVIE BACKS SOUTH LANARKSHIRE BAN ON
Christina McKelvie MSP has today welcomed
Scottish Government approval for byelaws passed by South Lanarkshire
Council, which will prohibit the possession of alcohol for
consumption outdoors in public places.
The byelaws, put forward by the council on
17 March, have been backed by the SNP government and will come into
force on 10 June this year. They will cover 33 towns throughout
South Lanarkshire, including Hamilton, and will strengthen existing
laws against public drinking.
SNP MSP Ms McKelvie said:
“I fully expect that the introduction of
these byelaws will make a big difference to the quality of life in
communities across South Lanarkshire which are badly affected by the
nuisance and disorder caused by public drinking.
“They will give local police more power to
crack down not just on outdoors drinking itself, but also on the
noise, vandalism and violence that goes with it and which makes too
many people’s lives a misery.
“I believe that any minor inconvenience to
the public will be more than offset by much greater gains in
community safety and quality of life.
“Glasgow stepped up its existing byelaws
against public drinking in 2008, and I doubt very much that many
people in that city would argue for a return to the way things used
“It is a priority for the SNP Government to
focus action on the most problematic drinking, with bans such as
these targeted at areas where there has already been trouble with
drinking-related disorder. That is exactly what South Lanarkshire’s
new byelaws will do and I believe they will make a positive
difference to communities across the county.”
Given our very negative relationship with
alcohol I think this is another step towards people being sensible
when it comes to alcohol and the locals who have their lives
blighted by drunk induced anti-social behaviour will welcome this
positive step forward.
The second bit of good news will be
particularly welcome in Lanarkshire because it has lost loads of
jobs since the recession started and that good news was told today
by the First Minister he said;
JOHN LEWIS RECEIVES GOVERNMENT
SUPPORT FOR NEW CONTACT CENTRE IN HAMILTON
First Minister welcomes plans for new facility
that will create 450 jobs
The Scottish Government is supporting John
Lewis in its plans to open a new customer contact centre at the
Hamilton Technology Park, which will create more than 450 jobs when
the centre reaches full capacity.
The Government is supporting the project with
the offer of #700,000 in Regional Selective Assistance. The centre
which will field customer enquiries, deal with administration and
assist customers with purchase enquiries is due to open in June.
First Minister Alex Salmond said:
"The Scottish Government is doing all that it
can to create jobs and investment and I am delighted that John Lewis
has chosen to locate its new customer service contact centre in
"This project will bring more than 450 jobs to
the Hamilton area and will make a significant contribution to the
"John Lewis Partnership already makes a
substantial contribution to the Scottish economy through employing
approximately 2,600 people across its John Lewis and Waitrose shops.
The Scottish Government is supporting the company's plans to
increase its presence in Scotland, particularly during these
challenging economic times.
"John Lewis has established a reputation for
quality customer care and came top of the latest UK Customer
Satisfaction Index. The firm's decision to locate this major new
facility in Scotland demonstrates that North Lanarkshire has the
infrastructure and skilled workforce to deliver future success for
this leading household name."
Andrew Murphy, Director, Retail Operations at
John Lewis said:
"We are delighted to have the support of the
Scottish Government on such an important project for John Lewis and
look forward to working with the local community in and around
David Smith, interim chief executive of
Scottish Development International, said:
"Scottish Development International, in
partnership with Scottish Enterprise, has worked closely with John
Lewis over the last twelve months, to attract and secure the
company's investment in the new centre at Hamilton Technology Park.
"This investment will not only provide a huge
jobs boost for the region; but it will also help to cement
Scotland's reputation as one of Europe's leading locations for
customer service centres and we look forward to working with the
company to develop its presence in Scotland."
I like good news and I am hoping that we have
turned a corner and will continue to herald the positive changes our
nation needs to prosper and feel confident.
Right I am off home to catch up on some things
I didn’t see last night I recommend them to you.
Let me know what you think?
BBC Scotland documentary about the lives of
asylum seekers in Glasgow broadcast on BBC One Scotland yesterday
evening: Watch it here:
PLUS SEE NEWSNIGHT SCOTLAND REPORT
on the end of detention of children in Dungavel also broadcast
yesterday evening! Watch it here:
See you all next week.
Christina McKelvie MSP