Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP 8th
First week back and still not
This week saw us all look out our
best suits and frocks for our return to the chamber
following summer recess. It was a busy well busy for me
summer recess. I spent most of the summer setting up my
new constituency office in Hamilton not an easy task but
now I have a very good office in central Hamilton which
is accessible to all and has free parking for
constituents. My fantastic team have worked hard to set
up the office and systems I will need to provide a top
quality service to my constituents and to enable me to
do my job effectively. I will be having an official
opening soon with a very special person cutting the
ribbon. I will tell you more about that at the time and
give you a peek at some photos too. You can find us at
Barncluith Business Centre, Townhead Street, Hamilton,
ML3 7DP, 01698 403 311/312, Fax 01698 403 313. I have a
smashing new surgery schedule which I will advertise
So this week we started in Perth,
Scotlands historical capital with our party away day.
All our Cabinet Secretaries, Ministers and Back Benchers
are in good heart. As a group we are in a very good
place and we have a lot to look forward to. The party is
growing not just in numbers but also in confidence and
it seems that our nation is reflecting that confidence
too, as the findings of recent polls suggest.
Scotland is looking up and looking
out with a renewed positive self-esteem and self-image.
It is an amazing time indeed in the political context
and I sense a re-emergence of our national pride .we
even won an international football game this week too.
It was with that pride that I took
part in a debate this week on our legislative programme
set out by this government, here is what the First
Minister had to say.
He announced a new pledge to provide
every 16-to-19-year-old with a learning or training
opportunity as part of the Government focus on job
creation and economic recovery. And he confirmed that
legislation to create a single police and single fire
service for Scotland is among 15 new Bills to be
introduced this coming year in addition to the
Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening
Communications (Scotland) Bill, introduced in June,
which will continue to proceed through Parliament.
The Programme for Government document
outlines Scottish Ministers legislative and
non-legislative priorities for the new 2011-12
Parliamentary term and comes ahead of a new Government
Economic Strategy (GES) and detailed budgetary plans in
the Spending Review (SR11) both to be published later
The First Minister urged the UK
Government to reconsider the scale and pace of public
expenditure cuts and adopt a plan B, citing warnings
from leading economists of the risks to growth, and
indeed to deficit reduction efforts, of cutting capital
Mr Salmond also renewed his
commitment to pursue changes to the Scotland Bill,
currently proceeding through Westminster, to give MSPs
greater powers to drive growth in Scotlands economy.
And he reaffirmed the pledge to enable the people of
Scotland to decide their constitutional future in a
referendum in the second half of the Parliamentary term.
He said: The Programme for
Government, Government Economic Strategy and Spending
Review set out how we will make full use of the economic
levers currently devolved to the Scottish Parliament,
with the aim of improving Scotlands rate of sustainable
economic growth. But it is also important to reflect on
the type of country and economy we want to be in the
future. In May, the people of Scotland voted for change.
They want this Parliament to have the control,
flexibility and freedom to make the decisions that are
right for Scotland.
Placing a jobs agenda at the very
heart of our Programme for Government, the First
Minister added: Our key commitment is to those young
people who, as I said before, yearn to be productive. No
young person should go through school only to become an
unemployment statistic at the age of 16. We will not
allow that in Scotland. We already have 85 per cent of
school leavers going on to a positive outcome that is,
employment, education or training.
Our 125,000 Modern Apprenticeships
over five years will further build on this success. But
the strength of Scottish apprenticeships is their
linkage to a real job so expanding beyond that
impressive number is dependent on the labour market.
Thats why today I can announce the Opportunities for
All initiative a commitment that every single 16 19
year old in Scotland will be offered a learning or
training place if they are not in already in a job, a
Modern Apprenticeship or in education.
The First Minister also underlined
the importance of reform of public services, saying: In
normal economic times we would use public service reform
to help drive economic growth. But in the context of the
unprecedented and extended real cuts being made to our
budget over the coming years it becomes an even more
important component of our programme. So if we are to
maintain the levels of public services we all want, we
need to do things smarter and better. That is why we
appointed the Christie Commission, to look at ways to
reform public services while also improving them.
Christie recommended an emphasis on collaboration - our
public services cannot operate in silos.
Official statistics published
yesterday showed recorded crime in Scotland have fallen
to a 35-year low, while police officer numbers remain
well above the commitment to keep at least 1,000
additional officers in Scotlands communities.
Announcing plans for police and fire
service reform, the First Minister said: Communities
dont care about boundaries, they want services to work
together as effectively and efficiently as possible.
After detailed consideration of all the evidence
available, we are persuaded that a single police service
and a single fire & rescue service are the right
options. This is the only way to maintain the number of
police officers serving all of the communities of
Single services will sustain and
improve the delivery of local services, while giving all
parts of Scotland access to national expertise and
assets whenever and wherever they are needed. And single
services will enhance national governance, ensuring
clear separation from Ministers and the services, to
ensure their continued operational independence.
The Cabinet Secretaries for Education
& Lifelong Learning and for Justice will outline further
details to Parliament of, respectively, the
Opportunities for All pledge, and the Bill to establish
a single police and single fire & rescue service for
Scotland over the next week.
Other new Bills contained within the
Programme for Government include legislation to:
Introduce a minimum price for
alcohol to address the scourge of alcohol abuse in
Place greater control and
responsibility in the hands of people provided with
social care, thereby enhancing their independence and
Develop Scotlands water resource
as a tool of economic growth and an environmental asset;
Ensure housing, and funding for
housing, are used more efficiently, including giving
councils powers to charge an additional council tax levy
on long-term empty properties; and to
Enshrine in law the requirement for
the Scottish Government to have due regard to the UN
Convention of the Rights of the Child when exercising
its responsibilities, as part of wider reform of
childrens services to improve life chances, including a
Childrens Services Bill planned for 2013.
The full list of Bills (provisional
titles) to be introduced in the coming parliamentary
term is as follows: Agricultural Holdings (Amendment)
(Scotland) Bill; Alcohol Minimum Pricing Bill;
Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill; Budget Bill; Council Tax
on Empty Homes and Housing Support Grant Bill; Criminal
Cases (Punishment and Review) (Scotland) Bill; Freedom
of Information (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill;
Hydro-economy (Water) Bill; Land Registration (Scotland)
Bill; Legal Aid and Scottish Civil Justice Council Bill;
Long Leases (Scotland) Bill; National Library of
Scotland Bill; Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill;
Rights of Children and Young People Bill; and Social
Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Bill.
The Offensive Behaviour at Football
and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill has
already been introduced to Parliament.
I was delighted to see a Bill on
self-directed care, something I had asked a question on
in the chamber on Thursday making it a statutory duty
that local authorities ensure people have a care package
that not only meets their needs but also meets their
The return of the alcohol Bill is
I spoke about the Bill to enshrine
the rights of the child into Scots law. I am
particularly proud of that one as I did propose it at
our 2008 party conference and it was adopted as policy.
It is wonderful to be part of a team
who takes a conference motion all the way to Scots law.
This afternoon I spoke in a debate
led by Fiona Hyslop Cabinet Secretary for Culture and
External Affairs, the debate entitled the Scotland Bill
EU Involvement was my first debate that linked
directly to the remit of my new committee. As the new
convener of the European and External Relations
Committee I thought I should get my tuppence worth in,
you can check it out on Holyrood TV tomorrow at this
We had our committee planning day on
Tuesday but I will keep the contents of that under my
hat for now but keep your eyes peeled.
Just so you know I have not been
working all summer I did get a week away by the
So the starter gun had been fired and
we are well and truly off to a good start.
Take care, see you all next week.
Christina McKelvie MSP
for Hamilton, Larkhall & Stonehouse
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