been a sad week for all of us MSPs. We heard the news that colleague,
Brian Adam, the MSP for Aberdeen Donside, had lost his fight against
cancer. His commitment to his constituents and his popularity in the
Parliament – across all political parties – is a testament to his life
and legacy. We shall all miss him.
The First Minister
commended Brian, saying: “Brian was an exceptional MSP and was one of
the crucial people who as chief whip sustained the minority government
between 2007-2011. I was delighted to see him serve as a minister in
“Of course, his greatest
service was to the people of Aberdeen for a quarter of a century - first
as a councillor and then as an MSP.
“I’m proud to say I’ve
known and admired him over that entire period as an outstanding
politician, a fine human being and a dear friend.”
The flags at the
Parliament flew at half-mast and a book of condolence was signed by most
of the MSPs, not only the SNP members. Labour MP for Aberdeen South
said: “Brian always worked hard for his constituents and continued to do
so despite his obvious illness.
“Brian has been a key
figure in the Aberdeen political scene for a very long time and will be
And while we’re on the
subject of recognising the contribution people like Brian have made, I
was glad to see this week’s commemoration of Workers Memorial Day in
Hamilton. For the past few years, trade unionists have gathered at the
Council Offices to lay tributes at the Workers memorial plaque outside.
This year, a new memorial was unveiled on the site by the Provost Eileen
There were 20 work
related fatalities in Scotland alone in 2011-12, and 173 across the UK.
In Hamilton, the Council led a workshop before the unveiling of the
plaque. It concentrated on health and safety concerns, towards making
the working environment safer for all of us. It’s good to see the trade
unions focussing on remembering those who have died but focussing on the
On a separate health
concern, tobacco products in large shops are now behind shutters,
another useful and practical way to discourage people from buying them.
Alex Neil, our Cabinet Secretary for Health, has also been to Brussels
to share some new research regarding the minimum pricing of alcohol.
Around my constituency,
as in so much of Scotland, there is an unhealthy relationship with
alcohol. The new research reinforces our belief that minimum pricing per
alcohol unit does bring positive results. In Canada, a 10 per cent
increase was associated with an 8.9 per cent decrease in acute
alcohol-attributable admissions and a 9.2 per cent reduction in chronic
alcohol-attributable admissions two years later.
While Dr Evelyn Gillan,
Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, has put her clear support
behind the Government’s moves to try and introduce minimum pricing in
Scotland, others – including the Scotch Whisky Association – are totally
opposed. Profit comes before health for some.
The Tories in Westminster
continue to make life as difficult as possible for the most vulnerable
people. The latest is that they expect people with the terminal illness,
Motor Neurone Disease (MND), to face a fit-to-work assessment.
I find that staggering
and insulting. My Dad had this horrible degenerative disease with which
the average lifespan from diagnosis is about 14 months.
One 55 year old man in
the West of Scotland who suffers from MND has had his home adapted to
enable him to stay there. He has now been told that he will have to pay
the bedroom tax or be forced to move home. That just shouldn’t be
allowed to happen.
Now for the good news. I
was delighted to hear that Scottish Power is investing in my
constituency. The company will open a brand new office complex in
Hamilton that will create hundreds of jobs. It’s a massive shot in the
arm for the area.
This new complex can
accommodate up to 900 people at Ochil House. That’s a lot of jobs. It’s
also a great testament to the skills, drive and determination of local
people. Once they see just how good our local workforce is, I’m hoping
Scottish Power – and others – will want to bring even more investment
I’ve been speaking in the
Chamber this week about the practise of
blacklisting. The House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee
Report on this issue calls on all who have been involved in
operating blacklisting to face criminal investigation and sanctioned if
The Report makes it very
clear that the blacklisting of building workers by big construction
companies is “a real live conspiracy.”
This very secretive nod
and a wink kind of behaviour is vile. Workers are denied employment
without any explanation, causing not only financial hardship but real