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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
29th May 2013


Chatelherault, (http://www.visitlanarkshire.com/attractions/child-friendly/Chatelherault-Country-Park/ )near Hamilton, is a wonderful country park with the most spectacular hunting lodge and summer house. It was built in 1732 by the famous Scottish architect, William Adam.

The restored building is now a visitor centre with a gallery and exhibition area showing the history of the area and the story of Chatelherault itself.

On Monday 27 May, I went along to the Visitors Centre to hear the sounds of jazz with Aubrey Gerber and Friends, Rudeigin Traditional Folk Band and local duo, Stairheid Rumpus with their great brand of Scottish Folk and Contemporary music (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDWQWG43YO4)

The event was held to raise money for Cancer Research
(http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/home/?gclid=CLOdrOHdvbcCFa7JtAodpDQAuQ) and was organised by the local Hamilton group. Well done to them! It was a great holiday afternoon that everyone enjoyed immensely, but with a serious reminder of an illness that still kills so many people and urgently needs more research.

Speaking of cancer, I got a great email from some children at Hamilton primary school, St Ninian’s (http://www.stninians.ik.org/), who wrote to me about a new law that we are considering in the Scottish Parliament. If the law is passed, it will make smoking in a vehicle where there are children illegal.

These children had been talking about this in school and came up with the suggestion that anyone caught offending should be given an on-the-spot fine of £40, going up by £5 for each repeated offence.

They thought we should put up billboards and signs to tell people about the new law before its introduction so that no one could plead ignorance of it.

The children of today may be tomorrow’s politicians so it’s great to see them engaging in debate like this. It is so important that our youngsters are aware of the issues that surround them and that they are being guided by their teachers to really think about them.

I met with a slightly older group of children from Hamilton High School who were visiting the Scottish Parliament (www.scottish.parliament.uk)  last week. After a tour of the building, I hosted a question and answer session with them. These third year Modern Studies students had lots of interesting queries about the issues concerning them and Scotland’s future – the prospect of independence, the presence of nuclear weapons, the impact of welfare reform and many more – I was really impressed by their interest and their knowledge.

Campaigners for reform of the way in which big pub companies treat their tenants and lessees in Scotland came to visit Enterprise and Tourism minister Fergus Ewing last week.

The organisation, Fair Deal for Your Local, wants to make the big operating owners operate under mandatory rules which already apply in England but which have not yet been extended to Scotland. It’s something we’re likely to be examining more closely because the rents charged to tenants can often be extortionate.

I had an interesting meeting this week with a retired UN official, Robert England,  who lives in the Scottish Borders town of Peebles. He was explaining to me how he worked with the UN for more than 40 years in countries including Thailand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and in New York.

Hearing about the work he had done gave me a fascinating insight into the UN’s multiplicity of activities. Although retired, he is obviously pretty busy. He is currently organising an event in Edinburgh next May. The British Association of Former UN Civil Servants - there are some 1,000 members – is holding its annual reunion here in the capital city and External Affairs Minister, Humza Yousef, will be addressing the group.

Another luminary I met this week was the High Commissioner of Rwanda. HE Williams Nkurunziza made a visit to the Parliament to meet with myself and External Affairs and International Development  Minister, Humza Yousaf. The High Commissioner is working tirelessly to help reposition Rwanda globally as an attractive investment destination.

I will have a busy day on Friday, meeting with the Delegation of the Congress of the Council of Europe in my role as Convener of the European and External Affairs Committee.

The task of this monitoring group is to safeguard local and regional democracy under the European Charter of Local Self-Government. They visit each of the 47 member countries once every five years and examine practices and financial arrangements. They will want answers to questions about how we finance local authorities, how much autonomy they have and whether there is sufficient funding to allow them to do their job fully and properly.

I will tell you more about how it went next week.


[photo caption, left to right, Colin Valentine, Chair of CAMRA, Greg Mulholland MP for Leeds North West, Charles Johnston, CAMRE Edinburgh, Cllr Lynn Adams, Pub Tenant, The George Bar, Hamilton, Christina McKelvie, MSP, Paul Naylor, Licensees Unite Union.


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