)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.
restored building is now a visitor centre with a gallery and exhibition
area showing the history of the area and the story of Chatelherault
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)
event was held to raise money for Cancer Research
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.