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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
25th June 2009

Recess Approaches

And so we crawl, exhausted across the finish line of a parliamentary year, heading into the summer recess and the chance to recharge the batteries – barring bye-elections and General Elections.  Parliament rose for the summer today after passing stage 1 of the Arbitration Bill, and a Sewel motion for the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Bill.  That means no more Parliamentary sessions until the end of August – which gives me two months to catch up on constituency business and (so my staff say) to think of a multitude of things to keep them busy.  I sometimes think that they prefer it when I’m busy in the chamber and committee rooms!  They’ve got an interesting couple of months ahead.

Lots of you will know Aileen Campbell MSP – she’s getting married during recess, so I’m sure her time will be even more full than mine and we gathered in her office at the end of business today to wish her luck.  On a related matter, if you take the BBC devolution quiz at you’ll find a question about who the youngest MSP is.  I won’t give away the answer but I will tell you that Aileen beats me by a week or two.  I can also tell you that there are one or two MSPs who were not best pleased that I was one of the possible answers – they must think they’re younger than me!

I had my first Member’s Debate on Wednesday this week – on the subject of social work and social workers.  I was recently made a Social Work Champion (someone who champions social work and social workers rather than a champion at social work) and I thought it would be a good subject to have a debate on.  You can read the debate online at Parliament’s website: it seems that it was a good subject matter for the debate – I think we should celebrate the hard work done by people who work day after day in some of the most challenging circumstances of all.

The work done by social workers and social carers is important; they are society’s Improvement Corps and they are the ones who are there when no-one else is.  We have cause to be grateful to people like social workers – without them our communities would be suffering a lot more than they are just now.  There’s a lot of criticism gets levelled at social workers, especially when evil acts are perpetrated on youngsters and a slice of the media, a handful of politicians and a few egg-head commenters look for a scapegoat.  It isn’t fair and it doesn’t help.  The evil acts are committed by evil people and the social workers are the people trying to stop them.  It’s no better when politicians use it as a political football, seeking to score some political points – we should be supporting and helping our social workers, not doing them down at every opportunity.

Straight out of chamber after the debate and off to a Parliamentary reception I was hosting for the regeneration of the Easterhouse Project.  I told you a bit about it back on the 19th of March but I was delighted to be able to welcome BARTARA, David Sye and the local police Chief Inspector Helen Swann to Parliament for a viewing of the documentary clip that’s being used to try to sell the idea of a documentary about the project.  The film-maker was there as well.  I hope that gets the go-ahead.

Today I had the privilege of welcoming Donald MacDonald and his son Euan for lunch and a wee look around Parliament, including First Minister’s Questions.  I know them through MND Scotland and was delighted to have the opportunity to let them see around Scotland’s Parliament and I think they enjoyed their day.  It’s a mark of how well the building was thought through and how well it was built that Euan’s wheelchair could get up to the public gallery, through to the restaurant for lunch and up to the offices afterwards with little difficulty.

Before I head off towards home to start planning my recess visits and the extra work I’ve just got time to tell you about the Climate Change Bill that we passed this week.  It should change the landscape of environmental legislation, not just here but around the world.  It truly is world-leading legislation.  As the Governor of California who said:

"Climate change is a global problem that requires a global solution. California has set aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets, but we need the help of the world to tackle the most pressing environmental issue of our time.

"Scotland's ambitious and comprehensive targets encourage other nations to step up to the plate as we look toward an international agreement in Copenhagen, and it sends a message to the world that we must act now and we must act swiftly."

We should believe him – he’s been to the future and he’s got total recall …

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