Back to Parliament

September 7th 2015

Back to Parliament

After the summer in the constituency it was back to Edinburgh this week for the new session of the Parliament and there was a lot to be getting on with.

The Health Committee which I convener resumed its scrutiny of the Scottish Government’s plans to enforce the smoking ban on hospital grounds and to restrict the sale of e-cigarettes. Furthermore, the Devolution Committee of which I am also a member examined substantive proposals to deliver further powers to the Scottish Parliament.

Away from the committees, the central focus of the week was on the Scottish Government’s legislative programme for the year ahead. There were a number of proposals welcomed by MSPs from all sides of the Parliament’s debating chamber including the abolition of fees for employment tribunals and payments for kinship carers something which I have campaigned on for considerable time.

In response to the increasing concerns from police officers, the public and the media, the government also gave way and announced there will be a full scale review on the workings of Police Scotland. Given the counter closures, the proliferation of stop and search and the unacceptable detection rates for housebreaking in Inverclyde, this is welcome news.

While there was certainly a number of positive aspects to this programme there were also some areas where it was lacking. There is still no action to be taken on the shortfall of bursaries for college students and there was no mention about how we can get Scotland’s drug strategy back on the road to recovery.

As one would expect there was a robust debate about the pros and cons of the government’s legislative programme. However, there was also a poignant moment when politicians unified to recognise and pay respects to those affected by the refugee crisis. Let’s hope this compassion is matched with action in the days ahead.