MSP report

Lothian Green MSP’s report – February 2021

Alison Johnstone MSP has been busy this month leading Green wins in Parliament and writing on important issues. Action for the homeless, legal protections for mountain hares, addressing the climate emergency, and more.

This is a report to you, my Party colleagues, highlighting some of my work as an MSP in recent weeks. To keep up from day-to-day you can follow my social media pages, as well as the Party website.

On Twitter: @alisonjohnstone

On Facebook: @Alison.Johnstone.Green

On the Party website: My page

  • In FMQs, I raised the National Records of Scotland’s findings that Scotland’s death rate among homeless people was the highest in the UK in 2019. I called for urgent action to ensure that everyone’s human right to a home is met, to boost household incomes, and for an extension to the winter eviction ban that we pressed the Scottish Government to introduce in 2020.
  • I urged the Scottish Government to tackle rising child poverty, highlighting that its child poverty targets had been set to be missed even before the pandemic hit, with the need only more urgent now.
  • With anti-poverty groups suggesting the new Scottish Child Payment needs greater funding to meet demand, I called for an increase. Even if all 77,000 applications received initially are successful, that would be less than half of the 173,000 children now estimated to be eligible by the Scottish Fiscal Commission.
  • My latest Evening News article makes the case for Scotland becoming the first rewilding nation. Ahead of this, I attended a Rewilding Scotland webinar, featuring this short video. In the face of the nature and climate emergency there is no time to waste, and as this campaign highlights, urgent action is in all of our interests.
  • Also in the Evening News, I paid tribute to the work of health and care staff, and argued that, as well as valuing their work, a pay rise should also be seen as an investment in the future of our health and care services, which were hit by staff shortages long before the pandemic.
  • I asked the Scottish Government for full and clearer guidance on the managed isolation welfare fund, highlighting Red Cross calls for urgent clarity on whether refugee family reunion visas will be exempt from the £1,750 hotel quarantine fee.
  • Responding to the Scottish Government’s announcement of plans for the return of pupils to school premises, I argued that the phased return must be as safe as possible, including by prioritising teachers in the next vaccination phase.
  • As we reached the milestone of 1,000,000 people receiving a Covid-19 vaccination in Scotland, I wrote in the National about the strides we can take when following the science, and how this is essential also in addressing the climate emergency.
  • After my calls to give Mountain Hares protected species status won the support of Parliament last year, the Scottish Government has finally introduced regulations meaning that, from March 1st, it will be illegal to intentionally kill, injure or take Mountain Hares, unless NatureScot have determined it necessary to grant a license.
  • I am supporting a bid to ensure that from 2022, residential outdoor learning is embedded across the curriculum, and that all young people benefit in both primary and secondary school.
  • I spoke in a debate on Mental Health, discussing the impact of the pandemic on what was already a major public health issue. Among other long-overdue measures, I called for a preventative approach that addresses the link between mental health, inequality and poverty.
  • Along with Lothian MSPs from each other opposition Party, I wrote to the Scottish Government about its decision not to fund a replacement for the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion.
  • I continue to urge the Scottish Government, and Historic Environment Scotland, to listen to local residents calling for Holyrood Park to be permanently closed to through-traffic of cars.