MSP report

Lothian Green MSPS’ report – May 2019

Alison Johnstone MSP & Andy Wightman MSP

This is a report to you, our Party colleagues, focusing on our work as MSPs in recent weeks.

To keep up with our work from day-to-day, you can follow us via our social media pages, and the Party website:

Twitter: @alisonjohnstone and @andywightman
Facebook: @Alison.Johnstone.Green and @AndyWightmanMSP

As his Homes First campaign continues to gather pace, Andy responded to an announcement from the First Minister that regulations for short-term lets will be forthcoming. Read the CommonSpace article here.

In FMQs, Alison welcomed the First Minister’s change of heart, having declared a climate emergency just weeks after every MSP from the SNP and all other parties voted not to, and asked what the Scottish Government will do to back this up with action (watch the video here). Alison followed up by highlighting the importance of investing in public transport and safer streets, asking whether the FM will commit to abandoning proposals for an “unfair and environmentally damaging” tax cut for wealthy frequent fliers, in favour of supporting the public’s everyday transport needs – watch here.

Andy welcomed progress on reducing the amount of vacant and derelict land in Scotland, but called for more radical action to stop the blight and create opportunities for local communities. Read the blog here.

The new Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill passed its final stage at Holyrood on Thursday, where Alison’s amendments were formally agreed to. Video here.

Andy called for an investigation into possible illegal practices, following a Living Rent report that reveals abuse of holiday lets by rogue landlords. Read the CommonSpace article here.

With over £1bn of social security support going unclaimed each year, Alison has been encouraging all eligible families to apply for a new payment – the Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment, available to some families with nursery-age children. Holyrood article here.

Andy lodged a motion celebrating Edinburgh becoming the first UK city to join the Open Streets global movement. Link to motion here.

MSPs debated nursery funding (deferred entry to primary school), where Alison and others paid tribute to the work of the Give Them Time campaign, which has made many families aware of their legal right to defer. Alison also spoke about the mixed picture and inequity people face across the country when it comes to funding nursery places. Video here.

Andy spoke at ‘A Social Justice Approach to Community Land, Energy and Forestry’, an event hosted by Strathclyde University, discussing Land Reform and Social Justice. Photo here.

Alison responded to the First Minister’s pledge to establish a Citizens’ Assembly to discuss Scottish Independence, saying: “This body cannot simply be a talking shop. We will put pressure on the Scottish Government to ensure that this body is listened to and shapes government policy”. Read article in The Scotsman.

Andy hosted a reception for the Scottish Raptor Study Group to celebrate Scotland’s birds of prey. Blog here.

Alison was joined by Georgie the cocker spaniel from Dogs Trust for this year’s Holyrood Dog of the Year contest, raising awareness of the many fantastic companion animals in need of rehoming. Georgie and Alison were delighted to be awarded 2nd place. Photos here.

Andy was host MSP for a shadowing scheme involving Creative Scotland and Leith Open Space, offering an insight into work being done on topics such as local democracy, housing and the potential of the arts to involve people in decisions that affect their lives. Photo here.

Alison asked the Scottish Government what its response is to concerns raised by young carer groups that current proposals for the Young Carer Grant are unduly restrictive. Video here.

Alison met with the Drem-Gullane Path Campaign group, to learn more about their aims for delivering a safe off-road link between the two, ahead of a masterplan being presented to East Lothian Council. Tweet here.

Andy is among a group of MSPs linking up with young academics from the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Young Academy of Scotland shadowing programme, to encourage evidence-based policy making. Report in Holyrood magazine.

Alison spoke in the debate on Urgent Support for Scotland’s Midwives, highlighting the key role that income maximisation for pregnant women has to play in tackling the strain on midwifery services, for example, the Healthier, Wealthier Children scheme that, in 2017, the Greens secured a commitment from the Scottish Government to roll out nationwide. Video here.

In the Local Government and Communities Committee, Andy queried state aid rules around local economic development if new powers arise following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. Report here.

Alison spoke in the debate on Changes to Pension Credit that could cost mixed-age Couples £7,320 annually. Video here.

The Herald asked Alison to respond to former Cabinet Secretary Alex Neil MSP’s comments that the 20 years of Holyrood have not seen “nearly as ambitious or radical enough” action. Read the Herald article here.

During the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee’s inquiry into the construction sector, Andy grilled the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work, Derek Mackay MSP, and urged him to join up different government policy areas so that weaknesses in land auditing do not impact on the construction of housing. Report here.

Following reports of a pet cat being caught in a snare in Drumbrae, Alison asked the Scottish Government what its response is to claims that its legislation governing snaring is not fit for purpose and the calls for it to legislate to make the sale, use and manufacture of snares illegal. Information here, and once available, the answer will be published here.

In the Changing Lives Through Sport and Physical Activity debate, Alison highlighted research showing that people who live in the most deprived areas are more likely to undertake journeys on foot or by bike than those who lived in the least deprived, and pointed to the long-standing Green policy of supporting active travel with at least 10% of the transport budget. Video here.