MSP report

Lothian Green MSPs’ report – Oct 2019

PFI model slammed, Labour to join Greens in supporting land value capture, call to rethink road expansion, protection of foxes and mountain hares, and more.

Alison Johnstone MSP and Andy Wightman MSP report to Party colleagues, focusing on their work as MSPs in recent weeks.

To keep up with their 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

  • Alison was quoted in a Ferret article about the Royal Hospital for Sick Children – that currently remains empty, saying that the PFI model is unsustainable, unethical and makes no financial sense. Alison and fellow Health spokespeople also questioned the Health Secretary about the decision not to fully re-open the children’s ward at St John’s hospital in Livingston as planned.
  • Andy’s efforts to enable local authorities to acquire land for public-interest development at existing use value were highlighted in a Common Space article, looking at Scottish Labour’s announcement that they would join the Scottish Greens in formally supporting land value capture.
  • In FMQs, Alison called on SNP ministers to rethink plans to commit billions of pounds to road expansion if they are serious about tackling climate change.
  • Andy responded to calls by a leading think tank to give councils the power to levy inheritance and payroll taxes, saying that successive Scottish governments have been “too timid” to give councils the powers they needed. Common Space also have the story here.
  • STV were among those to report that the consultation for Alison’s Member’s Bill proposals, calling for more protection of foxes and mountain hares in Scotland, received an incredible 10,000 responses.
  • Andy is among the members of Holyrood’s Economy committee calling for an end to privileged pre-release access to economic statistics for ministers and special advisers. More on this here.
  • Alison wrote in the National about new figures on delayed discharge, showing a 6% increase between 2017/18 and 2018/19.
  • Ahead of the historic vote in favour of John Finnie’s Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill, Alison gave the closing speech for the Greens in the Stage 3 debate.
  • Andy’s comments were reported by the Times, that the First Minister’s poor response rate to FOI requests is particularly concerning given the FM should be setting an example for everyone else.
  • In a debate to mark the first anniversary of Social Security Scotland, Alison discussed what progress has been made towards removing the culture of suspicion facing people who ask for help.
  • Andy called for the Queen to resign following the ruling at the Supreme Court that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s proroguing of Parliament was unlawful. Andy also wrote in the National that Boris Johnson’s unlawful conduct should have seen him swiftly out of office.
  • In response to the latest Scottish Health Survey, Alison highlighted obesity as a key health issue in need of addressing, in an article for the Evening News.
  • Andy corrected the false claim by a Tory MP that the UK Government ‘gave away’ Edinburgh Castle, when it had never been part of the UK Government estate.
  • Alison wrote in the Evening News about the need for “rapid and radical change to tackle the unacceptable levels of poverty that too many children across Edinburgh are facing”.
  • Andy’s efforts to close loopholes and introduce stricter controls on hill tracks were highlighted in an article about a landowner in the Cairngorms National Park who was ordered to remove a track that is visible from miles around in Glen Clova, Angus.
  • Alison spoke in a debate marking the 80th Year of Scotland’s Citizens Advice Service.
  • Alison called for widening access to universal credit to include immigrants, saying that while this would be a welcome step, more fundamental reform of Scotland’s social security system is needed to make it fit for purpose. Alison also called for more attention to be paid to the problem of people in Scotland failing to claim the benefits they are entitled to.
  • Ahead of speaking in a debate on the topic, Andy called for the new Scottish National Investment Bank to drive efforts to tackle the climate emergency, and empower local government.
  • In the debate to mark Women and Girls in Sport Week, Alison highlighted successes in encouraging more women and girls to participate, such as the jogscotland programme where 81% of members are female, and called for greater investment in initiatives that can address cost, time, and other barriers, while also building community cohesion.
  • Andy organised a summit to discuss the uncertainty facing constituents of whether their homes meet new fire safety standards affecting properties over 18 metres (59ft) high with cladding, introduced following the Grenfell tragedy in 2017.
  • To mark International Coastal Clean-up Weekend, Alison joined the Wardie Bay Beachwatch team for a beach clean and marine litter surveying session. Alison then spoke in a debate on the issue, and wrote for the Evening News about the rising tide of plastic waste, and what action is needed to quell it.
  • Alison wrote in the National about Scotland’s opposition to Brexit, and the catastrophic impact it would have on the social and economic fabric of our country, regardless of how it is enacted.
  • Andy’s longstanding campaigning against raptor persecution and grouse shooting was highlighted in the Herald’s story about a police raid at a shooting estate over a probe into cruelty.
  • The Evening Times highlighted Alison’s comments that specialist nursing should be a right for people with advanced dementia, rather than based on ability to pay, and the Greens’ call for greater integration between health and social care services.
  • Andy spoke out against the Scottish Government ‘greenwashing’ their lack of action to tackle the climate emergency, after accepting £5m from Shell to help fund a tree-planting scheme as part of its climate strategy, and sponsorship from BP and Heathrow airport at the SNP conference in Aberdeen.
  • Alison wrote in the Evening News about the need for planning laws to help preserve urban greenspace, with Edinburgh losing 11 hectares of land every year – roughly equivalent to an area 20 times the size of Princes Street Gardens.
  • Andy criticised Scottish Government inaction on short-term lets that inflicts misery on tenants, in a story about a landlord fined £7,500 for exploiting current legislation to limit tenants’ rights.
  • Alison asked the Cabinet Secretary for Education what action the Scottish Government is taking to ensure that school assistants for pupils with additional support needs have the appropriate training or qualifications, and whether it will step in to ensure that these staff are properly supported to assist pupils.
  • The full Scottish Green group, and MSPs from the SNP, Labour and Lib Dems, jointly wrote to the US ambassador to call for a reversal of the decision to stand aside as Turkey launched an offensive in North East Syria, in a betrayal of Kurdish allies.
  • Alison called on Ruth Davidson to resign as an MSP, after joining a PR firm as a senior adviser.