MSP report

Lothian Green MSPs’ report – Nov 2019

Criticism of Shell sponsored tree-planting, short-term lets regulation, Save Gorgie Farm, business rates, Citizen’s Basic Income, private takeover of public space, 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 asked the Scottish Government about its tree-planting scheme, sponsored by Shell, which will allow the oil giant to claim 250,000 carbon credits. Andy also criticised the move, saying that it “raised challenging questions about the Scottish government’s commitments to tackling the climate emergency”.
  • Andy challenged the Scottish Government to take action after new independent analysis revealed strong support for regulation of short-term lets in Scotland. Alison then raised the issue in FMQs, criticising the SNP’s timid response in the midst of a housing crisis.
  • Alison lodged a motion calling for the Scottish Government to support the Save Gorgie Farm campaign, by working with the City of Edinburgh Council and others to ensure one of the last urban farms in Scotland has the sustainable future that it deserves. Alison also attended a meeting at the City Chambers with Cllr Gavin Corbett and others, including members of staff from the farm.
  • Andy spoke in the Non-domestic Rates Bill stage 1 debate – the first ever primary legislation in the history of devolution that deals with the system responsible for raising the second largest total revenue of all devolved taxes.
  • Alison wrote about the shocking impact of several years of benefit freezes by the UK Government, and welcomed a new report into the feasibility of a Citizen’s Basic Income in Scotland, showing it is practical to roll out pilot schemes to test this radical solution to poverty and inequality.
  • Following Underbelly’s construction, without planning permission, of a huge platform for this year’s Christmas Market, Andy highlighted that Princes Street Gardens forms part of the Common Good of the City of Edinburgh, belonging to the people, to be managed on their behalf – which is difficult without any Common Good Fund Committee. Meanwhile, Alison called for comprehensive democratic oversight following this private takeover of public space on a monstrous scale.
  • Alison responded to the latest news of problems relating to fire and electrical systems being discovered at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People.
  • Calls for reform of defamation law in Scotland were highlighted in news coverage of the £750,000 action against Andy, described as a “threat to both free expression and how we engage with private companies and individuals in Scotland”. The Wildcat Haven Enterprises CIC vs Andy Wightman defamation case ran from Tuesday 29th October to Friday 8th November at the Court of Session. The Closed Record is available here.
  • Alison welcomed the broad support in the Scottish Government consultation on social security for reducing face-to-face benefits assessments, but warned that establishing a new system that is fair and well-resourced will be “one of devolution’s biggest challenges”.
  • Andy addressed the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow on the topic of
    Land, Democracy & Society. Why land reform matters and can solve many problems’.
  • Alison wrote in her weekly column for the Evening News about the need for planning laws to help preserve urban greenspace.
  • Andy will be speaking at the fifth Howard Liddell Memorial Lecture on Thursday 21st November, with the theme being ‘Is Scotland’s Housing Fit for Purpose?’ Event details here.
  • Alison is pushing for a review of GP recruitment, resources and funding, as backed by the Scottish Parliament when the Greens brought a motion for debate on the subject in April. In an article for the Evening News, Alison also wrote about the need to address dental health inequality across Scotland’s communities.
  • In his Economy, Energy & Fair Work Committee and Local Government & Communities Committee, Andy has been discussing, among other issues, the Consumer Scotland Bill Work programme, Debt Arrangement Scheme (Scotland), Renewable Heat Target, and the Scottish Housing Regulator Annual Report and Accounts 2018-19. Alison’s Social Security Committee meanwhile has been discussing topics including Benefit Take-up.