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Rhoda Grant MSP and David Stewart MSP News Digest Week ending 1st. December 2012

David Stewart and Rhoda Grant with the Open Championship Claret Jug Trophy at the Visit Scotland Parliamentary reception in Holyrood

David Stewart Up to 800 Civil Service Jobs in the Highlands and Islands at risk from separation Better Together campaigner David Stewart MSP has used data on the number of civil servants working for UK Government departments and agencies in Scotland which has revealed that 30,000 people are currently employed by the UK Government, bringing almost ÂŁ700 million to Scotland in salaries alone. Up to 800 of those jobs are located in the Highlands and Islands and jobs could be put at risk if Scotland was to become independent. In these difficult times, the size, strength and stability of the UK economy is a huge advantage for Scotland. Scots know they can not trust this First Minister and now it appears he's willing to play fast and loose with 30,000 Scottish jobs. These figures show one of the big benefits of being part of a strong political and economic union - being able to spread

opportunities across the UK, bringing millions of pounds into our economy, and these 800 jobs are integral to the economy of the Highlands and Islands. Many of the jobs that would be put under threat in the Highlands and Islands are important government departments including the Ministry of Defence, H.M. Revenues and Customs, The Department of Work and Pensions, The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs department’s Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, and also the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency. Commenting on the risk of job losses, David Stewart MSP said, “We know that the people who work for UK Government departments will have questions for Alex Salmond and the SNP about what will happen to their jobs in the event of separation. The number of jobs in variety of government departments that are brought to the Highlands and Islands, indeed across Scotland by the union is clear evidence that we are Better Together as the United Kingdom. We can not trust the First Minister, Alex Salmond with the future of Scotland and if he gets his way we can not be sure these jobs will not disappear from the Highlands and Islands.”

Web link : David Stewart MSP

Rhoda Grant Oral Questions raised in the Scottish Parliament Crofting Townships 29 November 2012 Rhoda Grant: There is concern in townships that, if grazings clerks are seen to police activities, that will break down the working relationships between grazings clerks and other crofters. Will the minister take that seriously and, if need be, change the legislation to remove the onerous task from grazings clerks? Paul Wheelhouse: As I said in reply to Jamie McGrigor, I recognise the point that Rhoda Grant makes about tensions and the grazings committee members‘ perception that an onerous task has been put on them. I am confident that we can reach a conclusion that will mean less risk that the situation is a problem, but I am happy to meet Rhoda Grant along with Jamie McGrigor to see whether we can address their concern

Oral Question Pensions 28 November 2012 Rhoda Grant: It says in the legislative consent memorandum that, without a legislative consent motion, the UK Government will remove the devolved provisions from the bill. If that happens, will the Scottish Government require to introduce a pensions bill for Scotland, or will it have the scope to retain unchanged the schemes that are in its charge?

John Swinney: I cannot give a definitive answer to the memberâ€&#x;s question because, as I said in my statement, the Scottish Government will explore the financial sustainability of the schemes that are entirely devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Currently, only six schemes are devolved; we will consider their financial health and make judgments accordingly. I will advise Parliament of any conclusion of the Governmentâ€&#x;s analysis in that respect.

Web link : Rhoda Grant MSP

David Stewart Motions tabled/supported in the Scottish Parliament Congratulations to Elgin Youth Development Group That the Parliament congratulates Elgin Youth Development Group on being awarded £50,000 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Young Start programme to launch its two-year Fusion project; expresses excitement as it understands that this project will deliver intergenerational work, community volunteering opportunities for young people, support to young people out of education and employment or training (Neet) to increase their employability chances and provide support for adult volunteers to help in the project; understands that 60 young people and 20 older people will benefit from this project; welcomes the promotion of younger and older generations becoming better connected and having more of an understanding and respect for each other, and wishes Elgin Youth Development Group all the best in helping communities realise their potential.

Depend on Citizens Advice That the Parliament congratulates Citizens Advice Scotland on the launch of its short film, Depend on Us, which, it understands, highlights the variety of work that citizens advice bureaux (CAB) deal with and the positive benefits that clients gain; pays tribute to CABs across Scotland; believes that they deal with half a million issues every year and save taxpayers money by preventing further problems and costs downstream; commends those clients who took part in the film by sharing their stories; notes that much of the film was shot in the Glasgow Drumchapel CAB, and values the work of everyone who works at Citizens Advice Scotland.

Threat to Regional Selective Assistance That the Parliament notes that the rules for EU regional aid, which are delivered in Scotland through Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) are being reviewed by the European Commission; understands that the officials carrying out the review have full delegated power to make and implement changes to these rules; is profoundly concerned that there are proposals that might result in companies seeking to invest in Scotland’s assisted areas with more than 250 employees globally being debarred from accessing RSA; understands that other regions that are designated as assisted areas and currently receive RSA could also be denied the capacity to support investment by larger firms; is alarmed at what it sees as the short timescale left to influence any decisions; believes that, despite the UK, French and German governments all reportedly supporting RSA-type assistance for larger firms, matters are on a knife-edge; urges every politician to write to the European Commissioner for Competition to express profound concern, and hopes that a cross-party delegation from Scotland will seek an urgent meeting with the commissioner.

World Diabetes Day 2012 ( motion proposed by David Stewart )

That the Parliament acknowledges that 14 November 2012 is World Diabetes Day, which is being led by the International Diabetes Federation and its member associations, including Diabetes UK, and is recognised as an official United Nations Day; understands that World Diabetes Day was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat that diabetes poses; understands that there are almost 250,000 people who have been diagnosed with diabetes in Scotland and that access to good healthcare and treatment is key to helping them manage their condition; welcomes the launch of Diabetes UK’s campaign that focuses on children and young people and its aim to increase awareness of the symptoms and warning signs for type 1 diabetes; believes that, in many cases, type 2 diabetes can be prevented through healthy eating and physical activity, and welcomes this year’s parliamentary reception, which is scheduled for 20 November 2012, to mark World Diabetes Day 2012.

Adverse Effects of Inflammatory Bowel Disease on the Working-age Population That the Parliament notes what it considers to be the seriously debilitating impact that inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has on the lives of Scotland’s working-age population; further notes the results of a 2010-11 survey, which shows that about one in every 250 adults across the UK have this long-term inflammatory condition in either of its two types, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease; regrets that IBD has become so widespread; further regrets that over half of those with IBD have, it understands, had to reduce their working hours due to their condition and that this disease continues to severely weaken the physical and mental health of the working-age population; considers IBD to be a key challenge that Scotland must deal with; commends the charity, Crohn’s and Colitis UK, for its research on IBD, as well as Abbott UK for supporting these efforts through funding, and urges the Scottish Government to work toward finding a solution to the challenges posed by IBD.

Lung Cancer Awareness Month That the Parliament notes the eighth Lung Cancer Awareness Month, which, it understands, is marked every November; believes that, in 2012, its aim is to increase awareness of, and inform and educate people about, the importance of early detection and diagnosis of the condition; understands that, after breast cancer, lung cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in the UK and that around 41,500 people were diagnosed with it in 2009; believes with regret that it is the most common cause of cancer death and accounts for more than one in five cancer deaths; notes that, in 2010, over 4,800 people in Scotland were diagnosed with it; understands that there is a close link between tobacco and cancer and that smoking is the cause of more than 80% of lung cancers in the UK; regrets that rates of lung cancer in Scotland are among the highest in the world; believes that this reflects Scotland’s history of a high prevalence of smoking, and appreciates all of the efforts made to raise awareness about the disease and its causes. Web link : David Stewart MSP

Rhoda Grant MSP

Protected Status of Stornoway Black Pudding could be imminent

Highlands & Islands MSP, Rhoda Grant, is delighted that the move to protect the Stornoway Black Pudding name is nearing completion. The application to register the name ‘Stornoway Black Pudding’ as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) was submitted to the European Commission in May of last year. It cleared the EU in June and is now nearing the end of the six month EU consultation period which closes next month (December). If there are no objections to be considered, PGI status could be approved very soon afterwards – possibly within six weeks thereafter.

Mrs Grant said, “The campaign to protect the Stornoway Black Pudding started way back in 2008 when, following a conversation with Brian Wilson, myself and my colleagues discovered that “copy cat” black puddings were being produced and passed off as the real thing under the guise of “Stornoway Style Black Pudding. “Now as anyone who has ever tasted proper Stornoway Black Pudding knows, nothing comes close to the real puddings which are produced in Stornoway to traditional family recipes. “My colleagues and I, with the backing of the Stornoway butchers who produce Stornoway Black Pudding, therefore set off down the long road of securing the future of the Stornoway Black Pudding by seeking to have its identity protected in law.

“It has been a long process, but it looks like we are now very close to the Stornoway Black Pudding being awarded protected status – hopefully by early in the new year the process will be completed. “I am delighted that we are nearing the end of the road with this and have to commend the four Stornoway butchers who have campaigned with us over the years to secure the future of their product and their livelihoods. Mrs Grant continued, “I for one will look forward to savouring the taste of real Stornoway Black Pudding for years to come and if anyone knows of any good Christmas recipes using Stornoway Black Pudding I’d love to hear from them.”

Web links : Rhoda Grant MSP Stornoway Black Pudding campaign

Rhoda Grant and David Stewart News Digest  

The news digest for the week ending 1st. December 2012 from MSPs Rhoda Grant and David Stewart