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Friday, May 24, 2024

Labour MSP Reflects on The Scottish Parliament as it Turns 25

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Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant reflects back on the Scottish Parliament as it turns 25 years old.

The MSP was first elected in 1999 when the Scottish Parliament was re-convened by Winnie Ewing and has been involved in many of the 356 Bills which have passed since. 

Since the re-convening of the Scottish Parliament, the MSP has been a passionate advocate for rural areas with her first ever contribution in the Chamber – in June 1999 –  being about rural inequalities in regards to transport and fuel poverty.

The MSP said:

“It is paramount that the Scottish Parliament adjusts and adapts to reflect Scottish society and I believe it does that.

“We are currently benefiting from the most diverse Scottish Parliament ever. 

“One historic high for example was when Jack McConnell –  when he was First Minister – banned smoking in public places in 2006. Scotland was the first UK nation to do so and it changed attitudes to smoking for the better and improved public health.

“More recently, the Scottish Parliament had to adjust, like every business, to the pandemic.

“At one stage, to comply with covid rules, we had members contribute to Chamber debates via video link from the lobby!” 

Mrs Grant has had a successful tenure in the Scottish Parliament.

Her Private Members’ Bill on domestic abuse came into effect in 2011 which expanded access to justice and protections available to those who are subject to domestic abuse.

This removed to requirement for a victim to show that there has been a “course of conduct” before a Non Harassment Order was granted.

It also created a criminal offence for a person to breach a Domestic Abuse Interdict or Interim Interdict. 

Mrs Grant also reflected on previous Highlands and Islands Labour MSPs and their work in Parliament and Government over the years. 

Maureen Macmillan was the driving force behind the Justice and Home Affairs Committee’s Protection from Abuse (Scotland) Act 2001 in the first Parliament session – that was the first Committee Bill ever passed by the Scottish Parliament.

Additionally, Peter Peacock, as the Minister for Education and Young People, ensured £5billion was available for the school estate nationally – which was the biggest school building project of its time.

The Scottish Labour Government also legislated to make nursery care in Scotland universal.

Previous to the first Parliamentary session, care of young children was dependent on play groups and the voluntary sector. In the same act, the Parliament also outlawed corporal punishment. 

Furthermore, David Stewart also introduced a Private Members’ Bill on Fire Sprinklers that the Scottish Government adopted in 2020.

This is widely viewed as an improvement in Fire Safety. 

Rhoda Grant MSP also predicted on what she would like to see in the next 25 years of the Scottish Parliament.

She said:

“I would like to see more powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament – particularly in energy so we can tackle rural fuel poverty.

“Additionally, I think more needs to be done to accommodate rural Members’ who are parents.

“Leaving your child for three days a week while they attend school is a daunting and unattractive prospect for anyone.” 

“Lastly, I would like to see poverty and homelessness eradicated.

“I would like also like everyone to be able to access superior healthcare, housing and education.” 

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