Recent member’s motions supported by Rhoda
Scottish Youth Parliament Campaign, Right Here, Right Now
That the Parliament congratulates the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) on the launch of its campaign on young people’s rights, Right Here, Right Now; notes that Members of the SYP consulted over 5,000 young people before they selected the annual campaign topic; acknowledges the campaign's objectives to make Scotland’s young people, including those in the Lothian region, aware of and understand their rights, and be empowered to take action to defend their rights and those of others, as well as for Scotland’s decision-makers to take a human rights-based approach to ensure that young people’s voices are at the heart of decisions affecting them; notes the policy call in the campaign for the Scottish Government to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law, and further notes the calls for the Scottish Government, during 2018, the Year of Young People, to give a firm commitment of its intention to incorporate the convention into Scots law during the current parliamentary session.
The Scottish Sports Association
That the Parliament recognises what it sees as the contribution of the Scottish Sports Association (SSA) in raising the profile and promoting the benefits of sport, and to over 13 policy areas in the Scottish Government; considers that the role of the SSA as the independent and collective voice for sport in Glasgow and across the country is vital; is concerned that, after 18 years of core funding, there are reports of a proposed withdrawal of funding for the SSA from both the government and sportscotland; believes that this is an unacceptable situation; understands that the government funds other membership organisations across the voluntary sector to enable their voices to be heard, and notes the view that, to ensure a sustainable future for the organisation, the SSA's funding should be restored in 2018-19.
RBS's Proposed Closures Must Be Blocked
That the Parliament condemns the decision by RBS to break what it understands was its promise to customers by announcing that it is closing branches despite saying in 2010 that they would stay open even if they were the last ones in town; believes that this is the second time in nine months that RBS, which is still majority-owned by the UK Government, has announced branch closures, including 62 branches in Scotland, including, the Airdrie, Hamilton Cadzow Street, Larkhall, Bellshill, Stepps and Tannochside branches, as it attempts to cut costs and boost profits; acknowledges that the proposed closures have triggered concern regarding a lack of support for small businesses, people in rural areas and older people, and notes Unite the Union's call for the UK Government to block these cuts as it believes the plans will decimate RBS’s high street network and could mark the end of branch network banking.
Blacklisting Day of Action
That the Parliament notes that, on 6 December 2017, Unite the Union will hold its Day of Action Against Blacklisting across the UK, which will include a demonstration at the St James’ Centre redevelopment site in Edinburgh; is alarmed at reports that the principal contractor at that site, Laing O'Rourke, is refusing the union adequate access to its members; notes that this company as was a member of the Consulting Association, which, it understands was central to the blacklisting of construction workers in Scotland; is aware that the Scottish Government expects companies that are awarded public contracts to maintain high standards of business and professional conduct; understands however that many of the companies many of the companies allegedly involved in blacklisting are reportedly continuing to profit from investment in public services in Scotland, notes the view that blacklisted workers should have the right to be re-employed in the sector in which they worked and for there to be a public inquiry in Scotland into blacklisting, to shed a light on the role played by companies and arms of the state in this practice, which it believes has denied thousands of workers their right to earn a living and support their families.
Adoption Week Scotland
That the Parliament welcomes that 20 to 25 November 2017 marks Adoption Week Scotland, which is organised by Adoption UK Scotland and Adoption and Fostering Alliance Scotland and has the theme, We need to talk about adoption; is pleased that the programme includes a roadshow of information events, a national conference and the provision of additional online support and guidance to existing and potential adopters; welcomes in particular the celebratory family event to acknowledge what it sees as the key role that thousands of adoptive families are making all across Scotland, and notes that Members are being encouraged to make some time during the awareness week to talk about adoption, including how it makes a real difference to the lives of children and young people.
Gourock-Kilcreggan Ferry Service
That the Parliament understands that the Gourock–Kilcreggan ferry service has been affected by unprecedented levels of disruption since the contract with the current operator, Clydelink, was renewed by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT); believes that services have been suspended, often for days at a time, due to technical faults with the vessel or following failed Maritime and Coastguard Agency spot inspections; understands that, on several occasions, capacity has been reduced to a maximum of 12 passengers due to a lack of appropriately qualified staff; believes that the unreliability has become particularly acute since June 2017, with the ferry being suspended for several days each month, causing severe disruption for travellers and businesses in both the Dumbarton and Greenock and Inverclyde constituencies; understands that SPT has agreed to retender the contract to secure a more reliable operator until responsibility for the route is transferred to Transport Scotland, and notes the calls on the Scottish Government to make progress with the transfer.
The Caithness Health Action Team
That the Parliament congratulates the Caithness Health Action Team (CHAT) on bringing together the community on 28 October 2017 to support the excellent work carried out by NHS staff, and further congratulates CHAT and the communities of Caithness on highlighting the view that palliative care for terminally-ill people is best kept local, as they could benefit from the support of their community, family and friends.
Recognising the Value of Swimming
That the Parliament recognises the importance of swimming as a key life skill; understands that swimming is widely considered to be a good form of whole body exercise, particularly for people with conditions such as obesity, arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions, as it is a uniquely non-weight-bearing activity; notes that organised classes such as aqua fit are hugely popular across the country, including in the South Scotland parliamentary region, especially among women, and that such group classes can have a positive impact on mental health through physical activity and social interaction; acknowledges that knowing how to swim is a skill that can not only allow a person to save their own life, but potentially allow them to save the lives of others; believes that all children in Scotland should have the right to learn how to swim, regardless of socio-economic background; understands that swimming has been shown to have a positive impact on closing the wider educational attainment gap; considers that the current inconsistent provision of free swimming lessons for Scottish school pupils is unacceptable and that it contributes to an inequality of opportunity between those pupils whose families can afford to pay for swimming lessons and those from less affluent backgrounds who cannot, and notes the view that it is the responsibility of both the Scottish Government and local authorities to explore all possible options for the reintroduction of free swimming lessons for all school pupils throughout Scotland.
Unfair Parcel Delivery Charges
That the Parliament understands that, compared with other parts of the UK, people in Moray, the north of Scotland and other rural areas are often charged excessive rates for parcel deliveries; understands that recent examples of this practice include Halfords charging £50 to send towels, which cost only £5.99, to Speyside, and LloydsPharmacy charging £50 to send a mobility scooter to a terminally-ill woman in Keith, despite advertising free UK delivery online; recognises what it sees as the frustration of consumers living in postcodes such as IV and AB, who have to pay these charges, which it considers unfair; welcomes both Halfords and LloydsPharmacy reported decision to review their charging policies in response to public concern; acknowledges the importance of challenging companies over such policies, and notes the view that there is a need for the relevant authorities to address this issue, which it believes affects many thousands of households and businesses.
Workforce Concerns Regarding Helicopter Safety in the North Sea
That the Parliament understands that the Civil Aviation Authority has lifted the ban on the use of Superpuma H225LP and AS332L2 helicopters in the UK despite continuing concerns over the safety of these helicopters among offshore workers; further understands that Airbus, the manufacturer of Superpuma helicopters, has carried out a survey of North Sea workers and aircrew in order to establish their attitudes towards helicopter safety; notes the finding that 62% of respondents would be unlikely to fly in a Superpuma helicopter, given a choice; further notes that 44% of respondents were unaware of work done to improve safety since the Superpuma crash in April 2016, including increased monitoring and inspection measures and more regular replacement of gearbox components; recognises that Unite the Union has launched a petition opposing the reintroduction of the Superpuma helicopters, signed by thousands of offshore workers in the North East Scotland parliamentary region and across the country, who remain concerned about their safety and reputation, and notes calls for flights in these Superpuma helicopters to not resume.
Sue Ryder Report, Don't Write Me Off
That the Parliament recognises the devastating impact that neurological conditions can have on the lives of many people affected by these and their families; considers that specialist care and support for people in the Mid Scotland and Fife parliamentary region, and across the country, with a neurological condition can help them to live as independently as possible, minimising the impact of the condition on their day-to-day living and provide quality of life; recognises the Sue Ryder report, Rewrite the Future, on the benefits of consistent specialist care and support; welcomes the current review of clinical standards for neurological health services which, if rigorously monitored and measured, should, it considers, lead to better care and support, and notes the call for work to be undertaken between people with neurological conditions, the third sector and public bodies to develop a neurological health and social care strategy to ensure that people with such conditions are supported to live their lives as fully as possible.
Shortage of Radiologists
That the Parliament congratulates all of the people in NHS Highland and across the country who are working to overcome the reported shortfall of radiologists, which, it believes, is severely delaying the treatment of patients; recognises the additional work of the radiologists who are covering the staff shortages, and notes the view that the Scottish Government should match the commitment of these NHS employees and urgently address this issue.
GP Recruitment in West Kilbride and Across Scotland
That the Parliament notes with concern the recent issue experienced at West Kilbride’s General Practice (GP) surgery in North Ayrshire where it understands that the practice struggled to find sufficient replacement GPs to meet its demands, which could have led to its indefinite closure; further understands that, although locums were eventually found to keep it open until at least Christmas 2017, this issue is far from resolved; believes that the management of the surgery handed back their GP contract earlier in summer 2017 citing “concerns over the sustainability of continuing to deliver a safe and effective service” as their reason for doing so; highlights what it understands was RCGP Scotland’s recent warning that Scotland could have a shortfall of 828 GPs across the country by 2021 and believes that this is well illustrated in the outcome of the West Kilbride practice; understands that West Kilbride is not the only area in Scotland where GP shortages have been highlighted and that other NHS boards, such as NHS Lothian, have also experienced problems with recruiting sufficient GPs; believes that interim locum solutions in staffing GP surgeries are not long-term solutions to a problem that has been highlighted to the Scottish Government on many occasions in the Parliament since the SNP administration took office, and considers that this identifies a clear lack of long-term strategy and vision over workforce planning of GP services across Scotland.
Thyroid Patients Deserve Fair Treatment
That the Parliament notes petition PE 01463, which has been under consideration by the Public Petitions Committee since 2012 and highlights the problems with inadequate diagnosis and treatment of thyroid conditions; understands that at least 2% of the population will suffer from hypothyroidism in their lifetime, with some doctors believing that the rate is much higher; recognises that the chronic condition affects mainly women (95%); accepts that, in the 1980s, the standard treatment of Dessicated Thyroid Hormone (DTH) was replaced by synthetic thyroxine (T4); notes that T4 is a prohormone that must be converted to T3 (liothyronine), which is the biologically active hormone; understands that the Royal College of Physicians officially recognises that 5 to 10% of patients on T4 do not do well, a figure believed to be substantially higher by others in the thyroid field; takes account of the fact that many patients are wholly reliant on T3 or combination therapy for health and wellbeing; expresses concern that some health boards, including NHS Lanarkshire, are, it believes, issuing controversial guidelines that imply that GPs can no longer prescribe T3; considers any such instruction to be a breach of their duty of care to those relying on T3 to live, discriminatory in terms of gender and potentially in breach of Article 2 and Article 14 Protocol 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and notes calls for health boards to ensure that patients continue to receive T3.
Incinerators, Public Health and Planning in Scotland
That the Parliament recognises the important role of the planning system in making decisions about future developments and the use of land in communities; believes that planning decisions should always strive to enhance communities and create high-quality, sustainable places that support the health and wellbeing of current and future generations; recognises that planning applications for incineration and energy-from-waste proposals are attracting high levels of opposition from the public and that concerns over public health, traffic, safety and impact on residential amenity are commonly raised as grounds for objection by residents in Lanarkshire, as well as other parts of Scotland; agrees that increasing community engagement in the planning process is important and is concerned that the public does not feel adequately informed or reassured when presented with incineration and energy-from-waste proposals; understands that, at a local and regional level, there is apparent widespread public and political opposition to incineration and energy-from-waste planning applications, leading to concerns that Scottish Planning Policy and the statutory planning process is not affording sufficient protection to communities, and notes the calls, as a matter of public interest, on the Scottish Government to update the Parliament on the latest public health information and research that is available on incineration and energy-from-waste technologies, including the impacts on human health and how this informs the Scottish Government's Zero Waste Plan and the expectations of everyone involved in the planning process.
Recent member’s motions tabled by Rhoda
from September 2017 onwards
That the Parliament notes the decision by John Norman Macleod, who is the vice-principal and leader of academic affairs of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye to retire in July 2018; acknowledges that John has been a key member of staff since 1983, when the first full-time course was introduced; commends him on the massive contribution that he has made and his achievements during his 35 years at the college, which is part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, at which his service to the Gaelic language is inestimable; understands that John has put his heart and soul into Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and is at the beating heart of the life and work of the college, for which he has been an outstanding ambassador; acknowledges John's standing in the Gaelic community, and wishes him well in his retirement.
That the Parliament congratulates the project, DON'T STEP THERE, YOU'LL SINK! Jump on, we'll ride, from John Mackay Ltd on winning the Innovation Award at RSPB’s Nature of Scotland Awards; recognises the engineering achievements of the company in developing techniques and equipment such as ultra-low ground-pressure excavators for operating heavy machinery on blanket bog and deep peats; notes the contribution that this has made to the Forsinard Flows peatland restoration work by RSPB Scotland, and acknowledges that this has assisted RSPB in achieving a better “finish” in forest-to-bog projects.
That the Parliament recognises that 25 November each year marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women; acknowledges the inclusion of commercial sexual exploitation in the Scottish Government’s definition of violence against women in the paper, Equally Safe, Scotland’s strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls; considers that prostitution is both a form of such violence and a barrier to gender equality; notes the view that those who purchase sexual services should be held accountable for their part in this violence, and commends the many organisations across Scotland and internationally supporting women to exit prostitution.
That the Parliament congratulates the campaign group, Friends of the Far North Line, and the editor of its newsletter, Ian Budd, on recently winning the Best Newsletter Gold Award; notes that the award was presented by Railfuture, the UK's leading independent organisation campaigning for better rail services for passengers and freight; further notes that it was presented by Christian Wolmar, railway journalist and President of Railfuture, and praises all members of Friends of the Far North Line for keeping up the pressure to bring improvements in infrastructure, journey time and services on the railway lines connecting through Inverness.
That the Parliament congratulates the Forres in Bloom team on it securing a joint first in the Britain in Bloom town category; notes that the team of volunteers behind this organisation also won a gold award and a discretionary award for overcoming adversity; understands that this particular award was granted after the volunteers took over the task of looking after the town's Grant Park greenhouses after the local authority reduced the budget for parks and amenities; acknowledges that the volunteers now grow more than 30,000 plants themselves, and recognises the hard work and endeavour of all involved in securing these prestigious awards, which attract hundreds of tourists to the area boosting the local economy.
That the Parliament acknowledges that fireworks season can be a very stressful time of year for pet owners who are trying to protect their animals from the fear and distress that the pyrotechnics can cause; notes that most pets have heightened senses, with a dog’s hearing twice as sensitive as a human's, and a cat’s three times; understands that the legal noise limit for a firework is 120 decibels, while a pneumatic drill measures around 100 decibels, and that people are advised to wear ear protectors when exposed to anything above 80 decibels; urges people to attend community events rather than setting off their own fireworks, and requests that, before anyone thinks about setting off their own fireworks, they consider their own personal safety and that of others, and the welfare of pets.
That the Parliament congratulates the organisers and volunteers of the Hebridean Celtic Festival (HebCelt) on its success at the 2017 Scottish Event Awards, which were presented recently in Glasgow and aim to recognise the efforts of the people who work behind the scenes at events throughout the country; acknowledges that HebCelt 2016 won both the Festival of the Year category and the coveted Grand Prix award and was nominated for the Cultural Event of the Year title; recognises the relentless efforts of volunteers, which made the festival a success; understands that it is a major economic driver for the Outer Hebrides, generating a reported £2.2 million in 2016 and helping to safeguard 40 tourism-related jobs, and wishes its organisers continued success.
That the Parliament congratulates everyone involved with the organisation of the record-breaking 2016 Hebridean Celtic Festival (HebCelt); understands that the event, which was held over four days in Stornoway in July, and was headlined by Runrig, was the most successful in the festival's 21-year history, with an estimated 18,000 people savouring what it believes was outstanding music; notes that an independent economic impact study suggested that it generated £1.4 million locally and that its wider knock-on impact on the area's businesses resulted in a net economic boost of £2.2 million as well as safeguard 40 tourism-related jobs; acknowledges that it has been shortlisted for a major prize at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards in the Best Cultural Event or Festival category, which HebCelt 2014 won, and wishes the festival's organisers continued success.
That the Parliament notes with concern the reported decision by the Scottish Police Authority to approve Police Scotland's proposal to close the Inverness police control room; understands that the function of command and control will be undertaken from a control room in Dundee; accepts that there will be no staff losses in Inverness but considers that valuable local knowledge will be lost; further considers this move to be another chapter in what it considers the Scottish Government's centralisation programme, and fears the diminution of service provision as a result of this decision.