This website was established while we were Members of the Scottish Parliament. As the Parliament has been dissolved there are no Members of Parliament until after the election on 5 May 2016.
Ahead of this afternoon’s Scottish Parliament debate on the UK Government’s Trade Union Bill, Patrick Harvie called on public sector employers to commit to a programme of non-compliance.
The Scottish Government motion for debate simply says the parliament opposes and condemns the Bill. An amendment put forward by Mr Harvie, calling for non-compliance and support for trade unions taking necessary industrial action, was not selected for debate by the Presiding Officer.
It comes as SNP-led North Ayrshire Council says it will not to comply with the Bill, following similar statements by Labour-led councils in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Renfrewshire and Stirling.
STUC general secretary Grahame Smith told the recent Scottish Greens conference that he is prepared to break the law to resist the Bill.
Patrick Harvie, MSP for Glasgow and a member of Holyrood’s economy committee, said:
“The UK Tory government attack on workers’ rights must be resisted. Stating opposition isn’t enough.
“With draconian measures such as fines of up to £20,000 for picket supervisors not wearing armbands, we will need the determination to defy this law if it’s passed. Scottish ministers have said everything possible would be done to oppose the Bill, but we need a firm commitment from them that the public sector and trade unions in Scotland will be supported by the Scottish Government in refusing to implement the UK government’s attack on working people’s basic rights.”
Scottish Government motion for debate:
That the Parliament opposes and condemns the Trade Union Bill as proposed by the UK Government; believes that it restricts the fundamental rights of workers to organise, bargain collectively and, if necessary, withdraw their labour, and further believes that it will both undermine the effective engagement of trade unions across Scottish workplaces and, in particular, across the Scottish public sector.
Amendment put forward by Patrick Harvie:
Insert at end “, and agrees that, if the Bill is passed, the Scottish Government and other public sector employers should commit to a programme of non-compliance with the legislation and should support those trade unions taking necessary industrial action in defiance of it”.
Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian, today lodged a motion at the Scottish Parliament calling for financial support for the 200 tenants of Lorne Street in Leith who face being evicted from their homes by the charity that owns their flats.
The Agnes Hunter Trust wants to sell the properties, saying maintenance costs are too high.
Alison Johnstone MSP said:
“The residents of Lorne Street face an uncertain future, and understandably feel traumatised as they had thought their tenancies were secure. It’s important we send a strong message of support to them.
“While it is welcome that the Trust has agreed a moratorium on evictions until July, it must extend this if needed. The residents want security of tenure, and they must have time to work on that.
“I urge the Scottish Government to work with the City of Edinburgh Council to provide financial assistance to the residents to ensure a bright future for the community of Lorne Street.”
The full text of Alison’s motion reads as follows:
That the Parliament understands that over 200 tenants in Lorne Street in Leith are facing eviction by the Agnes Hunter Trust, a charitable trust that owns over 100 flats in the street; strongly supports residents’ efforts to stay in their homes, organised through the Lorne Community Association, and create a housing cooperative or an alternative solution that provides them with security of tenure in their current homes; welcomes the Agnes Hunter Trust’s extension of the moratorium on evictions until 1 July 2016; calls on the Agnes Hunter Trust to further extend the stay on evictions should this be needed and support residents’ plans, and calls on the Scottish Government to work with the City of Edinburgh Council to provide every support and financial assistance it can to support the community of Lorne Street tenants.
Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian, today (6 Nov) expressed concern that a review into the children’s ward at St John’s hospital in Livingston won’t be made public until after the Holyrood election in May.
It is feared that it will recommend diverting inpatients to Edinburgh instead.
Alison Johnstone MSP said:
“Local parents and staff at St John’s are being left in limbo. We know that staffing shortages have been a problem at the paediatric department, and we should be putting our energies into resolving that situation. As well as improving recruitment here, we must challenge the UK Government’s wrongheaded immigration policies which have put a barrier in the way of retaining the skilled overseas staff our hospitals have benefited from.
“It’s sensible that the NHS board comes up with sustainable answers but it doesn’t seem reasonable for people to have to wait until June before they know what’s likely to happen. I would urge health bosses and ministers to expedite this process and to be clear with the public what’s happening. This is too important an issue to become a political football.”
Patrick Harvie, MSP for Glasgow and a member of Holyrood’s economy and energy committee, today highlighted new research showing the affordability of improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s housing stock.
Researchers looking at regulation of energy efficiency of private sector housing (REEPS) costed various scenarios, one of which shows that making basic improvements to the draughtiest 400,000 private homes in Scotland would cost £388million, an average investment of less than £1000 per home.
The benefit for householders would be annual fuel bill savings of over £111million, and the benefit to Scotland’s climate change targets would be annual savings of over 600,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.
Patrick Harvie MSP said:
“With one year to go to the Scottish Government’s target of eradicating fuel poverty, this new research makes clear the multiple benefits of insulating Scotland’s draughtiest homes. An investment of less than £1,000 for each home in the lowest categories would be more than paid back by helping reduce the impact on the NHS and the education system from children and adults living in fuel poverty, and would create thousands of construction jobs to boost local economies.
“We know that if the Scottish Government keeps spending on energy efficiency at its current rate, it will take 28 years to help all of the 940,000 homes in fuel poverty. This issue has been a consistent priority from the Green MSPs, and today’s research shows the way forward for ministers if they are serious about tackling the scandal of Scotland’s cold homes.”
Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian, described today’s decision by Edinburgh city councillors to reject proposals to demolish a house at Allan Park Crescent at Meggetland in the south-west of the city as a victory for the local community’s campaign.
After addressing today’s planning hearing, Alison said:
“I’m pleased that this application has been refused unanimously. The committee were not convinced that there was a case for demolishing a perfectly sound family home. The proposal would have worsened congestion and air pollution on already busy roads, and it would have compromised a popular cycleway and footpath which gives safe access to the canal and caused a greater loss of open space.
“It’s incredible that demolishing a perfectly good house in a long established residential area was even considered, and the concern now is that the developer will try to appeal. That would fly in the face of the 1,693 objections this application received. Bear in mind that the developer has had planning permission to build a 63 bedroom care home on this site. Reluctance to do so suggest perhaps that this latest in a string of proposals is more about increasing land values than wishing to provide accommodation for older people.
“Over more than a decade open space in this area has been gradually eroded, an issue that prompted me to first get involved in politics. I will continue to support local residents to prevent further development creep.”
Patrick Harvie, Scottish Green MSP for Glasgow, has described a counter-terrorism training course delivered by Glasgow City Council (GCC) as “like something from 1984″.
GCC staff are also advised to check their neighbour’s bins.
Patrick Harvie MSP said:
“It’s deeply troubling that anyone would think of putting animal welfare, environmental and anti-nuclear activists in the same category as serious violent terrorists. Peaceful protest is a critical part of a free and democratic culture, and anyone who thinks it should be curtailed in this manner is doing nothing to defend society. Making council employees think they should be snooping in their neighbours’ bins or reporting them for keeping their curtains closed also sounds like something from 1984.
“Glasgow City Council has clearly strayed from the guidance provided jointly by the UK and Scottish Governments, none of which mentions the kind of peaceful campaign groups who enjoy widespread public support. However it’s not the first time, and we know that peace campaigners and climate change activists have been policed and surveilled as “domestic extremists” in the past. I would ask Scottish ministers to clarify their view of this guidance so organisations such as GCC understand what they should really be focusing on.”
Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s Devolution Committee,today responded to comments from Secretary of State David Mundell about further amendments to the Scotland Bill.
Alison Johnstone MSP said:
“This latest flurry of 80 or so amendments simply underlines the hodge-podge nature of the Scotland Bill, mirroring the rushed Smith Commission deal. This is not a coherent package.
“What is clear from the evidence we have taken on the devolution committee is that the Scottish and UK Governments are on course to share more responsibilities, and that means both will need a mature working relationship.
“While I will take time to examine the latest amendments carefully, there is little sign that they will allow Holyrood to reject Westminster’s wrongheaded approach to the welfare state. And on the Crown Estate we need clarity around issues such as Fort Kinnaird to ensure the bill matches the aim of the Smith recommendations.”
“The publication of this bill is overdue but very welcome, and comes after long campaigns by organisations such as NUS and Shelter. Many Scots have no option but to rent privately, and figures from Shelter show that almost a fifth of homeless applications come from the private rented sector. The need for action is clear, and it’s good to see ministers finally bringing ideas forward.
“Scottish Greens look forward to examining the detail of the bill and engaging constructively with it as it works its way through parliament. Over the last five years, average rents across Scotland have gone up by 17.5 per cent. By bringing in greater security for tenants and the option of rent controls we can provide the fairer, more affordable housing system Scotland needs.”
Patrick Harvie MSP, economy spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, says Scottish ministers should have done more to prevent giving a £350 million contract to a private water company for supply of services to Scotland’s public sector.
At the moment the billing and servicing of water for council buildings, hospitals, universities, prisons and the Scottish Parliament is carried out by Edinburgh-based Business Stream, which is 100 per cent owned by publicly-owned Scottish Water.
Patrick Harvie, Scottish Green MSP for Glasgow and a member of Holyrood’s economy committee, said:
“A decision on this £350million contract should have been made in February, and the delay by Scottish ministers has caused uncertainty for Edinburgh-based Business Stream, its employees and contractors. It has also been a source of uncertainty for the 100 public sector organisations in Scotland currently billed by Business Stream.
“This was an opportunity to prevent the supply of water services to Scotland’s public sector falling into the hands of a private firm whose profits won’t benefit the Scottish economy, and specifically a company that paid no corporation tax this year yet handed shareholders a £180million dividend.
“The market for business customers in Scotland was opened up due to competition legislation brought in by Tony Blair’s government. Scottish ministers must show determination to defend the public sector’s role in Scotland’s economy.”
THE owners of Anglian Water took a £180m dividend last year — and paid no corporation tax. (Sunday Times, July 2015)