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All Speeches

  • Article: Mar 22, 2016

    The bill addresses the need to tackle the damage that is done by abusive behaviour and sexual harm. The Government has acknowledged that the bill deals with only part of a wider problem, and I hope that Parliament will return as soon as possible to the issue of creating a specific offence of domestic abuse. We need legislation that can properly capture the complex web of coercive behaviour that is used to abuse victims.

  • Article: Feb 11, 2016

    It is almost four years since the commission on women offenders published its report. Of its 37 recommendations, only one gave me serious pause for thought: that on setting up a national community justice service. Such centralisation seemed contrary to the rest of the report, which emphasised a tailored, community-based response.

  • Article: Jan 27, 2016

    Fuel poverty is often mentioned in passing in debates on health and housing, for example, but the full Parliament has not had a dedicated fuel poverty debate outside members' business since April 2014. That is why we allocated time to debate it today.

    Just as the Parliament came together to set a fuel poverty target in 2001, the Scottish Liberal Democrats believe that it now needs to come together to have a constructive, honest debate about how we are progressing against the Parliament's laudable and continuing ambition to eradicate fuel poverty.

  • Article: Jan 19, 2016

    I, too, congratulate Margaret Mitchell on bringing the bill to Parliament. Since stage 1, there have been some changes to it that, in my view, improve it. The bill now offers a slightly different definition of apology. The new definition still includes the important aspects of an apology-expression of regret and a promise to look into the matter with a view to preventing something similar from happening again-but the removal of admissions of fault and factual statements ensure that we avoid the risk of causing unintended consequences.

  • Article: Dec 16, 2015

    I thank the members who signed my motion congratulating Home-Start Garioch on its 20th anniversary. I am most grateful.

    Garioch is an area in Aberdeenshire centred on the town of Inverurie. The area has a lot of young families, many of whom have settled in the area from other airts and pairts. Not everyone has the extended network of family and friends that was more prevalent in earlier decades.

  • Article: Dec 10, 2015

    The legislation that governs the fatal accident inquiry system is nearly 40 years old, and it has been six years since Lord Cullen reported on his review into the matter. Therefore, we can all agree that the bill has been a long time in coming. I am pleased that we have finally reached the home straight in reforming and modernising the FAI system.

  • Article: Dec 8, 2015

    I first congratulate Kevin Stewart on securing this important debate-I am happy to support the motion. I have received many emails and letters from my constituents on the Marischal square development, and all of them are against the scheme. Not one person wrote to me asking me to publicly support it. I completely understand their concerns, and I, too, pay tribute to the tenacity and determination of the campaigners.

  • Article: Dec 8, 2015

    What a difference a couple of years makes. No other Government bill has taken this long to get through Parliament and no bill has undergone such a dramatic and crucial transformation.

    At the stage 1 debate, the then Cabinet Secretary for Justice won the vote but lost the plot, attacking opponents of abolishing corroboration as a unionist cabal intent on

  • Article: Nov 30, 2015

    I, too, congratulate Nanette Milne on securing this important debate. As Dr Milne explained, around 40,000 people in Scotland are estimated to have the condition, yet about 75 per cent of them do not have a coeliac diagnosis. For those who do, it took on average 13 years from the onset of symptoms to a proper diagnosis. Every time I hear that statistic, I am shocked. Coeliac disease is a serious medical condition and, for those with severe symptoms, going undiagnosed can result in a hugely debilitating condition.

  • Article: Nov 25, 2015

    I am sure that we all agree with the words of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who said:

    "Violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable and never tolerable."

    Yet violence against women is still a truly global issue. It affects all communities, all races and people of all religions and none. According to the UN, one in three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. Worldwide, more than 700 million women who are alive today were married as children. Of those women, more than one in three-around 250 million-were married before they were 15.