The Scottish Budget

20 Dec 2017

Motion S5M-09453: Poverty in Scotland 2017 

10 Dec 2017

That the Parliament welcomes the release of Poverty in Scotland 2017 by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF); understands that the report is part of the work done by the JRF to measure the rates of poverty in Scotland and how they are changing; notes that the report finds poverty is lower in Scotland than the rest of the UK, particularly for older people and families with children; further notes that more than a third of those in the poorest fifth of the population spend more than one third of their income on housing alone; understands with concern the extra difficulties highlighted by the report for people facing poverty; notes that this includes a much higher rate of depression and anxiety, being unable to maintain any savings or investments and a gap in educational attainment; welcomes the lower rates of poverty but believes that no one should be living in poverty in a country as wealthy as Scotland, and calls on all levels of government to take action to help narrow the gap.


SNP MSPs and MPs Formally Support UN Nuke Ban Treaty

30 Nov 2017

SNP MSPs have formally supported the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) by signing the ICAN Parliamentary Pledge. This pledge commits parliamentarians to “work for the signature and ratification of this landmark treaty by our respective countries.” Complete SNP support, led by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, illustrates the party’s support for nuclear disarmament and the scrapping of trident.


ICAN, an international civil society group against nuclear weapons, has instigated the pledge signing for parliamentarians from across the world. The Holyrood Signing, which saw every SNP MSP sign the pledge as well as all Scottish Greens MSPs and three Labour MSPs, came just two weeks before ICAN receives the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo for its international nuclear disarmament advocacy. ICAN commentated on the Holyrood Signing saying,
“The endorsement and commitment to the TPNW by a majority of Scottish Parliamentarians stands in marked contrast to the position of the UK Government. During the March Treaty negotiations, the UK UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told the Ufirst Committee at the United Nations that the UK had a clear mandate to renew its Trident nuclear weapons system. That appears to be arguable. The decision by so many Scottish parliamentarians to align themselves with a Treaty aimed at the complete elimination of weapons at least critically undermines that mandate.”


Bill Kidd who led the Holyrood Signing amongst the SNP expressed deep delight at the SNP show of support for the TPNW through the pledge: he highlighted that this reflects the conviction shared by many Scots that nuclear weapons are morally abhorrent and indiscriminate in nature.


John noted, “I was honoured to sign this important pledge of support for the Ban Treaty. This change in International Law will usher in a necessary shift in bringing human rights to the forefront of the nuclear disarmament debate. Nuclear weapons not only kill hundreds of thousands of civilians but are also lived-through. They have lasting detrimental effects on families and communities of survivors (Hibakusha), many of whom saw the devastation first hand. I urge the UK Government to sign the UN Ban Treaty so they can stand with the majority of states in the world who have already taken this step.”


27 Nov 2017

John today lent his support for calls to improve awareness among Scottish drivers about the importance of having an up-to-date eye test before getting behind the wheel. It is estimated that crashes involving a driver with poor vision cause 2,900 casualties each year across the UK. Research by Vision Express and OnePoll finds that 15% of drivers had not had an eye test since they passed their driving test – on average – 14 years previously.


Attending an event in the Scottish Parliament John tested a driving simulator, replicating the experience of driving with Glaucoma. The event – hosted by Vision Express – coincided with Road Safety Week 2017 (Nov 20-26) and was designed to help raise awareness about the importance of having regular eye tests.

John said: “Many people don’t realise that changes in sight can be gradual, and experts say that it’s possible to lose up to 40% of your vision before even noticing it. That’s why drivers of all ages have a responsibility to themselves, their passengers, other road users and pedestrians to ensure they take their eye health seriously. Using the driving simulator I experienced for myself just how debilitating and dangerous it can be to drive with impaired vision.”


New polling published this week by Vision Express reveals that many people who drive as part of their job – who between them clock up billions of miles each year on Scotland’s roads – are not taking regular eye tests. The YouGov research polled Scots who drive for work, and found that:


  • Almost a quarter are not having regular eye tests
  • 4% haven’t had a test in at least 10 years
  • 3% have never had their eyes tested
  • 14% would flout the requirement to voluntarily inform the DVLA if an eye test showed they were unfit to drive
  • Over a third (38%) say their job would be at risk if their eyesight fell below the standard to drive. In fact, 27% would lose their job if they lost their licence


John said: “Van and HGV traffic is on the rise thanks in part to the growth in online shopping & deliveries. It’s absolutely vital that these drivers in particular, who spend much of their day in transit, take their eye health seriously. You wouldn’t get behind the wheel of your car if it didn’t have an up-to-date MOT, so why would you put your own lives and the lives of others at risk by driving with defective eyesight?


“That’s why I would encourage the Scottish Government to do everything it can to spearhead ongoing driver awareness campaigns, using existing infrastructure and communications channels including websites and social media to reinforce and champion existing NHS guidance which recommends eye tests every two years.”


In 2016, there were 44,048 work-related road casualties. A quarter of the drivers surveyed in Vision Express’ research considered sub-standard sight to be among the most significant road safety hazards and almost nine in 10 (84%) claimed to feel unsafe if other road users have poor vision.


Jonathan Lawson, Vision Express CEO, said: “The Health & Safety Executive estimates that a third of all road traffic accidents involve someone who is at work, so ensuring these individuals have eye sight that is up to scratch can have a significant impact on improving road safety.


“Vision Express is calling on the Scottish Government to help us to raise awareness about the importance of regular eye tests for drivers. To this end we’re delighted that the Scottish Government has agreed to display awareness messages on Scottish roads, alerting drivers to the importance of good eye health.”


The voucher can be redeemed until 31 December 2017 at any of approximately 400 Vision Express stores across the UK

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Sample size was 913 workers (non emergency services) of which 367 were required to drive for work. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th – 25th September 2017.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+).