eNews 19th June 2022

Once again the SNP/Green Scottish Government has begun stirring up division and detracting from the important issues facing people in the country, as they are focus on another independence referendum. Shetland is facing more homes being plunged into extreme fuel poverty, higher food and fuel prices along with transport issues. Nationally we have the longest NHS waiting lists in history, a cost of living crisis and we need to combat the climate emergency while recovering from a pandemic. You can read more about how the referendum announcement derailed business in the Parliament on Tuesday here in my Shetland Times column.

This week saw the Good Food Nation (GFN) Bill complete its journey through Parliament to become law. I followed up my campaign, which began after meeting with young people staying at the school hostel in Lerwick and who brought to my attention their concerns that school hostel meal guidelines are sometimes too repetitive and rigid. I had hoped to bring about a form of change but unfortunately my amendment was not supported by the SNP-Green majority and so is not a part of the Act. You can watch me move my amendment here. After the Scottish Government’s shenanigans derailed business on Monday, speeches for the bill were held on Wednesday in an extended sitting. You can watch my contribution here.

The scrutiny of the Hunting With Dogs (Scotland) Bill continued this week in the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee. We heard from animal welfare stakeholders, who also gave their views on the Bill, along with Lord Bonomy. It was his review of previous legislation that has resulted in the new Bill. Additionally, the Committee heard from the Scottish Government about new UK and Scottish regulations to create a revised risk-based inspection scheme for plants coming to the UK from the EU. 

On Wednesday I questioned the Minister for Women’s Health about cervical cancer screenings. There is now a very effective vaccine in the human papillomavirus (HPV) jab. This could mean that for different groups in future different screening strategies could be put in place. Dual health messaging may prove to be problematic and I asked if the Scottish Government will get to work on that messaging now so that risks to health are minimised. You can watch my question here.

I also asked the Scottish Government about construction skills shortages in the Northern Isles. Supporting the construction industry by ensuring it has the workforce it needs to deliver housing projects is but one part of the depopulation solution. Schools need to do more to let young people know about the wide variety of career paths that are possible in construction which will help ensure that skills are in and available to the isles. You can see the clip here.

On Thursday I hosted Kate Sanderson, Head of Representation of the Faroe Islands in London, in the Scottish Parliament. I was pleased to meet her again as she presented the work and activities of the Faroe Government to colleagues. As neighbours we have lots to learn from each other and I hope the friendship between our island groups will continue to grow.

On Thursday evening, after parliamentary business, I attended the 60th anniversary of the Mental Health Commission.

Finally, another anniversary celebration as The Shetland Times newspaper reached its 150th anniversary. Congratulations to the directors and staff on reaching this milestone.

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