Gil Paterson MSP has highlighted the need for Scotland to control its own immigration policy after the country’s population hit a record 5.42 million. This means that Scotland has equalled the average European population growth which is good news according to the politician:
“Scotland’s population is artificially low by a considerable amount due to years of enforced emigration from the Highland Clearances onward. It’s great to see this vibrancy in the population, we need young workers in order to ensure that we keep opportunities here for future generations.
“The over 75’s are projected to be the fastest growing age-group in Scotland, increasing by 75% over the next 25 years. It is very welcome news that people are living longer and healthier lives but those people will become more likely to need health and social services as they get older. These services need young people to work in them and to generate the money to pay for them by paying taxes. We need to increase our population year on year to meet the demand and the fastest way to do that is through immigration.
“Scotland has its own distinct immigration needs different from other nations on these isles so we must have the ability to implement a distinct migration policy, our economic and cultural prosperity depends on it.
“We have already seen the effect that Brexit is having on our ability to attract workers to come here. Couple that with the scandal of the cruel and heartless Tory Windrush fiasco, recently reported cases like those of the Merry family and the UK no longer looks like a welcoming place for young migrants to live and work.
“So while it’s good to see this increase we need the power to do more.”
Local MSP Gil Paterson has revealed that he is in possession of a letter from the UK Civil Aviation Authority addressed to an official at Glasgow Airport, which, he says, confirms that careful consideration to the proposals for the present Glasgow Airport consultation was given by both the CAA and the airport and that, after this consideration, the CAA gave assurances that the proposals would be assessed against existing guidance and timelines.
Speaking about the letter, Mr Paterson said:
“I was shocked to discover that, as late as December 2017, the Civil Aviation Authority were saying that it would not be feasible or reasonable to expect Glasgow Airport to fully comply with the new process on consultations because of the amount of work and planning that had already been done.
“You have to remember that Glasgow Airport had been planning this for two years, well before the new process came into being. They say that they went beyond the requirements of previous guidelines in order to try to anticipate any new criteria yet to be finalised.
“The letter in my possession backs this up so I would like to know what has changed since December 2017 to warrant such a complete about-turn by the CAA right at the end of the consultation period?
“There may be good reason for the change of heart but I have written to the Civil Aviation Authority asking for answers to a number of questions and the response I received does not make things any clearer.
“The CAA confirmed that they were aware of the timing of the consultation in advance of its implementation and also that they agreed with the process used by Glasgow Airport. They offer no explanation for how this could possibly happen.
“Along with others, I have put in a fair amount of time and resources in order that the public be made aware of this very important consultation. From the numbers who participated it would seem that my constituents engaged enthusiastically and it is unacceptable for them to be inconvenienced by this.
“They turned out at the public meetings, they submitted their views, they made their feelings known and would be justified in feeling anger if their participation were to be devalued in any way because of this 11th hour change of mind.”
Local MSPs Gil Paterson and Rona Mackay have welcomed the SNP Group’s motion to East Dunbartonshire Council which calls on the Council to commission a feasibility study into re-twin tracking the Milngavie rail line.
The study would also look into providing new rail halts with park and ride facilities at the Allander in Bearsden, Westerhill in Bishopbriggs and Woodilee in Kirkintilloch.
The funding to undertake the feasibility study would come from the Rail Pipeline Fund, recently initiated by the Scottish Government.
Gil Paterson said: “It is gratifying that after many months of work lobbying the rail operators Abellio ScotRail, Network Rail and Transport Scotland about measures to resolve the unacceptable train performance on the Milngavie rail line East Dunbartonshire Council can now make application to the new Rail Pipeline Fund established recently by the Scottish Government to tackle local problems with the rail infrastructure.
“Rona and I have written jointly to the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and East Dunbartonshire Council requesting their support for the re-twin tracking of the Rail line from Westerton to Milngavie which we believe is the first action necessary if we are to improve rail services in East Dunbartonshire. We hope to meet with both organisations soon to outline our concerns and highlight potential solutions suggested to us by rail professionals.”
Rona Mackay commented: “The travelling public are rightly sick and tired of unannounced train cancellations, station skipping and late arrivals. The Milngavie rail line was recently reported as the worst performing line in Scotland so something has to be done to resolve these unacceptable problems. The re-twinning of the track between Westerton and Milngavie will be biggest, least expensive and easiest change for improvement in East Dunbartonshire.
“Once this urgent twin tracking work is completed it will enable the three new rail halts with park and ride facilities which will resolve much of our congestion problems and reduce the bad air quality experienced in East Dunbartonshire.”
She added: “I hope when Cllr Gordan Low’s motion is decided on 26 April the debate does not descend into a party political points scoring argument and all councillors see the merit in the potential improvement this action will achieve for the local communities of Bearsden and Milngavie.”
MSP Gil Paterson is backing calls from SNP MP Alison Thewliss for Scottish Tories to re-think their position on the abhorrent rape clause.
The campaigning MP has renewed her calls for the Tory Government to scrap its two child policy and rape clause for child tax credits, one year since the policy was fully implemented by the UK Government.
Since the two child policy and rape clause came into force on 6th April 2017, Ms Thewliss has repeatedly challenged DWP Ministers on the impact of the policy on vulnerable women across the UK. She will be joining campaigners in Edinburgh on 19th April to call for an immediate end to the rape clause.
Figures from the Child Poverty Action Group estimate that the rape clause and two child policy will put an additional 250,000 children into poverty by the end of the decade. CPAG have mounted a judicial review of the two child policy and rape clause and a judgement on the case is expected imminently.
Mr Paterson commented saying:
“Now is the time for the Tory UK government to call a halt to this evil nonsense. It’s a sickening policy which forces women to relive some of the worst experiences imaginable.
“I spent 11 years on the board of Rape Crisis, an organisation that provides help and support to victims of sexual violence and I am horrified at the callous attitude of Tory MPs.
“And what of the child labelled the product of rape? What effect would this have on a vulnerable child if this kind of information got out?
“The two child policy is a ludicrous policy in the first place so it is no surprise that the rape clause stemmed from it. Why on earth should a child be penalised for the order that they were conceived in? We now have the situation where a loving parent who falls on difficult circumstances, and let’s face it that could happen to any of us, can be plunged into poverty because they have a third child who they could well provide for before they hit hard times.”
Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:
“The new Scottish Tory MPs have been in Westminster for almost a year and it’s time they had a re-think about their position on the abhorrent rape clause policy.
"The policy not only plunges children in to poverty, but forcing women to disclose one of the worst experiences of their lives, just in order to make a claim for a benefit, has to be one of the most abhorrent polices to have come out of this heartless Tory Government.
"What is the position of the new Scottish Tory MPs? In light of the research carried out by Child Poverty Action Group, and the public outcry - do they still believe the policy is justified?
“One year on from its introduction, serious problems remain about the impact of the two child policy and rape clause on vulnerable women and children. I’ve continued to ask questions, but Ministers haven’t given me any answers, or reassurance or justification that this policy is either workable or necessary.
“The UK Government has made U-turns at short notice, even after holding out on its position for a long time. This despicable policy should be the next one to be axed.”
MSP Gil Paterson was pleased to receive confirmation from the Chief Inspector of East Dunbartonshire Police that the abhorrent so-called “Punish a Muslim Day” went off without incident in East Dunbartonshire.
Recently the Milngavie & Bearsden Herald reported on a young Muslim girl who was too scared to go outside because of the vile letters which were circulated in some parts of the UK last month. The letters received a significant amount of attention both in the press and on social media.
Mr Paterson said;
“This vile hatred has no place in our society and should be condemned by all right-thinking people which is why I was so pleased to hear from Chief Inspector Corrigan that the day passed without incident in East Dunbartonshire.
“As I understand it, UK North West Counter Terrorism Police are investigating the source of the original hardcopy letters, all of which had a Sheffield postmark and none of which were received by anyone in East Dunbartonshire or indeed in Scotland.
“I am assured that hate crime is treated very seriously and investigated robustly by our Police force who visited both of East Dunbartonshire’s Mosques last week to provide advice and reassurance as well as performing extra patrols in these areas.
“While we can never become complacent, it is important that we do not sensationalise the actions of these hateful individuals as that would play right into their hands. I look forward to a speedy conclusion to North West Counter Terrorism Police’s enquiry and trust that those responsible will feel the full force of the law.
“When highlighting and quoting matters that are happening in England we need to be careful not to alarm people in Scotland. It’s important to set the record straight and to point out hate crime is on the rise in England and most commentators have put it down to connecting immigration with Brexit. On the other hand I’m pleased to say hate crime in Scotland is already low and still falling.
“I hope that all Muslims who have made their home in East Dunbartonshire feel confident that they are welcome and valued citizens of our community.”
Gil Paterson MSP is highlighting a £250K fund which is available to support locally produced food and drink.
Grants of around £5000 will be available for local food and drink producers, and regional food and drink networks, from May.
The fund, targeted at producers who can traditionally find it difficult to attract funding, will be overseen by Scotland Food and Drink.
Mr Paterson said;
“Scotland has been particularly successful in exporting food and drink with more than £6 million worth of Scottish food and drink consumed worldwide in the last year.
“The Scottish Government is committed to promoting locally sourced and locally produced food and beverages.
“Brexit is looming and the future position with regard to our international trading partners is very uncertain so it is essential that we plan ahead to ensure a robust market at home for our regional producers.
“Any local producers who think they might benefit from this investment should keep an eye on www.scotlandfoodanddrink.org for more details.”
Gil Paterson MSP for Clydebank and Milngavie has highlighted calculations from The Scottish Parliament Information Centre showing that Scottish taxpayers are saving an average of over £160 a year on their prescriptions compared to patients south of the border.
On average, Scots take out 19 prescriptions per year. If these were charged at the English rate of £8.60 each, people in Scotland would be out of pocket by an average of £1,143.80 since prescription charges were abolished in 2011.
Commenting, Mr Paterson said:
“People who are unfortunate enough to suffer ill health and those who have long-term conditions requiring medication should not have the added stress of worrying about how to pay for the medication they need.
“There is little point in GPs, consultants, dentists and all the other health professionals caring for the people who need their help if those people cannot then afford to take the medication prescribed. It makes sense for healthcare free at the point of need to include prescriptions.
“£160 is a substantial amount of money for people who may be struggling to get by and when you also take account of ending parking charges at NHS-run hospital car parks, free eye tests, free school meals for P1 to P3, care for the elderly and free bus passes for the elderly, free university education and investment in childcare, it all adds up.
“The Tories at Westminster are intent on inflicting their austerity agenda while the Scottish Government are getting on with delivering services for all of the people of Scotland.”
MSP Gil Paterson has highlighted the news that 68% of gross electricity consumption in Scotland was met by renewables last year.
The figure represents an increase of 26% on last year’s figures making 2017 a record year for renewable generation and for the first time ever Scotland has more than 10GW of installed renewable capacity.
Speaking about the figures, Mr Paterson said;
“These are fantastic figures showing that our renewables industry is stronger than ever and reflecting the Scottish Government’s commitment to clean, green energy.
“The future for renewables is bright which is good news as a low carbon economy makes both practical and economic sense, and renewable production has a role to play in securing our energy supply in these uncertain times.
“Clydebank is well on course to provide a significant contribution to the effort with work on the District heating network at Queen’s Quay now well under way.
“Renewable energy is set to play a significant role in Scotland's future and we need to take the right decisions to support this sector of our economy as it goes from strength to strength.
“Of course this is despite the background of damaging policies put in place by UK Government at Westminster which have resulted in a 56% drop in investment in green energy UK wide throughout 2017 – the biggest fall of any country. It’s gratifying to see that Scotland is bucking the trend.”
West Dunbartonshire pupils snared with weapons in schools - Article from the Clydebank Post published 23rd March 2018
EIGHT West Dunbartonshire pupils – four of them as young as 12 years old – have been caught carrying lethal weapons within school in the past four years.
In a special exclusive investigation by the Post, we can reveal that the oldest of the eight armed kids was just 14 years of age.
The figures show that in the past four years schoolchildren in the area have armed themselves at school with a steak knife, a belt, a metal bar, two pen knives, scissors, another type of knife and an unnamed weapon.
The insights come just a year after Daniel Stroud was jailed for the culpable homicide of 16-year-old schoolboy Bailey Gwynne at Cults Academy in Aberdeenshire.
The fifth-year pupils squared up in March 2016 when someone called Bailey’s mum “fat” and, as they wrestled, Stroud pulled a knife and plunged it into Bailey’s heart.
MSP Gil Paterson called for adults to set a good example of not carrying weapons and for parents to talk to their children about the dangers.
Five of the eight offences in West Dunbartonshire happened in 2016, according to the details released under Freedom of Information legislation. Individual schools were not named as it wasn’t in the public interest, said police.
A police spokesman said: “Keeping people safe is at the heart of everything that we do but this is entirely reliant on building good relationships with the communities we serve and encouraging schools to make us aware of the issues in their area.
“As such, a higher number of incidents at one school cannot necessarily be taken to mean that the location is any way less safe than that of another school.
“It could simply mean that the management team and staff at one location are far more willing to engage with the police to attempt to deal with criminal behaviour and other matters of concern whereas at other schools, the same issues may be present but the staff are less inclined for whatever reason to contact the police.
“What we simply cannot afford to do is discourage people from reporting incidents to the police for fear that the resulting information will be used to create a negative impression of that location or a ‘league table’ of sorts offering up comparisons.”
Police Scotland told the Post that four 12-year-olds, three 13-year-olds and one child aged 14, were all caught in the past four years carrying weapons within their school. Their figures were from 2014 until February 16, 2018.
From April 1, 2017, a set of new codes was introduced to record cases of using an offensive weapon in a public setting to commit other criminal activity.
A Police Scotland spokesman revealed that four of the offenders were dealt with by “early and effective intervention” and three were reported to the Children’s Panel.
The other as a result of joint consultation, merited the attention of the procurator fiscal in Dumbarton, as well as the Children’s Panel.
In 2014, 2015, and 2017 there was just one offender in each of those three years, with the other five offences all happening in 2016.
A spokesman for West Dunbartonshire Council said: “We work closely with police to protect and educate pupils about the potentially devastating consequences of carrying a knife, and have dedicated youth engagement officers working across our secondary schools.
“We have over 12,000 pupils in our schools and while the number of reports is low by comparison, we view any incident as serious and will take appropriate action against anyone who brings a weapon into any of our schools.”
“We have a policy and guidance for head teachers which is implemented across our schools and was prepared in conjunction with Police Scotland.”
Gil Paterson MSP told the Post: “Children copy older generations so there is a responsibility on older generations to set a positive example when it comes to knife carrying.
“It is my view that the only way to get to zero tolerance is through giving the police the power to stop and search those they suspect of carrying weapons. We must be vigilant otherwise knife crime will start to creep up.
"In saying that, it is my experience that teaching staff and community police are doing a very good job in terms of educating young people about the grave consequences that can stem from that initial decision to pick up a knife and conceal it, and I would encourage them to carry-on doing so.
“Parents too must be vigilant and speak to their children about the dangers of knife crime.”