Joan McAlpine MSP has welcomed a new scheme allowing men prosecuted for same-sex sexual activity under obsolete laws to have their convictions erased.
The Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) Act passed by the Scottish Parliament comes into force this week. It grants an automatic pardon to every gay and bisexual man in Scotland convicted under discriminatory laws.
Men with such convictions can now also apply to have them removed from central criminal records under a ‘disregards’ scheme.
Welcoming the news, McAlpine, SNP MSP for South Scotland said:
“I am delighted that legislation which was previously passed by the Scottish Parliament is now in force and that Gay and Bi-Sexual men who have lived with historic convictions for simply being themselves can now set the record straight.
“There is no place for homophobia in Scotland, and I would encourage all Gay and Bi-Sexual men with historic convictions for same-sex sexual activity to take advantage of the opportunity to clear their records of these discriminatory convictions.
“Information on how to apply to have these offences removed can be found on the MyGov.Scot Website.”
Further information on how applications should be made can be found on the MyGov.scot website.
Joan McAlpine has welcomed news that police, and the courts will be given new powers to remove suspected domestic abusers from the homes of victims or others at risk.
The Scottish Government will introduce a Bill to Parliament which will create new protective orders to keep a suspected perpetrator away from the household of someone at risk of abuse.
In contrast with existing civil measures such as Non-Harassment Orders and Exclusion Orders, protective orders would not require the person at risk to make the application to the court themselves. Police would be able to impose a short-term order directly and to apply to a court to put in place a longer-term order.
Welcoming the announcement, Joan McAlpine MSP said:
“Domestic abuse remains a significant problem for many people in Scotland, and I am thrilled that the Scottish Government will introduce a Bill to strengthen the protections already in place to protect victims in Scotland.
“In 2017-18, the highest percentage of incidents of domestic abuse that included the recording of at least one crime or offence also being recorded was in Dumfries & Galloway, which goes to show that victims in our region are particularly at risk of harm.
“I welcome this announcement from the First Minister, and I hope that the new protections, once introduced, will go some way to combatting key issues like Women’s homelessness, which is most often caused by domestic abuse.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Parliament came together to pass what campaigners described as ‘gold standard’ domestic abuse laws, creating a specific new offence that includes not only physical abuse but other forms of psychological abuse and coercive, controlling behaviour. The legislation gave clarity for victims and more powers for police and prosecutors to bring perpetrators to justice.
“But with many tens of thousands of people reporting domestic abuse in Scotland each year, we can and we must go further – and that includes taking action to reduce the threat of homelessness from those who seek safety for themselves and often for their children.
“We need to change the reality that for many women and their children the only way to escape an abuser is to flee their home. It should not be the victims of abuse who lose their homes, it should be the perpetrators.
“So we will introduce a Bill in this Parliament to give police and courts new powers to remove suspected perpetrators from the homes of those at risk.
“Such orders would allow Scotland’s justice system to safeguard people who, for example, are being controlled to such an extent that they could not initiate court action themselves, and give victims time to seek advice on longer-term housing options.
“While violent crime has significantly reduced in Scotland over the last decade, instances of domestic abuse – an appalling, often hidden crime – remain far too high. Our legislative reforms, together with work to promote healthy relationships and tackle the roots of gender-based violence, can help build a safer Scotland.”
Dr Marsha Scott, Chief Executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said:
“Domestic abuse is the leading cause of women’s homelessness in Scotland. This Bill, if passed, would be an immediate and significant improvement, offering children and women a breathing space as they seek safety. Without this legislation, women experiencing domestic abuse in Scotland will continue to have to choose between staying in the home with an abuser or making themselves and their children homeless to get away from the abuse.
“As survivors have asked for years, why should those being abused, rather than the perpetrator, have to leave their homes, pets, and belongings?
“We very much welcome today’s announcement and look forward to engaging with the Scottish Government on the detail of the legislation going forward.”
SKY HIGH TARIFFS ON SCOTTISH PRODUCE WILL DEVASTATE LOCAL ECONOMY
SNP MSP for South Scotland Joan McAlpine has said that farmers across Dumfries and Galloway will feel “betrayed” by the Tory Government’s latest plans for a No Deal Brexit.
The UK government has this week announced plans to remove import tariffs in the event of a No Deal – a move that the SNP and the National Farmers Union says puts homegrown produce at a serious disadvantage.
More than half of all Scottish goods exports were sent to Europe in the last quarter but leaving without a deal means that we will face the EU’s Common External Tariff - with tariffs of around 84% on Scotch Beef, 53% on wheat, 48% on Scotch Lamb and 30% on pork.
Joan McAlpine MSP, who convenes the Scottish Parliament committee scrutinising Brexit, has previously raised concerns about the UK Governments proposed Tariffs for ‘no-deal’, many of which were introduced earlier this year without consultation.
Commenting, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine hit out at the plans:
“Local farmers will quite rightly feel betrayed by the conscious decision of this Tory government to sell-out Scottish produce.
“Almost half of our exports go to Europe, so a No Deal Brexit would be seriously damaging for Scottish businesses, jobs and the economy.
“With tariffs of up to 84% on our world-renowned Scotch Beef or 57% on Cheddar cheese, it’s no exaggeration to say that a No Deal will devastate key sectors of our local economy, particularly businesses like ARLA in Lockerbie who have told me they export over 2000 tonnes of cheese to the EU each year.
“I have previously highlighted the negative effects that UK Government measures like dropping tariffs on imported eggs will have on local suppliers, with the potential to flood the market with cheap, poor quality eggs from abroad. Many of these measures were introduced by the UK Government earlier this year with no consultation, which is completely unacceptable and shows a complete disregard for Scotland’s farming community.
“The Scotland Office was telling farmers recently that the No Deal free for all would be reconsidered, but these latest tariffs show that Alister Jack as Secretary of State for Scotland has done nothing to protect the interests of food and drinks producers in his constituency or in Scotland more broadly. This is completely reprehensible.
“The SNP has consistently called for Scotland to remain in the EU so that we can maintain free trade, with no tariffs or other barriers that we currently benefit from within Europe’s Single Market.”
NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said:
“Setting a low or zero tariff rate on the importation of key agricultural products, like cereals, eggs, pork, fruit and veg and some dairy produce will place many of our farmers at a significant disadvantage and undermine any efforts to negotiate new trade arrangements.
“Exports of Scottish produce like lamb and beef to the EU face the prospect of crippling tariffs as we are forced to operate to WTO rules. When we have the ambition to double the size of the farming, food and drink industry in Scotland to £30 billion, the tariff schedule, as proposed by the Government, would place that ambition in jeopardy.”
SNP MSP for South Scotland Joan McAlpine MSP has called on the UK Government to cough up their fair share of funding for Broadband and digital infrastructure across Scotland.
The MSP’s comments come after the UK Chancellor’s Broadband funding announcement at the Tory Party Conference on September 30th of a £25 billion investment in infrastructure to include nationwide 5G broadband, revitalised bus services and upgrades to major roads- but Ms. McAlpine says the funding needs to come directly to Scotland and not be risked in a messy ‘bidding war’ that could see Scotland lose out.
The Scottish Government received just £21 million funding from the Tory government, despite broadband being a matter reserved to Westminster – meaning it is the responsibility of the UK government. The allocation amounts to just 3.5% of the total funding for broadband in Scotland, with the other £580 million coming from the SNP Government.
Commenting, Joan McAlpine MSP said:
“The UK Government must cough up their fair share of funding for digital infrastructure and broadband across Scotland after continually short-changing Scotland’s communities.
Rural communities face particular challenges installing broadband, and in Scotland we have many more communities which face these geographical challenges.
“It’s time for the Tories to put their money where their mouth is and ensure that they deliver the funding required for digital infrastructure improvements direct to Scotland, and stop forcing the Scottish Government to continue to foot the bill for this matter which is reserved to Westminster.”
MSP Joan McAlpine says a £300k windfall from the Crown Estate should help support Nith Inshore Rescue and other coastal community projects in Dumfries and Galloway.
The South Scotland MSP made her call after discovering that the Scottish Government has allocated Dumfries and Galloway Council £309,041.03 of Scottish Crown Estate marine profits. Control of the Crown Estate, which mainly raises money from activities on the shoreline and seabed, passed to Scotland under additional devolution powers following the 2014 independence referendum.
The MSP wrote again this week to Council boss Gavin Stevenson after the Scottish Government published annual allocation figures for 2019-2020 confirming Dumfries and Galloway will receive £309,041.03 from the total net revenue of £7.2 million across Scotland.
Mr Stevenson previously promised Ms McAlpine they would examine the issue when the allocation was announced after she wrote to him highlighting the Crown Estate opportunity.
The MSP had previously taken up the case of independent based inshore and inland water search and rescue charity, Nith Inshore Rescue after touring their Glencaple premises. She commented,
“Nith Inshore Rescue is a volunteer-run lifeboat service serving Upper Solway and the surrounding area, providing a life- line to local people and visitors to the area. It is a great example of a charity run by dedicated and skilled volunteers which sits at the heart of the coastal community. Such a service cannot run on fresh air, and Nithshould be at the front of the queue for assistance from the Scottish Crown Estate marine assets fund.
“Running costs of over £30k per annum could be met from the local authority revenue allocation if Dumfries and Galloway Council agree with me that Nith, like other fantastic local services, must be funded to sustain and develop what they offer to communities.
“Now that Councils have the power to manage how funds are spent, I hope Dumfries and Galloway Council let us all know what plans are in place to directly benefit coastal communities using this money,”
South of Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has called on Conservative MPs David Mundell and Alister Jack to explain why they backed Boris Johnston’s illegal shut down of the UK parliament.
The proroguing of parliament was ruled unlawful today in a landmark ruling by the UK Supreme Court in which judges were unanimous.
Mr. Mundell and Mr. Jack both also voted against the ‘Benn Bill’ which protects the UK against a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, which Ms. McAlpine says is ‘unforgivable’ given that both MPs are well aware of the severe impacts which a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit will have on rural areas like Dumfries and Galloway.
Speaking after the announcement that Parliament should return as soon as possible, Joan McAlpine MSP said:
“I am proud of my friend and SNP colleague Joanna Cherry QC MP in leading this historic case which is a victory for democracy. David Mundell and Alister Jack have some serious explaining to do if they expect the people of Dumfries and Galloway to have any faith in their elected representatives.
“Supporting Boris Johnston’s attempts to pervert democracy just to get his own way and avoid parliamentary scrutiny is an affront to democracy and against the law. The people of this region deserve better.
“It is staggering that both MPs also voted against a Bill introduced to stop a no-deal Brexit from becoming a legal possibility. The impacts of a no-deal scenario on Dumfries and Galloway would be severe, with many of our key industries like farming and food and drink production being negatively impacted.
"Mr. Jack, the Scottish Secretary, has been particularly invisible. He is supposed to stand up for Scotland but he can't even stand up to his own Parliament."
South of Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the publication of draft proposals to improve transport links and infrastructure in South West Scotland. The draft publication of the South West Scotland Transport Study, which was launched on 27th June, gives local people and interested parties the opportunity to have their say on the future of transport in South West Scotland through a public consultation process.
Twenty-three potential options for further consideration have been put forward in the South West Scotland Transport Study, with the intention for these recommendations to be considered nationally in the second Strategic Transport Projects Review.
The options put forward include enhanced rail services, significant upgrades to the A75 and A77 to improve connectivity to the ports at Cairnryan, and upgrades to the A76 and to transport hubs in towns like Dumfries, Stranraer and Lockerbie.
Joan McAlpine MSP said:
“I am very pleased that the South West Scotland Transport Study is now available, and I’m looking forward to reading in detail the proposals put forward.
“I am glad that the study takes forward proposals I have backed, such as new stations, and upgrades to road and rail networks, particularly upgrades to A75 and A76.
“I’m encouraged by proposals for a new railway connections and a Dumfries to Stranraer line which would be great for the region, and I’m glad that such an ambitious, popular, and environmentally friendly project is included.
“This is an opportunity to get South West priorities earmarked for the national transport strategy, so I would encourage everyone to respond to the public consultation with their views.”
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said:
“We understand the importance of connectivity for the South West of Scotland and extensive stakeholder engagement and data gathering has taken place during this study to help us develop a good understanding of the issues and opportunities for strategic transport links across all modes.
“The draft report will now be available for eight weeks to allow all those with an interest to provide comments on it. Following this, the emerging recommendations will be considered as part of the nationwide Strategic Transport Projects Review which will set out future transport infrastructure investment priorities.
“We have already had valuable local input into the Study with more than 3000 people contributing and we will keep them updated as work progresses.”
The public consultation can be accessed here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SWScotland-Transport-Study-Case-For-Change-Feedback-Survey
South of Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed news that the Scottish Government will use new powers over social security to introduce a payment to help lift children out of poverty.
The Scottish Child Payment will give eligible families £10 a week for every child under 16 by the end of 2022. For a family with two children under the age of 16 this is an additional £1,000 a year. It makes Scotland the only part of the UK to introduce an extra payment for the children of low income families..
The payment will be introduced early for all families with children under six. 170,000 children will benefit from early introduction which will start in early 2021. This is a more than a year earlier than the timescale outlined in the Scottish Government’s Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan.
Scotland is the only UK country to have set statutory income targets to end child poverty in the Child Poverty Act, with the Scottish Government also having brought forward its Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan. The Scottish Government has already spent £527 million across all government policies to support low income families with children.
Joan McAlpine MSP said:
“This new benefit shows that the SNP committed to helping people in Scotland, and to tackling the alarming levels of child poverty. The SCP will go some way towards mitigating against continuing benefit cuts from the UK Government. If we didn’t have those UK Government cuts pushing families into poverty, the Scottish Child Payment could do much more and have more reach.
“UK benefit cuts will be an annual £3.7 billion in Scotland by next year. We cannot stand by and let that happen. We need more powers to ensure we are not fighting poverty with one hand tied behind our back. Where the Scottish Government do have powers, we will use them to do things differently.
“Already the SNP Government are making a real difference to thousands of families across Scotland with the new Best Start Grant, increases to the value of the School Clothing Grant, nearly doubling funded provision of Early Learning and Childcare, and delivery of 50,000 warm and affordable homes.”
South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine has backed a new plan to ensure Dumfries & Galloway has the skills and training to keep young people in the region and ensure future prosperity.
She made her comments after attending an event to promote the Regional Skills Investment Plan of the South of Scotland Economic Partnership, which was unveiled in the college in Dumfries on Monday.
The new plan has a focus is on communities, farming, fishing, forestry, rural high streets and land management. It has a strong emphasis on young people with plans to provide more employment opportunities and work-based learning offers for school leavers and graduates.
Commenting Ms McAlpine says
“The Regional Skills Investment Plan is good news for the South of Scotland and it’s great to see the economic partnership making so much progress already.
“Improving digital and transport connectivity and increasing access to education, skills and training will help meet the needs of local employers and hopefully enable more of our youngsters to stay in the region instead of moving away.
The plan, which has been developed alongside Skills Development Scotland, has been the culmination of twelve months of partnership working with organisations, employers, parents and young people across the region. It aims to contribute to the economic growth of the south of Scotland by providing a greater choice of career opportunities for young people while offering more opportunities for upskilling and reskilling to the current workforce.
Ms McAlpine continued:
“The approach to partnership working is impressive and should ensure the successful delivery of the plan in the coming years. I can’t praise the members, stakeholders and other contributors highly enough for their achievements.
“While Brexit is unresolved there’s still a lot of uncertainty hanging over the region so it’s reassuring to see a well thought out, realistic strategy to unlock the full potential of the South of Scotland economy.”
A copy of the Regional Skills Investment Plan can be downloaded here :
Image attached : from left to right, Joan McAlpine MSP, Chris Brodie, SOSEP Board Member, Amanda Burgauer, SOSEP Board Member
South of Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed news that Epilepsy Scotland will meet with representatives from the Dumfries and Galloway Health Board alongside local parents of children who suffer with epilepsy.
The meeting has been arranged after Ms. McAlpine raised concerns with Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport Jeane Freeman about Dumfries and Galloway being the only local authority in Scotland not to have a specialist epilepsy nurse, despite figures from Epilepsy Scotland which suggest that over 100 children are currently living with the condition across the region.
The health board is currently conducting a comprehensive service needs analysis and has agreed that engaging with families will be an essential part in working towards meeting the needs of families dealing with epilepsy.
Commenting, Joan McAlpine MSP said:
“I am pleased that the local health board are willing to meet with parents and discuss concerns about the lack of a specialist epilepsy nurse for Dumfries and Galloway. I am fully supportive of the local families who are working hard to change this for the benefit of others dealing with this condition across the region.”