World Earth Hour

EDINBURGH, UK - 9th March 2017: MSP's back WWF's Earth Hour which takes place on Saturday 25th March at 8:30pm. Now celebrating it's 10th year Earth Hour brings together people all across the world who will be switching out their lights for one hour to show their support for action on climate change and for a more sustainable future. (Photograph: MAVERICK PHOTO AGENCY) For more information please contact Mandy Carter at WWF Scotland on 0131 659 9026.

Saturday (25th of March) from 8:30-9:30pm, is World Earth Hour. On this day people from around the world will switch off their lights to show that they are committed to change. An hour may not seem much but it will make a huge difference to our planet for action on climate change.

Climate change poses a fundamental threat to everything we love. Melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and new and more frequent weather extremes will leave no continent untouched. Impacts are already being felt by many communities and ecosystems worldwide. Water supplies are shrinking, crop yields are dropping, forests are burning, and our oceans are becoming more acidic. This has huge implications for our livelihoods and human security.

Last week in the Scottish Parliament I spoke on the Draft Climate Change Plan. I highlighted the importance of getting this right as it will be our proposals and polices until 2032.  By then children in primary 1 will be in early adulthood so this really is about protecting our planet for future generations.

We must ensure that they can benefit from warm homes and green spaces in urban communities.  We need to promote good, integrated public transport to reduce our reliance on cars. We need to provide safe cycling and walking routes and so must more.

Through a combination of changes and proper monitoring of the Plan, we can lower our greenhouse gas emissions. This will protect our communities against flooding, protect our coastal communities and our marine environment. It will also help build on the 21 thousand jobs that already exist in Scotland’s renewables sector and create more manufacturing and sustainable fisheries jobs.

Switch off your lights during earth hour. You can find more information about Earth Hour and sign up here

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Britain remains an open and tolerant nation

My thoughts are with those affected by the dreadful events, and I thank the police and emergency services for their bravery. After the horrible attack outside Westminster this week, our message to terrorists must be that Britain remains an open and tolerant nation. We will remain true to our values of solidarity and tolerance.
At First Minister’s Questions today, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said:

“No matter the religion, nationality or identity of the attacker, this cannot and must not turn into a war on any one community. Bringing people together must be part of the solution to tackling terror, rather than creating further division within communities.

We must send a strong message that Britain remains an open and tolerant nation that is home to people of all faiths and nationalities. The best message we can send following this terrorist attack is that we will remain true to the values of tolerance and integration, freedom and solidarity.

“Our Houses of Parliament are a beacon of democracy for so many around the world. They represent freedom, tolerance and the rule of law. But Westminster is also a place of work for cleaners, catering staff, janitors, police officers, administrators and many more.

Many public servants all across Britain are going to work today concerned about the safety of others – including police officers, nurses and teachers. It’s essential that everything that can be done is being done to ensure the safety of public servants.” 

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The Dogs Trust

The Dogs Trust -2I recently attended an event in Parliament hosted by the Dogs Trust. The announcement by the Scottish Government on the use of electric pulse, sonic and spray collars being prohibited was widely discussed. The Scottish Government has announced that instead of a full ban of these collars they have said that they are prohibited unless under guidance from a vet or an approved trainer.

Many people, including many of my colleagues, at this event had concerns about there currently being no regulation of animal trainers in Scotland, so anybody could call themselves a trainer. The Dogs Trust also raised the point that vets have very little training on animal behaviour.

The Scottish Labour Party share these concerns with the Dogs Trust and are calling for the Scottish Government to ban shock collars completely. I signed a letter at the event to make my feelings clear to the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP on this.  A clear message needs to be sent that this type of practice is not acceptable in any way, shape or form.



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Marie Curie – Daffodil Appeal


Please support “make every daffodil count” this March for Marie Curie the terminal illness charity.

The Great Daffodil Appeal is Marie Curie’s biggest annual fundraising campaign and they are asking people to simply give a donation and wear a Marie Curie daffodil pin. All funds raised help Marie Curie Nurses be there for people living with a terminal illness in their own homes or at the charity’s two Scottish hospices in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Marie Curie Nurses work night and day in people’s homes across the UK, and hospices provide expert care round the clock. 17,400 people will need palliative care in the South Scotland area each year. Marie Curie continues to work with the new health and social care partnerships to ensure that palliative care services reach more people and everyone gets the care they need.

Marie Curie is the UK’s leading charity for people with any terminal illness not just cancer.  Within NHS Lanarkshire in 2015/16, Marie Curie helped 95% of patients with a terminal illness die in their place of choice. Through fundraising these support services are able to exist, providing much needed comfort and choice to people at the end of their life.

I will be collecting at Carluke Tesco on 31 March so please come and say hello and lend your support by donating. or call 0800 304 7025. To donate £5, text DAFF to 70111*

*Texts cost £5 plus your standard network rate. 98% of your donation is received by Marie Curie

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Together we’re stronger

Scottish Labour  believe we are stronger together.  My party will vote against a second independence referendum. We are divided enough – we will fight for a stronger Scotland inside a reformed UK, with jobs and opportunities for all.

If you agree, sign our pledge for a stronger Scotland in union –

Responding to Nicola Sturgeon’s speech this morning, here’s what Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said:

“Scotland is already divided enough. We do not want to be divided again, but that is exactly what another independence referendum would do.

Two years ago, 85 per cent of Scotland’s voters took part in the independence referendum and the result was a clear vote to remain in the UK. With our country facing all of the uncertainty around the Tories’ reckless plans for a hard Brexit, the last thing we need is even more uncertainty and division.

A clear majority of the people of Scotland voted to reject the SNP’s false hope and lies, and backed working together with the other nations of the UK.

The reality is that leaving the UK would mean turbo-charged austerity for Scotland, putting the future of our schools and hospitals at risk.

Labour believes that together we’re stronger. That is why we firmly oppose a second referendum and Scottish Labour MSPs will vote against the SNP’s proposals next week. We will stand up for the people of Scotland, who do not want a second independence referendum.

Nicola Sturgeon could have made a passionate case for bringing powers from Brussels to Edinburgh, instead she did what she always does: sought grievance and division.

Scotland deserves better than this. Nicola Sturgeon’s government is presiding over an education system with a growing gap between the richest and the rest, a health service that doesn’t have enough doctors and nurses, and an economy which sees more than 200,000 Scottish children live in poverty.

Scotland would be a better place if the First Minister stopped dividing the country and started actually governing the country.”

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Free safety device could help keep vulnerable people gas safe in their own home.

Locking cooker

The locking cooker device is a valve that can be turned off by carers and family members to stop the cooker being used unsupervised. This means that in some cases vulnerable people are able to continue to use their gas cooker in their own home. Family, friends and carers will have the reassurance that they cannot use it unsupervised.

I want to encourage referrals from people who think this may help their circumstances.  Contact or call 0800 975 1818 to apply for a free locking cooker valve.


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Climate Change Plan – Key Recommendations

I sit on the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, and we have been one of the four committees scrutinising the draft Climate Change Plan.

Here are some of the key points the committee have highlighted:

·        The Scottish Government should adopt equally challenging policies and proposals across all sectors, which reflect the wider benefits of climate change actions and should be supported by behavioural change research.

·        The Committee plans to review the final Climate Change Plan. Given timing issues identified by stakeholders and various committees, it encourages the Scottish Government to prioritise this scrutiny process. More detail should be given on emissions reductions across all sectors and the necessary action should be specific, clear and transparent in the final plan.

·        The final plan should have a “Plan B” option if the assumptions for carbon capture and storage are not realised.

·        The monitoring and evaluation framework is crucial and the Scottish Parliament should be involved in the development and scrutiny of this.

You can read more about the scrutiny process, and the recommendations from other committees by clicking here.

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Children and alcohol adverts

Alcohol Focus MarketingMore must be done to reduce children’s exposure to alcohol brands and advertising.

Alcohol Focus Scotland was asked to facilitate an expert group on alcohol advertising and in the Virtual Expert Network’s recent report Promoting Good Health; Reducing the impact of Alcohol Marketing on Children in Scotland, a series of recommendations have been published.

Alcohol Focus states that there is clear evidence to show that exposure to alcohol marketing leads children to start drinking at a younger age and to drink more if they are already drinking.

Some of the recommendations such as removing alcohol adverts from street and public transport and phasing out alcohol sponsorship in sport can help prevent companies influencing children.

The Scottish Government asked for the opinion of this expert group and I hope they will now put their recommendations into action.  For full details of the report


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Registration to resuscitation

You canDefibrillator image save lives by making sure your community register where your Public Access Defibrillators (PADs) can be found.

A PAD is a vital piece of equipment used in the early minutes following a cardiac arrest before the ambulance arrives.

Currently any community can acquire a defibrillator and they are often based in public places, for example sports facilities or community centres.  However, key to a fast reaction is knowing where they are.

I am appealing to you to make sure your community register any in your area with the Ambulance Service so when someone calls 999 they know where the nearest defibrillator is, if required.

The custodians who look after these defibrillators can register them on the Scottish Ambulance Service website

Members of the public can also check whether the
defibrillators they see in their communities are registered. This information can help someone survive a cardiac arrest.

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Apprenticeship week

As you may already know this week marks Scottish Apprenticeship week. Every year in March, Skill Development Scotland, along with a number of other organisations use this week to highlight the benefits that come from having an apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships offer great opportunities to enhance work based learning, reduce youth unemployment and helps address equality issues with the gender gap. This is very fitting in a week that also marks International Women’s Day!

Apprenticeships are not only for people in towns and cities either, they provide much needed jobs in rural areas also. I have visited a number of great companies in rural Clydesdale who are providing great opportunities for young people in the rural area. Last year, as you may remember, I visited Martin Aerospace in Lanark with Cllr Catherine McClymont where we heard about their great apprenticeship scheme.

For more information on different types of apprenticeships and how to become an apprentice please visit:  



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