Alison Johnstone MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 28 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Alison Johnstone (Lothian) (Green)

The Scottish Green Party is pleased that the Scottish Government has finally agreed with our long-standing call for clear opposition to unconventional gas extraction. The huge public support that we have had for our principled stance has undoubtedly played an important part in today’s announcement, but of course a moratorium is only—



Meeting of the Parliament 28 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Alison Johnstone

A moratorium is only a delay or a suspension. Is the minister aware that, if he keeps this door ajar, public opposition will continue to grow and the Greens will continue to engage with those communities across Scotland that want an outright ban now?



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
Alison Johnstone (Lothian) (Green)

Sure.

In its submission, the SFHA says that we need

“Effective powers in order to ensure the equitable pricing of energy supply across Scotland, wherever the customer lives.”

That recommendation is not explicitly in the Smith report. Do you feel that it should have been? What might we do to progress that discussion? There are aspects of ECO that I very much welcome, and it is great that we will have an opportunity to tailor measures to address fuel poverty that better suit the conditions that we face in Scotland, but what would you like to see happen with regard to the equitability of energy pricing across the country?



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
Alison Johnstone

Thank you.



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
Alison Johnstone

You have all spoken this morning about the level of engagement from all those with whom you work. That has been such an important part of what has happened in the past few months, but I think that it is fair to say that, given the number of submissions that Smith received, those organisations were not all given the attention that we might have wished. Even now, I think that there is a feeling that we are not involving wider Scotland as well as we could or should be.

There is still a great deal of uncertainty around some of the recommendations. Some people will probably get the outcome that they expect and others will get something entirely different, because the recommendations can be defined both narrowly and broadly.

You have spoken about a citizen-led process as we move forward after the clauses are printed, and how we might best involve wider Scotland. You are looking for innovative ways of involving the public that go beyond the usual tick-box consultation exercises. Can you expand on that a bit? How might we ensure that we do not lose those important voices as the process continues?



Meeting of the Parliament 08 January 2015 : Thursday, January 08, 2015
Alison Johnstone (Lothian) (Green)

I am very grateful to Christine Grahame for bringing the debate to the chamber. As deputy convener of the cross-party group on animal welfare, I have enjoyed working with parliamentary colleagues, member organisations and individuals on a variety of issues, and I am really pleased that this important issue is being discussed in the chamber. I support a complete ban on electric collars and I thank all those who are involved in campaigning on the issue: the Kennel Club, Dogs Trust, OneKind and many other organisations and individuals.

Animal welfare greatly concerns many people in this country. I had the pleasure and privilege of growing up alongside a variety of rescue cats and dogs and I take their physiological and psychological welfare very seriously. There is a very large body of evidence that highlights the detrimental impact of electric shock collars on dog and cat welfare. We really need to follow the example that the Welsh Government has set, and do so as quickly as possible.

The issue has been raised in Westminster, too. An early day motion in 2013 pointed out that DEFRA-funded research showed that electric shock collars on dogs not only

“caused negative behavioural and physiological changes in a portion of dogs,”

but

“were not more effective than positive reinforcement methods which is the main argument for their use”.

Why on earth do we persist? Surely it is more effective and humane to build a relationship of mutual trust and liking, which can be done by positive, reward-based training, as we have heard.

We can ask, as Conservative MP Matthew Oxford did, why DEFRA continues to ignore its research, but in the Scottish Parliament we do not have to continue to go along with that. We can do something different: we can put into legislation our commitment to animal welfare.

In recent months, we have been debating the kind of Scotland that we want to be. I think that we want to be the kind of Scotland that puts animal welfare at the top of the agenda. Responsible dog ownership will never include the use of shock collars, in which the presence of the owner announces the reception of a shock and of pain. What sort of relationship is that? We need to change the law. We cannot simply ignore the fact that dogs are being subjected to short and sharp, or prolonged, electric shocks to correct what some people might see as undesirable behaviours. Elaine Murray pointed out that some of those undesirable behaviours, such as barking, are perfectly natural. I would suggest that anyone considering using a collar should educate themselves first.

The briefings that we have received today say it all. The Kennel Club tells us that

“Unwanted behaviour in dogs is best resolved by positive training methods”

and that

“the Welsh Assembly agreed that there was enough evidence to prove that banning the devices would improve animal welfare.”

If that is the case in the Welsh Assembly, I would like to understand what is different here.

The studies that have taken place highlight the physiological and psychological effects and the impact on learning, and none is positive. It is time that we thought about the message that we want to give in Scotland. It is fair to say that colleagues have outlined the many issues surrounding the collars. OneKind highlights the fact that an electric collar is a tool with the potential to cause an animal significant pain and distress, and it is available without any follow-up control whatever.

I would like us to bear in mind the words of Mahatma Gandhi who said that

“the greatness of a nation ... can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

I want to live in a Scotland in which unnecessary animal cruelty is intolerable and unacceptable.

13:07  

Meeting of the Parliament 07 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 07, 2015
Alison Johnstone (Lothian) (Green)

The beginning of a new year is a good time to have this important debate. Someone wrote on Twitter, in a new year’s resolution sort of way, that this year they would like to save money, lose weight, improve their health and fitness, get to work on time and enjoy the scenery. Then they kind of scored that out and wrote, “I’m going to get cycling.” Walking clearly offers similar benefits.

A Government that is serious about spending money wisely on outcomes such as vastly improving national health and wellbeing, not to mention boosting the economy, should invest properly in walking and cycling. Since I led the Parliament’s first debate on cycling in 2012, it has become clear that there is an increasing number of positive local stories around infrastructure, more training, the lowering of speed limits and the introduction of 20mph zones in some of our towns and cities. However, the situation is still too patchy.

I am pleased to be able to work on a cross-party basis with my colleagues in the cross-party group in the Scottish Parliament on cycling. Co-conveners Jim Eadie and Claudia Beamish always input very positively, as do the many external organisations that attend the group and make it the success that it is.

I was really pleased to attend a meeting in Parliament at which we heard from Søren Rasmussen, an architect and member of the cycling embassy of Denmark, who told us that although investment in cycling in Copenhagen was initially driven by a need to address pollution and congestion, the number 1 reason that people in Copenhagen gave for cycling was convenience and speed—it got them quickly to where they wanted to get. His slides of cycling Copenhagen style were inspirational, with 40 per cent of folk cycling to work, school, university and college, and no Lycra or hi-vis gear in sigh—it is not needed, because a critical mass of cyclists is highly visible. Who can miss that endless flow of bikes, with people pedalling at a conversational speed and arriving to start their day only slightly more rosy-cheeked than if they had walked?

For now, such numbers remain a vision for Scotland, but it is essential that we have a really clear commitment to a target of 10 per cent of all journeys being made by bike by 2020. We should keep the language clear: if 10 per cent is a target, we should call it a target.

As we have heard already, we are in the legacy period following last summer’s very successful Commonwealth games. We know that it is really hard to find research that shows a meaningful legacy and real change following global games. Too often after the games have left town, after people have been inspired by watching the world’s greatest athletes in action and after an initial boost in participation, there has been little or no sustained increase in physical activity among the general population. Investing properly in cycling and walking now would help to ensure that Glasgow bucks that trend. As we know, physical activity can help to improve so many health problems, from dementia to diabetes, and from fatigue to the risk of hip fractures. A Canadian academic has confirmed that the best-preserved 65-year-old can outperform a sedentary 25-year-old.

However, becoming and remaining physically active is a quality-of-life issue. As we begin to fully understand the economic, health and societal impacts of our changing population demographic, that becomes important information. Our population is ageing, and people need to do so in an active and energising way that helps to prevent and delay many of the chronic conditions that blight too many lives. It is really important that the Scottish Government sustains a clear upward trend in investment in active travel. Relying on consequentials, welcome though they are, does not demonstrate the leadership that we need on the issue. The increase in investment in previous years got us close to 2 per cent of transport spending, and I urge the Government not only to maintain that but to surpass it and not to cut investment.

The City of Edinburgh Council leads the local authority commuter cycle rates race. It has done so with a clear commitment to increase spending on active travel by 1 per cent each year until it has reached 10 per cent of the transport budget.

Governing is, of course, about choices. As yet, no Scottish Government—indeed, no Government in Scotland—has made walking and cycling a priority. The level of investment says it all: it is 1 and a bit per cent of the transport budget—a budget that has increased massively in the past four years. The new transport minister could be the person to change that.



Meeting of the Parliament 07 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 07, 2015
Alison Johnstone

Absolutely, but we have spent a lot of money on changing attitudes. We need to have the infrastructure that will allow parents and others to feel that they want children to walk and cycle on safe roads.

The Paths for All Partnership has called for a champion for the cause. The minister could be the Government’s cycling and walking champion.

Spokes has rightly questioned the clarity of the financial transactions that are involved in investing in cycling and walking infrastructure. Transform Scotland, too, speaks of the continued opaqueness of the Scottish budget. Why is it so complicated? I ask the Government to make it as transparent as possible and to be really proud of the investment. It can have a single budget line or two for “Walking infrastructure” and “Cycling infrastructure”. As advocated by the Scottish Green Party and 110 transport, medical and other professional bodies, including the Association of Directors of Public Health, the Institute of Highway Engineers and the British Heart Foundation, at the end of the line can be a figure that is 10 per cent of the transport budget.



Meeting of the Parliament 07 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 07, 2015
Alison Johnstone

I will indeed, Presiding Officer.

The Paths for All Partnership is right to point out in its briefing that active travel schemes clearly deliver better value for money than most traditional transport schemes. It is also right to say that it is time to fund what the policies say. So why the on-going reluctance?

I look forward to hearing colleagues’ speeches.

I move amendment S4M-11980.2, to insert at end:

“; reaffirms the Scottish Government’s target of 10% of journeys to be made by bike by 2020; notes the estimate by Spokes that active travel funding in the 2015-16 draft budget is lower than in the previous year; calls on the Scottish Government to reverse this cut and substantially increase funding for active travel; notes the ongoing debate and research into the introduction of presumed liability in relation to road accidents, and urges local authorities to meet growing demand for high-quality walking and cycling infrastructure, extend 20mph speed limits in built-up areas and provide walking and cycling training opportunities to every child in Scotland”.

15:11  

Meeting of the Parliament 07 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 07, 2015
Alison Johnstone

Surely the member recognises that, although promoting the benefits of active travel is clearly important, if we have a campaign such as give me cycle space but parents do not feel that the cycle space exists for their children to cycle safely on the roads or indeed that they can walk safely to school, that money will be wasted. It will not have the impact that we would wish.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12182.1 Alex Fergusson: The Chilcot Inquiry—As an amendment to motion S4M-12182 in the name of N
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NoDefeated

S4M-12182 Nicola Sturgeon: The Chilcot Inquiry—That the Parliament calls for Sir John Chilcot’s offi
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12176 John Swinney: Community Charge Debt (Scotland) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the gene
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12160.2 Michael Matheson: Women Offenders—As an amendment to motion S4M-12160 in the name of Kez
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12160.3 Margaret Mitchell: Women Offenders—As an amendment to motion S4M-12160 in the name of Ke
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12160 Kezia Dugdale: Women Offenders—That the Parliament welcomes the decision of the Scottish G
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12154.1 Lewis Macdonald: Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) – Supporting Indivi
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12120.1 Jenny Marra: 2020 Vision, the Strategic Forward Direction of the NHS—As an amendment to
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-12101 John Swinney: Budget (Scotland) (No.4) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the general prin
>> Show more
AbstainCarried

S4M-12095.4 Ken Macintosh: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
YesDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Alison Johnstone
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12167: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 27/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12057: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 13/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11994: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 06/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11980.2: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 06/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11780: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 02/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11722: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 26/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11635: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 20/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11617: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 19/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11384: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 31/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11343: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 29/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Alison Johnstone
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-24255: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 30/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24253: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 30/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24254: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 30/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24098: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 20/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23718: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 17/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23614: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 10/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23615: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 10/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23487: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 02/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23486: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 02/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4T-00853: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2014 Show Full Question >>

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