Alison McInnes MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Alison McInnes (North East Scotland) (LD)

I, too, welcome the announcement of a public inquiry with statutory powers. Victims and survivors have long cried out for that. However, the trauma of victims and survivors must always be at the forefront. How will the inquiry ensure that, in getting to the truth, it does not compound the damage? I press the cabinet secretary on the support that will be available to victims and survivors of abuse when they interact with the inquiry. Will third-party advocates be able to present evidence on behalf of those who cannot engage with the inquiry by themselves?



Meeting of the Parliament 04 December 2014 : Thursday, December 04, 2014
Alison McInnes

I do not have much time.

I am still astonished that this Government permits the police to conduct hundreds of thousands of these violations each year. It is even more baffling, because they do not need to. The police possess a range of legitimate statutory search powers, which are rightly based on intelligence and suspicion of wrongdoing. Even the Scottish Police Authority concluded that there is no robust evidence that voluntary stop and search prevents crime. I intend to press the new Cabinet Secretary for Justice to reflect on that and to back my efforts to ensure that all searches are regulated, accountable and rooted in law.

Given that all three of the organisations that I mentioned play a leading role in developing and enacting SNAP, the difference in views between the SHRC, the children’s commissioner and the police was telling, and it reminds us just how much more work needs to be done and how many conversations need to be had and procedures changed before we can hope to realise our ambition of having a mature democracy that truly respects and protects the rights of all.

That is why effectively measuring progress and identifying tangible targets are key to understanding year-on-year advances. I welcome the fact that the monitoring progress group has been established to do just that, and I was interested to read that its focus in 2015 will be to involve those

“whose rights are directly affected by SNAP.”

That is admirable, but those whose rights are most frequently infringed are often disenfranchised, vulnerable or unrepresented. We are talking about vulnerable elderly people who are subjected to medical restraint through prescribed drugs; children who are exposed to so-called justifiable assault, despite the calls of the United Nations to remove the defence of reasonable chastisement; the 202 young people who last year received treatment for mental health problems in non-specialist wards; those who have to wait for more than six months to access essential child and adolescent mental health services treatment, as occurred in half of national health service boards; and people such as Fiona, who is subject to a guardianship order. She recently told me that she is incredibly frustrated that she is not supported in taking the decisions that she is capable of taking. Instead, all rights to control her life have been removed.

It will not always be easy to identify such people, let alone make contact with them and have the opportunity to listen to them, but doing so is critical to understanding and enhancing the impact of SNAP. It will help to build public support for human rights by demonstrating that they are not remote or obstructive legal concepts, and it will help to ensure that SNAP makes a difference to the lives of people across Scotland.



Meeting of the Parliament 04 December 2014 : Thursday, December 04, 2014
Alison McInnes (North East Scotland) (LD)

SNAP has made an impact and good progress in its first year. It is good to have an opportunity to debate it today ahead of international human rights day on 10 December.

Members have already spoken about SNAP’s practical value in raising awareness of, understanding of and respect for human rights throughout the Government, public service and communities. The annual report notes that there is still a lack of understanding among decision makers and front-line workers about the value of human rights, so I welcome the cabinet secretary’s announcement of an awareness-raising campaign on why rights matter and how to claim those rights. That is vital because, as the Scottish Human Rights Commission stresses,

“good intentions do not always translate into good practice.”

There is no better example of that than stop and search, which, as the year 1 report suggests, has proven to be an early test for SNAP. Last week, I chaired a meeting of the cross-party group on children and young people that focused on the impact of that tactic. Representatives of the Scottish Human Rights Commission and Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People told Police Scotland in no uncertain terms that the use of voluntary stop and search was indefensible from a human rights perspective. Every encounter that involves a purposeless, unwarranted search of the public is a distinct intrusion that is incompatible with article 8 of the convention. On any level, let alone the current industrial scale on which it is practised, it is intolerable.



Meeting of the Parliament 03 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 03, 2014
Alison McInnes (North East Scotland) (LD)

The cabinet secretary mentioned 100 additional nursing posts. The HIS reports are not the first to warn that wards must have not only sufficient numbers of nurses, but the right skills mix. What planning is the Scottish Government doing with NHS boards to ensure that the right people are in the right place at the right time, so as to maintain quality of care?

Does the cabinet secretary believe that, in these circumstances, NHS Grampian has the capacity to move at the pace that is required in order effectively to achieve the integration of health and social care?



Meeting of the Parliament 27 November 2014 : Thursday, November 27, 2014
Alison McInnes

I want to make some headway.

It has been achieved through unprecedented cross-party talks, which have involved all of us working together meaningfully and leaving behind the politics of division and grievance. That must continue. There must be a constructive relationship between both of Scotland’s Governments.

In this Parliament, over the past two years the SNP has relied on its majority. Time and again, it has failed to listen to reasoned, principled opposition and has bulldozed policies through regardless, so I welcome the First Minister’s indication that that is going to change, and that whenever parties believe that they have a good idea it will be listened to.

With that consensus in mind, I will start on a positive note. There are many principles in the programme for government that Scottish Liberal Democrats share and many areas in which I think the Government will find ready support, including votes for 16 and 17-year-olds and land reform, to name a couple. I also whole-heartedly welcome the desire to make progress towards a new law on revenge pornography, and I look forward to the introduction of a bill on human trafficking and exploitation.

The remainder of my remarks will focus on areas in which there is less consensus. The previous Cabinet Secretary for Justice took the Government down a path that many of us are uncomfortable with. At this crossroads, I lay down a challenge to the First Minister to change direction. She and the new Cabinet Secretary for Justice have an opportunity to change direction and to be more liberal. They can carry a consensus in areas in which there is common ground; in areas in which there is political discord, they should at least be willing to listen. I hope that they are listening today, because I want changes to be made in a few key areas.

I want a halt to be called to the overused and detrimental police tactic of non-statutory stop and searches. Used correctly, stop and search is a legitimate tool to prevent and detect crime, but Scots are seven times more likely to be subjected to the tactic than are people in England and Wales. Individuals are searched when there are no grounds whatever to suspect them. Last week, we found out that more than 8,000 searches had been carried out by armed officers on routine duties. Who believes that that is not a heavy-handed tactic?

The Human Rights Commission, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, charities and more share our concerns about the unregulated and unaccountable nature of non-statutory stop and search. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of unjustified intrusions and purposeless interactions that are not based on any evidence or intelligence. Even the Scottish Police Authority has concluded that there is no robust evidence that the searches prevent crime.

Therefore, I ask the Government to back my efforts to amend the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill to ensure that all stop and searches are regulated, are based on suspicion of wrongdoing and are rooted in law. I want the powers of the chief constable to be set out. We must move away from a system that has allowed armed officers to routinely patrol our communities without that ever being the subject of public debate or parliamentary scrutiny.

The need to define roles and boundaries has been exposed time and again. The operational independence argument has been used to stifle legitimate debate not just on armed police but on the removal of valued local services. It is a barrier to due scrutiny and good governance. Only yesterday, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities wrote to the chief constable and the SPA to stress the need for local scrutiny and

“early, meaningful dialogue on national policies”.

We need to move away from a one-dimensional view of policing. The number of bobbies on the beat and crime figures do not trump all these other concerns. The police must operate within a framework set by this Parliament and the national force cannot be allowed to shirk transparency, accountability and community engagement any longer. With transparency and local community empowerment in mind, I hope that the Scottish Government will support the changes that I seek.

We will, of course, return to the Government’s flawed and ill-conceived plans to scrap corroboration. I am sure that we all look forward to the publication of the review and that there will be a good amount of debate following that. I say again, though, that I hope that this minister will be more open to listening than his predecessor was.

I also hope that the Cabinet Secretary for Justice can bring renewed focus to the need to reduce the prison population and to improve the criminal justice system and, in particular, our prisons. Health figures out this week showed that complaints were up in our national health service, due to the inclusion of the prison population. The main areas of concern were mental health services and rehabilitation services. We must make progress on that.

I hope that the Government will also be willing to look at increasing the use of community disposals and will improve the situation for female offenders. By progressing the recommendations of the Angiolini commission, we can ensure that we have facilities that are suitable for the existing prison population.

I echo what Willie Rennie said yesterday: where we agree, we will be glad to support this Government’s legislation; when we disagree, we will always work constructively to improve it.



Meeting of the Parliament 27 November 2014 : Thursday, November 27, 2014
Alison McInnes (North East Scotland) (LD)

It would be remiss of me not to start with a mention of the recommendations of the Smith commission, which were unveiled just a few hours ago. Let us be clear: it is a bold package of new powers to give the Scottish Parliament the muscle that it needs to build a fairer society, with opportunity for all.

Scottish Liberal Democrats have championed home rule for decades, so today is exciting for us. We are getting £20 billion in tax powers and £3 billion to build a Scottish welfare system. The Smith commission package delivers on the vow and more—it is vow max.



Justice Committee 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Alison McInnes

So you do not think that there is any benefit in waiting until that appeal has been heard.



Justice Committee 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Alison McInnes

I am not sure whether the Law Society has had a change of heart or whether further scrutiny suggested that a little bit of the regulations did not do what the society thought it would do.

We are told that the auditor has found in favour of the Glasgow Bar Association. I would like to learn a bit more about that. Will the Scottish Legal Aid Board lodge an objection to that decision?



Justice Committee 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Alison McInnes

I absolutely acknowledge the savings that Police Scotland has made in the first couple of years in removing duplication and dealing with some of the inefficiencies, but Vic Emery has said that we are now moving from that consolidating period to a more reforming period, and the concern in communities is that that reform is being driven by the budget pressures rather than by Police Scotland taking communities with it and discussing the issues. We have seen that some of the early decisions taken by Police Scotland did not have the support of communities in Scotland. In moving forward to what might be more radical reforms, is it not important that sufficient time is given for those discussions and for decisions to be made without their being driven purely by the budget process?



Justice Committee 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Alison McInnes

Over a number of days and from a range of people who are involved in policing, we have heard evidence about the challenges that lie ahead in next year’s budget. We have heard evidence from the SPF, the ASPS, HMICS, the chair of the SPA and, this morning, the chief constable. They have all warned that next year’s budget will be very challenging indeed. When I pressed the inspector of constabulary on the risks that lie ahead, he said that there could be an impact on operational effectiveness if the required savings were not achieved. We were also reminded this morning that, although it was involved in drawing up the outline business case, ACPOS never agreed that the £1.1 billion of savings could be made. In the light of all that, will you commit to review the timetable for the reform, to ensure that policing is not compromised by unrealistic budget savings targets?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11901.3 Neil Findlay: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
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Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11901.1 Mary Scanlon: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11830.2 John Swinney: The Smith Commission—As an amendment to motion S4M-11830 in the name of Ru
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

S4M-11830 Ruth Davidson: The Smith Commission—That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the Sm
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

Amendment 6 moved by Dr Richard Simpson on motion S4M-11826 Maureen Watt: Food (Scotland) Bill—That
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YesDefeated

S4M-11825.3 Claire Baker: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825.2 Jamie McGrigor: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825.1 Tavish Scott: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11825 Richard Lochhead: End of Year Fish Negotiations—That the Parliament welcomes the successfu
>> Show more
AbstainCarried

S4M-11763.3 Margaret Burgess: Private Sector Rent Reform—As an amendment to motion S4M-11763 in the
>> Show more
NoCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Alison McInnes
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11963: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 19/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11852: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 09/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11448: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 05/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11261: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 21/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10829.1: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 19/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10700: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 31/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10472: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 24/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10347.2: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 16/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10122: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 21/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09562: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 31/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Alison McInnes
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-23743: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23748: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23745: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23744: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23741: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23739: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23742: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23740: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23747: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23480: Alison McInnes, North East Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 01/12/2014 Show Full Question >>

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