Colin Keir MSP

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Search for other Speeches made by Colin Keir (Edinburgh Western) (SNP)

Meeting of the Parliament 28 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Colin Keir (Edinburgh Western) (SNP)

I add my congratulations to my colleague Kevin Stewart on lodging the motion, and I certainly support the principles in it.

Hepatitis C has presented a major challenge to our health services over many years. There is no doubt that it remains a major challenge, but there is light at the end of the tunnel in terms of possible treatment.

When doing a bit of research for this evening’s debate, I was going through the endless statistics and reports and wondering where to go with this speech. Kevin Stewart gave some excellent personal examples of the problems that are faced by sufferers. As it happened, I met an acquaintance on Monday evening who I had not seen since my school days. I had not known that he is not living in Scotland any more—he lives down in England. As we carried on with our general pleasantries and talked about what we have been doing—he was quite surprised to find that I had found myself in Parliament—I happened to mention that I was taking part in this debate. He went a bit quiet on me and said that he had been diagnosed with the condition a wee bit of time ago.

We carried on the conversation, as members can imagine. He felt a bit uneasy about it, and he did not explain how or where he had contracted the virus. However, he was clearly excited by the advances in the drugs that may help in the coming years. After a time, when we were speaking in very general terms, he started to open up, explaining how difficult it had been to explain to his family how he had been infected. It was absolutely clear that there were stresses within the family when it happened. The long-term fears about how it would affect him were hitting him. What would be the effect on developing relationships in the future? Those things affect not just people who suffer from hepatitis C—they affect people who suffer from other afflictions.

My friend went through a period when his concern was replaced by anger, interspersed with periods of depression. Many sufferers seem to go thorough states of anxiety, and more. He joined a support group in the midlands in England, through which he eventually managed to get himself in some degree of order. I am thankful that he is now in a stronger state of mind than he was not long ago.

If we assume that most people who have been diagnosed go through that, we can see why groups such as Waverley Care, here in Edinburgh, are so important within our communities. Outreach work—getting out into communities, dealing with groups who are at higher risk of infection, getting people to talk and, for those who have been diagnosed, ensuring that help is available—has been vital.

Of course, that description is oversimplistic. Some people lead chaotic lifestyles and are perhaps not clear whether, or do not know that, they are suffering from hepatitis C. There is also the problem of dealing with people in the prison system and people who continue to be hooked on drugs, which brings additional pressures regarding practical difficulties with treatment.

I pay tribute to the current and previous Scottish Governments, including Malcolm Chisholm, for the work that they have done. I was delighted to hear Malcolm Chisholm’s contribution, which was as helpful as ever.

Since 2011, the Scottish Government has provided something in the region of £28.7 million each year in funding for the sexual health and blood-borne virus strategy. I believe that came out in an answer to a question from Jackson Carlaw. About £14.5 million is allocated annually to support activities on viral hepatitis.

Of course, the real shining light is a cure. The old regime of interferon-based treatment is certainly not perfect. New drugs that are now available and have been passed for use present a real possibility of ending the scourge of hepatitis C. Time will tell.

The Scottish Government’s commitment through the new drugs fund will undoubtedly make a difference in providing the drugs that are required. Kevin Stewart has raised a number of excellent points in his motion and I commend him once again for a motion that is based on a positive end for something that has caused misery to many. I support the motion.

17:55  

Health and Sport Committee 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Colin Keir (Edinburgh Western) (SNP)

I am the MSP for Edinburgh Western.



Health and Sport Committee 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Colin Keir

Nobody said that this session would not be interesting. I was particularly taken by some of what Baroness Finlay has said. The key word is “some”. Some people may feel whatever it is that they feel; it is not exact. The example that was given—was it of Baroness Campbell?



Health and Sport Committee 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Colin Keir

She obviously made a conscious decision to fight and to live her life as she wished to. That would not bring her within the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill, simply because of the fact that suicide is what it is. It is not euthanasia. We are not asking for someone else’s input. That is my take on that.

11:00  

Health and Sport Committee 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Colin Keir

I will continue if I may. I am partially deaf, so I may not have cottoned on correctly, but at one point in the discussion we seemed to be looking at an either/or situation—I think that somebody else mentioned that—in terms of palliative care and assisted suicide. I believe that if the bill was enacted it would not be a case of either/or. Surely palliative care is what it is. I would not expect anyone who worked in the palliative care sector to suggest suicide to anyone. I say that from my experience as a carer of someone with a relatively long-term degenerative illness.

I hear reasons why we cannot do this, but I find the way in which the generalisation has been put across quite off-putting. The person who I dealt with, who had received care for an extremely long time, went into palliative care and even at that point contemplated suicide towards the end. It is not the same for everybody; some people who have the same care that my relative had would not contemplate suicide.

Perhaps I need to think about this more before we take the bill wherever it happens to go, but I find it rather worrying that we have very general considerations. Maybe we have to have those considerations because of the type of debate that we are having, but the individual is the one who might decide, during their period of palliative care, “I am sorry—I’ve just had enough of this.” At what point do we help someone to go forward? I would expect palliative carers to do everything that they could, but at some point, somewhere, a patient will say, “No, I really have had enough.” I would like to see some consideration of how that would be dealt with.



Health and Sport Committee 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Colin Keir

Good afternoon. I represent the Edinburgh Western constituency.



Health and Sport Committee 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Colin Keir

I have just been changing my question a little bit following what has been said. Mr Deighan mentioned the acceptance of death and the fact that someone will be asked to help someone else curtail their life. Let us face it, suicide is not illegal, as such, and some people, for whatever reason, will commit suicide.

My concern is for people who are seriously considering that course of action. If someone has a seriously bad illness, is having problems, or is coming towards the end of their life, and they are one of that small number of people—I believe that it is a small number—who think that they are at the end of their tether and want to end their life, is it fair for us to deprive them of some help, without which they might head in their own direction and take their own lives in a less pleasant manner, which would be particularly harrowing for their families? Would it not be better for the families if the issue was resolved properly beforehand, so that there was an acceptance that it was going to happen, as against suddenly finding that their nearest and dearest or their family friend has taken their own life in some degree of solitude and in a situation that is not quite as pleasant?



Meeting of the Parliament 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Colin Keir (Edinburgh Western) (SNP)

Given that it should have been devolved already through Calman, does the Deputy First Minister agree that air passenger duty can and must be devolved to the Scottish Parliament at the earliest opportunity? Will he provide assurances that he will pursue that with the UK Government at the earliest opportunity?



Meeting of the Parliament 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Colin Keir (Edinburgh Western) (SNP)

I, too, congratulate Stewart Maxwell on bringing the debate.

I cannot think of a more appropriate day than the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps to commemorate Holocaust memorial day. The attempted wiping out in Europe of not just Jews but others such as Sinti and Roma Gypsies has proved to be among the most shameful acts in modern times, if not in the history of mankind. If we think of the crimes against humanity in Cambodia, Srebrenica and Rwanda, it is almost as if the world has not listened to the warnings of the early part of the 20th century.

I fully commend and support the work that is carried out by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and the Holocaust Educational Trust. It is vital that younger generations are taught about the vile actions of the Nazis and their followers from the 1930s until 1945. I would like to think that the education of our younger people will enable them to identify the type of laws that can only lead to persecution of smaller groups. The Nazi Nuremberg laws are a good case in point.

I was born 14 years after the end of the second world war. I grew up in a Scotland in which we had only two or three television channels. That meant that we had no shortage of war films on BBC 1, BBC 2 and ITV; they gave me my childhood view of war. It was only later, when I reached my teens, in the 1970s, that I found out about the atrocities in the concentration camps and death camps that were organised by the Nazis, but there was a limit to what we knew or understood. Perhaps I got a bit more knowledgeable when I was doing my highers, but the atrocities took place way before my time.

The full impact of what happened hit me fairly recently, in the past five years, when I began visiting friends in Berlin. Initially, I accidentally came across places that would have held a great deal of fear for any Jews in the area all those years ago. We travelled on Berlin’s S-Bahn and stopped at Grunewald station in the west of the city. We looked around and saw tiled buildings that had obviously been through the war and had been kept. I was quite impressed by the sense of history in the architecture, given that 80 per cent of the city had been destroyed, and I pointed that out to my friends. They looked at me, pointed and said that it was where the Berlin Jews were told to report for what they thought was going to be a new life in the east.

The penny really dropped with me at that point. I can genuinely say that my heart sank. That was no grainy black-and-white television documentary or even a new colour film on the History Channel; that was living history. The sense of being on the site of the cattle trucks and the mass of people who were directed by SS guards, and the knowledge that most of those human beings will never have returned, had a profound effect.

On subsequent visits to the city, I found myself having similar feelings. I had similar feelings when I saw the inauspicious building that Adolf Eichmann used when he was planning the journeys of those poor souls, who were the victims of the final solution.

Why had I known about that period of history but not really felt it or understood it? Living history is about visiting, talking about what happened and really understanding why it happened.

Back in the mid-1980s, I attended a Bruce Springsteen concert in which he said in a preamble to a song:

“Blind faith in your leaders ... will get you killed.”

Perhaps the Jews, Sinti and Roma peoples did not sign up to Nazism, but many others did and millions paid the price. Seventy years ago is not that long ago, and genocide has happened since then. Evil has not gone away, but the world must do what it can to identify it and do something about it.

I support and commend the motion.

18:16  

Public Audit Committee 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Colin Keir (Edinburgh Western) (SNP)

Some of my questions have been answered, but a few things still sit with me.

The recommendations on page 6 of the report say that CPPs should

“strengthen the effectiveness of the leadership, challenge and scrutiny role at CPP board level”.

Some of that issue has been dealt with, but the report also says that CPPs should streamline the local working arrangements that come in underneath.

That reminds me of a problem that I came across in my time as a councillor in Edinburgh. Underneath the CPP, we set up a neighbourhood partnership system that operated in various areas. I remember that, at least initially—my knowledge of this is now about five years old—we had difficulty with getting partners clued up about how to take part in the management of the partnerships. It seemed that, although an awful lot of people sat around talking about what they were doing, only a limited amount of integrated partnership work was actually happening on the ground. There have been a number of difficulties. I am not just talking about the community partnerships’ problems, but about the overall problems of integrated working in comparison with working within silos.

There has been one question in the back of my mind: we all know that there is a community planning partnership board, but do the people who work underneath the board level, at council and local partner level, actually understand what the CPP is? I am talking about people who do not sit on the board—people who are area officers or who have a particular interest.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

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

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

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

Search for other Motions lodged by Colin Keir
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-10902: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08902: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 30/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08809: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08591: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/12/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08377: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/11/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08329: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/11/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08292: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/11/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07752: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/09/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07749: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/09/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07367: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 31/07/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Colin Keir
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03909: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03792: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03750: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03718: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03675: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03655: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03488: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03472: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03213: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03160: Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/04/2014 Show Full Question >>

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