Dennis Robertson MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Dennis Robertson

It is a point of clarification.



Meeting of the Parliament 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Dennis Robertson

Will the member give way?



Meeting of the Parliament 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Dennis Robertson

Does the minister accept that it is also important that we have the right pre-school system in place for deaf children? We expect children who are not deaf to learn language skills before they go to school, and deaf children require support at pre-school level—at that early stage of language development.



Meeting of the Parliament 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Dennis Robertson (Aberdeenshire West) (SNP)

I thank Kenneth Gibson for bringing this debate to the chamber, and I welcome our guests in the public gallery. I suggest that this debate is not only about them and their aspirations but about how we as politicians can—I hope—meet their needs.

Kenneth Gibson was right to say that being deaf does not mean that someone has a learning disability. We have to get away from the perception that deaf children are different—they are not. However, if we are to aspire to getting it right for every child and getting curriculum for excellence right, we need to ensure that we treat each child as an individual. That means that even from the pre-school stage we need to be able to identify their specific needs.

Too often, we look just at the support in school for children who are deaf or hard of hearing, but we need to extend that to look at what is happening at home. For instance, do their parents have appropriate language skills, such as BSL? Do their peers or siblings have those skills? It is all very well saying that we need more teachers who are appropriately qualified in the language skills—I agree, though, with the members who have spoken about that—but we need to ensure that that kind of support is taken home as well.

The responsibility to offer support perhaps belongs to not just the school and parents but health visitors and others working in the community. If we work together in a co-ordinated way, we can do much better for deaf children, because if we get it right from the start they do not have to be disadvantaged or attain less than other children.

On school pathways, I had the privilege yesterday of speaking here in Parliament to children from Finzean primary school. When I told them that I was coming to this debate, one of the young children said that her sister who is deaf attends Aboyne academy, which is in my constituency. I will not go into the details but it is apparent that the majority of children who are deaf or, indeed, have any sensory loss are in mainstream schools, which is right. It might not be right for every child, but it is right for most, because they are part of the community.

Ensuring that children in schools have the language skills to interact with children who are deaf is also very important. Some children are isolated and perhaps bullied in school because of others’ lack of knowledge and awareness.

Therefore, when we move forward, it is important that we ensure that, from a young age, our children do not treat children who are deaf as different but treat them as having a different language that they must, should or can learn. It is also important for us to remember that people who are deaf who come to this country, perhaps from eastern Europe, might not have British Sign Language as their first language either.

We have a lot to learn, but the Scottish Government is committed to getting it right for every child, and the curriculum for excellence will ensure that every child moves forward through the pathway of education and then the transition from school to college, university and work. However, all too often, deaf children are still left behind and deaf adults do not get a job. That needs to change. With a debate such as this raising the awareness and with champions such as Kenneth Gibson, we will move forward.

13:01  

Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Dennis Robertson

Not at the moment.

I fully support the powers that we have and the powers that are coming down—I sincerely hope that the agreement that we have will lead to those powers coming down. I welcome Margaret Curran’s intervention and the idea that those powers that can come to Scotland a bit quicker should do so. We should all welcome those powers.

There is probably one section in our society that is disappointed by the outcome of the Smith commission on opportunities for employment: people with disabilities. I cannot remember any speaker this afternoon mentioning opportunities for people with disabilities coming into the employment market. I think that the Smith commission has fallen short for that group of people. If employment law had been devolved to Scotland, we would probably have had a better opportunity to improve the socially unjust aspect of the current situation for people with disabilities getting back into the employment market than we do with what is being brought forward under the Smith commission.

Inclusion Scotland was right when it said that the process was a quick one. Basically, it was quick because it was said that it had to be quick. That prevented a better, longer dialogue with civic Scotland that could have heard more from the people about what they felt we should have devolved, rather than just what the five political parties in the Smith commission came up with.

If we look at that part of welfare that is proposed to be devolved and the move from disability living allowance to PIP, we have said that the process should be halted in the UK Government and nothing else should be done to move towards PIP because it is an unjust settlement. In some areas, PIP has already disadvantaged many people with disabilities who were on DLA in the past, as they no longer have that benefit.

We should also consider the work capability assessment. People are still being unjustly assessed in terms of their capability for work, and there have been no alternatives. When the UK Government went ahead and closed places such as Remploy factories without having an alternative for people, that was wrong. We are looking at trying to have respect, which is what people with disabilities want. They want their dignity and they want to go out to work, but they also need a process to enable that to happen. The Smith commission does not afford that, and that is unfortunate. It is an opportunity missed.

I sincerely hope that, when members from the other parties sum up, they will reflect on some of those aspects. Opportunities have been missed. I welcome what we have and what we can do with it, but we should also reflect on what we could have had to enable a fairer and more just and equal Scotland.



Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Dennis Robertson (Aberdeenshire West) (SNP)

Alex Rowley mentioned Donald Dewar and the fact that we are on a journey. I agree. Devolution from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament is part of that journey; the devolution from the Scottish Parliament to local government is a journey that is also taking place.

When some members mentioned the devolution of tax and welfare, I firmly believe that they are misleading the public. If we want to have a frank debate with Scotland’s people, let us be open and honest. The taxation that is coming is less than 30 per cent and the welfare coming is less than 20 per cent. That might be fine for some.

To be honest, we said that we had to compromise in the Smith commission, and there was compromise. No one from the other parties in the Parliament was going to agree with John Swinney, Linda Fabiani and Patrick Harvie and move towards independence. We knew that from the outset. What we hoped was that there was going to be further devolution to prepare Scotland for being a better, much richer place.



Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Dennis Robertson

Will Murdo Fraser give way?



Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Dennis Robertson (Aberdeenshire West) (SNP)

Is the cabinet secretary as disappointed as I am to have heard that Iain Duncan Smith has already said that he is not prepared to change his mind with regard to the work programme?



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 03 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 03, 2014
Dennis Robertson (Aberdeenshire West) (SNP)

Good morning, minister. You said that there was no need for further consultation and I accept that. Are you content that, with the timeframe that you have, you will be able to go back to the working group and then come back to the committee in the early part of the new year?



Health and Sport Committee 02 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 02, 2014
Dennis Robertson

Surely not that long.

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
YesCarried

S4M-11830 Ruth Davidson: The Smith Commission—That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the Sm
>> Show more
YesCarried

Amendment 6 moved by Dr Richard Simpson on motion S4M-11826 Maureen Watt: Food (Scotland) Bill—That
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11825.3 Claire Baker: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11825.2 Jamie McGrigor: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11825.1 Tavish Scott: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11825 Richard Lochhead: End of Year Fish Negotiations—That the Parliament welcomes the successfu
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

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

Search for other Motions lodged by Dennis Robertson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11867: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11845: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11618: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11597.1: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11239: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11041: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 30/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10960: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10947: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10888: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10886: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Dennis Robertson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03865: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03840: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23513: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23509: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03789: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03484: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03464: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03377: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02176: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21230: Dennis Robertson, Aberdeenshire West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/05/2014 Show Full Question >>