Graeme Pearson MSP

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Graeme Pearson MSP

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  • Member for: South Scotland
  • Party: Scottish Labour

Graeme is a member of the following Committees:

Graeme is a member of the following Cross-Party Groups:

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by Graeme Pearson (South Scotland) (Lab)

Meeting of the Parliament 18 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Graeme Pearson (South Scotland) (Lab)

I say at outset that Scottish Labour supports the motion. I will speak to the amendment from Scottish Labour.

We have no reservations in our support for the Government’s intentions in this matter. To reduce the drink-drive limit is the right thing to do and this is the right time to do it. If the motion is agreed to and the policy is implemented, we hope and anticipate that it will bring about greater safety on Scottish roads and protect citizens throughout Scotland.

The cabinet secretary was good enough to rehearse the statistics. The situation is maddening, because it does not need to be this way. Few members, and few of the people who are listening to the debate, will not have been touched in some way by an incident in which a driver who was under the influence of drink—not just a drunk driver, as we might imagine them, but someone whose abilities were impaired through alcohol—caused an accident. Such accidents cause enormous angst, injury and sometimes, unfortunately, death.

In 2010, the UK Labour Party commissioned a review from Sir Peter North. He recommended that the blood alcohol content limit be reduced to 50mg, estimating that up to 168 deaths would be saved in the UK in the first year of implementation. It is depressing that the UK Government refused to accept Sir Peter North’s recommendations. As the cabinet secretary acknowledged, that was a missed opportunity, which we hope that the UK Government will revisit sooner rather than later.

The measure that we are considering today is a bit like the ban on smoking in public places. Mr MacAskill was right when he said that, in the 1960s and 1970s, people accepted as part of the culture the notion that a man—it was men in particular, I have to say—would get behind the wheel of a motor car while impaired or, as was often the case, drunk. Machismo was involved, and people thought that everyone was able to make a judgment about their fitness to drive.

The introduction of alcometers and breath tests changed things. However, we need to acknowledge that even in modern Scotland we have been involved in all sorts of arguments about how fairly the technology for detecting impairment is used and that we have made it very difficult for police officers to obtain the evidence that is necessary for prosecution.

I am pleased that much of that is behind us and that we realise that this is a public safety issue, rather than a matter of criminalising members of our community. I do not expect much antagonism in this afternoon’s debate. I anticipate that all members will support the Government’s intentions.

I have done some research into how the proposed change will affect communities. When Ireland indicated that the standard limit of 80mg per 100ml of blood would be reduced to 50mg per 100ml, the council in Kerry, in south-west Ireland, moved that the proposal should be amended to enable the garda to issue permits to respected members of the local community who would be trusted to drive with a higher level of alcohol in their blood. The idea was debated with some strength and was proposed to the justice secretary in Dublin, but I am pleased to say that no further steps were taken and no decision was offered—the proposal merely fell by the wayside through lack of support.

However, that indicates the concerns that exist in rural communities about the impacts of the changes, which we should acknowledge; hence, the Labour amendment seeks to add a reference to an educational and media campaign to the Government’s motion. It is important that we further educate the community. If we tell them 10 times, we will need to tell them 10 times more and 10 times more again. Only when they are personally involved in incidents involving drivers who are under the influence of alcohol do people take these things seriously. We need to get it into the minds of people like me that those drivers are not evil people; they are careless people who do not think ahead of time. The Government and the Parliament have a duty to bring to people’s attention now the impacts of what could happen, particularly over the festive period.



Meeting of the Parliament 18 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Graeme Pearson

The member makes an important point, and I would support that proposal. I was at Stranraer academy yesterday and that very issue was raised out of the blue. The young person concerned thought it was very unfair that we would treat young drivers differently from mature drivers such as me, although I raised the fact that young drivers are statistically more likely to be involved in road accidents whether or not they are impaired through alcohol.

I hope that the Government invests the necessary financial support to ensure that an educational media campaign is launched. I invite the cabinet secretary to examine the possibility of modern-day alcometers being provided to the general public in some form so that they can understand the impact of the alcohol that they consume—I have no knowledge of the cost of such things or whether that would be a practical solution.

I trust that, as the debate progresses, the Parliament will agree that the motion and the Labour amendment should be supported. Subject to the speeches from the Conservative Party in the debate, we will make a judgment on the Conservative amendment.

I move amendment S4M-11567.1, to insert at end:

“, and considers that the accompanying education and media campaign should cover the morning after effects of alcohol”.

15:43  

Meeting of the Parliament 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
5. Graeme Pearson (South Scotland) (Lab)

To ask the First Minister what the Scottish Government’s response is to the Law Society of Scotland’s discussion paper, “Legal Assistance in Scotland”, which says that the current system is not fit for purpose. (S4F-02386)



Meeting of the Parliament 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
Graeme Pearson

The First Minister may remember that I raised concerns last year about proposed changes to legal aid. The president of the Law Society of Scotland said this week that legal aid cuts are likely to curb rights to justice for people on low and modest incomes who rely on legal aid. Does the First Minister agree that the prospect of citizens of modest means being denied access, as the Law Society suggests, while career criminals repeatedly access legal aid unfettered is indefensible and a foreseeable consequence arising from Mr MacAskill’s changes? Will the First Minister use whatever influence he has to ensure that the situation is addressed by his successor urgently?



Meeting of the Parliament 12 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 12, 2014
9. Graeme Pearson (South Scotland) (Lab)

To ask the Scottish Government when it will bring forward proposals to tackle revenge pornography and what timescales will apply. (S4O-03681)



Meeting of the Parliament 12 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Graeme Pearson

Will the cabinet secretary confirm whether he or his officials have had discussions with the Scottish Police Authority about the nature of any additional resources or finance that might be required to deal with the issue?



Meeting of the Parliament 11 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Graeme Pearson (South Scotland) (Lab)

I am grateful to the cabinet secretary for early sight of his statement. I am pleased to acknowledge that he is taking the lead on the matter so that we can finally deliver on the hopes of survivors across Scotland on the very important issue of child protection.

I am pleased to associate myself with the words of support that the cabinet secretary offered to all those who have contributed to decisions that he has acknowledged. I add to them the individual survivors and survivors groups, which have helped so much.

I hope that the cabinet secretary will be able to give us further details of the action plan and implementation dates, which are important, because survivors and others who have been involved have too often not known when something was due to occur and when it would be delivered.

As the cabinet secretary indicated, a survivor wanted to live and thrive, but many of the survivors to whom I have spoken also want an answer on how and why the abuse that they suffered was allowed to continue. The answer to that question gives us the best opportunity to protect vulnerable children in the future.

The cabinet secretary mentioned the initiation of a support fund. I would welcome more detail about who would contribute to that support fund, as a number of organisations and agencies would do well to show willingness to contribute fully.

I hope that the commemoration that the cabinet secretary mentioned will take on board not only living survivors but those who—unfortunately—took their own lives in past years because they were unable to content themselves with the future, given the knowledge of what they had suffered.

The cabinet secretary’s statement mentioned supporting survivors to understand the interaction plan. I have to say that that sounded a deal condescending. I hope that he will explain that more fully, because I am sure that he did not mean what he said in the way that it looks in the cold light of the statement.

Many survivors will look forward to the introduction of a public inquiry. Christmas cannot come soon enough for them. They believe that a public inquiry will give us a full understanding of why we are where we are and how we can prevent things from recurring in the future in the way that they seem to have done in past decades. I am very grateful that the statement has been made.



Meeting of the Parliament 11 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Graeme Pearson (South Scotland) (Lab)

I trust that the minister has enjoyed the afternoon, because it is not usual for the Government to be able to propose a motion and not suffer the slings and arrows of Opposition criticisms about its content. I am pleased to say that, having reviewed the motion before coming to the chamber, Scottish Labour supports it without reservation.

I listened carefully to Jackson Carlaw’s speech and took seriously the views that he expressed. He mentioned his experience of seeing the Gorbals from the family car as a child and realising the challenges that people experienced throughout the 1950s and 1960s in Glasgow. Without trying to score a point in any way, I ask him to consider that, had he been a member of the community that he viewed, human rights might be a more sensitive issue for him and he might consider a European convention on human rights to be a crucial part of modern life.

As we commemorated in the two minutes of silence in the Parliament today the millions who gave their lives, I wondered what the soldiers in the trenches would have made of why they were sitting there fighting the first and second world wars. It would not have been for profit, wages or land. I am certain that, had they been able to write out why they were there, in the cold light of day, they would have written the articles of the convention in the mud and glaur of the time. As a result, the detail in the convention is vital to the way in which the state conducts its business for the future.



Meeting of the Parliament 11 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Graeme Pearson

I am grateful for that intervention, but Jackson Carlaw knows that we are sensitive to any impact that introducing the UKIP influence into our British legislation might have.

I acknowledge that Mr Carlaw commented that the Human Rights Act 1998 was a Labour piece of legislation. I am proud of the fact that Labour introduced it.

I also acknowledge that Amnesty, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the SCVO, the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund were good enough to provide briefings before the debate. Those briefings were proper and helpful but, to some extent, they miss a point: human rights are not compartmentalised in the way that they are applied and often have to be applied to pursue individual cases; they are for us all and play a part in our everyday lives.

The minister commented about some individuals applying common sense in criticising human rights. However, common sense is often only a person’s view or prejudice. The minister was correct to acknowledge that those commonsense criticisms were often ill founded or ill conceived.

Parliaments exist to exercise the sovereignty that their citizens grant them. In the absence of genuine human rights that are applied day to day, there can be no sovereignty for our Parliaments because the consent to exercise power on the citizen’s behalf is absent where citizens have no genuine rights and freedoms.

Jackson Carlaw asked about some examples of the way in which human rights have affected our day-to-day existence. Slopping out caused a great deal of anxiety when it became a public issue in Scotland. However, who can now visit a modern prison and not be shocked at the thought that only a decade ago—before we went through our experience with the issue—prisoners in Scottish prisons slopped out every day?

The other example that I would give is an international example of a situation in which one nation state dealt with human trafficking by returning women who were trafficked for sexual purposes to the nation state that they had come from, which then sent them back to the state that they were being exploited in, only for them then to be murdered. The European Court decided that the nation state that returned them to the place they had come from had failed in its responsibilities to those women and that they should have been protected and not returned to another nation state where they were murdered.

This debate is useful in that it has allowed us to rehearse why human rights are important to us. I hope that we not only reinforce these rights but extend them to all.

16:11  

Meeting of the Parliament 06 November 2014 : Thursday, November 06, 2014
Graeme Pearson (South Scotland) (Lab)

I am glad to contribute to the debate this afternoon. It is about a vitally important issue to this Parliament and to fairness, justice and transparency. I also record my gratitude to Stewart Stevenson and the SPPA Committee members, who have played out many of the complex issues that we are grappling with this afternoon.

I also record my pleasure at hearing Helen Eadie’s name mentioned this afternoon. She was certainly one who revealed to me the importance of integrity, conviction and principle when one indulges in parliamentary procedure. In that light, I concur with Malcolm Chisholm on many of the issues that he raised. Lobbying causes public concern and it does not matter whether that is merely a perception. MSPs, civil servants and public officials can be compromised or considered to have been compromised by lobbying. That perception in itself is detrimental to all that we are trying to do here. It damages public faith in democracy.

I am sure that many colleagues will have been contacted at one time or another by people who have reservations about the level of contact and lobbying that occurs—or is thought to occur—in the confines of this building. That is not to say that trying to lobby, to raise awareness or to advance causes is, of itself, a problem. Nothing in the proposals that were offered by my colleague Neil Findlay seeks to prevent legitimate lobbying of members—a process that, if properly utilised, is designed to communicate, inform and share intelligence with those who have a duty to make policy decisions on behalf of the Scottish people.

However, the problem occurs when lobbying, and the way in which policy is decided, is believed to be shadowy and covert. The impression of or assumption by some people that something untoward has occurred, or is occurring, damages public life every bit as much as the reality. Lobbying is part of the political process. Despite some of the more uncharitable perceptions, it does not necessarily mean undue influence. However, it is undeniably about influence and awareness; ultimately, it is about having an impact on policy and decision making. Those who would lobby will, on occasion, have a personal interest in a desired outcome. That interest might be based on common good. On other occasions, though, it may be founded on commercial or financial advantage.

Any perception that MSPs or any official are being swayed by lobbyists exerting special influence is damaging, especially when the meetings or engagements that take place are thought to be secret. That is why I supported my colleague Neil Findlay’s proposed lobbying transparency bill in 2012. I am glad that the Scottish Government agrees that there is a need for greater transparency and I look forward to studying the proposals that it will publish in due course. I look forward also to reading the conclusions of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee’s inquiry.

The very existence of a register, along with a code of administration, will go a long way towards ensuring that the good health of Parliament’s integrity is recognised. The interactions between lobbyists and parliamentarians should be acknowledged and recorded to ensure that they are up front and above board. That does not inhibit discussions. It does, however, protect all of us who are engaged in such discussions from any perception that they are suspect.

I agree with members from all sides of the chamber who believe that Westminster’s approach to this issue does not hit the mark. It was suggested that legislation would bring clarity on the issue of lobbying, but it has only muddied the water and made things more difficult in the Westminster environment.

A number of charities, including Oxfam, have complained that a bill would threaten to stifle public debate. The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee at Westminster criticised the bill there for being too narrow and too focused on third party lobbyists.

There will, unfortunately, be pressure on committee members to decide which way they will swing at the end of the day, but whatever proposals are brought to Parliament for further consideration, they should at their heart be genuinely transparent and able to give the public the confidence that any problems that might arise in the future will be headed off at the pass by some up-front solution. We must have clear legislation, learn the lessons from our Westminster colleagues and deliver what the public need: clarity of purpose and due honesty and integrity from the members of this Parliament.

16:20  
Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
YesCarried

S4M-11567.2 Margaret Mitchell: Lowering the Drink Drive Limit—As an amendment to motion S4M-11567 in
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NoCarried

S4M-11507.1 Cameron Buchanan: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11507 Angela Constance: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—Th
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11494.3 Jackie Baillie: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11494.2 Alex Johnstone: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
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NoDefeated

S4M-11494 Margaret Burgess: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—That the Parliament
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NoCarried

S4M-11484.1 Jackson Carlaw: Human Rights—As an amendment to motion S4M-11484 in the name of Roseanna
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Graeme Pearson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11567.1: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 17/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11114: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 06/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10377: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 18/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10278.1: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 11/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09583: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 02/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09557.1: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 01/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09525: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 27/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09133: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 24/02/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08172: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 04/11/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07805: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 24/09/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Graeme Pearson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4F-02386: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 10/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03681: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 05/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03662: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 31/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22970: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 31/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22968: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 31/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22969: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 31/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02309: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 29/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03517: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 17/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22538: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 04/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22363: Graeme Pearson, South Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 13/08/2014 Show Full Question >>

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