Jenny Marra MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Jenny Marra

Does the minister know what percentage of teachers who currently teach deaf children have the appropriate qualifications? What targets has he put in place for that percentage to improve?



Meeting of the Parliament 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Jenny Marra (North East Scotland) (Lab)

I thank Kenneth Gibson for securing today’s debate, and for his continuing support for this issue.

Last Saturday tea time, I was transfixed by a TV programme that I ended up watching quite by chance. It was Channel 4’s “Unreported World”, reporting from Nigeria, I think, about the lack of education for deaf children. The programme followed three or four children and their lives. The children had been born deaf and were not able to communicate with anyone at all—not even their own parents—because they had never been taught how to sign.

We can come across such things serendipitously. That programme struck me as a stark reminder of the importance of BSL and communication for the deaf, and of the world that that opens up.

Thankfully, here in Scotland, we are light-years ahead of that. As convener of the cross-party group on deafness, I very much enjoy the work that I do with the deaf community, and especially with organisations that represent children.

I commend Kenny Gibson for his motion, which acknowledges the National Deaf Children’s Society’s most recent findings and its campaign to close the gap for deaf children in Scotland, which I helped to launch earlier this year.

As we have heard in the debate, the gap in educational attainment continues to challenge the lives of deaf and hard-of-hearing children in Scotland. The “Close the Gap” report found that almost 10 per cent of deaf children leave school with no qualifications, and that only a quarter of them enter higher education. A quarter of school leavers move into employment, but only one sixth of deaf young people do the same, which further affects their employment opportunities later in life. Liam McArthur referred to the recent study from the University of Edinburgh, which found that the employment rate for deaf young people was only 31 per cent, which is incredibly lower than the national average of 53 per cent.

That attainment gap does not come from a lack of ability or inherent learning difficulties; it is a result of the ability or otherwise of local education provision to deliver the right quality, quantity and scope of support to allow a deaf child to flourish. The NDCS also recently found that the gap in educational attainment comes from a lack of trained teachers—a problem that will only get worse, given that half of all teachers of the deaf who have been correctly trained are due to retire in the next 15 years. That highlights a problem: there needs to be regulation and monitoring to ensure that there are adequately trained teachers of all ages throughout our system to support our deaf and hard-of-hearing children. I ask the minister to address that point in his closing speech.

The attainment gap during school years has an even bigger impact when we look at college education. The NDCS has found that deaf children flourish in further education but, with increasing college cuts and fewer places, that avenue is starting to narrow—and to narrow quickly.

During my time as convener of the cross-party group on deafness, I have seen some changes. In particular, the British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill, which was brought to the Parliament through the hard work of my colleague Mark Griffin and is now at stage 1—is a huge step towards securing the place of BSL as a recognised language in our society. I have been heartened to hear members of the Education and Culture Committee say in the debate that they are scrutinising the bill very closely because there is still much to be done and, unfortunately, the attainment gap continues to widen.

It is imperative that, as policy makers, we continue to tackle the barriers that face deaf and hard-of-hearing children in accessing the help and support that they need. I am happy to support today’s motion. I thank Kenneth Gibson for lodging it and I hope that we can tackle the challenges together.

13:10  

Meeting of the Parliament 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
Jenny Marra

On referral, my constituent was told by NHS Tayside that it aimed to see her within 12 weeks. Only when the 12 weeks were up did NHS Tayside tell her that its waiting time for routine referral was actually 28 weeks, or seven months. Does the First Minister think that patients should be told the real waiting time when they are first referred? Does she think that a seven-month wait is acceptable? What is she doing to reduce waiting times?



Meeting of the Parliament 11 December 2014 : Thursday, December 11, 2014
5. Jenny Marra (North East Scotland) (Lab)

To ask the First Minister what the Scottish Government is doing to meet its national waiting time guarantees for gastroenterology. (S4F-02461)



Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Jenny Marra

I listened with interest to the list of people that Mark McDonald read out. I remind Ms Fabiani that the contented are always less outspoken—we discovered that during the referendum campaign—and, for all the organisations that Mark McDonald cited, there are many, many, many that believe that the vow was delivered and exceeded and are happy with that.

Our plan is for a modern, industrial economy, devolving the work programme to local authorities, addressing local economic priorities, addressing the skills gap in information technology and engineering, and using our colleges as a powerhouse to drive the economy.

The Smith agreement makes the Scottish Parliament the most powerful devolved body almost anywhere in the world. What the Scottish Government does with those significant new tools will be the proof of its ambition for Scotland. Achievements over the past seven years of SNP government have been few. The SNP has only 18 months left; I hope that it gets its tools and gets working.

16:02  

Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Jenny Marra (North East Scotland) (Lab)

I thank the members who have spoken before me for their interesting and important contributions to the debate.

The Smith agreement, by virtue of being signed by all the parties in the Parliament, delivers what the majority of Scots voted for on 18 September 2014. It delivers the vow that was made to the people of Scotland—the vow for safer, faster and better change in Scotland. I feel honoured to be speaking about an agreement that upholds those pillars of agreement, compromise and consensus. Ultimately—and importantly—it also respects the democratic will of the Scottish people.

In addition, the Smith agreement delivers an exciting and vital reminder about the decentralisation of our economy. Putting more faith and investment into our local authorities will allow us to shape and mould our economy in a way that encourages the fair redistribution of wealth and the growth of wealth across Scotland and within each of our regions. The Labour Party has argued for such decentralisation. The SNP has stated that it would like to move towards a system of more local governance, but actions must now speak louder than words.

The advantages to our economy that the Smith agreement brings are multiple and, in a large way, they all supplement that focus on decentralisation. The devolution of income tax, which has been spoken about today, is one of those advantages. Powers over all rates and bands of income tax will allow the Scottish Government to assess and restructure fairly, ensuring that those who pay into the public purse pay a fair amount. Public spending will now be more contingent on the buoyancy of the Scottish economy, which should focus the attention of the Scottish Government more on how the economy is managed.

When it comes to business, the devolution of areas of competition policy will give the Scottish ministers the power to carry out full second-phase investigations into particular competition issues. Addressing such issues gives a more rigorous approach to creating and supporting sustainable business in Scotland and encourages a more organic development of our business sector.

However, the new job-creating powers that the Smith agreement brings are surely the most significant to all in our economy. That is where I take issue with Linda Fabiani. She said that we have the work programme but do not have job-creating powers. I argue that we have struck the balance. We remain inside one of the strongest and most integrated economies in the world but have the borrowing powers of Calman with income tax and the work programme. Those are the tools but, as I said to Mr Swinney last week and as every workman knows, the far more important point is what we do with those tools—the design, plan, execution and result.



Meeting of the Parliament 02 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 02, 2014
Jenny Marra

It is especially important that we look at mid-range holiday accommodation for those who earn a middle income. At a meeting that I had with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, it was pointed out to me that, although the high-end, more expensive accommodation sector in the Highlands is very successful, there is a lack of mid-priced accommodation. We touched on the issue in the equality tourism debate. We must make sure that our tourism sector is available not just to international visitors, but to those people in our country who are looking for a holiday that will enhance their family life and their quality of life but which is affordable. There is a lack of mid-range accommodation in Scotland.

The Lonely Planet tour guide says that accommodation in Scotland is

“fairly pricey, and more so in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen than the rest of the country; the only real bargains are the many excellent museums and galleries that you can visit for free.”

Not only does mid-range accommodation provide a greater pool to a wider spectrum of visitors; it is also more likely to contribute back into tourism in Scotland.

I welcome the debate. Labour is happy to support the Government’s motion and we look forward to building on the success of 2014 with infrastructure, a spread of accommodation for different budgets and a focus on equality so that we grow our tourism sector in the future.

15:22  

Meeting of the Parliament 02 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 02, 2014
Jenny Marra (North East Scotland) (Lab)

I start what I predict will be a consensual debate by agreeing with the minister about the success of 2014 and say that 2015 is very much a year for building on this year and using it as a springboard to success. In many ways, we have proven to ourselves the heights that we can reach and the type of events that Scotland can host extremely well. There is no reason why we cannot have a bold and ambitious agenda for the future.

I welcome the bid fund for conferences. That public investment is welcome. In his response to my intervention, the minister said that he would publish the list of conferences in SPICe and that would be very welcome. It would also be of interest to me and colleagues across the chamber if the minister published where the previous fund was spent and where the investment went, so that we can check that the dividends are being felt in communities across the country.

I am especially pleased to open this debate in this particular week, because this week my home city of Dundee was given the stupendous and incredible news that it has been awarded its title as a UNESCO city of design. Dundee is one of only 12 cities around the world to hold that title and it is the first city in the United Kingdom to be awarded it. That new status rewards the people of Dundee who have worked tirelessly in a number of sectors to pioneer design through biomedical research, the discovery of the P35 cancer suppressor gene—a design in itself—a growing video games industry, creative technologies, and the cherished institutions that are The Beano and The Dandy, which in many ways have also sparked creativity.

Recognition of the creative excellence of Dundee is valuable because it reinforces its potential as a city of investment, and because it gives confidence to those who are endeavouring to advance in design within our city. It puts our city on the map for tourists within and outwith Scotland.

Reflecting further on how the tourism legacy of 2014 has impacted on Dundee, I look to the continued development of the Victoria and Albert museum, which I know the minister supports. It will make a great contribution to Scotland’s artistic, digital and design attractions, and it will pull in international visitors, thereby cementing our city’s reputation as a place to visit.

Those achievements, along with the growth of the tourism sector in general, highlight the importance of tourism to our country. Tourism not only allows us to connect with wider communities, but gives us the chance to reflect on what makes our cities, towns, villages and countryside so great.

We are never in a more privileged position to reflect on our home communities than when we are showing round visitors—international visitors and those from other parts of the United Kingdom—and telling them what is great about, and worth visiting in, our towns and cities. We can tell them where to shop, where to eat and where to go to enjoy themselves.

Sports tourism was dramatically increased throughout Scotland in 2014 as a result of the Commonwealth games and the Ryder cup: two magnificent successes. Glasgow 2014 has been hailed as the stand-out games in the history of the movement by the Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper. My colleague Patricia Ferguson will expand on the subject of the games later in the debate.

Areas throughout the country benefited from the Commonwealth games, with shooting events taking place at Barry Buddon military base in Carnoustie; diving taking place at the Royal Commonwealth pool in Edinburgh; and the triathlon being held at Strathclyde country park in Lanarkshire. The games also helped to enrich the wider tourism sector. A Glasgow 2014 survey suggested that one in 10 spectators intended to combine a visit to the games with a longer trip to other parts of Scotland. The minister rehearsed the impressive figures from the Ryder cup: there were 45,000 spectators from 75 countries attending, with more than a quarter of a million visitors over the course of the week.

Arts and cultural tourism were also successful throughout Scotland in 2014, with another outstanding Edinburgh international festival and Edinburgh fringe festival, and Glasgow hosting the 20th MTV Europe music awards, which were expected to boost the city’s economy by up to £10 million. This weekend, Glasgow will host the BBC sports personality of the year award; I am sure that the minister will not mind me saying that that is an added boost from remaining part of the United Kingdom.

Of course, none of those great successes in tourism during 2014 could have been achieved without a sound infrastructure to serve tourists from within and outwith Scotland. However, I think that the minister will agree that we still have to improve that infrastructure. We had a debate in the chamber a few weeks ago on how we can ensure that our infrastructure allows equality of access to Scotland’s tourist attractions, and there was widespread agreement that we still need to make great leaps in that area. That means not only providing the right facilities for disabled people, but capitalising on the energy of the Ryder cup by improving facilities for schoolchildren to enable them to learn about and play golf, and by expanding such opportunities to all our communities.

On traditional infrastructure, the upgrade and dualling of the A9 will have a massive impact on travel tourism for Perthshire and beyond into the Highlands. The imperative is perhaps road safety, but nevertheless we will open up the gateway to the Highlands and boost that economy.

From a climate change and integrated transport perspective, the minister needs to join up—if he is not already doing so—with the Minister for Transport and Islands to ensure that rail pricing is fair and equitable and as cheap as possible under the new franchise.

I am not sure whether the minister will remember, but I ran a campaign on rail prices on the intercity route. We discovered that, at new year last year, the price of a peak return ticket from Dundee to Glasgow was £50.50. I am sure that the minister will agree that such pricing does nothing to boost the tourism sector. Thankfully, the First Minister at the time, Alex Salmond, stepped in and reduced the prices, but there are still anomalies across the country. We need to ensure that visitors are able to get around the country at a fair and reasonable price, not a price that is half that of a hotel room.

That brings me to the pricing of accommodation. Presiding Officer, how long do I have?



Meeting of the Parliament 02 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 02, 2014
Jenny Marra (North East Scotland) (Lab)

Could the minister furnish Parliament with any detail of how that investment was spread across the country, to ensure that the dividend that he has just talked about was evident in all our economies, across all cities and regions, and not just in the central belt?



Meeting of the Parliament 02 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 02, 2014
Jenny Marra (North East Scotland) (Lab)

Figures from the International Labour Organization show that unemployment in Dundee is at nearly 14 per cent, which is double the general rate. Dundee has come bottom of tables on the success of the UK work programme. I am sure that the Deputy First Minister agrees that we need more than powers to get the long-term unemployed in Scotland into work. He says that he wants the work programme to be devolved quickly, so what ideas does he have to make the work programme work better in Scotland?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11830.2 John Swinney: The Smith Commission—As an amendment to motion S4M-11830 in the name of Ru
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NoCarried

S4M-11830 Ruth Davidson: The Smith Commission—That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the Sm
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NoCarried

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
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YesDefeated

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

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

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

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

S4M-11763 Mary Fee: Private Sector Rent Reform—That the Parliament notes that, over the last 10 year
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-11766.3 Shona Robison: The State of the NHS—As an amendment to motion S4M-11766 in the name of N
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NoCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Jenny Marra
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11847: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11768: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 02/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11540: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 13/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11332.2: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 29/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11163: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10988.1: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 24/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10829.3: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 19/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10214.1: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 04/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10051.1: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 14/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09928: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 02/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Jenny Marra
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03822: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 08/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02461: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 05/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03749: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 17/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03706: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 10/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03686: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 03/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22942: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 28/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22803: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 08/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22804: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 08/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22801: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 08/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22334: Jenny Marra, North East Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 11/08/2014 Show Full Question >>

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