Johann Lamont MSP

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Johann Lamont

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Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by Johann Lamont (Glasgow Pollok) (Lab)

Meeting of the Parliament 28 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Johann Lamont (Glasgow Pollok) (Lab)

I congratulate Kevin Stewart on bringing this important debate to the chamber. I think that we all recognise the importance of debating how we properly support people who are affected by hepatitis C.

I was struck by the stories that Kevin Stewart read out and the extent to which health is not just about drugs but about how people can share experiences with others who are facing the same challenges. I hope that we make sure, in any debate that we have, that the support that is provided goes beyond simply ensuring that people have the right drugs. We also need to allow people the space to address the challenges that they face as a result of their condition, whatever it is.

It is good to see progress and to see work from the past being built on and taken forward. I do not often say this in the Parliament, but in the debate I felt a sense of optimism, particularly in Kevin Stewart’s speech, that people are pulling in the right direction and making a difference.

However, as Malcolm Chisholm and others reflected, it is inevitable that we also think about the impact of the use of contaminated blood and the consequences for those who then contracted hepatitis C and other conditions. We know how important it is to tackle the disease, but I trust that the Presiding Officer will permit me to add some thoughts specifically on contaminated blood.

One of the many helpful briefings that we received for the debate states:

“Anyone who looks dispassionately at the issue feels that the state has a moral duty to the infected.”

As someone who was elected in 1999 and was here in the first session of Parliament, I know that the issue has been politically live since the Scottish Parliament opened. A lot of time and energy has been used in addressing the challenge, but too many of those who have been affected still feel that insufficient progress has been made. All members in the chamber will know those who are still actively campaigning on the issues. The reality is that many questions and significant issues remain unresolved.

At a recent presentation in the Parliament, which I think was hosted by Richard Lyle, we had a powerful presentation by those who are campaigning on the impact of contaminated blood on people’s lives. We could be in no doubt about the degree to which anger and passion remain or about the determination to have the questions addressed.

Even more powerful was the direct meeting that I had with a constituent who wanted to talk about the impact on her and her family of losing a family member—a loved one—as a consequence of his contracting hepatitis C. He was a haemophiliac, and he was given contaminated blood as a child. I want to share my constituent’s thoughts and give voice to the desire, which is held not just by her but by others, to ensure that the really significant questions are answered.

My constituent outlined the reality of the stigma that was associated with being found to have hepatitis C, or HIV for that matter, in the 1980s and 1990s. I know that we have made huge progress, but more still has to be done. At that time, the consequence was that her loved one could not share the truth of his condition with the broader family or with friends. They could not speak to anybody else, and inevitably the pressure on them as a couple became immense. The person who was suffering was silenced and the immediate family could not share their anxieties or fears with anyone else.

It was therefore not just a physical condition, as emotional distress came with it, too, and that lived out for as long as the person lived. There was anger at not getting action but possibly also a sense of guilt about being a parent who had sanctioned the transfusion in the first place. Those are all immensely powerful consequences for people’s lives.

There is now huge hope and expectation around the Penrose inquiry. The significance of the question of compensation has been highlighted. That is absolutely right and it is understandable, but what my constituent wants more than anything is answers. She wants to know how this could have happened at all and why, even when problems were recognised, the system continued to be reckless, with consequences for many people.

Specifically in relation to the Penrose inquiry reporting, I ask the minister the following questions. How will families be briefed on the findings? What will the Scottish Government do to ensure that they know quickly what the recommendations are? What will be the timescale for implementing the recommendations? How will the compensation issues be pursued? Centrally, I hope that the minister can give an assurance that the Government will address the anger. The state must have a responsibility to those who suffered so grievously. So many people continue to live with the condition or with the pain of having lost somebody in these circumstances.

I am sure that members throughout the chamber want to see massive progress on addressing hepatitis C and, in particular, hope that the findings of Penrose will come as a comfort to those who have been campaigning for so long.

18:14  

Meeting of the Parliament 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Johann Lamont (Glasgow Pollok) (Lab)

I welcome the opportunity to participate in the debate. I think that we all recognise the massive challenge that we are facing, and I note in particular that although the RCN liked the idea of the 2020 vision and of planning ahead, it cautioned that short-term responses to crises have very often meant that we do not reach the milestones that we want to reach.

In unkinder times, I was known to have said that someone who wanted their health problems to be addressed would be better off fetching up at the newspaper desk than at the accident and emergency unit, because we saw ministers responding to and dealing with crises and getting headlines as a result. We recognise, however, that we face a bigger challenge.

I also note that the briefing from general practitioners refers to the impact of cuts in primary care and the amount of GP time. We know that very often the GP listens carefully to what the patient says and understands the proper reason why they have come, which might be different from what they presented with. I am sure that we all, across the chamber, want to do all that we can to protect those services.

Inclusion Scotland’s briefing also makes the case that there are things besides the health budget that reflect, respond to and react to our aims, and which present challenges with regard to the 2020 vision.

Someone once said that vision without action is a daydream. Although we in the chamber can be pleased about the vision, the challenge for us all is to be rigorous in our spending and planning and to ensure that all those who absolutely understand the reality of the pressures on social care, primary care and acute care are fully involved in developments. Only this week, I was told in my constituency that the wait for non-urgent physiotherapy has gone from three weeks to 15 weeks. That is a rational response to pressures on budgets, but if people who are waiting for their non-urgent physiotherapy become so unwell that they have to present at A and E, the consequences will become significant.

If it is a general truth that people feel distant from politics, it is certainly true that frustration arises when our health debates are not rooted in, and focused on, the lived experience of staff, patients and families. Inevitably, we will clash on spending priorities, but that argument cannot simply be a by-product of our desire as politicians to have a fight with each other. It must be rooted in the different options for coming to a shared view on how we will tackle the problems, so I hope that we can, with good will, come up with a shared vision while having some really hard discussions about the spending priorities that we need to put in place across the board in local government and elsewhere, if we are to make that vision happen.

On this occasion, which is the first time that I have spoken in a formal debate in the chamber since standing down as leader of the Labour Party, I trust that members will permit me to focus on a local issue that has been created by our national priorities for health. I want to highlight the impact of the construction of the new south Glasgow hospital on the communities surrounding it. The hospital, which the First Minister highlighted again today, is a massive project, and I acknowledge its importance. I am grateful for the response from the cabinet secretary to the initial correspondence that I have had with her on the matter.

I say at the outset that I welcome that exciting development, which is important for delivery of high-quality care and will trigger in the broader community opportunities for health-related jobs in research, drugs and medical provision. Labour began the project and the SNP has continued it. Across parties, at local and national levels, the project has been deemed to be necessary. Scottish Government funding has been crucial to the development’s being secured, and cross-party political support has made it easier.

Glasgow City Council, working to planning guidelines that were developed in Parliament, and in line with planning thinking across the country—in my time and the cabinet secretary’s time—has put a cap on the number of car parking places that will be available. We all agree that, for the environment, car use needs to reduce and that, in relation to that development, car use also needs to be reduced, but the reality is that local people are living with the massive impact of our agreement although they had no say whatever in the decision. In our local communities, car parking that is displaced from the hospital is at this moment having huge consequences. New car parking schemes have to be put in place, but the cost is to be borne by local people. There is no dispute that we need to manage traffic in the area, but there is a contentious argument about who should bear the cost. I have met local people, the health board and council officials. Everyone agrees that there is a problem and I know that the cabinet secretary recognises that, too. However, the solutions that have been developed are based on local people paying to fund the parking scheme.

The project is not just for south Glasgow; it is for all of Scotland, and it will involve 7,000 more staff coming into the area. Understandably, on-site car parking at the hospital must be protected for patients and carers. The project is an infrastructure flagship as well as a health one. As I think the First Minister said at lunch time, it will cost about £800 million. Everyone agrees on how important it is. Therefore, my plea to the cabinet secretary is this: will she, along with the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy acknowledge that although we decided centrally on the project and its funding, it has a direct impact on local people?

Will the cabinet secretary meet me so that we can think creatively about how we find the little bit of money that is required to fund the scheme, which is required only because of the development of the hospital? If we can look at the issue creatively, we can support local people. In an ideal world, the measures that have been put in place by the health board, the planning agreements by the council and the council’s traffic management would protect my constituents. The list of solutions that are provided in the cabinet secretary’s letter to me should make a difference, but the reality is that that is not happening.

The last thing that my constituents want to hear is every one of us identifying everyone else’s responsibilities. I accept my responsibility for past decisions that I made and my current responsibility as a local member. I want us across the parties to recognise that we made the decision. I hope that the cabinet secretary will, in her summing up, confirm that she is willing to meet me and that she will direct her officials to explore how funding might be accessed. I believe that the funding is directly linked to the infrastructure project. Relative to the project, it is a tiny amount of money. I know that the health board cannot sustain funding of a parking scheme indefinitely and nor can the council but, if we attach the funding to the cost of the infrastructure project, perhaps we can find a solution.

If we want to think big, as the 2020 vision does, we need to apply our thinking to unintended consequences, which are perhaps small in global terms but are significant for the communities that suffer the consequences of our decisions. I underline that I am making no party-political point. I genuinely think that a really important decision has been made, but local communities are suffering as a consequence. I hope that we can work together to find a solution that will address the problems timeously because, as we know, and as we are glad to know, the hospital will be up and working in the very near future.

15:35  

Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Johann Lamont (Glasgow Pollok) (Lab)

It is depressing that the two public bodies that are charged with the responsibility for driving the strategy are actually acting as a brake on what is happening. Is that because people think that the creative industries are not an industry and they are, therefore, treated differently?

I am interested in the lift and shift idea. It strikes me, from reading the submissions, that there is a degree of cynicism about whether we are meeting the policy aspiration. It is not that people are closing down and looking only at Scotland or that they are not interested in sharing and enrichment; it is that they believe that, in reality, a box is ticked to make it look as if something has been done and, when the productions go, there is nothing left behind.

One of the submissions notes that we may get lower-level technical jobs from the policy in the short term but, in all the other areas, folk are coming in, working and then going away again. Perhaps Drew McFarlane can give us the trade union view on that.

My last question is on an issue that Drew McFarlane mentioned. Why do we not have a film studio yet? Where should it be? What needs to be done to make that happen?



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Johann Lamont

As a local politician from Glasgow, I am more than happy to say that the studio should come to Glasgow. Glasgow has a proud record of making long-term decisions such as those that allowed us to have the Commonwealth games. That happened because the council was courageous. There is an issue about local politicians, but do you not think that the cabinet secretary should just make the decision?



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Johann Lamont

Are you as mystified as everyone else as to why it has not happened?



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Johann Lamont

I am struck by the number of meetings. If you have to hold 26 meetings to sort something, you are never going to sort it, because you are holding meetings for their own sake. I cannot imagine what you can possibly have discussed at 26 meetings if you are still not able to work out that one agency is saying one thing while another is saying something contradictory.

It sounds as if there is complete paralysis, and organisations are doing their own thing. The quangos are agents of Government, so it is the Government’s responsibility to define their remit; there is nowhere to hide in that respect.

The danger is that it all looks so complicated that nothing happens. What small things could be done immediately so that we do not have to wait for ever for a fantastic strategy and for things to happen? What should happen with the remit? What should happen with the studio? Where should it go, and when?

Arabella Page Croft spoke eloquently about some of the challenges. Does the rest of the panel agree that we need a task force, and not a blah-blah-blah implementation group that meets for seven years and decides that it does not like the word “leadership”? What work can start now, with a remit that would drive forward the things that Government ministers have indicated that they want to happen?



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Johann Lamont

Do you have any idea why such a small decision has not been taken?



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Johann Lamont

Am I right to take from what has been said that sorting out the overarching issue is relatively simple? It is necessary to change the organisations’ remits and to tell them to work together under the Government’s direction and instruction.



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Johann Lamont

Does part of the problem relate to the point that Chic Brodie made about the balance between creativity and enterprise? While the artist in a garret has to be supported, some art can never be commercial, and good societies support people to do really creative things. However, your problem is that people imagine that the film industry requires subsidy, when in fact you are talking about something that is hugely commercial.

Scotland is going down in the ratings because, in a commercial environment, other people are coming in and competing for the work. If Scottish Enterprise does not define enterprise properly in terms of the creative industries, it is clear that something is wrong with its remit rather than with the commercial capacities of the screen industry.



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 14 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Johann Lamont (Glasgow Pollok) (Lab)

I do not have any.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12182.1 Alex Fergusson: The Chilcot Inquiry—As an amendment to motion S4M-12182 in the name of N
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Not VotedDefeated

S4M-12182 Nicola Sturgeon: The Chilcot Inquiry—That the Parliament calls for Sir John Chilcot’s offi
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

S4M-12176 John Swinney: Community Charge Debt (Scotland) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the gene
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

S4M-12160.2 Michael Matheson: Women Offenders—As an amendment to motion S4M-12160 in the name of Kez
>> Show more
AbstainCarried

S4M-12160.3 Margaret Mitchell: Women Offenders—As an amendment to motion S4M-12160 in the name of Ke
>> Show more
YesDefeated

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
YesDefeated

S4M-12120.1 Jenny Marra: 2020 Vision, the Strategic Forward Direction of the NHS—As an amendment to
>> Show more
YesDefeated

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

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

Search for other Motions lodged by Johann Lamont
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11116: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 06/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10843.1: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 20/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10353: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 16/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09293: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 10/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08707.3: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 06/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08407.1: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 26/11/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08347: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 18/11/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08348: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 18/11/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07721.1: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 17/09/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-04778.4: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 12/11/2012 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Johann Lamont
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03868: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 15/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02316: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 06/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02303: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 29/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02288: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 22/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02266: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 18/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02249: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 11/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02232: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 04/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02209: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 23/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02188: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 16/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02165: Johann Lamont, Glasgow Pollok, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/06/2014 Show Full Question >>

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