John Finnie MSP

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Justice Committee 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
John Finnie

I had reservations that were apparent in my line of questioning last week. The issue has been on the go for a long time. The crucial question was posed by my colleague Christian Allard, who asked whether the present system is OPCAT compliant. It is not, but the system that is proposed is OPCAT compliant. Is anything perfect? We strive for perfection, but I have been reassured by what I have heard today about on-going monitoring and the role that the Scottish Human Rights Commission—which has been critical—will have to play. For that reason, I think that we should go ahead with what is proposed, while always looking to improve.



Justice Committee 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
John Finnie

Thank you; that is welcome.



Justice Committee 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
John Finnie

That is very reassuring. On 2 December, we heard evidence from the Scottish Human Rights Commission—it has contributed throughout the process—and it would be fair to say that, while it is not against the proposal, its endorsement is less than compelling; at least that is my summary of its position. Would you welcome the SHRC’s continued involvement in the process? I assume that, if agreed, the operation of the new system will be evaluated.



Justice Committee 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
John Finnie

That is very reassuring. To push you on that point, the perception of rotas and programmes suggests a measure of control that some might believe would be inhibitive. For the avoidance of any doubt, will you confirm that an authorised person can go to any prison at any time if they have concerns about an issue that is outwith the programme?



Justice Committee 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
John Finnie

This issue has been around for some time—it has had quite a thrashing about and has come back in various forms. I think you would agree that perception is terribly important here. Some of us know the individuals involved; for example, I know Mr Strang to be an individual of the highest integrity. However, do you understand that some people perceive that rota-ed visits, compared with those that are spontaneous, have an element of control to them that takes away what is understood to be one purpose of such visits—that of a spot check, for want of a better phrase?



Justice Committee 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
John Finnie

I have one final matter to raise. The phraseology used in the report, which I assume was compiled by your predecessor, cabinet secretary, suggests that a measure of persuasion has been required to get everyone on board with the problem-solving approach in court. Will that be resolved? Will that approach be rolled out further?



Justice Committee 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
John Finnie

Are there any specific proposals that will give confidence to the bench that there are viable alternatives in the community that are commensurate with the welcome good facilities for those who require to be in custody? None of us wants to see anyone incarcerated who can be dealt with in the community.



Justice Committee 16 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 16, 2014
John Finnie (Highlands and Islands) (Ind)

Cabinet secretary, my question follows something that Margaret Mitchell said regarding the recommendation that Cornton Vale should be replaced by a smaller specialist unit. Some sheriffs said that they sent women to Cornton Vale because there was a dearth of appropriate places in the community for the women: there was no alternative.

I will just float this idea: unless, things change in the community, is there a possibility that all these super-duper new facilities and arrangements in prison that tie up with the NHS will make a custodial disposal more likely for women?



Equal Opportunities Committee 04 December 2014 : Thursday, December 04, 2014
John Finnie

The expected answer date is the 15th of this month. I do not think that there is any conflict between what anyone has said, but the mere fact that we are still talking about the issue four years on suggests that there is no clarity. No one is suggesting that Friends of the Earth is doing anything other than acting in good faith—as John Mason said, these things are often a matter of opinion.

It is obviously best if we can clarify matters without an opinion necessarily having to be given by a court. That is the ideal situation, as there is a lack of clarity at present and further advice would help us to make an appropriate decision.



Equal Opportunities Committee 04 December 2014 : Thursday, December 04, 2014
John Finnie

This item seems to have been on the agenda almost since I started on the committee. I do not know that we are any further forward or that there is any clarity, so I think that there could be benefit in your suggestion about seeking legal advice.

I draw the committee’s attention to two recent contributions, in addition to the references in the committee paper to occasions on which the issue has been raised by me and other members.

The Justice Committee, at paragraph 38 of its stage 1 report on the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill, stated:

“The Committee notes the differences between the requirements of the Aarhus Convention and the scope of judicial review in Scots Law. The Committee is sympathetic to calls for the introduction of an environmental tribunal for Scotland.”

Last week, during questions to the new Cabinet Secretary for Justice, I asked Michael Matheson whether he would undertake to establish an environmental court and whether he believed that the Aarhus convention was being complied with. He said:

“I am always open to considering how we can improve access to our justice in an appropriate way.”

He went on to say:

“I recognise the importance of having different specialist courts, and I am open to considering how such specialisation can be continued in the future.”—[Official Report, Justice Committee, 25 November 2014; c 44.]

Subsequently, I lodged question S4W-23460:

“To ask the Scottish Government what progress it has made on delivering the commitment in the SNP 2011 manifesto regarding an environmental court.”

Given the live issues, and the fact that the cabinet secretary will consider the question that I have lodged, I respectfully suggest that we keep the petition open and get some further advice on where we stand with regard to the Aarhus convention.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11901.3 Neil Findlay: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
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NoDefeated

S4M-11901.1 Mary Scanlon: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
>> Show more
NoDefeated

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

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

Amendment 6 moved by Dr Richard Simpson on motion S4M-11826 Maureen Watt: Food (Scotland) Bill—That
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NoDefeated

S4M-11825.3 Claire Baker: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
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NoDefeated

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

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

S4M-11825 Richard Lochhead: End of Year Fish Negotiations—That the Parliament welcomes the successfu
>> Show more
YesCarried

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 John Finnie
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11817: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 04/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11737: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 27/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11517: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11347: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 29/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11236: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 17/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11152: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 08/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10931: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 04/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10795: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 13/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10640: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 22/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10522: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 30/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by John Finnie
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-23788: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 23/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23734: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23679: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 12/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23663: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 11/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23662: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 11/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23666: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 11/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23661: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 11/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23665: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 11/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23612: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 10/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23613: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 10/12/2014 Show Full Question >>

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