Kenneth Gibson MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 05 February 2015 : Thursday, February 05, 2015
Kenneth Gibson (Cunninghame North) (SNP)

I thank the cabinet secretary and the Scottish Government for bringing this important issue before the chamber today on the day before the international day of zero tolerance for female genital mutilation.

This is an issue that I have long been concerned about. Indeed, I first lodged a motion in this Parliament condemning the practice some 14 years ago. FGM is an abhorrent, primitive and almost unspeakable form of violence towards girls and women, as we heard so eloquently from Margaret McCulloch just a few moments ago. It is also an especially pernicious form of child abuse, as many members have commented.

UNICEF estimates that half of all girls subjected to FGM are under the age of 5, while most of the remainder are under the age of 14. I know that members across the chamber are united in condemning an antediluvian practice that does so much harm to both the physical and psychological health of millions of girls and women around the world.

However, some members might be surprised to hear how prevalent the practice is in some communities that are relatively close to home. Members might expect to hear about instances of FGM being inflicted on girls in pockets of the middle east and sub-Saharan Africa. What about Birmingham? In 2013, the Sunday Times magazine reported that Birmingham Heartlands hospital had handled some 700 cases of FGM over the course of the preceding 27 months. In 2012, the Royal College of Midwives stated that up to 66,000 women in the UK may have endured the agony of FGM.

If FGM is being carried out in such numbers so close to home, that is absolutely shocking and I know that members will share my disbelief. The Birmingham figures are deeply disturbing. If FGM is being inflicted upon so many girls in these islands, how prevalent is it here in Scotland in the communities that we are elected to represent and serve?

“Tackling Female Genital Mutilation in Scotland: A Scottish Model of Intervention”, the Scottish Refugee Council report produced in conjunction with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, provides useful policy recommendations, but it does not shed any light on how prevalent the practice might be in Scotland, nor does it claim to. In fact, the report explicitly states:

“At the time of writing there were no published studies looking at the scope of FGM in Scotland.”

I recognise, as other members have today, the sensitivity of this issue and the challenges in gathering this kind of data. Nevertheless, I hope that research will be carried out in the near future. It will not be possible for our society to gauge the extent of this problem and comprehensively address it if we cannot define its scope.

The Scottish Refugee Council report indicates that 24,000 women in Scotland were born in FGM-practising countries. Those women live in every local authority area, yet we are not able to reasonably deduce how prevalent a practice it is. All that we can infer is the number of girls and women who might be at risk, which, in reality could be very different from the number who are actually subjected to FGM.

For its part, I welcome the actions of the Scottish Government in addressing the issue, some of which the cabinet secretary outlined today. I hope that ministers will continue to prioritise the issue as more research is conducted and evidence comes to light.

In the meantime, the Scottish Refugee Council’s report offers useful insights into policies that have been implemented in several other European countries to combat FGM. Perhaps there is some scope for replicating in a Scottish context what has worked elsewhere.

When François Mitterrand was elected president of the French Republic in 1981, he created a new ministry of women’s rights. That move is credited with ensuring that FGM stayed relatively high up the policy agenda following a number of FGM-related deaths in France in the early 1980s. The Scottish Refugee Council report noted that there has been relative success in France after public information campaigns raised awareness of the criminality of FGM. That may partly explain why France has a relatively high number of convictions for FGM-related offences.

The Scottish Government already has ministers with responsibilities for issues of particular importance to women. Those responsibilities are spread across several portfolios. I have every confidence that the cabinet secretary, among others, will continue to ensure that the issue is prioritised.

I recognise the importance of appropriate engagement with communities with the largest number of potentially affected girls and the need for sensitivity in dealing with the problem if we want to make progress in addressing it. However, the desire to show sensitivity should never do anything to reduce the vigour with which we pursue the issue. Quite simply, FGM can have no place in modern Scotland.

During the Commonwealth games in Glasgow last summer, Scotland sent a bold and unequivocal message to the rest of the world, particularly to areas in which the persecution of and violence against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation are still commonplace. The pride flag that flew in front of St Andrew’s house throughout the games was a positive gesture towards valuing equality.

Before we can have any credibility in speaking out against FGM in other parts of the world where that despicable practice is prevalent, we must ensure that we are doing all that we reasonably can to eradicate it at home. As a global citizen, part of Scotland’s contribution to the world is through the positive example that it sets for other nations and societies.

FGM is not just a women’s issue, of course. Speaking as a son, father and brother, I do not want a society in which FGM is permitted or ignored, and I certainly do not want a society in which some women from some of the minority communities feel that they do not have the protection of our society. Let us strive to lead the fight against FGM by our own example in Scotland.

15:51  

Finance Committee 04 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 04, 2015
The Convener

Thank you.

11:18 Meeting continued in private until 11:33.  

Finance Committee 04 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 04, 2015
The Convener

Thank you very much for that. That being the end of the public part of today’s deliberations, we will move into private. Before we do, I would like the committee to agree that we will look at the report of the evidence in private at our next meeting.

Members indicated agreement.



Finance Committee 04 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 04, 2015
The Convener

There appear to be no further questions from the committee. Do you have any other points to make to the committee before we wind up the meeting?



Finance Committee 04 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 04, 2015
The Convener

My colleagues now wish to ask questions. The first one will be from Mark McDonald.



Finance Committee 04 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 04, 2015
The Convener

Thank you. I said that I was going to open up the evidence session, but none of my colleagues has yet indicated that they want to ask any questions. I hope that they will. I will ask another question while they all get themselves psyched up for that.

The financial memorandum notes that some local authorities might receive no fee income from sexual entertainment venues—that is, where none exists in a local authority area—but could incur

“tens of thousands of pounds”

in legal fees should an operator challenge a decision not to grant a licence. What is your comment on that?



Finance Committee 04 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 04, 2015
The Convener

Okay. I have one final question on civic licensing—I am skimming through the submissions because I want to allow colleagues to ask questions.

The financial memorandum states that the bill

“will give local authorities the power to refuse to grant private hire car licences on grounds of overprovision.”

However, the Scottish Taxi Federation states that the financial memorandum has “got things badly wrong”, and it questions how the financial memorandum’s estimate was reached, stating that no suitable methodology or measuring tool exists at present. Indeed, it goes on to say that it would be “difficult if not impossible” to devise such a tool. How did you reach your estimates?



Finance Committee 04 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 04, 2015
The Convener

Thank you. The written submission from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities states:

“There are some concerns that the introduction of a duty for Boards to publish a financial report may be administratively difficult for local authorities depending on current accounting procedures. COSLA does recognise that this increases transparency and would provide evidence for any future fee increases.”

Nevertheless, COSLA adds that South Ayrshire Council

“expressed ‘particular concerns’ that the fee for occasional licences had not been reviewed, stating that the current fee was insufficient to cover the cost of work involved in processing a licence application.”



Finance Committee 04 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 04, 2015
The Convener

We will move on to alcohol licensing. I will spend less time on the next two sections, not least because I have taken 20 minutes and I want committee colleagues to come in.

On the alcohol licensing provisions, West Dunbartonshire Council says:

“The legislation sets a maximum fee which licensing boards can charge and, even though ours is charging the maximum fee, we incur an annual deficit of almost £89,000”.

Glasgow City Council says:

“it should be noted that it is difficult, if not impossible, for the bodies to preemptively raise fees … to take into account the Scottish Government’s proposals”.

South Lanarkshire Council says:

“the Council does not currently have the funding in place to meet”

potential future costs. Surely the regime will add significant burdens to local authorities.



Finance Committee 04 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 04, 2015
The Convener

Indeed. I know that.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12423.1 Alex Rowley: Commission on Local Tax Reform—As an amendment to motion S4M-12423 in the n
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12423 Marco Biagi: Commission on Local Tax Reform—That the Parliament supports the establishment
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12385 Liz Smith: STEM Education in Scottish Schools—That the Parliament agrees that a solid grou
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12395.1 Fergus Ewing: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—As an amendment to motion S4M-12395 in the
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12395.2 Patrick Harvie: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—As an amendment to motion S4M-12395 in t
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12395 Murdo Fraser: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—That the Parliament notes with concern the l
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12385.3 Alasdair Allan: STEM Education in Scottish Schools—As an amendment to motion S4M-12385 i
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12382.3 Mary Fee: Building Scotland’s Infrastructure for the Future—As an amendment to motion S4
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12382.1 Gavin Brown: Building Scotland’s Infrastructure for the Future—As an amendment to motion
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12382.2 Willie Rennie: Building Scotland’s Infrastructure for the Future—As an amendment to moti
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Kenneth Gibson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12369: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/02/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12124: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11820: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11719: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11629: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11628: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11396: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11394: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11353: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11259: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Kenneth Gibson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-04081: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24480: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03963: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23989: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23987: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03925: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03903: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03866: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23683: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02464: Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/12/2014 Show Full Question >>