Kenny MacAskill MSP

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Kenny MacAskill MSP

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  • Member for: Edinburgh Eastern
  • Region: Lothian
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Kenny is a member of the following Committees:

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

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by Kenny MacAskill (Edinburgh Eastern) (SNP)

Meeting of the Parliament 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Kenny MacAskill (Edinburgh Eastern) (SNP)

I, too, thank Mary Fee for, in particular, bringing this debate to the chamber and, in general, her work not only on babies but on children. The topic is one that Aileen Campbell, who is on maternity leave from her post as Minister for Children and Young People, often raised in Parliament. Mary Fee has picked it up and run with it. I have no doubt that Fiona McLeod, the temporary Minister for Children and Young People, will support her motion.

There is something fundamentally tragic about this issue. Sometimes, because of the nature of the offence, the situation cannot be avoided. However, anyone who, like me, has ever seen the mother and baby unit has seen the tragedy in it.

The issue is significant. I always remember the statistic that I have perhaps found to be the most shocking: more children in Scotland will suffer the imprisonment of a parent than will suffer the divorce of a parent. I did not believe that on first hearing, but I am told that that is the case.

We know the effect that parental imprisonment has on babies and children, as Mary Fee and Richard Simpson mentioned and as the minister will doubtless comment on. The work of Harry Burns and others is quite clear about the effect of alienation. Indeed, almost half of the children of women in Cornton Vale will go on to be prisoners. That is a shameful statistic, which is damning for us all as a society. Stigmatisation and pressure also affects their children, partners and other family members. We must always remember that those children have committed no offence; they have been convicted of no crime. They are guilty of absolutely nothing other than being the child of or having a relationship with someone who has offended, and that has to be taken account of.

We should view the glass as half full, not half empty. Good work has been done. The work of external third sector agencies has been mentioned. Faith groups in particular have done good work, not simply in their work with children but on family centres. That has changed the whole nature and attitude around going to the prison estate.

Some issues cannot be dealt with; we can only mitigate them. At the end of the day, visiting a prison is, fundamentally, visiting a secure institution. That cannot be changed. We must also be realistic in our expectations of such an institution. Prisons cannot be a hospital, a college, a nursery, a crèche and an academic institution and expect to match all those sectors in the outside world. However, they do a remarkable job in ensuring that they provide as best they can for the multiple issues that must be dealt with.

The SPS has taken that on board and, as I said, with the work of the faith groups, family centres have changed. Good work has been done not only on imprisoned parents’ relationships with babies, but in other areas. That includes work on literacy and reading, and the work in Saughton prison on male prisoners’ interactions with their children. That work is replicated elsewhere as something to be supported. There is even the use of the Boys Brigade or the scouts—I cannot remember which—at Low Moss prison to try to normalise what can never be a normal situation: visiting a parent in prison. All that is testimony to the good work that is on-going.

As members have said, work still has to be done. I have no doubt that the minister will acknowledge, as does the SPS, that progress has been made. However, more information must be found, because we are in uncharted waters. Fundamentally, we must remember that we can mitigate and do as much as we can to normalise the situation but, at the end of the day, visiting anyone or having a child in prison is an abnormal situation. The best solution is that people do not go to prison in the first place.

12:49  

Public Petitions Committee 23 February 2015 : Monday, February 23, 2015
Kenny MacAskill (Edinburgh Eastern) (SNP)

I am not averse to writing in the proposed way but, to an extent, the petition’s purpose has been achieved. We must get an assurance from the Government about where it is going. Further changes in FOI legislation, which I think that we all accept, are going to happen. That should probably be done contemporaneously rather than piecemeal.

It would be important to make it clear to the Government that there appears to be support for the proposal, but the next stage in extending FOI should not be to have a bit on RSLs and a bit on something else; rather, it should be to move forward across the board by widening and deepening the range of organisations that are FOI-able.



Meeting of the Parliament 19 February 2015 : Thursday, February 19, 2015
Kenny MacAskill

On that point, Presiding Officer, I will end.

16:28  

Meeting of the Parliament 19 February 2015 : Thursday, February 19, 2015
Kenny MacAskill (Edinburgh Eastern) (SNP)

The debate is not about the principle of paying taxation; it is about the final burying of the poll tax. Like many members in the chamber, I have recently filed my income tax return and have paid my income tax. Although I was not ecstatic, I was happy to do so because the tax took cognisance of the ability to pay, it was banded, and it went towards the protection of necessary public services.

The poll tax was an entirely different entity. It was a political tax that was brought in by the Conservatives and was brought in a year earlier in Scotland, with Scotland being used as a guinea pig for the taxation despite the best endeavours to advise better and wiser counsel on Margaret Thatcher, even including some efforts from within her own party. The tax ultimately bit the dust and she finally fell with it.

I was proud to take part in the can’t pay, won’t pay campaign, which was about ensuring that those who could not pay would never have to pay. We defeated this iniquitous tax, and this bill finally puts to bed the issue of the last few individuals who are being pursued for it.

The tax was certainly iniquitous. It was a tax on the poor and the vulnerable, and it did not take into account people’s ability to pay. It was all about marginalising people in society. The attitude was, “I don’t have a child at school, so why should I pay for education? I am fortunate in being healthy, so why should I worry about those who are afflicted?” It was about dividing and divvying up, and it was about the privatisation of our society, which, I am sad to say, has been continued by more recent Governments.

It was also about undermining local government services. The points that Alex Rowley made in that respect were appropriate, but we should, as I mentioned in the stage 1 debate, remember the gearing effect. Councils had either to ratchet up the poll tax to an unaffordable level or to privatise or simply dispose of services. That is why the tax had to go.

Will a few individuals who probably should have paid escape? Sadly, there are probably a few, but the overwhelming majority will be people who, for 20 years, have not been able to afford to pay. How do we know that? There were expedited powers associated with this tax; I know that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has expedited powers to deal with those, whether they be MSPs or others, who do not pay their taxes. That is only right but, as John Mason has correctly pointed out, accountants, tax avoidance and, sadly, tax evasion kick in with income tax and other more complicated forms of taxation.

The system of expedited powers was imposed by local authorities on the ordinary man and woman in the street who had to struggle to pay their community charge. We should remember, for example, the summary warrant process, which was an expedited procedure that did not require the council to raise any particular action. The warrant was simply printed off on a computer and passed to sheriff officers, who, at one stage, could use the threat of a warrant sale to intimidate people and get money.

For the overwhelming majority of people, however, the situation was dealt with through a bank or earnings arrestment. As a result, those who have still not been able to pay and are being pursued for the tax are those who simply cannot pay. Councils have tried to pursue them, but they have not been able to get anything from them, because, in the main, those people do not have the wherewithal to pay. To seek to pursue them would be fundamentally wrong.

This bill is not only about protecting the poor but about dealing with those councils that, shamefully, wish to intimidate people and put them off going on the electoral register. After the outstanding sign-up campaign and politicisation of people during the referendum, there was a brazen political attempt by Tories, in particular, to do to people what has been done in other jurisdictions and dissuade them from exercising their democratic mandate.



Public Petitions Committee 17 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Kenny MacAskill

I welcome the action that is being taken within education to deal with the issue.

I see where the petitioner is coming from and I think that he has made his point, but I do not think that it is for us as a committee to set the precise curriculum for schools. There has to be some flexibility. Environmental issues, including the particular points that the petitioner makes, should be raised, but we should not force more things on to a timetable that is ever more constrained.

Therefore, I think that there is a limit to what can be done—other than, as I say, making sure that the issue is raised and leaving it to education authorities and to teachers to deliver in the manner that they see fit.



Public Petitions Committee 17 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Kenny MacAskill

There is a direction of travel and, as I said, the petitioner has welcomed that. These things cannot be done overnight but there is clearly a plan to roll out wi-fi, which is necessary, and we welcome that.



Public Petitions Committee 17 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Kenny MacAskill

The petitioner seems to be welcoming what the Government is doing as progress. It seems to me that we have a direction of travel.



Public Petitions Committee 17 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Kenny MacAskill

It would be appropriate to write to the Government, as we need some clarity on the matter. I am not aware of what common-law offences we would prosecute under in other scenarios, and there might be a gap in the law. It would be interesting to know.

It might also be worth while asking the SSPCA what it thinks, because there are still some issues with the legislation in relation not simply to sentencing powers but to what the SSPCA can do. From speaking to Mike Flynn, I know about the difficulties that it sometimes has in storing animals pending the outcome of a court case where the animal is not signed over. There are some broader issues that are not simply to do with the sentencing powers, and it might be worth while for the committee to hear from the SSPCA as well as from the Government on whether there should be a review in due course of not simply the level of penalties, but how the law operates in practice.



Public Petitions Committee 17 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Kenny MacAskill

Are you aware of whether any members of the judiciary, who are involved in sentencing, or the Crown or procurators fiscal have expressed concern about the inadequacy of the sentencing powers?



Public Petitions Committee 17 February 2015 : Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Kenny MacAskill (Edinburgh Eastern) (SNP)

I want to build on the questions from John Wilson and Hanzala Malik, which seem interlinked. First, are you satisfied that current heritage protections sufficiently promote and protect our diverse heritage, including the contribution of minority cultures? As a follow-on from that, what equalities safeguards exist in the current guidance, especially for those communities where written records and so on are not so easily available? Finally, as a consequence of public sector equality duty requirements, do you anticipate any changes? If so, will they have any effect on the Tinkers’ Heart?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

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

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

S4M-12385 Liz Smith: STEM Education in Scottish Schools—That the Parliament agrees that a solid grou
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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
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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
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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 Kenny MacAskill
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11567: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11314: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11278: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11277: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11114.2: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11101: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10964: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10634: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10278: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09557.2: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh Eastern, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
This Member currently holds a ministerial post. First Minister and Ministers cannot ask the Government questions which is why no recent questions are displaying here. Please use the full search to find details of previous questions by this Member.
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S3W-33254: Kenny MacAskill, Edinburgh East and Musselburgh, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/04/2010 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32438: Kenny MacAskill, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/03/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32439: Kenny MacAskill, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/03/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32437: Kenny MacAskill, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/03/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32098: Kenny MacAskill, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/02/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32099: Kenny MacAskill, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/02/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32096: Kenny MacAskill, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/02/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32097: Kenny MacAskill, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/02/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32094: Kenny MacAskill, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/02/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32095: Kenny MacAskill, Lothians, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/02/2007 Show Full Question >>

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