Malcolm Chisholm MSP

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Malcolm Chisholm MSP

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  • Member for: Edinburgh Northern and Leith
  • Region: Lothian
  • Party: Scottish Labour

Malcolm is a member of the following Committees:

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

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by Malcolm Chisholm

Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh Northern and Leith) (Lab)

Apart from full bedroom tax mitigation, which Labour ensured was in last year’s budget, is it not the case that the “Tackling Inequality” section of the budget is full only of warm words signifying very little for those who are the poorest and most disadvantaged in society? Is it not time that we had a comprehensive assessment of the effect of all policies and budget lines on poverty, rather than a bland equality statement that says very little about poverty and ignores specific budget lines and policies?



Meeting of the Parliament 07 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh Northern and Leith) (Lab)

I welcome Clydeside Action on Asbestos to the public gallery and pay tribute to its great campaign.

Of course, asbestos-related illness does not apply just in Clydeside and I have written to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice about one of my constituents, who is affected by asbestos in that particular way.

The answer that members want—the answer that Clydeside Action on Asbestos wants—is in the answer to three questions that were put very succinctly and effectively by Elaine Murray. First, what is the harm in doing what Elaine Murray proposes in her amendments? Secondly, what is the answer to the question about exceptional circumstances? We already treat asbestos as an exceptional circumstance and the legislation that we passed in 2009 bears testimony to that. Thirdly, if the cabinet secretary still does not accept Elaine Murray’s amendments, can he at least tell us what he has done to fulfil the commitment that he made at the Justice Committee to ease the test for remit from the sheriff court to the Court of Session?

I support the amendments in Elaine Murray’s name and I hope that, at the last minute, the cabinet secretary will have a change of mind.



Meeting of the Parliament 07 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Malcolm Chisholm

I strongly support Graeme Pearson’s amendments 16 and 17. John Finnie intervened on Mr Pearson to say that victims of workplace accidents and disease would be “guaranteed counsel, anyway”. I presume that he means that that is the case in practice—which the minister might want to comment on—but it certainly will not be guaranteed in law. Therefore, that seems to me to be an argument in favour of Graeme Pearson’s amendments rather than an argument against them.

I am sure that most, if not all, members are concerned about the way in which the scales of justice have been tipped against the victims of workplace accidents and disease in favour of defending employers or insurers by section 69 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. As Graeme Pearson said—this must be an argument that appeals to Government party members—surely the least that we can do in this Parliament is use the powers that we have to tip the scales in the other direction and lessen the impact of section 69. I therefore hope that the Government will accept Graeme Pearson’s amendments.



Meeting of the Parliament 07 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Malcolm Chisholm

I support Elaine Murray’s proposal for a sunrise clause. I am a member of the Finance Committee, and members may remember that many in the Parliament voted against the financial resolution on the bill, which is fairly unusual.

As Elaine Murray said, the proposals must be adequately resourced and the technology must be available. On the subject of technology, perhaps the minister or the cabinet secretary can comment on information technology for the specialist court. We were told that only £10,000 has been set aside for that, which was a concern, and we are now told that the new system will not be in place until autumn 2016, which is obviously a concern too.

The cabinet secretary’s letter to the Finance Committee and to Christine Grahame, which contained some revised costings, did not substantially alter the concerns that I and others expressed at stage 1, which included concerns about the loss of fee income and the increase in the sheriff court workload; the letter addressed neither issue.

The change in the legal aid costings was perhaps an admission that the previous estimates had been overgenerous, but it is still a bit of mystery as to where even £0.75 million of legal aid savings will come from. The Scottish Legal Aid Board already supports the most complex and difficult cases—the savings will come from not having counsel, yet we are told that those complex cases will still have counsel. In addition, most costs are recovered in any case. There is still a great deal of mystery, and many questions, around the financing of the bill, and I believe that Elaine Murray’s proposed sunrise clause is the correct response to those problems.



Meeting of the Parliament 07 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh Northern and Leith) (Lab)

I am obviously not as well informed as other speakers, who all seem to be either ministers or members of the Justice Committee. I first became interested in the bill as a member of the Finance Committee when it studied the financial memorandum. Subsequently, I listened to the concerns of those who have been affected by workplace accidents and diseases. Therefore, like Elaine Murray, I certainly support the need for reform to the civil courts.

I am grateful that my former colleague Cathy Jamieson commissioned the review some seven years ago. My conclusion, however, is that, in some respects, reform has gone too far and that, in other respects, it is financially problematic.

Access to justice has been a theme of two or three debates this afternoon. I spoke in a couple of them, and I do not want to repeat the detail of what I said. However, I will say that I am still concerned in particular about those who have been affected by workplace accidents and diseases. It is unfortunate that they have not been granted automatic right to counsel, and it is particularly regrettable that those who have been affected by asbestos have not been given the right to have their cases heard in the Court of Session. Those cases are usually very complex, and it might be that most of them end up in the Court of Session, but I think that it would have been better to state that this Parliament regards those affected by asbestos as comprising a special case. It is regrettable that we did not do so today.

In general, as the cabinet secretary said in his speech, because of section 69 of the UK Parliament Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, the scales of justice have been tipped against those affected by workplace accidents and diseases. However, the least that we could have done would have been to take every action possible to redress the balance in favour of those victims.

Having said that, some welcome changes were made at stage 2, which made the bill better than it was when it was introduced.

On the financial memorandum, I spoke in the debate in favour of Elaine Murray’s sunrise clause, which I think would have been the best way in which to deal with the financial problems. I still think that no satisfactory answer has been given to the question of the loss of fee income. We can debate whether 70 or 80 per cent of cases are being transferred, but the figure of £1 million lost in fee income is generally accepted.

As I said earlier, the legal aid savings are doubtful, and there is the issue of the increased workload. We are already hearing that it is taking longer to process cases in sheriff courts, partly because of sheriff court closures. Clearly, there will be an increased workload as a consequence, and it is not obvious how that will be managed. Of course, there will be the specialist court, but will two sheriffs be able to cope with all the work of that court, or will other sheriffs have to be deployed as well?

Earlier, we heard that only £10,000 had been set aside for the information technology systems. We were told that other money would be used for that. However, I would like to know when the systems are to be in place. I have been told autumn 2016. I would like that to be confirmed or otherwise in the minister’s summing-up speech.

On the issue of access to justice in relation to environmental matters, the Justice Committee recognised the differences between the Aarhus convention and the scope of judicial review in Scots law. One way of alleviating the decision would have been to extend the time for appeal. That was rejected by the Government. The best solution is the introduction of an environmental tribunal. I am told that that was in the Scottish National Party’s 2011 election manifesto, so I would be interested to know when the tribunal will be set up.

17:28  

Meeting of the Parliament 02 October 2014 : Thursday, October 02, 2014
Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh Northern and Leith) (Lab)

I think that we are all agreed on the Barnett formula, but does the cabinet secretary accept that this is a political decision and that we have an undertaking from all the relevant political leaders in the UK? Does he also agree that with further fiscal devolution, which we all support, this will not be such a heated issue in England, given that the Barnett principle can still be followed but the grant to Scotland will not be such a major part of public expenditure in the United Kingdom?



Meeting of the Parliament 02 October 2014 : Thursday, October 02, 2014
Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh Northern and Leith) (Lab)

I congratulate the Government on introducing the bill. Establishing food standards Scotland as a stand-alone body is clearly the most viable option, based on the recommendations of the Scudamore and other reviews and building on the existing expertise and best practice of the Food Standards Agency. I congratulate the Health and Sport Committee and support its recommendations.

One recommendation that particularly interested me was the request for clearer detail on the proposed research functions and capability of FSS and how those will relate to UK-funded research bodies. That reminded me of the rationale for setting up the FSA as a UK body in the first place. The 1998 consultation document said:

“The Government believes that a single body to control and regulate food safety and standards in the United Kingdom is appropriate because it would be impractical and costly to duplicate the necessary scienti?c advice in all parts of the UK”.

I was therefore reassured by Duncan McNeil’s reference to the memorandum of understanding that is in progress and the guarantee of access to UK research. That is an important development.

Duncan McNeil also referred to the committee’s approval of an eight-person board. The committee welcomed the minister’s reassurance on that, but I want to back up Claire Baker’s point about the Mather commission and the merits of having an employee director. I do not need to give the minister a lesson on that, because of course many, if not most, health bodies already have an employee director. If we needed reminding of it, Claire Baker mentioned the invaluable work that people on the ground do. In particular, she referred to meat inspectors, who prevented more than 1 million instances of diseased animal carcases entering the food chain. I therefore hope that the minister will consider that proposal for an employee director.

It is no secret that many in Scotland have difficulties with weight and health and that much of that relates to the quality of our diet. A preventative approach is clearly essential, and clear and reliable nutrition advice through labelling of food is an important part of that. That is why it should be welcome that labelling will be made a priority when the new body is formed next year.

Having a stand-alone body that addresses the regulation of food standards will allow us to place emphasis on our national health priorities and protect Scottish consumers while avoiding the UK’s rather fragmented approach to food standards as a whole since 2010. It is not entirely clear why the responsibilities were sectioned off to different departments in the way that they were. In fact, the review panel under the guidance of Professor Scudamore, along with many stakeholders, made the point that FSA UK

“had functioned well prior to the UK Government’s Machinery of Government changes in 2010”.

It is clear that a joined-up approach that recognises the connections between different areas of monitoring and maintaining food standards and the Government’s overall health priorities will be required if we are to address issues such as obesity and tackle lapses in food quality. As the Scudamore review concludes, Scotland has unique and complex problems in relation to diet, obesity and certain food-borne diseases, which means that food safety and regulation should not be divorced from nutrition and labelling and standards.

In that respect, FSS’s extended remit will require substantial extra resources. The financial memorandum states that there will be a direct transfer of existing staff from the FSA to FSS. However, the minister has indicated that the new body’s remit will go beyond that of the FSA’s functions. To that end, I hope that before stage 2 the Government will produce an update on the budgetary negotiations with the UK Government and give further assurances that future expansion of FSS’s role will be appropriately resourced.

As the Scottish Government 2010 report “Preventing overweight and obesity in Scotland” points out, evidence suggests that the provision of health information, although important, is not sufficient and that to make the changes necessary we have to reshape our living environment from one that promotes weight gain to one that supports healthy choices. By broadening the scope of FSS to prioritise an evidence-based approach that allows a greater understanding of what leads to poor diets and ill health, we can go beyond monitoring quality to promoting health and tackling health inequalities on a broader front.

However, it is important that any existing staff receive the appropriate level of upskilling to allow them to deliver any new changes. The concern that was reflected in a small number of the responses to the consultation was that it would perhaps be preferable to allow some time to pass, to allow the new body to bed in, before expanding the remit to include public health issues more generally. That is perhaps a prudent suggestion that may be worth considering as the bill moves forward. Indeed, there is much to be considered in the Scottish Government’s further suggestions on the additional work of FSS; many of them have merit, but perhaps all of them will require careful consideration as to what is feasible.

It has been suggested that the scope of the body could include considerations of environment, provenance, sustainability, food security or tracking and measurement of food poverty. The last suggestion is intriguing and I look forward to hearing more on how the additional work will link in with current responsibilities, and who within the new body will ensure that its role is co-ordinated with the NHS’s existing programmes and priorities. There is still a lack of clarity on that, and as the committee’s stage 1 report suggests, the onus is on the Scottish Government to take

“any steps necessary to ensure that the work of FSS and the relevant NHS bodies is appropriately co-ordinated.”

Widening the scope of FSS provides an opportunity for the body to lead on a national response to the problem of food poverty, thereby helping to confront one of the most pressing public health problems that we face. There are various ways in which that may be achieved, but partnership working between local authorities and FSS is key.

Earlier this week the Finance Committee discussed the connection between national outcomes in the performance framework and implementing measures at local authority level. There was a great deal of discussion as to how budgets could be allocated to combine national ambitions with effective partnership working, to achieve a healthier and more equal Scotland. That policy could be highly effective in challenging some of the major health problems that Scotland faces if it is implemented with the partnership working that local authorities desire.

As a nation, our relationship to food is fundamentally linked to many of our health issues. I hope that gaining an understanding that safety and regulation should not be divorced from nutrition and labelling will translate to a more holistic approach to maintaining standards and promoting health. On that basis I am happy to support the bill at stage 1.

15:48  

Finance Committee 01 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 01, 2014
Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh Northern and Leith) (Lab)

I think that we are running over so I will try to roll my questions up into one. This has been a really interesting session and I have got a lot out of it.

My question is about the national performance framework. Everyone praises it, yet I took the Improvement Service paper and most of Colin Mair’s comments as quite a radical critique of it. That is certainly how I read your paper and heard some of your comments, Colin. What do you think we need to do it? In a sense, you have redefined outcomes. In one part of your paper you say that what we call outcomes are sometimes really objectives. I take it that you mean that we need to focus our attention more on a smaller number of outcomes. Perhaps you can clarify whether that is the case.

I suppose that the related question, since I said I was going to roll my questions up into one, is the extent to which, if we do need to revise the national performance framework and make it far more focused on a smaller number of outcomes that are really about improving people’s lives—particularly, to my mind, and probably to yours, the lives of those in our society who are more disadvantaged—to what extent do we have to drive that through into community planning partnerships and local authorities? There is always a tension between localism and national objectives that we are all committed to. That is me trying to roll my thoughts into one question.

11:45  

Finance Committee 01 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 01, 2014
Malcolm Chisholm

There is quite a lot of talk about linking with other services. Is that partly to ensure that no case that meets the relevant criteria slips through the system, or is it just to make sure that additional help is given to the people who apply?



Finance Committee 01 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 01, 2014
Malcolm Chisholm

I am interested to hear that the number of reviews is down. There is a lot of interest in the ombudsman, but the fact is that there is not much of a variation in the administrative costs either for a high or for a low number of appeals.

Has any thought been given to how the nature of the ombudsman’s decisions will differ from the nature of the decisions made by local authorities? I presume that the ombudsman will be administering national criteria across Scotland while reviews by local authorities will be carried out very much in the context of the money available to a particular local authority and the demand that it is facing. As one of you said earlier, money might simply not be available because of high demand or the time of the year, but I presume that, if the appeals system is being administered on a national basis by the ombudsman, it will not take such factors into consideration.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11123 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
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NoCarried

S4M-11114.2 Kenny MacAskill: Policing—As an amendment to motion S4M-11114 in the name of Graeme Pear
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-11114 Graeme Pearson: Policing—That the Parliament acknowledges that policing in Scotland contin
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-11116.1.1 Patrick Harvie: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to amendment S4M-11116.1 in the name
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-11116.1 Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-11116 in the name of Jo
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-11116 Johann Lamont: Scotland’s Future—That the Parliament recognises the result of the independ
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NoCarried

Amendment 61 moved by Elaine Murray on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland) Bi
>> Show more
YesDefeated

Amendment 62 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
>> Show more
YesDefeated

Amendment 63 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
>> Show more
YesDefeated

Amendment 64 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Malcolm Chisholm
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-09793: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 23/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09717: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 11/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09451: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 24/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08996: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 07/02/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08757: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 14/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08510: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 04/12/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08101: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 30/10/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07756: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 19/09/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07713: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 16/09/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-04794: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 12/11/2012 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Malcolm Chisholm
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03630: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 20/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03451: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 04/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03423: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 28/07/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03359: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21681: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21680: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03347: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 02/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03272: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 19/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03244: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 12/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03097: Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 24/03/2014 Show Full Question >>

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