Michael Matheson MSP

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Michael Matheson MSP

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  • Member for: Falkirk West
  • Region: Central Scotland
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Michael is a member of the following Committees:

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

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by Michael Matheson

Meeting of the Parliament 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
The Cabinet Secretary for Justice (Michael Matheson)

Following the publication of the report of the commission on women offenders in 2012, Scottish Government officials worked with community justice leaders in Dundee to help them to develop a local service for women who offend, as we have done right across the country. The team in Dundee decided not to establish a justice centre for women. Instead, it decided that developing the dedicated women offenders team, which had already been praised by the commission as an example of good practice, was the right thing to do to deliver the best service for women in Dundee. We supported that decision, and we have provided more than £237,000 in grant funding since 2013 to expand the women offenders team in the city. The team provides a broad range of services for women who are involved in the criminal justice system, in line with the commission’s recommendations.



Meeting of the Parliament 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Michael Matheson

As I outlined to the Justice Committee on 16 December last year, a proposal has been put to me by the Scottish Prison Service. I am considering that matter, and I will make an announcement in due course.



Meeting of the Parliament 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
The Cabinet Secretary for Justice (Michael Matheson)

I am grateful for the opportunity to recognise the excellent work that is undertaken by the emergency services across Scotland.

Our emergency services are individually and collectively services that we can be incredibly proud of. Brave and dedicated men and women are prepared to put their lives on the line on a daily basis to ensure that we are kept safe. When they are called on, they respond quickly and without hesitation to rescue, provide care and manage any incident or event.



Meeting of the Parliament 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
Michael Matheson

I am aware of the terrible incident at Clydebank police station last week. Of course, the emergency services responded in an exemplary way to deal with that particular issue.

I am sure that the member will recognise that again, in 2014, we witnessed events of a catastrophic proportion in Glasgow city centre at the end of the year—a time that is traditionally reserved for family and friends, and good spirits. There was also the unfortunate accident that involved the Cemfjord cargo ship, which was en route from Denmark to Cheshire. Despite an extensive land and sea search, the eight crewmen from that vessel have not been found. Again, I pass on our thoughts and condolences to all the families and friends of the loved ones who lost their lives and pass on our thoughts to those who are still being treated and those who were caught up in or witnessed those tragic events. It is at times such as these that we see our emergency services act so bravely, selflessly, effectively and timeously.

We owe our gratitude for the immediate and fast work of the first responders, the NHS Scotland staff who provided the injured with the best care and attention and those who quickly put in place arrangements to support families and those affected members of the public. However, we should not forget that the men and women of our emergency services, although highly trained, feel the same pain, fear and emotion. They go home at the end of each shift to family and loved ones still carrying the scars of what they have witnessed.

Earlier today, I met some of the police officers who were first on the scene at the Glasgow bin lorry accident on 22 December—the deceased victim identification officers and the family liaison officers who supported the families following the events. I was struck by their professionalism, their dedication and how they responded to the accident. The first responders included some who were off duty but were in the area, and a young new police officer who was only five weeks into his probationary training and was one of the first on the scene.

It is not just events at home that raise our attention, concern and thoughts. Last week’s chilling events in France make only too real the risks that are faced daily.

The work of the voluntary sector emergency organisations is increasingly intrinsic to Scotland’s multi-agency approach to emergency response. Their commitment, dedication and courage are highly valued by the Scottish Government, by the communities that they serve and by Scotland’s emergency services, with which they work shoulder to shoulder. They have a unique capability to put boots on the ground in communities during emergencies, as well as through tackling what can be long-term and challenging recovery processes.

We regularly witness that through the selfless work of the Scottish mountain rescue teams, who provide a front-line, world-class voluntary search and rescue service, helping those in need of assistance 24/7, 365 days a year. In 2013, 780 people were assisted across 590 incidents, during which the 27 volunteer mountain rescue teams gave over 27,500 volunteer-hours—a remarkable achievement by all those involved.

That selfless work on land is replicated at sea by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. In 2013, the 236 vital lifeboat stations around our coasts undertook 995 launches with 1,007 rescues, saving 29 lives. Altogether, more than 37,000 hours were logged by volunteer crews. That is a huge lifesaving resource.

Medical support is provided by the volunteers of St Andrew’s First Aid and the British Red Cross, who give up their time to attend a range of events across Scotland, from football matches to music events, to ensure that everyone can enjoy themselves safely.

Within the blue-light services, we must acknowledge the excellent work that is done by special constables and lay advisers in Police Scotland, as well as the work that is done through the retained duty system and by the volunteer firefighters, who play a vital role in keeping communities safe, particularly in rural and remote areas.

Scotland’s communities continue to play an important role by using local skills, knowledge and commitment in ways that complement the work of the emergency responders. That includes local community resilience groups; the voluntary community first responder scheme, supported by the Scottish Ambulance Service; and the Police Scotland youth volunteers programme, which provides young people aged between 13 and 18 with the opportunity to gain confidence and develop leadership skills by working with the police and volunteering in their local area.

In 2013-14, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service attended almost 28,000 fires, and the Scottish Ambulance Service saw an increase in its emergency responses, responding to more than 650,000 incidents and reaching life-threatening incidents in an average of 6.5 minutes. Over the course of the past year, Police Scotland has responded to more than 497,000 emergency calls raised through the 999 route.

Of course, 2014 brought a lot to celebrate, but we must acknowledge the emergency services’ role in delivering a successful Commonwealth games and Ryder cup. The high level of pre-planning and resource that was committed to ensuring that both events could progress safely, without incident and with the resilience to react if, where and when gave confidence to all those who took part and attended these events, and that fact will not have gone unnoticed by the thousands of visitors and spectators who came to Scotland and who, in turn, will have taken away a lasting impression.

We cannot overlook the significant prevention activities in which our emergency services and voluntary organisations are actively engaged. A good example is the ready for winter campaign, which has been delivered for the fourth year this winter and has been a true success, due in no small part to the work of our emergency responders in delivering its important message.

I also highlight the work that Education Scotland is carrying out with schools and local authorities as part of curriculum for excellence to help pupils understand how to prepare for and cope with emergencies. Meanwhile, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is committed to reducing the number of accidental dwelling fires in Scotland through a programme of home safety visits targeted at those who are most vulnerable to the risk of fire in their homes, and figures show that 71,000 such visits were carried out in 2013-14. Of course, it is not just front-line officers whom we have to thank but all the staff who in so many different ways help to make our emergency services exemplary.

However, while reflecting on the positives, we should not fail to acknowledge the challenges ahead. I reassure this Parliament and the people of Scotland that this Government is committed to supporting our emergency services and ensuring that the communities of Scotland continue to receive the excellent levels of service, protection and support that they have come to rely on, be that through our continued commitment to 1,000 extra police officers, our shared goal of keeping local priorities at the heart of our emergency services or the importance that we place on ensuring that the nearest and most suitable resources are available to respond to incidents, irrespective of their location.

Following the introduction of a single police and fire service, we have seen across the country the benefit of access to specialist resource and equipment, an example of which was their utilisation in dealing with the tragic incident at the Clutha bar in 2013.

In health, the highly skilled staff of the Scottish Ambulance Service special operations response team respond daily to major incidents across Scotland, working closely with their colleagues in the Ambulance Service and other emergency services to ensure that patients get the very best care, regardless of where they are. Moreover, the Scottish specialist transport and retrieval project—or ScotSTAR—which was launched in 2014, brings together under the auspices of the Scottish Ambulance Service the emergency medical retrieval and transportation of critically ill adults, children and babies. The initiative, which has rightly been recognised as world class, demonstrates clear collaborative working across NHS boards. The sharing of resources, increased collaboration and partnership working and the benefits that they bring will be key in meeting the challenges ahead, and I am aware that our emergency services are already jointly considering such opportunities, which will in turn improve the safety and wellbeing of our communities.

Beyond the blue lights, there are a wide range of organisations that work together to facilitate a successful conclusion to emergency events, not least in difficult weather similar to the kind that we are experiencing at the moment. In emergencies, public and private emergency operatives, such as the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the Met Office, local authorities, Transport Scotland, and utility and telecom companies, meet resilience co-ordinators and Scottish Government resilience room officials to support the front-line response. They are key to ensuring that we co-operate in response, recover quickly and reduce disruption where possible.

We saw the benefits of that co-operation in the work only this week, when, due to bad weather, homes and businesses on the Isle of Coll were isolated from power, and ferries and aviation were cancelled. The Scottish Government, working in co-ordination with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and SSE, arranged for a helicopter to be provided on Coll in order to get power back on in extremely challenging conditions.

It is right that the work that is undertaken by the men and women of our emergency services be recognised by Parliament. Not all of us could easily adapt to going to work each day, not knowing from one minute to the next what we might be faced with, yet that is what all our emergency services colleagues willingly sign up to. Be it their management of significant incidents, their quick response to local accidents and emergencies or their ability to provide comfort and calm at times when individuals and communities are at their most vulnerable, there is a lot to commend the men and women of our emergency services.

I ask Parliament to join me in acknowledging the work of the emergency services and in a commitment to support them in the year ahead. I ask Parliament, too, to support the motion in my name.

I move,

That the Parliament applauds the excellent work undertaken by all of the brave and dedicated men and women of Scotland’s emergency services, both blue light and voluntary, who meet significant challenges on a daily basis to help keep communities safe and respond where and whenever there is need; acknowledges that Scotland has been reminded of this again through the events over the festive period, and commits to support all of the emergency services in the years ahead.

14:46  

Meeting of the Parliament 13 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 13, 2015
The Cabinet Secretary for Justice (Michael Matheson)

The order that Parliament is being asked to approve has been the subject of significant consultation. It has also been examined by the Justice Committee, and I am grateful to the committee for its detailed consideration of the matter.

The order meets our obligations under OPCAT and the national preventive mechanism, which the current system of prison visiting committees does not. It establishes an independent monitoring service for Scottish prisons, ensures that all aspects of prisons will be fully and independently monitored, and provides a system in which best practice can readily be identified and improvements made in relation to conditions in prisons and the treatment of prisoners.

I believe that Parliament should approve the order for a number of critical reasons. The new system will deliver improved outcomes for prisoners and wider society. The current system of prison visiting committees is not as effective or efficient as it could be. There are significant inconsistencies across individual visiting committees, there is a lack of accountability and there is no ability to look at trends or to share findings. The new system will introduce effective leadership and governance arrangements for monitoring that will address those areas.

The independence of independent prison monitors is secured through the oversight of the chief inspector of prisons. In addition, independent prison monitors will be given powers to visit a prison without prior notice at any time, to access any part of the prison, to speak to any prisoner privately, and to investigate any matter that a prisoner brings to them.

The new system provides for visits to be undertaken in three ways. It provides for them to be arranged through a rota that will be agreed by the independent prison monitor, the prison monitoring co-ordinator and the prison governor, or to be arranged between the IPM and the PMC. It also provides for them to take place at the discretion of the IPM alone. Any concerns that wholly unannounced visits may no longer take place are totally unfounded. It is also wrong to suggest that unannounced visits will be infrequent.

The reason for allowing for visits to be agreed with the governor is that that will allow the governor to raise specific issues that may be discussed and shared with the IPM, or to highlight to prisoners the fact that an IPM will be available on a certain day. The reason for some visits being agreed with the PMC is to ensure co-ordination and the appropriate frequency of visits. A combination of announced and unannounced visits is consistent with the practice of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and the principles of OPCAT.

A key element of the draft order is that it will require IPMs to visit each prison weekly. That will ensure that what is going on in individual establishments across the country will be monitored with regular frequency. In addition, the system will be subject to regular review.



Meeting of the Parliament 13 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Michael Matheson

The member makes a good point, because the order requires the chief inspector of prisons to set up an advisory group to keep the effectiveness of monitoring under review. Membership of the advisory group will be at the discretion of the chief inspector, who has indicated that it should have an independent chair and include the Scottish Human Rights Commission. Of course, if there was any indication that there were difficulties with the present approach or deficiencies in it, the Government would be more than happy to consider such matters when they were highlighted to us.

I make it clear that the Government is committed to delivering the best outcomes for prisoners, to tackling inequalities where they exist and to meeting our obligations under OPCAT. The order that the Parliament is being asked to approve today was approved by the Justice Committee by seven votes to one. The order will reform independent monitoring of our prisons and deliver better outcomes for prisoners.



Meeting of the Parliament 07 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 07, 2015
The Cabinet Secretary for Justice (Michael Matheson)

The Scottish Government welcomes the publication by Her Majesty’s chief inspector of prisons of the progress report on HMP Shotts, which is a follow-up to a full inspection report that was published in June 2013.

The chief inspector, David Strang, commented on publication that good progress had been made towards achievement of the 51 recommendations that were made in 2013, noting that 31 recommendations had been fully achieved; that in relation to seven recommendations, meaningful progress was in evidence; and that 12 recommendations are to be addressed.

I am satisfied that, overall, the report is balanced. It records that, while there is a need to ensure that further progress is made, progress is being made in a number of important areas. Overall, the prison runs well and is safe, and there is evidence of positive relationships between staff and prisoners.



Meeting of the Parliament 07 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 07, 2015
Michael Matheson

The member raises a good point, because that was one of the key areas that the chief inspector of prisons identified as requiring further action.

Progress is being made at Shotts to ensure greater provision of purposeful activity. The Scottish Prison Service has carried out a national review of purposeful activity within the prison system, which was commissioned following the results of work undertaken by the Parliament’s Justice Committee back in 2013. We expect the findings of the review to be taken forward by the SPS. Following the review, there were some 131 recommendations on improving purposeful activity in the prison estate in Scotland. The Scottish Prison Service is developing an implementation plan to ensure that it takes forward those recommendations.



Meeting of the Parliament 07 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 07, 2015
The Cabinet Secretary for Justice (Michael Matheson)

Our bill aims to clarify and strengthen the criminal law by introducing a new single human trafficking offence and by increasing the maximum penalty to life imprisonment. The bill will give Scotland’s law enforcement agencies greater tools in their armoury to use in bringing those responsible for the misery of human trafficking to justice, as well as guaranteeing support for victims.

The bill includes provisions for courts to impose new preventative orders, restricting the activities of people convicted or suspected of human trafficking offences, including controls on foreign travel. There are specific proposals in the bill that will allow for the detention of property, including aircraft, owned or possessed by persons arrested on suspicion of a trafficking offence.

The Lord Advocate’s recent summit and communiqué on human trafficking acknowledged the need for co-operation between law enforcement agencies across the United Kingdom in responding to this crime. Alongside our bill, we will continue to engage with the UK Government, UK border force and other relevant UK bodies to share intelligence and to disrupt and deter traffickers who seek to cross our borders.



Meeting of the Parliament 07 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 07, 2015
Michael Matheson

The member raises an important point because, alongside the improvements to the criminal law and the strengthening of the rights of victims, the bill will commit Scottish Government ministers to engage with relevant stakeholders in order to bring forward a trafficking and exploitation strategy for Scotland.

I assure the member of the Government’s intention to ensure that, in developing the strategy, we engage with organisations and frontline staff, including those at our airports and ports, so that they have an opportunity to have an input into the development of the strategy and so that the strategy is framed in a way that supports them by ensuring that they have the necessary skills and knowledge to identify the signs of trafficking and stop traffickers from being able to bring people across our borders.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

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

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

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

S4M-12095.2 Alex Johnstone: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095.1 Willie Rennie: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095 Alex Neil: Tackling Inequalities—That the Parliament agrees that a strong, sustainable eco
>> Show more
YesCarried

Selection of John Pentland MSP for appointment to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.
AbstainCarried

S4M-12060.2 Hugh Henry: Commending the People who Keep Scotland Safe in Emergencies—As an amendment
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12045.3 Shona Robison: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-12045 in the name of Rich
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12045.2 Jackson Carlaw: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-12045 in the name of Ric
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Michael Matheson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12060: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11999: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11986: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11916: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11915: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11913: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11910: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11850: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11848: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11789: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
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EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S3W-40158: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-40152: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-40160: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-40159: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-40154: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-40157: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-40156: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-40155: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-39739: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/02/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-39064: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/01/2011 Show Full Question >>

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