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 04 December 2014 : Thursday, December 04, 2014
Michael Matheson

If ever an issue transcended party politics, this is it. Together we can make a difference.

I move,

That the Parliament affirms its commitment to ending violence against women and to supporting women, children and young people who are affected; supports the 24th year of the UN 16 Days of Action Against Gender Violence; welcomes the publication of Equally Safe, Scotland’s strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls; endorses the inclusion of far-reaching priority actions in the programme for government to address domestic abuse and revenge pornography; welcomes the introduction of Police Scotland’s pilot Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse in Scotland; acknowledges the positive developments made collaboratively utilising partnerships across Police Scotland and the NHS and specialist services to eradicate honour-based violence, with the criminalisation of forced marriage and establishment of the Female Genital Mutilation Short-Life Working Group; commends the valuable contribution that voluntary and third sector organisations such as Scottish Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland and the Women’s Support Project make to the shaping of Scotland’s approach to violence against women and for the vital support that they provide to women, children and young people who have experienced or are experiencing violence or abuse, and this year congratulates White Ribbon Scotland on its eighth anniversary of positive campaigning to ensure that men are part of Scotland’s strategy to end gender-based violence.



Meeting of the Parliament 04 December 2014 : Thursday, December 04, 2014
Michael Matheson

After it was re-established in 1999, one of the Parliament’s first member’s business debates, which was secured by the Labour MSP Maureen Macmillan, was on domestic abuse. I do not believe that the passion and commitment for tackling the issue on the part of all parties in the chamber has in any way diminished in those 15 years.



Meeting of the Parliament 04 December 2014 : Thursday, December 04, 2014
The Cabinet Secretary for Justice (Michael Matheson)

On behalf of the Scottish Government, I am pleased to open this debate on such an important issue as working in partnership to end violence against women. It is intolerable that violence against women is still a feature of Scottish life and that thousands of women, children and young people are affected by it. It has no place in the Scotland that we all want.

This debate is timely, coming as it does during the annual 16 days of action campaign, which is a global campaign to raise awareness of the need to eliminate violence against women. The global 16 days of action is welcome as it assists in providing a focus on this important issue. What is already happening in Scotland is, of course, 365 days of action, as day in and day out the police, prosecutors, our courts, advocacy groups and other key stakeholders tackle the blight on our society that is violence against women.

I welcome the opportunity in this debate to do two things: to set out to members our proposals for tackling violence against women in the coming year, and to highlight the excellent work that is being done in our communities to overcome violence against women.

I pay tribute to our many police officers who are doing their utmost to keep our communities safe and to bring the perpetrators of such crimes to account. I pay particular tribute to our specialist advocacy and support services, including Scottish Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland and ASSIST—the advice, support, safety, information, services together project. Those organisations give support, advice and comfort to women, children and young people at a time of great need. Those organisations, and a great many others including Zero Tolerance, the Women’s Support Project, White Ribbon Scotland and Engender—to name but a few—have over many years helped to raise awareness of, and to influence and shape our understanding of, men’s violence against women.

I would like to take a moment to reflect on what has been accomplished this year. Having effective laws in place and enforced is a crucial part of our strategy in this area of policy, which is why we have strengthened the law to make forcing a person into marriage a criminal offence, thereby adding to the existing civil protection of forced marriage protection orders. We have launched “Equally Safe: Scotland’s strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls”. We have begun an extensive programme of work to tackle female genital mutilation, including the strengthening of existing law to ensure that individuals who are not permanent United Kingdom residents can still be tried in the Scottish courts; the establishment of a short-life working group to make recommendations to strengthen our approach on female genital mutilation; and the provision of £20,000 to the Scottish Refugee Council to undertake a range of research activity, including research on best practice in other parts of the UK and Europe.

We have also worked with Police Scotland on the development of its disclosure scheme for domestic abuse, alongside partners including the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Scottish Women’s Aid and ASSIST. That scheme—commonly known as Clare’s law—enables people in relationships and their close family and friends to ask for information about a partner’s background if they suspect that that partner has a history of violence. The two pilot schemes in Aberdeen and Ayrshire began last week and I am very hopeful that, following a successful evaluation, the scheme will be rolled out right across Scotland.

We welcome the excellent work that Police Scotland has undertaken on domestic abuse, rape and sexual assault, and the focus and energy that it has given to tackling those crimes. Police Scotland has improved investigation of rape and other sexual crimes and has set up a new national rape task force and a rape and sexual crime external advisory group, which operate across Police Scotland to inform and improve rape investigation. Last week, I visited one of Police Scotland’s specialist rape investigation units in Livingston, where I met Detective Superintendent Pat Campbell to hear more about the vital work that the unit undertakes.

In setting out our programme for government last week, we announced that we would consult on the introduction of a new specific criminal offence of domestic abuse. We intend to do that in early 2015. I want to explain why. We have listened to those who deal with domestic abuse day in, day out—prosecutors and advocacy groups, including Scottish Women’s Aid and ASSIST—and they have said that our current laws do not properly reflect the experience of domestic abuse.

A range of current laws can be used to prosecute domestic abuse, including the common law of assault and the statutory offence of threatening and abusive behaviour. However, those laws tend to focus on the prosecution of individual instances of criminal behaviour, for example an assault or a threat, but we know that the full seriousness and impact of a particular incident can be truly understood only when we recognise and understand how it sits within a broader pattern of control, coercion and abusive behaviour, whereby an abuser attempts to exert control over every aspect of their partner’s life. In some cases, an abuser may never resort to physical violence, so strong are their control over their partner and the fear that the partner has of that control.

The dynamics of domestic abuse are very complex and we appreciate that there is no simple solution or easy fix. However, we think that the time has come to seek views on whether a new specific offence of domestic abuse—one that reflects how such abuse is actually experienced by victims—will enable our justice system to respond better to domestic abuse and ensure that victims are able to tell the whole story of what has happened to them when their case comes to court.

Last week’s programme for government also announced that we will begin work to create a specific offence to deal with revenge porn, which is the malicious distribution by a person of intimate images of their partner or former partner. It is often, but not always, motivated by a desire for revenge over the end of a relationship. Organisations such as Scottish Women’s Aid as well as members of this Parliament, including Christina McKelvie and Alison McInnes, have highlighted that revenge porn is a growing problem, especially as we become increasingly tech-savvy and social media become intrinsic parts of our lives and relationships.

In July 2013, Scottish Women’s Aid launched the website “Stop Revenge Porn Scotland” to raise awareness of the issue and to provide a forum for women who have been victimised in that way to share their stories. The Scottish Government’s position on the issue is clear: it is completely unacceptable for anyone to breach the trust of another person by posting intimate personal photos online.

There are already offences that can be used to prosecute that conduct and many of the perpetrators have been brought to justice, but there is some evidence to suggest that victims often do not come forward because they do not know that a crime has been committed against them. A new offence will help to raise awareness and will send a strong and clear message to anyone who might be tempted to share such images without consent: “Proceed and you will face the full force of the law.” It will also enable us to monitor the scale of the problem better.

The desire, drive and determination to rid our society of the scourge of violence against women has united this Parliament since its very early days.



Meeting of the Parliament 27 November 2014 : Thursday, November 27, 2014
Michael Matheson

Tackling wildlife crime is very important, and Police Scotland has a team of officers who specialise in that particular field. If Christine Grahame has any specific suggestions that she feels the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland should consider, I would be happy to consider them too.

It is important that we progress a range of measures that can help to reduce wildlife crime, on top of the measures that are already in place, to build on the work that has been done in recent years. I am happy to hear from Christine Grahame any suggestions that she thinks could assist in tackling wildlife crime much more effectively, and to consider how the Scottish Police Authority might take those forward.



Meeting of the Parliament 27 November 2014 : Thursday, November 27, 2014
Michael Matheson

I appreciate that some aspects of policing in rural areas create additional challenges. The data that we received this week show that crime in Scotland is at a 40-year low, but in some areas increases in particular types of crime—the very types of crime to which the member refers—can be identified. In the discussions that I had yesterday with Vic Emery, the chair of the Scottish Police Authority, I was keen to explore how local policing strategies will reflect those data. I want to make sure that all 32 of our local authority policing plans and local scrutiny committees have a role to play in considering that data so that the plans reflect the rural dimension and the needs of that community.



Meeting of the Parliament 27 November 2014 : Thursday, November 27, 2014
The Cabinet Secretary for Justice (Michael Matheson)

Tackling crime, including rural crime, is an operational matter for Police Scotland. Local policing remains the bedrock of Police Scotland’s activities and has been strengthened under a single service. All 14 divisions have a designated local commander to work with communities, councils and other partners to shape and deliver local policing.

The Scottish Government funds Neighbourhood Watch Scotland and its well-respected alert system, which allows individuals, businesses, Police Scotland and other agencies to share general safety messages and alerts. Farm watch and rural watch areas across Scotland enable specific alerts about thefts, appeals for information and work being carried out on and around farms to be shared quickly and easily.



Justice Committee 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Michael Matheson

In our view, the Law Society has been consulted and it has engaged in the process of drafting the regulations. The taxation case would be dealt with separately from the regulations.



Justice Committee 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Michael Matheson

It is a separate matter.



Justice Committee 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Michael Matheson

That would continue the uncertainty. We are trying to give clarification and certainty on the matter.



Justice Committee 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Michael Matheson

The draft regulations clarify the system. The only change is to the level of fees that are received for the different stages. Principally, the regulations clarify existing regulations. Alastair Smith wants to make a—

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
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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
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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 Michael Matheson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
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 >>
Motion S4M-11524: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11048: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 30/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10414: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/06/2014 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-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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