Nicola Sturgeon MSP

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Nicola Sturgeon MSP

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  • Member for: Glasgow Southside
  • Region: Glasgow
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Nicola is a member of the following Committees:

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

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by The First Minister

Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon)

Later today, in my first official meeting as First Minister, I will meet a group of carers from around the country to discuss directly with them the issues that they face. It is fitting that that will be my first official engagement as First Minister. It will allow me to thank carers—on behalf of all of us, I am sure—for the massive contribution that they make and also to assure them that I want to provide them with as much support as I can.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The First Minister

As the member will be aware, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing has been improving the system of allocating drugs, in particular cancer drugs. We want to continue that series of improvements.

I am very well aware from my experience as health secretary—I know that Jackie Baillie is aware of this from her experience as shadow health secretary—that some of the most difficult decisions that are made in the health service concern the allocation of drugs. I want to ensure that, within a budget that we all know is finite, we make those decisions in the best possible way.

Jackie Baillie will be aware of some of the reforms that Alex Neil has already introduced.

On my first day in the job—this does not just apply to this issue; it applies to every issue—I say that I am open minded on any proposals that come forward from any side of the chamber on how the Government can do things better. I hope that Jackie Baillie will take up that invitation in the spirit in which it is intended.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The First Minister

I do not accept the characterisation of delay and I want to deal with the issue as consensually as I possibly can. Although I absolutely respect Jackie Baillie’s good faith in asking me the question, I hope that she will respect my good faith in answering it. All of us across the chamber want people to get the best possible access to drugs and to all healthcare that can help them in time of need.

As Jackie Baillie will be aware, new Scottish Medicines Consortium rules have been in place for some time, but that is not a closed book. There are some very complex and challenging issues around the decision-making process for the allocation of drugs. The Government has not shied away from that, and we will not shy away from it. We will continue to make progress based on the discussions and the consideration that the health secretary has had. I will be very happy to meet clinicians and, indeed, representatives of cancer organisations and cancer patients so that we can include them in our consideration of how we go forward on the issue.

As Jackie Baillie will be aware, one of the reforms that was made previously was to allow more transparency around the whole process of SMC decision making. Although there will always be difficult decisions in this area and it will not be possible under any circumstances to have a position in which every single drug is always approved for use, I want to ensure that we have confidence in the decision-making process so that, even where decisions are taken that people are, for understandable reasons, disappointed by, people know that the decision-making process that underpins them is strong, robust and transparent.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The First Minister

I say to Jackie Baillie in all seriousness that I want us to work now to ensure that we do not have a postcode lottery not only in that aspect of healthcare, but in any aspect.

I am familiar with the case that she raises from the Evening Times. I would be happy to speak personally to the individual in question, not only to hear her experiences, which is the most important thing, but to share with her the work that the Government is doing and intends to do in the future to improve the situation.

Jackie Baillie and I had many discussions on this issue when I was health secretary and she was shadow health secretary. We have the SMC, and we are improving the process of decision making in that respect. We spoke about the situation that she raises with regard to local drugs committees and health boards and how we ensure that decision making is much more consistent across the country.

This is my first day in office. I could stand up here and, in response to any of the questions that I am asked, engage in the usual defensive ding-dong. I dare say that there will be weeks when I do exactly that, but—today of all days—I want to make something very clear. I am a new First Minister. I have been a proud member of the Government for seven years, but I want to come to this job with an open mind and a willingness to hear proposals from members on all sides of the chamber. The Government is working on the issue and will continue to do so, but I say it again: this is a complex issue. If any member in the chamber, not just on the front benches, has a proposal for how we can do these things better—



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The First Minister

Richard Simpson says that he has. I would be happy to meet him personally to hear that proposal, because on this issue—possibly above all other issues—it is important that we do not divide along party lines. These are matters of life and death for many people.

I hope that members on all sides of the chamber, no matter the ding-dongs that we have on a range of issues in weeks to come, will take what I am saying in the clear spirit in which I say it.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The First Minister

I will not be provoked into a party-political dispute on the issue today, but Jackie Baillie’s last comment was slightly beneath her. I care—as we all do, regardless of our party politics or our divides on other issues—about ensuring that people who are affected by cancer get access to the treatment that is most likely to prolong or to save their lives. Let us all unite on that point.

I have the greatest respect for the quotes that Jackie Baillie has just read out, but I do not accept her characterisation of the Government’s performance and position on the issue. Without meaning to undermine any of those quotes, I ask all members of the chamber to reflect seriously on this, as I reflected on it a lot when I was health secretary, for five years.

As anybody who has held that post will know, I had to deal with some heart-wrenching issues, but access to drugs was probably the most heart-wrenching issue that I dealt with. We talk about losing sleep over issues and that one falls into that category. One of the reasons it is heart-wrenching is that you know not only that improvements need to be made to the processes—and I accept that improvements still need to be made to the processes that we have—but that, no matter how many improvements to the processes you make, you will always have some cases in which a patient entirely understandably thinks that they should have access to a drug that, for clinical reasons in particular, they cannot get access to. That is one of the most difficult things for a politician to comprehend.

Again I say to Jackie Baillie that I am not standing here saying that things are perfect, and I will work with members from across the chamber to improve matters. However, politicians have a duty to recognise how difficult some of the issues are and that there will always be difficult cases, no matter how good the processes are. If we can all go forward in that spirit, we can make further progress and I, as a new First Minister, am determined that we make it.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon)

I had a pleasant conversation with the secretary of state last night on the telephone and, during that conversation, we agreed that we would meet in early course.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The First Minister

First, I pay tribute to Erin O’Neill for her bravery in giving up her right to anonymity and speaking out on an extremely important issue. She has written to me personally. I will reply to her letter in full soon and would also be happy to meet her so that she can say to me directly what changes she considers should be made.

As Ruth Davidson rightly indicated, the Prisoners (Control of Release) (Scotland) Bill has now been introduced to the Parliament. It will end the entitlement to automatic early release for the most serious and dangerous offenders. We expect the Parliament to pass the bill—subject, of course, to the approval of members—by June next year.

I point out, as has been pointed out in the chamber before, that automatic early release was introduced by the Conservative Government through 1993 legislation and left in place throughout the entirety of the Labour-Liberal Democrat Administrations here in Holyrood. I certainly agree that the change needs to be made. Legislative proposals have been published. It is now the Parliament’s job to scrutinise those proposals and, if any member considers it appropriate, propose amendments.

Ruth Davidson has expressed an opinion that the sentence length that the Government’s proposals would cover is too long and, therefore, that the proposals are inadequate. We are about to go into a parliamentary process in which any member, including Ruth Davidson, will be able to advance those views and propose amendments to the bill.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The First Minister

I am very happy to seek to work with Ruth Davidson on the issue. We are in the position of being relatively at the start of a parliamentary process, so there is the opportunity through the normal procedures to discuss how the bill that has been introduced to Parliament by the Government can be improved. I give the commitment that I will work with members across the chamber and be open minded about that.

In August, Victim Support Scotland described the bill as an

“important advance which will go a long way to improving the public perception of justice in Scotland”.

There is considerable support for the bill’s proposals. However, that does not change the position that I am taking today of being open-minded on how we can go further if there is a willingness and ability to do that.

Ruth Davidson said that this was an issue of resources. Inevitably, most issues have an element of resource consideration around them. We need to make sure that we have the right number of prison places for the prisoners whom we need to accommodate in our prisons. That is a simple statement of fact.

I respect Ruth Davidson’s position on the issue and note the fact that she was not a member of the former Conservative Government at Westminster that introduced the policy. However, that Conservative Government did not build a single new Scottish prison during its 18 years in power. By contrast, since 2007-08, this Government has invested more than £528 million in the prison estate. We are taking the decisions that address what Ruth Davidson describes as the resource issues in our prison estate. That makes it more possible to introduce the reforms that she called for today.

We are going about this in the right way and in a reasonable way. We have published a bill, in which our proposals are focused on the most serious offenders and sexual offenders in particular. If Ruth Davidson has proposals to bring to me and the Government about how we can improve the content of that bill, I will be very happy to listen.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
The First Minister

That is an important and serious question. Last Friday, Education Scotland inspectors raised serious child protection concerns with ministers. Alasdair Allan, the Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages, acted on the very same day by serving on Donaldson’s school a notice under section 66(c) of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980. That required immediate action by the school.

I can tell Parliament that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education remain in the school to ensure that all appropriate steps are being taken.

Members will appreciate that, given the seriousness of the allegations and the involvement of Police Scotland, I am limited in what more it would be appropriate to say at this time. However, I make clear that we as the Government will not hesitate to take any further action that is required to ensure that pupils at Donaldson’s school are kept absolutely safe.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
YesCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

S4M-11567.2 Margaret Mitchell: Lowering the Drink Drive Limit—As an amendment to motion S4M-11567 in
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YesCarried

S4M-11507.1 Cameron Buchanan: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—
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Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11507 Angela Constance: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—Th
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11494.3 Jackie Baillie: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
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Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11494.2 Alex Johnstone: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
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Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11494 Margaret Burgess: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—That the Parliament
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11484.1 Jackson Carlaw: Human Rights—As an amendment to motion S4M-11484 in the name of Roseanna
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Not VotedDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Nicola Sturgeon
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11380: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow Southside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 31/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11301: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow Southside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11116.1: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow Southside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10777: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow Southside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10739: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow Southside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10353.3: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow Southside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10005: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow Southside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09844.3: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow Southside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09740.2: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow Southside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09281: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow Southside, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/03/2014 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 S2F-02139: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/02/2006 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-18574: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/08/2005 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-18575: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/08/2005 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-18531: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/08/2005 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-18537: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/08/2005 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-18534: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/08/2005 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-18532: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/08/2005 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-18535: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/08/2005 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-18536: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/08/2005 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-18533: Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/08/2005 Show Full Question >>

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