Patricia Ferguson MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 01 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 01, 2014
Patricia Ferguson (Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn) (Lab)

Thank you, Presiding Officer.

As the cabinet secretary said, like the Commonwealth games, the Ryder cup at Gleneagles was a long time coming, but it was worth the wait. With good weather throughout and a fantastic setting, all was set fair for an excellent competition, and we were not disappointed.

It has to be said that, as captain, Paul McGinley made all the right calls in pairing his team and was extremely effective in the role. The Europeans all played well. If it is not too invidious to single out individual players, I want to make special mention, on behalf of my household, of the excellent contributions that were made by Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy. As newcomers to the competition, the American Patrick Reid and the Frenchman Victor Dubuisson gave memorable performances. For Europe to win again and in such a conclusive way was just a joy to watch, but the Europeans did not have it all their own way, and praise must go to both sides for making it such an enthralling competition.

Since his team’s Ryder cup victory, Paul McGinley has announced his retirement. Having played in the Ryder cup, been vice-captain and now captain, and having won on all three occasions, he can, in his own words, retire

“like a heavyweight champion, undefeated.”

I am sure that we all wish him well and thank him for his efforts.

Of course, it was not just the players who excelled. The staff and the 2,000 volunteers did a great job and were exceptionally professional throughout, and the 45,000-plus spectators added to the feel of the event, as their passion, commitment and knowledge of their sport shone through in their enthusiastic reaction to and their good-hearted support for the players.

Gleneagles was a stunning venue for a great competition, and I can imagine just how hard the green-keepers and the staff will have worked to ensure that the course not only looked its very best but played well, too. In addition, as the cabinet secretary said, we owe a special debt of thanks to Mike Cantlay and Malcolm Roughead of VisitScotland and Paul Bush of EventScotland for bringing the project through over many years.

As we have heard, it is likely that, once the figures have been analysed and the numbers are in, we will find that Scotland has benefited financially and in terms of return visits from our hosting of the Ryder cup. Those statistics will make interesting reading, but our country began to reap the benefits as far back as 2003, when the then First Minister Jack McConnell launched the clubgolf initiative as a legacy of the Ryder cup. Since 2003, more than 140,000 children have had the opportunity to experience golf. Many have continued with the sport after that initial experience, and I very much hope that some will go on to be the players and professionals of the future. In that regard, our congratulations must also go to those who competed in the junior Ryder cup at Blairgowrie.

We know that many of the parents and siblings of young people who have been involved in clubgolf have themselves been motivated to take up the game, and I was pleased to read that that interest will now be harnessed in a more formal way. I think that that is a very good thing to do.

Despite holding such a great event, and in spite of the fact that Scotland is undoubtedly the home of golf and has a pre-eminent reputation in it, many of our local golf clubs are struggling to survive and need all the help that they can get. My colleague Neil Findlay will address that issue in more detail in his closing speech, but perhaps in the course of the debate the cabinet secretary could tell us whether sportscotland keeps track of clubs that are in difficulty and what measures it can bring to bear to assist them.

Colleagues will perhaps recall that I have not always been a fan of Diageo, particularly when it was closing a distillery in my constituency, which led to subsequent job losses. I still regret the company’s decision very much and people in my constituency still miss the impact of those jobs in our local economy, but I have to give Diageo credit for the initiative that it launched earlier this year as part of its contribution to the legacy of the Ryder cup by establishing a five-year training programme for young unemployed people who might like to work in the catering and hospitality industry.

I understand that the programme is being led by Peter Lederer OBE, who is chairman of Gleneagles and a Diageo director and who has a lifetime of experience in the industry. I well remember how as chair of VisitScotland he championed on-going training and development for staff in the industry and how committed he was to making staff training and development the normal way of things in that industry, and I know that his successors have pursued the same aim with vigour since his departure. I am sure that, with Mr Lederer at the helm of the project, it will go from strength to strength and make a real difference to the lives of Scotland’s young people and, just as important, an important contribution to tourism in this country.

I read with interest that the 10th World Hickory Open golf championship is being hosted in Scotland and, indeed, will shortly get under way in Forfar for those who espouse a more traditional feel to their game of golf. I wish the participants good luck in their endeavours.

We have demonstrated that as a country we can successfully host large-scale sporting events and that people in Scotland will get involved and take pride in delivering the best possible event. We also know that we can secure a meaningful legacy when we put our minds to it. I wonder, therefore, whether the cabinet secretary might like to say a little about any future sporting events her Government intends to bid for. At the weekend, I watched with some curiosity and great interest an interview with Mike Cantlay, in which I thought that he was teasing us a little with the prospect of something that was seemed to be still only a glimmer in his eye. If the cabinet secretary is willing to share anything with us on that front, I am sure that we would all be very interested in hearing about it. We have a reputation for being able to host such events professionally and safely, and we must capitalise on that legacy.

In closing, I, too, want to congratulate everyone involved in making the 2014 Ryder cup such a success. I wish Minnesota good luck—it has a high standard to follow.

14:57  

Meeting of the Parliament 01 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 01, 2014
Patricia Ferguson

Will the minister take an intervention?



Meeting of the Parliament 01 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 01, 2014
Patricia Ferguson

Thank you, Presiding Officer.

On girls and young women participating, I fully take the minister’s point that young women will come through in the same numbers as young men through clubgolf. However, girls’ experience of a club might be that they can be only an associate member or play only at particular times. Does the minister agree that that is not necessarily a way to encourage them to continue?



Meeting of the Parliament 30 September 2014 : Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Patricia Ferguson (Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn) (Lab)

What humanitarian support is the Scottish Government providing to Iraq, and has it offered to support the efforts of the UK Government in that respect?



Meeting of the Parliament 25 September 2014 : Thursday, September 25, 2014
Patricia Ferguson (Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn) (Lab)

I add my voice to those of other members in welcoming the BSL interpretation that is going on to make this debate about accessible tourism as accessible as it can be.

We know that tourism is one of our biggest and most important industries, and it is a part of our economy that can continue to grow and develop over the coming years. However, the debate should not be about the contribution that tourism—specifically accessible tourism—can make to the economy, as tourism is about more than money; it is also about that most important and valuable commodity: time. In particular, it is about that memorable weekend or, if we are lucky, those two or more weeks when we join family or friends for some relaxation, doing the things that we enjoy most and recharging our batteries. We all need to have a break now and again, and the 11 million people in this country with a disability are no different—at least, they should not be. However, for many people with a disability, the idea of going on holiday can be daunting because the challenges that they face in everyday life do not go away just because they are on holiday.

I read recently about a project in Fife that I believe Mr Ewing has visited, which is the brainchild of David and Moira Henderson of Cupar. They are building a self-catering facility for disabled holidaymakers where even the most severely disabled can be accommodated and where on-site care can be an option if required. The Hendersons are to be congratulated on their idea, but it was the words of Moira Henderson, as reported in the magazine PosAbility, that really struck home. Mrs Henderson referred to the fact that a cousin of the family had developed a life-changing, paralysing condition. As his condition deteriorated, that man paid to go into a hospice so that his family could go on holiday without him. Mrs Henderson rightly said:

“That’s not what holidays are all about—they are about relaxing in a comfortable and suitable environment with family or friends.”

Mrs Henderson is absolutely right about that, which is why I am pleased that VisitScotland has recognised the issue and is committed to tackling it head-on. It is appropriate that the Scottish Government is investing in the online programme to assist those who work in the tourism industry to understand and, more importantly, to respond to the needs of all those with whom it may come into contact.

Colleagues will know that I have a particular interest in heritage, and I know that adapting ancient buildings or making historic sites accessible to all can be a daunting task. I was interested to hear Graeme Dey raise the problem of BSL interpretation being made available in such facilities. Mr Dey may be right that there is a specific problem with the provision of BSL interpretation, but I have been pleased to read in Historic Scotland’s access guide detailed information about the buildings that Historic Scotland owns, their accessibility and, importantly, the accessibility of the exhibits on offer in any given place. I offer a short quote to show the kind of detail that Historic Scotland goes into. It says about one venue, which will remain nameless:

“The Whitehouse is reached over a large rough stone culvert cover and a slight threshold at the door.”

That may not mean that it is going to be an easy place to get into—perhaps it cannot be—but at least people will know before they get there exactly what the situation is, and that might influence their choice of places to visit. I congratulate Historic Scotland on that. However, perhaps, like others, it could do better when it comes to issues such as BSL. I intend to contact Historic Scotland to find out what feedback it has had from users and to see whether we can suggest any further improvements.

As colleagues have suggested, Inclusion Scotland has given us some interesting information about the revamped Waverley station. Looking around when the changes were first made, I thought that there was a problem in the making—a problem that is particularly acute for disabled users. I understand that discussions are now taking place about how to address the difficulties that are being encountered, but is it not a shame that the same effort was not put into resolving potential issues before the changes were made? Why could those changes not have been discussed with some of the many organisations that assist people with a disability or help to look at access issues? It seems to me that it would have been common sense for a big organisation such as Network Rail to do that. I hope that those issues can now be resolved.

Inclusion Scotland also made the point that accessible accommodation is often available only in more expensive hotels. It also said that people with a disability are more likely than those without a disability to be living in poverty. That problem requires more than just a structural response, although I hope that VisitScotland and others will consider it.

I was very struck by the comments that Stewart Stevenson made before he left the chamber about the fact that insurance can be an issue for those with a disability or an illness. However, people do not need to be unwell to have an insurance issue; they only have to be over a certain age. I have experienced that when trying to book accommodation and holidays for my parents when they were both in their 80s. The insurance ended up costing more than the holiday, which surely cannot be right in this day and age. My father wanted to travel to America, but when the fact that he has had a triple heart bypass was added in, we had to forget the holiday. Even the fact that my stepmother had a pacemaker implanted meant that she, too, found it almost impossible to travel to the United States. That is not a problem for VisitScotland, but travellers are facing such issues as they want to travel round our world as it becomes smaller.

As I said, I am delighted with Scottish tourism’s efforts and that VisitScotland is leading on those efforts. I am conscious of the fact that 10 years ago or so, VisitScotland literally led the world on green tourism. I sincerely hope that in the next few years we will see VisitScotland leading on accessible tourism.

I ask the minister to indicate whether accessibility and related issues will become part of VisitScotland’s grading system in the near future.

15:31  

Meeting of the Parliament 24 September 2014 : Wednesday, September 24, 2014
11. Patricia Ferguson (Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn) (Lab)

To ask the Scottish Government what the average waiting time is for children who require an upgraded cochlear implant processor. (S4O-03521)



Meeting of the Parliament 24 September 2014 : Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Patricia Ferguson

The minister will be aware that young people who have profound hearing difficulties and use cochlear implants face a very challenging environment—not least in the classroom, which can affect their ability to learn. As new technology becomes available, their parents are obviously anxious to secure the best possible opportunity for them.

Does the minister sympathise with the parents of one of my constituents who has been told that there are some 200 young children in the queue ahead of her before she is likely to have an upgraded cochlear implant processor? Does he believe that, in line with the rest of the country, processors should automatically be replaced after an interval of five years?



Meeting of the Parliament 14 August 2014 : Thursday, August 14, 2014
Patricia Ferguson (Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn) (Lab) It is only right that we discuss in Scotland’s Parliament the Edinburgh international festival and the other important cultural events that are taking place this summer.

I hope that we will consider the importance of festivals to our country and its artistic and cultural life. We should recognise the ways in which our lives and culture are strengthened by the contribution of visiting artists and performers and celebrate the cross-fertilisation that keeps our culture dynamic and inspiring. We must also acknowledge the impact that our festivals have on the economy, particularly their contribution to our tourism and hospitality industries.

I was reminded when thinking about this debate that we do not ask much of our artists and performers and those who work in the creative industries at festival time. After all, we only ask that they be the best they can be in their chosen field or practice and that they perform, day after day and night after night, to audiences large and small in a diverse range of venues—I use the word “diverse”, because it is the politest way to describe some of the venues that I have visited in festivals over the years.

Year after year our artists and performers deliver and they come back, because they know that Edinburgh in August is the place to be. It is where opportunities arise—sometimes unexpectedly—and where those people will be received by knowledgeable audiences who, more often than not, are on their side and willing them to succeed.

For established artists it is a showcase and for new artists it is a place to serve an apprenticeship—or perhaps undergo a baptism of fire. For the audience it is a chance to spot the next big thing; to spend an afternoon listening to clever, witty and challenging people discussing a variety of literary genres at the book festival; and in the evening perhaps to watch stand-up at the fringe or opera at the international festival.

On the walk from Waverley station every day I am mesmerised by the number of adverts for performances that are attached to the railings on Jeffrey Street, and I am often distracted as I look at them and think of the scale of what is happening in this city at this time.

We talk about the Edinburgh festival particularly to describe the events that take place in August, but of course Edinburgh’s festivals are spread throughout the year, with the hogmanay events in January, the science festival in April, the Imaginate festival in May, the film and jazz festivals in June and July and the storytelling festival in October—to name but a few.

As the cabinet secretary said, there are 12 festivals in total, which between them host 25,000 international artists, more than 1,000 accredited media representatives and audiences of more than 4 million people. Those numbers are quite staggering, so I make no apologies for repeating them. The festivals’ effect on the Scottish economy is staggering, too, generating some £261 million. Bed occupancy in Edinburgh’s hotels reaches 93 per cent in August and £37 million is spent in cafes and bars alone. That truly is part of the energy and dynamism of this city. Many of those who come to Edinburgh then journey on to other parts of Scotland and the United Kingdom.

In 2006 the “Thundering Hooves” report was published, which identified many of those important figures and suggested that more could be done. One of its main recommendations was that the individual festivals needed to work more collaboratively and to have better relationships with other agencies.

In early 2007 I had the privilege of chairing the first meeting of the festivals forum, which went on to become Festivals Edinburgh, which enables strategic planning and decision making to be undertaken. I am delighted that it is now planning a further “Thundering Hooves” report, which I think will help set out the direction of travel for the next 10 years and beyond and will help Edinburgh to retain its jealously guarded pre-eminence in the field. My colleague Sarah Boyack will say more about that in her contribution.

Before I move on from the Edinburgh festivals, I think that it is right, as Scottish Labour’s amendment suggests, to mark the departure of Sir Jonathan Mills as director of the Edinburgh international festival. Jonathan Mills came to Edinburgh from Australia with an established reputation as an artist of renown in his own right but also someone who brought his fierce intelligence and love of the arts to the role of artistic director of the Melbourne international arts festival. Over the past seven years, he has stamped his mark on the international festival here, too, and he will be missed—thankfully he is not leaving us entirely, as I think that he plans to stay in Edinburgh—but he is leaving the festival in good heart and, importantly, in good finance, which his successor, Fergus Linehan, will no doubt be grateful for. Sir Jonathan tells us that while he is in Edinburgh he plans to finish an opera that he is writing, and I am sure that we all wish him well in that endeavour.

As the motion identifies, it is not only in Edinburgh that we find artistic and other festivals and the efforts of EventScotland to promote, encourage and help to fund many of the events is welcome. I think that we are lucky to have organisations as professional and highly regarded as VisitScotland and EventScotland working with local authorities and organisers to make Scotland a year-round destination for those with a love of and an interest in the arts. From Edinburgh’s hogmanay to Celtic Connections in Glasgow, T in the Park, the Wickerman festival and Hebtember—which I must admit was a new one on me—the calendar of events is packed.

The fact that the Commonwealth games incorporates an arts festival is one of the things that I think makes it so special. In its original iteration, the Olympic games also had a cultural festival—indeed, there was a time when medals were awarded for artistic endeavour, too. The fact that the effort has continued to this day with the Commonwealth games is one of the things that it them so special.

Because I was a Clyde-sider, I did not have as much opportunity during the games as I would have liked to experience what was happening in Glasgow, let alone around the rest of the country, but what I did see was remarkable. It is always invidious to compare these things, but, if I may say so, I attended a lot of cultural events in Melbourne in 2006 and I think that we did it a bit better.

From the work done by Depot Arts in my constituency on the day that the baton came through Possilpark, to the live zone at Glasgow Green or the performance of our friend and colleague Pauline McNeill with the band Mc4 in the merchant city, there was some wonderful work going on. Of course around Scotland there were exhibitions such as “Generation” featuring people such as Alison Watt and Toby Paterson. All of it was interesting and challenging—and free.

We saw Glasgow and its people at their best during the Commonwealth games. Indeed, somehow the entire country felt more invigorated and joyful than usual. If Edinburgh can host an arts festival every year, could Glasgow host a festival of sport on an annual basis? Before my colleagues and indeed the cabinet secretary get too worried about that, I stress that I am not talking about anything on the scale of the Commonwealth games, and I am not necessarily talking about an event for our elite athletes—and, yes, I do realise that the sporting calendar is already cluttered. Could we host an annual event for young athletes, very amateur athletes or indeed for veteran athletes? Perhaps it would not work, but it just seems to me that we need to find a way to capture that enthusiasm and spirit. Perhaps a festival of sport would be an option and, indeed, a fitting legacy of the sport and the culture that we enjoyed so much in 2014.

There are so many festivals around the country that it is always invidious to mention some without mentioning others. I am sure that my colleagues will mention those that they are particularly aware of in their local areas. One thing that they all have in common is that they would not happen if it were not for the imagination and ingenuity of people who care about what happens in their communities, who care what happens to art and culture in our country and who are determined to make a difference, and to make sure that they, along with their local communities, friends and neighbours, can enjoy the very best of what Scotland has to offer, wherever it happens to be.

I move amendment S4M-10784.1, to insert at end:

“; congratulates EventScotland on the contribution that it made to Scotland’s thriving festivals scene; considers that the initiative of Festivals Edinburgh in commissioning a further edition of the report, Thundering Hooves, will be an important and helpful contribution to the continuing development of the Edinburgh festivals; congratulates Sir Jonathan Mills on his major contribution to the Edinburgh International Festival and to the cultural life of Scotland as he prepares to hand over to Fergus Linehan, and wishes both men well for the future”.

14:54

Meeting of the Parliament 14 August 2014 : Thursday, August 14, 2014
Patricia Ferguson This has been an interesting debate and it has been worth our while to hear colleagues talk about what interests them and what is happening in their local areas.

I add my thanks to all the staff of Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council who worked so hard to make festival 2014 such a success. I also thank all the volunteers who participated in the games opening and closing ceremonies. At one point, I calculated that some of the dancers performed constantly for two hours in very bright sunshine, wearing what looked to me like very heavy costumes and brandishing chairs for some of the event. Our thanks go to them, too.

My one regret about 2014 is that the calendar has been so cluttered—not to mention the fact that we have another interesting event coming up in only a few weeks—which has made it difficult to get to as many things as I would have liked to attend. However, I suppose that it is not a bad thing to have an embarrassment of riches.

Liz Smith brought a welcome historical perspective to our festival offering. I am glad that she made the connection with the built heritage, because I agree that culture and our built heritage help us to have a sense of ourselves and a sense of the place that we inhabit. That must be a good thing, and must be what we come back to and root ourselves in time after time.

I agree with Clare Adamson that this year has been exciting, but I think that Scotland is exciting every year. I am sure that she would agree with me.

One of the events that I was not able to get to was the performance of the choir at lunchtime today. I very much regret that. However, I happened to have the door of my office open and, although I was on the other side of the building, I heard every note. It sounded stunning, but that just made me regret all the more the fact that I was not there to hear it.

Nigel Don hit on something important when he talked about the experience of live performance. There is something remarkable about sharing a live performance; I think it is something that we all enjoy whether or not we are consciously enjoying it. Perhaps sharing it is just one of the things that adds to the experience. I am not sure, but I think that it is an important aspect.

My colleague, Sarah Boyack, was absolutely right to remind of us of the international outlook of the Edinburgh international festival. That may sound a bit like an oxymoron, but I think that members know what I mean. It is that outlook that makes the Edinburgh festivals so exciting.

Demands for additional venues and on the budgets of the City of Edinburgh Council and the Scottish Government are made, of course. In a sense, that is no bad thing because it means that the people who are involved are constantly striving to do better and to do more.

A parliamentary debate about a tourism levy is an interesting idea. There are arguments on both sides of that dilemma, but the time has come for us to give the idea a proper hearing.

It must be a challenge for Edinburgh to support all that is happening and, at the same time, to have that ambition—that we all share—to see the festivals develop and become bigger and even better still. That is an important aspect of the “Thundering Hooves” review that will happen shortly.

I was very struck by what Colin Keir said about free advertising for the city of Edinburgh; he was absolutely right. He reminded me of something that struck me last night when I was watching the BBC news coverage of Mark Carney’s conversations from yesterday. The national news piece, which was filmed on Calton hill, showed the most stunning views of Edinburgh. To be honest, I am quite sure that most people were not listening to what was being said about Mark Carney; rather, they were enjoying the Edinburgh view because it is probably one that most visitors to the city do not see.

Colin Keir was also right to talk about the important contributions that have been made by Faith Liddell, Kath Mainland and Jonathan Mills. To that list I add Councillor Steve Cardownie and Councillor Lesley Hinds who, as a former chair of the Edinburgh festivals, had a keen appreciation of, and interest in, the festivals.

I was sorry to hear about this year’s experience with RockNess in Rhoda Grant’s constituency. Perhaps we need to look at more constructive collaboration. I am very conscious that I attended a wonderful event in Wigtown—it was years ago—for which Glasgow City Council had loaned some of its Glasgow boys paintings. There was a hugely successful summer of exhibitions, talks and conversations about that. Perhaps we need to work more closely together across our country to make such events happen in a way that benefits all.

Rob Gibson rightly mentioned last night’s Commonwealth games celebration in Parliament. It was a joy to hear part of Jim Sutherland’s excellent piece, as was having it contrasted with the New Zealand group, Haka, performing some of its traditional music. It also reminded us that we have a shared interest in music and dance, too, that brings us together and helps us to understand our place.

I was very pleased that Nanette Milne mentioned the Aberdeen international youth music festival. I congratulate her on taking the opportunity to lobby Nigel Don for funding from the two local authorities in his area. I am sure that that is a constructive partnership that can be developed.

In reflecting on Stewart Stevenson’s concern about the demise of the mouth harp, I wonder whether that might have something to do with our new concern about our teeth. As a very inexperienced player many years ago when I was a child, I found that playing the mouth harp interfered with good dental work. That might be part of the problem; I do not know.

Hanzala Malik was right to draw our attention to the Glasgow mela. It is a stunning event—it is the most enjoyable, diverse, bright and colourful event that a person can attend. Edinburgh and other places in Scotland also host melas. If anyone has not been to a mela, they should go because it is an experience to enjoy and savour.

I mentioned that Nigel Don had hit on something when he talked about how special live performance is when shared with others. I also reflected on his comments about the paper and comb festival, which led me to wonder whether he and Stewart Stevenson might want to join together to form a two-person combo playing the mouth harp and the paper and comb. I am not suggesting that I would necessarily buy a ticket to watch them, but it might be something that they would like to do.

The idea of holding a tea festival in Laurencekirk is intriguing. As Nigel Don said, that not only shows the ingenuity of Scots, but demonstrates that we do not need a lot of encouragement to find something to celebrate and to enjoy with others.

I hope that members will forgive me for recounting a personal anecdote. Elaine Murray’s explanation of the burlesque Burns supper in Dumfries reminded me that, a number of years ago, I was asked by a wonderful man with a particular sense of humour, who came from Glasgow—he is now deceased—but lived in Dumfries for many years, whether I would organise a Labour Party Burns supper in that area. I did so, and it was a huge success. However, Elaine Murray’s comments caused me to reflect on what Iain Jordan’s comments about a burlesque Burns supper might have been. I am sure that they would have been unparliamentary in language and probably unprintable.

Sandra White was right to reflect on the west end festival’s approaching its 20th anniversary. Why not lobby the Government for some money for that event? I say that with a slight vested interest, as it touches on my constituency.

The debate has been interesting and shows that there is a real commitment to art and culture across the chamber and in Scotland. It also reminds us of the endeavour that our festivals help us to celebrate. I look forward to hearing more about “Thundering Hooves” part 2 and to considering what the Government and the Parliament can do to help and support those festivals.



Meeting of the Parliament 12 August 2014 : Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Patricia Ferguson (Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn) (Lab) I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on the humanitarian disaster that is the unfolding tragedy in Gaza. I am sure that members across the chamber will join me in thanking our colleague Drew Smith for securing the chance for Parliament to debate this most serious and deadly conflict.

According to Amnesty International, since the Israeli military offensive started on 8 July, 1,948 Palestinians have been killed as a direct result of the offensive. The majority—over 85 per cent—were civilians, including 456 children. Three civilians have been killed by rockets or mortars that were fired from Gaza and 64 Israeli soldiers have been killed. Almost 12,000 homes in Gaza have been reduced to rubble. Those are the stark statistics of the bloody and unequal conflict that is being played out in Gaza, which has been graphically captured on our television screens.

Among the destruction that has rained down on the defenceless civilian population of Gaza, it is the fate of the children that is most heart-rending. I will cite the case of 10-year-old Mohamed Badran—one of the hundreds of innocents who have been affected. He was blinded in an Israeli air strike but, at the hospital, he seemed to be unaware that his entire family had been killed when a missile destroyed their home at the Nuseirat refugee camp. Unable to understand his injury, he repeatedly asked staff why they had switched off the lights.

That is just one little boy’s awful situation. He has been left blind and orphaned by an indiscriminate attack of the Israeli air force. That is one terrible consequence of a political decision by the present Government in Tel Aviv to wage war not against an opposing army but against a defenceless civilian population—not an act of war but a war crime.

For the avoidance of doubt, let me be crystal clear—I, along with, I am sure, colleagues across the chamber, hold all human life dear. We mourn for the dead, both Palestinian and Israeli. When we criticise the actions of Israel in Gaza, it is not a condemnation of Jews or Judaism; it is a condemnation of the present political establishment in Israel. Of course, the firing of rockets by Hamas must end, but Israel’s response goes far beyond defending its borders and population. The life of a Palestinian child is not worth less than the life of an Israeli child.

The situation is primarily the result of the political actions of the Israeli Government. We must do all that we can to bring pressure to bear on that Government to change the course of action that has had such catastrophic consequences for the civilian population of Gaza. There needs to be a negotiated ceasefire that is more permanent than the series of recent 72-hour ceasefires, and the immediate humanitarian effort in Gaza needs to have a real chance to deliver the much-needed emergency supplies of food, water and hygiene kits to those who are in such desperate need. Of course, we must not forget the aid agencies, whose workers risk life and limb to get supplies to the people who need them.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11123 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11114.2 Kenny MacAskill: Policing—As an amendment to motion S4M-11114 in the name of Graeme Pear
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11114 Graeme Pearson: Policing—That the Parliament acknowledges that policing in Scotland contin
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11116.1.1 Patrick Harvie: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to amendment S4M-11116.1 in the name
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11116.1 Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-11116 in the name of Jo
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11116 Johann Lamont: Scotland’s Future—That the Parliament recognises the result of the independ
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Not VotedCarried

Amendment 61 moved by Elaine Murray on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland) Bi
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Not VotedDefeated

Amendment 62 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
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Not VotedDefeated

Amendment 63 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
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Not VotedDefeated

Amendment 64 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
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Not VotedDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Patricia Ferguson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11040: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 30/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10985: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 23/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10968: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 22/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10882: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 26/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10867: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10849: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 20/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10784.1: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 13/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10736.2: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 06/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10712.1: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 04/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10686: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 29/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Patricia Ferguson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-22848: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 14/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22847: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 14/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22850: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 14/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22849: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 14/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22574: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 23/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22573: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 23/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03521: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 15/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22529: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 28/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22528: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 28/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22530: Patricia Ferguson, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 28/08/2014 Show Full Question >>

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