Siobhan McMahon MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 30 October 2014 : Thursday, October 30, 2014
Siobhan McMahon (Central Scotland) (Lab)

I am pleased to take part in the debate. As the minister knows, the subject is close to my heart. Many of us in the chamber campaigned against the closure of the Remploy factories only a short time ago. We did so because we recognised the factories’ importance not only to the disabled people they employed but to the wider economy. Our country is poorer as a result of the loss of such factories.

One of the people who campaigned most against the closures and who was a champion of supported business throughout her time in politics was Helen Eadie. On 9 November, it will be one year since she passed away. Many of us feel her loss daily, but it is during debates such as these that we feel her loss all the more. I am sure that, were she here, she would have delivered the most passionate and articulate speech to ask the Government to amend the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 to require all 118 public authorities to award at least one contract to a supported business. Although I do not have the same skills as she had, I ask the minister to amend the act so that we in the Parliament can demonstrate practically our commitment to supported business throughout Scotland.

It is not only for the Scottish Government to commit to helping supported business; it is for our local authorities to do so as well. I am therefore immensely proud of North Lanarkshire Council, which has invested more than £500,000 in forming NL Industries to take over at the Remploy factory at Netherton. That has allowed the expansion of Beltane Products—a furniture and refurbishing service. Beltane Products previously employed 21 disabled people but, with the council’s investment, it has been able to expand that number and add seven former Remploy workers and three people from the council’s supported employment service. The business plans to add to that number as it expands. As the council leader, Jim McCabe, has said:

“It’s an amazing thing to see people who thought they had no future working so hard to produce a fantastic standard of product.”

I am glad that the council has shown true leadership to supported business, but it is deeply regrettable that 40 other public bodies have yet to award one single contract to a supported business. We needed the Scottish Government to support Mark Griffin’s amendments to make a minimum threshold compulsory and ensure that all public bodies issue at least one supported business contract. I urge the Government to rectify that mistake now and amend the 2014 act.

We know that supported business is not the only way to provide employment to disabled people. It is shameful that only 46 per cent of working-age disabled people are employed, in comparison with 76 per cent of the general working-age population. We also know that disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people are.

The Scottish Government’s framework for supported business is a good start, but it should address the wider employment issues that disabled people face. Inclusion Scotland stated in its briefing for the debate that it would prefer disabled workers to be fully integrated into all employers’ workforces by being given the support that they need and by having the barriers that they face removed, including the attitudes of employers and society towards disabled people’s capabilities. I could not agree more. Many employers see disabled people as a potential problem in the workplace rather than focusing on the positives that they can bring.

I recently talked to a constituent who has autism and obsessive compulsive disorder. He told me that his disability means that, when he begins a project, he stays with it until the very end and works hard to achieve everything that was required of him at the beginning. That dedication to one’s workplace is priceless and should be viewed as such.

The Scottish Government has missed several opportunities to address the problems that many disabled people face when it comes to employment. I have spoken in the chamber many times about the lack of vision in the youth employment strategy for disabled people and particularly those with learning disabilities.

I have also spoken about the complete lack of opportunities for disabled people in the modern apprenticeship programme. We can see from the 2012-13 figures that just 63 out of 25,691 modern apprenticeships went to young disabled people. That is 0.2 per cent of them. When we take account of all disabled people, the figure rises to 0.5 per cent. That is a national embarrassment, but I have heard absolutely nothing about how the Government wishes to tackle that inequality in its system.

On behalf of charities and organisations that work with young disabled people, I lodged several amendments to the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill on the need for support for young people who are leaving school and transitioning into further education or employment. I argued that a mentoring system should be put in place to help young people in times of transition.

All my amendments were defeated, but I agree with Inclusion Scotland, which says that the Scottish Government could lead by example by establishing internships and apprenticeships for young disabled people in every Government directorate. Every health board and local authority in Scotland could do likewise. That is an achievable ask, which I ask the Scottish Government to consider seriously.

As I have said, supported businesses have a crucial role to play in disabled people’s employment prospects, but they are only one part of the solution. Of course we should support them as much as we can—that is why the role of procurement is so important—but I urge the minister to take on board Inclusion Scotland’s suggestions, as they, too, would make a huge difference to disabled people’s employment opportunities.



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
5. Siobhan McMahon (Central Scotland) (Lab)

To ask the Scottish Government how it helps young people with learning disabilities into employment. (S4O-03615)



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Siobhan McMahon

The cabinet secretary is aware of the young Scotland’s got talent programme, which is run by the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability. It is an initiative that I know she supports. Will she commit to funding the programme in the future, given the fantastic results that it has achieved in giving young people their first opportunities in employment?



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Siobhan McMahon (Central Scotland) (Lab)

I congratulate Michael McMahon on obtaining this important debate and I endorse what he said in his speech.

The Rosepark fire was a tragedy in the true sense of that overused word. No one can guarantee that such an event will never happen again, but we can at least make every effort to make sure that it does not. How often do we hear when an inquiry into an accident occurs that lessons will be learned only to find that they were not and a repeat occurrence underlines our collective complacency? Let us ensure that that is not so with fire safety.

If we take Sheriff Lockhart’s recommendations, we can see that much has been achieved—the 2005 act, recent care home guidance and the revision to the firelaw website—but there is more that we can do.

I read the section on fire risk assessment in the conclusions in the learned sheriff’s determination. Nothing could be clearer: self-assessment by duty holders of fire risk is fine in many but not all circumstances. However, where help is needed, duty holders must be assured that the advice they receive is up to date, competent and sound. The sheriff is clear that third-party certification of fire risk assessors is a very good way to ensure that that is so. He was not the only one at the time to say so. Chapter 46(6), paragraph 11 of the determination says:

“Scottish Ministers have indicated that United Kingdom Government has made it plain that they do not intend to change legislation in order to make the use of registered and accredited persons compulsory. The responsibility for the fire risk assessment remains at all times with the duty holder and cannot be delegated.”

The remainder of the paragraph, which I particularly want to emphasise, says:

“However, it was said on behalf of Scottish Ministers that they recognise the benefits of the alternative approach of highlighting the benefits of using third party accreditation schemes.”

The Scottish ministers were also said to be awaiting a UK Government-developed standard for competent fire risk assessors prior to introducing an equivalent scheme for Scotland. One wonders why.

It was also stated that revisions would be made to practical fire safety for care homes

“to make appropriate reference to the benefits of selecting fire risk assessors who have the appropriate accreditation.”

Perhaps the minister can tell us specifically what she and her department have done to achieve any or all of that, and how long it has taken them to do so.

Changes have been made to the firelaw website, but if finding references to fire risk assessment on the old version was like looking for a needle in a haystack, doing so on the new version—albeit that the site has improved—is like looking for a knitting needle in a haystack.

I ask the minister what her department knows about the quality of existing fire risk assessments. Has it asked the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to report its experiences? What do we know about the quality of fire risk assessments for major buildings such as this one, conference centres, department stores and factories, or for recent events such as the Ryder cup or the Commonwealth games? I look forward to hearing her reply and would suggest to colleagues that the subject is well worth an investigation by the Justice Committee or the Health and Sport Committee in the near future.

17:25  

Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Siobhan McMahon (Central Scotland) (Lab)

I am pleased to have been asked to participate in this afternoon’s debate on the Smith commission. As other members have said, the referendum result could not have been clearer; the people of Scotland have spoken and they have said that they wish to remain in the UK. However, the result does not mean that they want the status quo. There is agreement on all sides of the chamber about that. My constituents and others wish to see a stronger Scottish Parliament within the UK. I agree, and I am sure that the Smith commission will deliver that.

I am excited by the process—not necessarily because of the promise of new powers for this Parliament, but because everyone who has an opinion on what is best for Scotland and the UK has the opportunity to have their say and will have their voices heard. Although that does not mean that everyone will have their proposals accepted, I hope that the debate makes us think about the country that we want, and that it will allow us to be open to new ideas.

I fully agree with the proposals that are set out in the Scottish Labour paper—in particular that the Scottish Parliament should become permanently entrenched in the constitution, that partnership arrangements should be given a legal existence, that the Barnett formula should remain as the funding mechanism for public services in Scotland, that housing benefit should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, and that enforcement of equalities legislation should become a devolved matter.

However, I have taken the opportunity to submit my own proposals. I know that not everyone in my party will agree with the proposals but it is something that I have been working on for some time, and I believe that the Smith commission allows me the opportunity to put my ideas out in the public forum for discussion. I have suggested that the entire equalities portfolio be devolved from Westminster to Holyrood. When that suggestion was made in 1997, it did not gain support from Labour or the Conservatives. The Tories suggested that the proposal would undermine the level playing field for business across the UK and that everyone within the UK must enjoy the same protection under anti-discrimination law. That position is no longer tenable.

As members will know, I have been a member of the Equal Opportunities Committee since my election in 2011. I have become increasingly frustrated by the lack of real engagement on the part of the Scottish Government, equalities bodies and others with regard to the subject; over the past three years, I have heard every excuse for not doing something purposeful. That led me to research what other countries that are similar to Scotland have done in the area.

In particular, I have looked at Northern Ireland. I suggest that it is an example that Scotland should aim to follow. I recognise that the circumstances in Northern Ireland were very different when the devolution of that portfolio took place, but I believe that it can be used as a model for us here in Scotland. As a result of the Stormont settlement, responsibility for equalities there lies with the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. As a result, the Northern Ireland Assembly has been able to legislate on age, disability, gender, race and ethnicity, religious belief, political opinion and sexual orientation discrimination. With respect to EU legislation, it is the responsibility of Whitehall to inform the Northern Ireland Government of any responsibilities that that may mean for devolved matters. UK ministers retain the power to intervene to ensure that the legislature complies with EU directives.

Its position of having a distinctive body to legislate has enabled the Assembly to consider other avenues that would potentially widen equality. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has raised issues to be examined by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, including the rights of non-citizens to social protection, sectarianism as a form of racism, discrimination and racist hate crime in Northern Ireland, internal immigration control and racial profiling, and the situation of Irish Travellers.

The Belfast agreement gives provision for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission to be consulted and to advise on Westminster equalities legislation—particularly that which is being done due to a push from the Equality and Human Rights Commission to reflect on the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland. Again, we should do something similar in Scotland.

There is broad support for the change across civil society. The Law Society of Scotland and Stonewall Scotland argue that discrimination law should be devolved because it is closely linked to devolved matters. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations has suggested that some issues, such as sectarianism, are more pertinent in Scotland than they are across the UK. That sentiment is agreed to by Unison and the Educational Institute of Scotland.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission notes that it would be possible to have separate Scottish equality law in devolved areas such as housing and health, and that the Scottish courts and a Scottish equality commission could enforce that. In some legislative areas primacy would remain at Westminster, but it should still be possible to have a distinct Scottish equalities position.

I understand that there will be many pitfalls to devolving that particular portfolio and it is not an area that could be devolved quickly. I believe that the Smith commission should do what is right by the people of Scotland and the people of the rest of the UK. Therefore, I would not wish my proposal to have a detrimental impact on either section of the population.

I urge the Smith commission to have a serious discussion about the proposal. If it believes that it could not reasonably argue for the complete devolution of equalities to Holyrood, it should look to expanding our powers in this area. We already have public sector equalities duties, so I suggest that we be given the power to establish further duties, for example one for socioeconomic factors. That would allow us to judge Government policies, such as the council tax freeze, and to see the real impact that they have on our communities. If that was done and if we were granted powers of enforcement we could begin to be serious about equalities legislation in Scotland once again.

16:31  

Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
2. Siobhan McMahon (Central Scotland) (Lab)

To ask the Scottish Government when it last met NHS Lanarkshire and what issues were discussed. (S4O-03592)



Meeting of the Parliament 09 October 2014 : Thursday, October 09, 2014
Siobhan McMahon

Can the cabinet secretary outline why NHS Lanarkshire spent nearly £6 million between October 2012 and March 2014 on referring 3,826 patients to the Golden Jubilee hospital and 4,368 patients to Ross Hall hospital, a Nuffield hospital and other private health providers in Glasgow in order to meet the treatment time guarantee? Does that not expose further creeping privatisation in NHS Scotland and highlight that the NHS in Scotland is not safe in the Scottish National Party’s hands?



Meeting of the Parliament 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Siobhan McMahon (Central Scotland) (Lab)

As a member of the cross-party group on palliative care, I am pleased to be able to take part in this debate, and I thank my colleague Jackie Baillie for bringing the issue to the chamber’s attention.

As one of the last members to contribute to the debate, I am sure that I will repeat many of the key points that have already been made, but I wanted to add my voice to the voices of those who are calling for a solution to the horrendous problem that is being experienced by young people who seek palliative care when they transition from child to adult services.

As someone who has visited Robin house and Rachel house, I know about the tremendous work that CHAS does in supporting not only the young people who require its services from the very first stages to the very last stages of their lives, but their friends and family. Whether it takes the form of providing respite care, at-home care, spiritual care or end-of-life care, it is a vital service and one that many people have benefited from over the past 21 years.

As others have mentioned, CHAS currently supports 41 young people over the age of 21 and their families. Those 41 families and young people would not get the support that they require if the charity decided that it had to remove the funding now. Where would those 41 young people go? Who would care for them in the ways that they require? Who would support them in the ways that CHAS does at the moment? Would they turn to their health board, their local authority or another charity, or would they, as is often presumed, turn to another hospice?

We all know that current hospice provision in Scotland does not meet the demand from patients who require the service. I have had family members who have been fortunate to secure a bed at St Andrew’s Hospice in Airdrie at their time of need. I know at first hand how amazing the staff at that hospice are. They go out of their way not only to support our loved one, but to make sure that we have the support that we need to make it through the day. I know that that hospice would love to provide support to all those who require it, but it just does not have the capacity to do so. It does not have enough beds to support the demand for its services, and I am sure that it is not the only hospice in Scotland that faces that problem.

That is the current situation but, following CHAS’s understandable decision to introduce its transition policy, hospices such as St Andrew’s will be required to help people who are currently helped by CHAS. That would mean helping young people—people of my age and younger—in a hospice that is not fit for their needs or the needs of their family. Of course, if a bed could not be found for someone, they would have to turn to their health board or local authority. Who will fund that? Who is going to make sure that such services would meet all the needs of the young person and their family in the way that CHAS does at the moment?

Members will know that I lodged a number of amendments to the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill in relation to transition services. Those amendments related primarily to disabled young people and the issues that they experience in their day-to-day lives. Their main aim was to give support to disabled people and their families when they require it. It is a shame that the Government could not back those amendments at the time. I am sure that the measures that the amendments would have added to the bill would have made the transition situation much better for disabled young people and would have played a part in addressing the concerns that many people have in relation to palliative care.

When I wrote this speech, I asked myself the simple question, “Would I be content or happy with the level of services offered if it was me or my family member who needed them?” The answer was a resounding no, so I will not ask another family or young person to do what I would not do. I urge the minister to take on board the requests that have been made in tonight’s debate, to listen to the requests of Robert Watson and to change the way in which we look at palliative care provision in Scotland for good.

18:29  

Equal Opportunities Committee 02 October 2014 : Thursday, October 02, 2014
Siobhan McMahon (Central Scotland) (Lab)

I am an MSP for Central Scotland.



Equal Opportunities Committee 02 October 2014 : Thursday, October 02, 2014
Siobhan McMahon

We talked about the impact on a young person’s housing benefit of having a college place, for instance. Mr Stewart said that, if more powers came to Scotland, he would like us to do something on that. Will you give more information on that? We share the sentiment, but do others? The more people speak about it, the better we can make the case. Has the number of people in such a situation increased or stayed the same? What has happened since our report was produced?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11332.2 Jenny Marra: Supported Business—As an amendment to motion S4M-11332 in the name of Fergu
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YesDefeated

S4M-11332.1 Gavin Brown: Supported Business—As an amendment to motion S4M-11332 in the name of Fergu
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11332 Fergus Ewing: Supported Business—That the Parliament recognises the economic and social va
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11304.3 Michael Russell: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—As an amendment to mo
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11304 Liz Smith: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—That the Parliament believes
>> Show more
YesCarried

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

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

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

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

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

Search for other Motions lodged by Siobhan McMahon
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11307: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 27/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11172: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10647: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 23/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10641: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 22/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10464: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 24/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10379: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, On Behalf of City of Edinburgh Council (Portobello Park) Bill Committee, Date Lodged: 18/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10313: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 12/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10296: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 11/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10002: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 08/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10001: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 08/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Siobhan McMahon
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03615: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 20/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22805: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 08/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03592: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 29/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22575: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 23/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03538: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 15/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22443: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 20/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22444: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 20/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22314: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 08/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22224: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 31/07/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21919: Siobhan McMahon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 25/06/2014 Show Full Question >>

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