Stewart Maxwell MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 28 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Stewart Maxwell (West Scotland) (SNP)

I heard what the cabinet secretary just said to Miss Goldie in response to her question about students from more disadvantaged backgrounds. Could she expand on her answer and give other examples of what the Scottish Government is doing to ensure that students from disadvantaged backgrounds get the opportunity to take part in university education?



Meeting of the Parliament 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Stewart Maxwell (West Scotland) (SNP)

On 27 January 1945, 70 years ago today, Soviet soldiers liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest concentration and extermination camp that the Nazi regime established.

As the red army approached, the Nazis began to evacuate the camp. They killed thousands and forced around another 60,000 prisoners to march out of the camp to move them further from the approaching Soviet forces. As many as 15,000 of those prisoners who were evacuated are estimated to have died as a result of the forced march and the privations that they suffered en route to other camps. As a result, only around 7,000 prisoners were left in Auschwitz when the red army arrived, and most of them were desperately ill or dying.

As well as moving the prisoners, the guards ordered the crematoria and gas chambers to be destroyed, in order to obliterate the evidence of the crimes that had been committed there. They wanted to wipe out the past. They wanted to hide the truth. They did that not only at Auschwitz-Birkenau but at other extermination camps. As recently as September of last year, it was reported that archaeologists believe that they have found the site of the gas chambers that were destroyed to hide the truth of what happened at Sobibór.

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust has published a booklet for Holocaust memorial day this year, listing the path to genocide, and there are eight steps. Step eight is denial: the perpetrators or later generations deny the existence of any crime.

On 20 January 1942, the Wannsee conference met to discuss the final solution—the plans to eliminate the Jews. One copy of the Wannsee protocol—the minutes of the Wannsee conference—survived the war. Here is a portion of the translated minutes:

“Under proper guidance, in the course of the final solution the Jews are to be allocated for appropriate labor in the East. Able-bodied Jews, separated according to sex, will be taken in large work columns to these areas for work on roads, in the course of which action doubtless a large portion will be eliminated by natural causes.

The possible final remnant will, since it will undoubtedly consist of the most resistant portion, have to be treated accordingly, because it is the product of natural selection and would, if released, act as a the seed of a new Jewish revival (see the experience of history.)”

The translation from which I have just read is the English text, based on the original German language version of the Wannsee protocol, from the official United States Government translation prepared for evidence in trials at Nuremberg. There can be no doubt about the chilling meaning of the words that I have quoted.

The theme of this year’s Holocaust memorial day is “keep the memory alive”. That is very pertinent indeed, as those who survived the Holocaust are now old. In a few years, the generation that suffered under the Nazi regime will have passed into history and there will be no one alive to say, “I saw this. I was there. This really happened.” It will be much easier to deny the Holocaust when there are no eye-witnesses left.

A Spanish American called George Santayana famously said:

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

It is vital that we never forget the atrocities that took place in the heart of Europe during the 20th century.

Today, on the 70th anniversary of the very day on which Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated, I believe that we should take George Santayana’s warning seriously. I fear that we are in grave danger of forgetting the past. In Europe, I am sorry to say, anti-Semitism is on the rise again. We are all only too well aware of the horrific events in Paris earlier this month, in which 17 people were murdered—11 journalists, two police officers and four people shopping in a kosher supermarket.

In July 2014, eight synagogues in France were attacked. Indeed, one in Sarcelles was firebombed by a mob said to be 400 strong. In Germany, Molotov cocktails were thrown into the Bergische synagogue in Wuppertal, which had previously been destroyed during Kristallnacht. In May 2014, in Brussels, four people were murdered at the Jewish museum. In Toulouse, in 2012, three children and a teacher were murdered at a Jewish school, a few days after the same gunman had murdered three French soldiers.

Of course, those were attacks by murderous individuals, not organised campaigns by a Government, and they were universally condemned across Europe. However, in November 2012, a member of the Hungarian Parliament, a Jobbik MP, said that officials of Jewish origin should be listed because they might be a “national security risk”. He was, I am glad to say, condemned roundly, but these are worrying times.

Here in Scotland, thankfully, there have been no such terrible incidents as those that I have listed from the continent, but there is no room for complacency. In August 2013, the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities issued a report, “Being Jewish in Scotland”, which was produced with Scottish Government funding. The report found that the experience of Jewish people living in Scotland is largely positive, which is good news. It also found, however, that there is some anti-Semitism that continues to create a sense of insecurity.

In answers to written questions that I lodged, the Scottish Government has indicated that, in 2011-12, recorded religious hate crimes against Judaism were running at 2.2 charges per 1,000 members of the Jewish community, and that, in 2012-13, recorded religious hate crimes against Judaism were—I am sorry to say—running at 4.19 charges per 1,000 members of the Jewish community. That is almost double.

In the three months between August 2014 and the start of November, more than 50 anti-Semitic incidents were reported to the Scottish police, which exceeded the total for the previous three years. The Scottish Government has responded to the sudden rise in anti-Semitic incidents in a most positive manner, by funding a short-term survey, to be entitled “How being Jewish in Scotland has changed”, which will report at the end of March.

Only last week, the First Minister stated in the chamber:

“Tackling anti-Semitism is a key priority for the Scottish Government ... The Jewish community in Scotland plays a massive role in this country and makes a massive contribution. We are proud of that, and we should all stand shoulder to shoulder with it at this time.” —[Official Report, 22 January 2015; c 18-19.]

I echo the First Minister’s words. It is vital that we in Scotland stand together, that we do not isolate any member of our Scottish community and that we value the contribution that all of us make to Scotland, because for hatred to succeed, it must isolate the people who are the object of hatred and separate them from the rest of the community. We must always remember, but not quietly. We must state loudly and clearly that the Holocaust happened, so that we stop those who would attempt to wipe all record of it from the history books.

We must never, ever forget the past, and I commend the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust for keeping the memory alive.



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Stewart Maxwell (West Scotland) (SNP)

Go for it.



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Stewart Maxwell

Perhaps Northern Ireland has not made much of its powers on welfare because it has only half the balance sheet. If you do not have the revenue-raising powers, you cannot change much in what you do with, for example, welfare.

People of other small countries might be slightly confused by some of the comments that we have just heard. Do you think that the people of Norway and Switzerland are desperate to give away their tax powers because they have made such a mess of creating wealthy economies? It seems to me that they have done reasonably well when they have managed their own affairs. However, we seem to have an underlying belief that the transfer of powers to Scotland over a range of taxes would create a threat and that divergence would automatically mean a worse situation in Scotland.



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Stewart Maxwell

Not at the end of what you said, to be fair.



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Stewart Maxwell

Some of those countries share borders.



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Stewart Maxwell

Alex Johnstone asked about the threats. I want to ask about the opportunities that the devolution of taxes would bring.



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Stewart Maxwell

We have heard from the panel about people fleeing across the border. We heard some of that nonsense during the referendum campaign. The parties that supported a yes vote were clear that we wanted to create an economy that was good for business. We wanted to grow the economy and create more wealth and opportunities and for that to be shared by the people of Scotland. That was the argument that we were making. Do you think that, if a basket of taxation powers—not just income tax—were devolved, a Scottish Government would not use that opportunity to invest in various areas to create wealth and opportunities for the companies that you represent?



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Stewart Maxwell

But we do not have a basket of powers.



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Stewart Maxwell

I am concerned about coming from the principle where, almost automatically—

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12160.2 Michael Matheson: Women Offenders—As an amendment to motion S4M-12160 in the name of Kez
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YesCarried

S4M-12160.3 Margaret Mitchell: Women Offenders—As an amendment to motion S4M-12160 in the name of Ke
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12160 Kezia Dugdale: Women Offenders—That the Parliament welcomes the decision of the Scottish G
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12154.1 Lewis Macdonald: Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) – Supporting Indivi
>> Show more
NoDefeated

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

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

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

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

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

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

Search for other Motions lodged by Stewart Maxwell
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12148: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11995: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11504: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11165: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10707: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10706: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 31/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10612: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10542: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10288: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10235: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Stewart Maxwell
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-24173: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22399: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03431: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/07/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21992: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03221: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-20253: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/03/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03026: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/03/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-02919: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/02/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-02768: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/12/2013 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-18683: Stewart Maxwell, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/12/2013 Show Full Question >>