Stewart Stevenson MSP

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Stewart Stevenson MSP

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  • Member for: Banffshire and Buchan Coast
  • Region: North East Scotland
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Stewart is a member of the following Committees:

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

Parliamentary Activities

Member of the Conveners Group

Search for other Speeches made by Stewart Stevenson

Meeting of the Parliament 28 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP)

I am very much in tune with what Kezia Dugdale is saying. A Soroptimist International report that came out recently says that 80 per cent of women offenders have a history of mental illness. I note that she has not touched on that subject, nor does her motion. Will she therefore welcome the fact that the Government amendment introduces health to the debate, and will she swing behind the Government in recognising that it is a very important part of the debate?



Meeting of the Parliament 28 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP)

I congratulate Kezia Dugdale on what was basically a broadly drawn and generally well-argued case. I agree on the broad thrust and disagree on the detail—that is the nature of debate. I was slightly disappointed that the issue of remand did not come until 12 minutes into her 14-minute speech, but Elaine Murray dealt with the matter; I very much welcome that.

Like others, I have visited the 218 centre. It was probably more than 10 years ago when I went there with Pauline McNeill, who was a Labour MSP at the time, thus indicating a willingness and an ability to work together. At the risk of damaging Richard Simpson’s political career forever, I add that we worked together very effectively when we were dealing with the issue of Peterhead prison. I used to take him away from his officials for secret coffee rendezvous. He is covering his face—but not in shame, because he did well on the subject. We can work together on the issue of women offenders and I very much welcome the tone of the debate so far.

An issue that has not come up might usefully be added for consideration afterwards. It is very clear that there are huge literacy and numeracy issues in prison. I genuinely do not know whether that is a gender issue. However, in smaller units, which is where we would expect to see women, there ought to be greater opportunity for dealing with that issue.



Meeting of the Parliament 28 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Stewart Stevenson

I am grateful to the member for that. I am more familiar with the circumstances of male prisoners, because the sex offenders unit used to be in my constituency and I regularly visited constituents in there. We need to add numeracy and literacy to the mix of things that we look at.

It is interesting to visit different prisons. I visited quite a lot during the second session of the Parliament, when I was shadow deputy justice minister, with responsibility for prisons and drug policy. I went to the State hospital at Carstairs—we touched on mental health during the debate, which fortunately seems not to be quite so much of an issue for women—and my wife and I went to the women’s unit at Porterfield prison, in Inverness. My wife, who was coming to the issue absolutely fresh, was extremely impressed by the care and attention that staff gave to prisoners, in physical conditions that were far from ideal. The unit is small—I think that there were six women there when we visited.

I also visited Bapaume prison, north-east of Paris, to get comparative information for the Peterhead campaign, and was very impressed by what was being done for women there. The prison had a call centre, where women were being trained to work, and a manufacturing unit, where people were making changing mats for babies. There was a mother and baby unit, too, and the presence of children under two seemed to have a significant moderating effect on prisoners’ behaviour. Such an approach must be considered carefully, because children need to be protected from the effects of imprisonment, but it seemed to work at Bapaume.

I visited HMP Grampian shortly after the first women prisoners arrived there. The women were enthusiastic about the physical environment, although at that stage they were not particularly engaged in rehabilitation, so I cannot speak to that. They even told me that the food was good and invited me to join them for lunch—alas, another appointment took me away.

We have talked about the numbers. It happens that, as part of a private project, I have looked at convictions in St Andrews court between 1889 and 1899—my interest in genealogy took me there. Just as is the case today, 5 per cent of the convictions were of women. Nothing has changed in 125 years. I thought that that was interesting. The Ministry of Justice figures for England show broadly the same proportion of women prisoners, even though English policy is rather different in certain regards.

When Jim Wallace made a statement to the Parliament in September 2002 he was questioned about the failure to reduce the number of women prisoners. Jim Wallace was also criticised for a 28 per cent increase in remand prisoners, which was not well understood, and Cathy Peattie talked about overcrowding at Cornton Vale prison. This is a long-running issue. I hope that the minister will be unique in managing to make a difference. He has made a step change in policy.

We have made a good start. By resetting policy on women offenders, we do a good thing not just for offenders but for Scotland as a whole, because if we reset policy and focus on piloting new ways of rehabilitating people and addressing mental health issues, through dialogue with all parties, as the Government’s amendment says, we will be in a good place. I congratulate Labour on bringing the motion to the Parliament.

16:18  

Meeting of the Parliament 28 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Stewart Stevenson

Will the member give way?



Meeting of the Parliament 28 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP)

As the motion refers to “pharmaceutical companies”, I declare at the outset that my niece Jo works for such a company. She lives in Sweden, but the industry is international.

The statistics are interesting. We are told that there may be up to, or approaching, 40,000 people in Scotland with chronic hep C infection. Statistically, that means that one member of Parliament will have hep C. I recognise that there is an element of social discrimination, and that we are perhaps not the most likely cohort of people to suffer from the virus. However, that statistic provides a context for, and perspective on, the spread of the disease.

We can be exposed to the disease not simply as a result of sharing needles when using drugs, but through use of blood products. Some 30-plus years ago, I was injected with gamma globulin because I was travelling to areas where there was a wide range of infections that might attack my immune system, and it was thought proper to boost it before I went. That meant that my blood-donating years came to an end about 15 years ago, and for many years I could give my blood only for plasma. So far, so good: there are no particular signs that I have that infection. However, one of the difficulties with the virus is diagnosis; it can sit dormant and undiagnosed for a very long time.

The liver is one of the more difficult organs of the human body to treat. About 30 or 40 years ago, serious conditions of the liver essentially could not be treated, and palliative care would be given. Liver rupture was often the third cause of death in car accidents, as people bled to death—the liver could be packed, but that did not do much good because it would not heal itself very effectively.

Today, we are in a different position. There is the possibility of liver transplant, and a relatively wide range of pharmacological interventions are deployed with varying degrees of success. It is a tribute to the pharmacological companies and the support that the NHS has given to people with hep C that people now recover and have the virus eliminated from their system, and are restored to good health. I hope that we see much more of that in the future.

The pancreas and the liver are two organs of the body that can cause great difficulties. We are increasingly learning how to deal with viruses; one hopes that we will go on to deal with prions, which are the cause of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. That is, of course, why I was stopped from being allowed to give blood.

I congratulate Kevin Stewart on bringing to the chamber this excellent debate, which is timely and informative. I will certainly go away having learned a great deal from the speeches of other members. I also congratulate the Hepatitis C Trust, which looks after and supports people who suffer from hep C. When people have conditions that are highly variable and relatively invisible over a long period of time, and which can also carry a degree of social stigma, they find such support to be immensely valuable. I hope that the Hepatitis C Trust continues to provide such support for many years to come, but I hope even more that we eliminate the disease and that the trust’s efforts become entirely unnecessary.

18:09  

Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP)

As you are aware, convener, the order is a slightly unusual piece of legislation in that it has effect in parts of England. Because of the need for regulation on the Tweed basin to be uniform across the basin, the Scottish Parliament legislates for that part of the Tweed that is in England.

Under English processes, we would expect 21 days’ notice to be given, although it does not appear that, legislatively, that would be a requirement in this case. In fact, a mere 11 days’ notice is being provided. In my view, it would be good practice—in a jurisdiction in which a period of 21 days is the norm—for us to apply that period as a matter of preference. We perhaps ought to note that the order meets neither the normal requirements in England nor our own.



Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Stewart Stevenson

It strikes me that, on this occasion, the use of the negative procedure may make some sense. It is not clear that the requirements that we would normally expect to be present that would lead us to say that the affirmative procedure should be used are present. The powers in question appear to relate to a matter of detail rather than a matter of creating legislation. It is a fine distinction, but I am not clear that we should particularly object to the use of the negative procedure in this case.



Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Stewart Stevenson

I would propose otherwise. I suggest that, while we should draw the matter to the lead committee’s attention, we should make no recommendation about changing the procedure that is used.



Meeting of the Parliament 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
4. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP)

To ask the Scottish Government how the additional £15.2 million announced for NHS Grampian in 2015-16 will benefit patient care. (S4O-03934)



Meeting of the Parliament 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Stewart Stevenson

Following the news this week of a highly successful scheme pioneered by the Henry Ford medical group in Detroit, where the suicide rate among patients has fallen by 75 per cent in four years, are there any plans to implement strategies that would specifically target suicide rates in Grampian?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12182.1 Alex Fergusson: The Chilcot Inquiry—As an amendment to motion S4M-12182 in the name of N
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12182 Nicola Sturgeon: The Chilcot Inquiry—That the Parliament calls for Sir John Chilcot’s offi
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12176 John Swinney: Community Charge Debt (Scotland) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the gene
>> Show more
YesCarried

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

Search for other Motions lodged by Stewart Stevenson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12069: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12028: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11008: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10600: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10473: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10312: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, On Behalf of Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee, Date Lodged: 12/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10244: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, On Behalf of Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee, Date Lodged: 05/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10243: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, On Behalf of Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee, Date Lodged: 05/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10200: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10089: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Stewart Stevenson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03959: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03934: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03766: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03730: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03633: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03594: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03478: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03434: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/07/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03140: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/04/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03048: Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/03/2014 Show Full Question >>