Alison Johnstone MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
Alison Johnstone (Lothian) (Green)

I thank John Wilson for giving us the opportunity to debate this important issue. I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in the debate and apologise for having to leave before the minister responds.

Too much of a child’s life is set by the happenstance of where they are born, yet we know that children who are born into low-income families do not start without high aspirations. Some 97 per cent of mothers in low-income families want their children to attend university, but there is a continuing and persistent attainment gap and immense barriers to what we call social mobility.

Of course, the vast majority of people who are born into poverty make a brilliant success of their lives. They become dedicated partners, loving parents or great friends and they have successful careers. No one should be stigmatised because of the economic situation into which they are born, but it is important to look at the barriers that children face.

Looked-after children provide a stark example. Care leavers have poorer educational qualifications than their peers and poorer health outcomes and are notably more likely to have contact with the criminal justice system. That is not the case in Finland, where the attainment gap for looked-after children is far less stark. That achievement is likely down to a complex mix of reasons, but one that is highlighted is the education system’s focus on support for teacher attainment and qualifications. We have to learn from good practice in other countries.

The child poverty map of the United Kingdom is a useful way to see how child poverty plays out across the country. For a decade we saw a notable drop in child poverty, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and others, but as we know, that improvement is being reversed rapidly: we are going backwards. Child poverty is predicted to rise and an estimated 600,000 more children will live in poverty by 2015-16.

The motion refers to

“finding effective ways of offsetting the recent changes to the welfare system”.

I agree that we need to do that. The economics of austerity and welfare cuts are having a particular impact on women and on children as a result. The Fawcett Society tells us that a fifth of British women’s income comes from benefits, whereas for men the figure is a tenth, so the loss of benefits and services hits women hardest. Women are more likely to be employed in public sector jobs that are at risk of austerity cuts. As state services are withdrawn, women tend to fill the gap as, for example, unpaid carers.

A fair social security system is vital and social security should be devolved, but welfare is not the core solution to poverty. We have to think about poverty in terms of equality and the redistribution of power and money to close the gap between rich and poor. We need political will to tackle zero-hours contracts and we must address fuel poverty. Affordable heating and affordable rents are essential.

We know that for the first time more than half of people in poverty live in a working family. People are working, often in demanding jobs, but are being paid wages that keep them in poverty. Governments subsidise that situation and the companies that pay poverty wages with corporate welfare.

The fair solution is a living wage. The national minimum wage needs to be raised to living wage levels immediately. The living wage commission estimated that that would benefit 5.2 million people across the UK, or 17 per cent of the working population. Our election manifesto will include a new minimum wage of £10 an hour for everyone by 2020, a wealth tax on the top 1 per cent and company-wide pay ratios. That is a package of measures to truly tackle the UK’s persistent inequality and poverty. We need to create a fair and sustainable society for all our children.

12:48  

Meeting of the Parliament 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
6. Alison Johnstone (Lothian) (Green)

To ask the First Minister what the Scottish Government’s position is on underground coal gasification and whether any licences have been granted for exploration. (S4F-02392)



Meeting of the Parliament 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
Alison Johnstone

The First Minister will be aware of the scientific consensus that we already have far too many fossil fuels to burn safely. Does he agree that his legacy should be a Scotland that meets its climate change targets, leads the world in climate justice and delivers thousands more new jobs in renewables? Does he agree that the Scottish Government must use the powers that it has to stop the damaging and destructive distraction of unconventional gas extraction in Scotland?



Meeting of the Parliament 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
7. Alison Johnstone (Lothian) (Green)

To ask the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body how many journeys between mainland Scotland and London were made by road, rail, coach and air in the last year for which figures are available. (S4O-03700)



Meeting of the Parliament 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
Alison Johnstone

I thank the member for those figures. Speedy travel to London is, of course, sometimes necessary, but it is vital that we as a Parliament keep reducing our climate emissions. Does the SPCB have any further plans to reduce air miles? For example, in my time on the committee of which I am a member, we have had one videoconferencing session. Are there any plans to expand videoconferencing, to increase the available facilities and to promote their use by committees and other organisations?



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 12 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Alison Johnstone (Lothian) (Green)

On Friday morning, I was in Aviemore at Energy Action Scotland’s annual conference and took part in a debate. The hall was full of experts from throughout the country who were supportive of WWF’s call that retrofitting energy efficiency measures should become a national infrastructure priority. They pointed out that the industry could provide 3,500 jobs in the short term and, perhaps, 9,000 jobs by 2027 if we were serious about modern apprenticeships and becoming really expert at treating our hard-to-treat houses. Does the Scottish Government support that call?

10:30  

Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 12 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Alison Johnstone

That is heartening. A representative from Western Isles Council was at the conference and he pointed out that the level of fuel poverty among households in the Western Isles can be as much as 71 per cent. There are specific challenges in particular areas, and the council called for more attention to be given to those areas as a matter of urgency.



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 12 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Alison Johnstone

The report that we received last night says that the draft budget funding for the warm homes fund for 2015-16 is yet to be confirmed. When will we have more information?



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 12 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Alison Johnstone

We received the information about the funding for climate change mitigation measures at 4.30 pm yesterday. Will it be at all possible to have that information earlier in future years? I realise that officers are waiting on other information in order to pull it together.



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 12 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Alison Johnstone

The fossil fuel levy budget line has been significantly reduced and reprofiled, but do you have any information about the plans for that budget? Can we expect to see an increase in later years? Specifically, where has the £20 million of previously committed funding been reallocated to?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

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

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

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
YesCarried

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

S4M-11507.1 Cameron Buchanan: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—
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NoDefeated

S4M-11507 Angela Constance: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—Th
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YesCarried

S4M-11494.3 Jackie Baillie: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
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NoDefeated

S4M-11494.2 Alex Johnstone: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
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NoDefeated

S4M-11494 Margaret Burgess: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—That the Parliament
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YesCarried

S4M-11484.1 Jackson Carlaw: Human Rights—As an amendment to motion S4M-11484 in the name of Roseanna
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NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Alison Johnstone
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11635: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 20/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11617: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 19/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11384: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 31/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11343: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 29/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11029.2: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 30/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10868: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 21/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10850: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 20/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10777.3: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 12/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10499: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 27/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10392: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 18/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Alison Johnstone
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-23212: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 18/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23215: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 18/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23213: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 18/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23115: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23114: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23099: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 10/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02392: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 10/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03700: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 05/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23001: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 04/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23002: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 04/11/2014 Show Full Question >>

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