Holiday Childcare Far Too Expensive… If You Can Find It, says Mary Fee

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Mary Fee Chamber 2015West Scotland MSP Mary Fee has called on the Scottish Government to get tough on childcare costs and availability after research shows that holiday care in Scotland is most expensive across the UK.

Scottish Labour’s Mary Fee has joined party colleagues to call on the Scottish Government to get serious on holiday childcare costs after research by the Family and Childcare Trust1 showed that working parents in Scotland are paying more than parents in England and Wales by 11.3% and 17% respectively.

The higher costs of publicly provided childcare means that a single parent in West Scotland will spend £1 of every £5 earned in holiday childcare for each child and that the average couple with two children will spend 30% of their income.

Mary knows that parents will be glad in many ways that schools have now returned after the summer holidays, most noticeable due to childcare costs and availability.

The same research by the Family and Childcare Trust shows that under the SNP, availability of holiday childcare has halved for working parents since 2012. For children with special needs, childcare availability has been cut by a third.

Speaking from her West Scotland office, Mary said:

“The SNP Scottish Government must act on childcare costs to help working families during school holidays. Over the last 9 years the SNP has been full of rhetoric when it comes to helping parents with nursery and after-school care costs.

“Now we find out that during school holidays, parents in Scotland pay more than parents anywhere else in the UK. No wonder mothers and fathers are happy that schools have returned this week.

“With the new powers of the Scottish Parliament, the SNP Government must take action to reduce costs and increase availability ahead of future school holidays.”

ENDS

Session 4 Comes to a Close

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On Thursday 30th June, Session Four of the Scottish Parliament came to an end as the Parliament broke for it’s summer recess.

I would like to thank the voters of the West of Scotland who have, for the second time, put their trust in myself and the Scottish Labour Party to represent the region. I am very grateful to everyone who voted for myself and the Scottish Labour Party. It truly is an honour to be chosen, once again, to represent the region in the Scottish Parliament. In addition to this, I would also like to thank all the campaigners who put in endless hours in the days, weeks and months leading up to the election.

Over the last five years in the Scottish Parliament, I have been proud to serve my party, the Scottish Labour party, as Shadow Housing Minister, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities and Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Reform.

Over the fourth session of the Scottish Parliament, I have also worked on a cross-party basis, serving for a period as the Chair of the Equal Opportunities Committee and Convener of the Cross Party Group on Families Affected by Imprisonment.

Through my work with the Cross Party Group, I have worked closely with Barnardo’s and Families Outside to try and achieve reforms to the criminal justice system to ensure that the system is fairer on families and children who are affected by imprisonment. In February, my amendment to the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill was passed at the committee stage of the legislative process. My amendment to the bill introduced the use of child and family impact assessments when a parent receives a custodial sentence.

Moreover, I was proud to play an role in supporting the passage of  Equal Marriage through the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill in 2014. This historic piece of legislation will be remembered for generations and I am honoured that I was able to play a small part in history in supporting this piece of legislation through Parliament.

Session 5 of the Scottish Parliament will bring new challenges, reflecting the changed composition of the Parliament after May’s election, but I hope that across the Parliament, progressive ideas and progressive voices will be at the forefront of the debate. To tackle the big challenges our country faces, cooperation is essential and I sincerely hope that the Scottish Government will aim to govern in an inclusive and cooperate manner.

I want Scotland to be the fairest nation of Earth – a nation where, the town, city or region you were born is an irrelevance; a nation where, everyone has an equal chance to succeed in life. I hope that over the Fifth Session of the Scottish Parliament, we can work cooperatively and effectively to make this a reality.

For the Fifth Session of the Scottish Parliament, I am a member of the Justice Committee and a member of the Equal Opportunities Committee, as well as holding the position of Scottish Labour’s Shadow Justice Minister. On a cross-party level, I will also be the Convener of the Cross Party Group on China and Convener of the Cross Party Group on Families Affected by Imprisonment. I am relishing the unique challenges that each of these positions will bring.

I will continue to use my voice within the Scottish Parliament to champion equality issues and to hold the Scottish Government to account when I believe it’s policies and actions could do more to support working people.

The West of Scotland is a large and diverse region, and it is the region I call home. I will always work as hard as I can to get the best deal for the West of Scotland and I am passionate about getting things done for the region. I will always stand up for my region and for my constituents, as without them, I would not have the privilege of being a Member of the Scottish Parliament.

Over the summer, my office is still open, so if you live in the West of Scotland and have any issues that you would like me to help you with then please call my office between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday on 0141 889 4828 and my staff will be happy to help and advise with any issues you may have.

Mary

 

Mary Welcomes IVF Expansion

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Mary Fee Chamber 2015IVF EXPANSION WELCOMED BY LABOUR’S MARY FEE MSP

Scottish Labour MSP Mary Fee has welcomed the decision by the Scottish Government to expand IVF treatment making Scotland the most accessible part of the UK for NHS fertility services.

Following the announcement by the Scottish Government that the NHS will offer couples suffering infertility 3 cycles of IVF treatment and open access to couples where one partner does not have a biological child living at home, West Scotland MSP Mary Fee has congratulated the SNP Scottish Government for agreeing to accept all recommendations except one by the National Infertility Group.

Mary has previously called for better access to IVF treatment to help couples experiencing the pain of infertility. Estimates show that 1 in 6 people in the UK have fertility problems and that emotional stress this can have on people has been linked to that of bereavement.

In welcoming the news, Mary said:

“I congratulate the Scottish Government on listening to the needs of people suffering from infertility and accepting the work of the National Infertility Group.

“The joy of starting a family is often an unbearable stress for couples and these changes will open up access to people who have previously not been considered for IVF services.”

ENDS

Winning for Vulnerable Children

Yesterday marked a momentous step in helping some of Scotland’s most vulnerable children as the Scottish Parliament voted for my amendments that aim to support children and families affected by a parent or carer’s imprisonment.

Figures estimate that more than 27,000 children in Scotland have a parent of carer in prison. I say estimate because an estimate is the best we can do at the moment. We have no way of systematically collecting or recording information about these children.

Until we can accurately identify these children, and the impact of a parent being imprisoned on them, their needs will not be properly taken into account by local authorities and other public bodies. They will continue to slip through the net.

These unfortunate children are often the forgotten victims of crime and are more likely than their peers to become offenders as adults. My amendments will ensure that support is given to such children who face negative outcomes such as stigma, bullying, trauma, mental health problems and lower educational outcomes, and research by the Scottish Child & Young Persons Commissioner, Tam Baillie, shows that children with a parent in prison are often too scared to ask for help due to the stigma and bullying that comes with prison.

Back in September I lodged an amendment at Stage 2 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill to introduce Child and Family Impact Assessments so that when a parent or carer is sent to custody, we know what support that child and family needs.

Only with cross-party support from the Labour, Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Green/Independent group MSP’s did the amendment manage to pass at the Justice Committee, one of the few Scottish Parliament committee’s without an SNP majority courtesy of John Finnie MSP resigning from the Nationalists and staying on the Justice Committee.

The issue was picked up by Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale at the following First Minister’s Questions. Kezia has long supported my work with children affected by imprisonment and I was delighted that she raised the issue with Nicola Sturgeon.

Unfortunately the best the First Minister could clarify, when pressed not to use her majority to remove the amendment at Stage 3, was to consider the proposal. Let’s not forget that had the SNP MSP’s on the Justice Committee won the vote, we would have been back at the start of this campaign and children and families would continue to suffer for years to come.

Ahead of Stage 3 the Scottish Government accepted that my amendment, passed at Stage 2, should remain, albeit with a slight amendment to place the duty of Child and Family Impact Assessment’s to the Scottish Prison Service.

By passing the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill this week, the Scottish Parliament has taken a momentous step to tackle re-offending and reduce the inequalities we find in society.

 

I am proud to have had the support of Barnardo’s Scotland and Families Outside, who have been campaigning with me for four years to see this much-needed change in the law.

West Scotland Regional Selections

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Mary Fee MSP is delighted to be shortlisted for the West Scotland Regional List ahead of the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections.

Having placed number 1 in 2011, Mary hopes she can retain the support and faith that Scottish Labour members placed in her.

For more information on Mary’s campaigns for the Renfrewshire North & West constituency and West Scotland region, please visit www.maryfee.scot .

Many thanks,

Team Mary!

Vote against Trident renewal is just the beginning…

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On Sunday 1st November at the Scottish Labour Conference, delegates voted 70% to 30% for the party to campaign against the renewal of the UK’s trident weapons system. While this vote is very positive, it should by no means be the end of the discussion for Scottish Labour and the wider Labour movement.

We know that the decision rests with the UK Government and as many delegates said prior to the vote, this must be the start of wider discussion to build the broadest coalition.

The first stage of this discussion is to fully work with the communities and unions involved with the workforce at Faslane. The motion accepted talks of the need for a Diversification Agency to be created to ensure that skills and jobs are not lost. With much of the debate against the motion focusing on jobs we must always remember that livelihoods could be at stake if the diversification is not handled correctly. Many speakers against the motion spoke of their experience of diversification in the past and it is these voices we must listen fully to over the coming months and years if we are to win the wider debate on Trident and nuclear weapons.

Finally we must not disrespect the views of those in favour of trident renewal or belittle their arguments. It is these worries we need to relax in order to have the strongest coalition to create a nuclear free world.

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MARY FEE MSP WELCOMES ANNOUNCEMENTS ON GENDER EQUALITY

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Scottish Labour’s Mary Fee MSP has welcomed announcements on childcare, action on domestic abuse and “revenge porn” and tackling the gender pay gap, made by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during the recent Programme for Government debate.

West Scotland MSP Mary Fee recently debated the Scottish Government’s Programme for Scotland 2015-16 in the Scottish Parliament and welcomed the gender equality commitments made by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon such as additional childcare for 3 and 4 year olds by 2020, further action to tackle domestic abuse and create a new offence for so-called “revenge porn” and expanding the scope for public bodies to reveal pay awarded to each gender.

However Ms Fee has also warned the Scottish Government that delays to additional childcare promised in 2007 must not repeated to that mothers and fathers both have the option to return to work.

Speaking in the chamber, Mary said:

“The First Minister said that by 2020, her aim is to expand provision to 1100 hours a year. This is a significant increase – one I and parents would welcome if delivered – remembering that this is almost double of what has only recently been achieved by the Scottish Government, 8 years on from their last pledge of 600 hours to Scottish families.

“In 2013 at the Scottish Women’s Convention in Dynamic Earth, the First Minister called on childcare to be viewed as part of our infrastructure, and to ensure that this is the case we must look at extending provision, as well as flexibility and additional costs.

“No woman should live in fear of abuse, rape or indeed of intimate moments captured on camera shared with others. A society that can tackle these abuses is a society we must embrace for all women.

“We know that more action can be taken and as Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said, we will support the Scottish Government where we can. This is just one of example of that co-operation we can and must offer.

“Tackling gender inequality in the workplace has long been the ambition of successive government’s both in Scotland and the United Kingdom, since Barbara Castle passed in the Equal Pay Act of 1970 under Harold Wilson’s Labour Government.

“The First Minister rightly announced that over the next year, she will extend the duty on public authorities to publish information about the gender pay gap by reducing the threshold.

“This is a further step in the morally right direction, but I know as well as the First Minister does that we can go further and Scottish Labour will help to set the agenda to tackle low pay in all sectors across Scotland.”

ENDS

Update on Mary’s Private Members Bill: Support for Children (Impact of Parental Imprisonment)

Mary Fee MSP has now published the summary of Consultation Responses that she received for her private members bill, Support for Children (Impact of Parental Imprisonment). Unfortunately the Bill did not have enough time to complete the process for it to be heard in Parliament this session however Mary still hopes that some measures of the Bill can be taken forward by the Scottish Government or reintroduced after next May’s election.

If you would like a copy of the Summary of Consultation responses you can access it on the Scottish Parliament web page for the Bill at:

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/86482.aspx

Alternatively you can email Daniel.Cairns@scottish.parliament.uk to have a copy emailed to you.

Scottish Labour Blog #RefugeesWelcome

We will match our compassion with action | Scottish Labour Party

The quiet compassion of people across Scotland, and the wider UK, has become disgust and shame as we have watched children and families suffering as they seek to flee the chaos in the Middle East, looking for sanctuary in Europe.

There is growing anger that our government refuses to offer a safe home for refugees. We share this anger and feel compassion for those desperately looking for safety.

We will match our compassion with action.

We are mobilising the campaigning resources of the Scottish Labour Party to win change and to welcome those fleeing conflict to our communities. We won’t do this in a partisan way, we will work with the many respected groups already helping refugees, but we do recognise that this is political. So we will put pressure on the Prime Minister to change his position. Sign the petition.

Let’s organise in our communities. Labour Councils around Scotland are already working to resettle refugees. Want to know what you can do? Here is a list of some collection points in Scotland where you can make vital donations to help those in Calais now.

Will you help?

Donate vital items to one of these collection points. Take a look at this tweet highlighting what is really needed at the moment.

Can’t make it to one of these collection points? Here’s two other ways you can help:

 

Share this graphic below on your Facebook and Twitter and urge your friends and families to support these efforts too.

We’re also asking all members and supporters to post selfies on their social media with posters saying #refugeeswelcome – and to encourage their churches and community groups to do the same. Together we can tell the government that their lack of action is unacceptable.

We believe this sort of campaigning is in the best traditions of the labour movement. We have a proud history of working to save and to welcome refugees, and this should be no different. It is in the best traditions of our nation. Throughout history we have welcomed people fleeing for their lives and, in turn, enrich our national life. This time should be no different.

“Warm words from politicians are not enough, we need action to protect refugees”

Leader Kezia Dugdale

– See more at: http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/blog/entry/we-will-match-our-compassion-with-action#sthash.6ZVDcgy2.dpuf

Mary Leads Praise for Erskine Minister in Scottish Parliament

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A Church of Scotland minister has been recognised in the Scottish Parliament for his award winning community work.

The Rev Jonathan Fleming of Erskine Parish Church was described as a “great asset to the town” by 14 Labour and SNP MSPs after he was named Citizen of the Year 2015.

The 33-year-old’s achievement was marked by a motion lodged by Labour MSP Mary Fee who applauded his “outstanding community work”, which includes encouraging greater interaction with other churches.

The politician, who represents the west of Scotland region, said the minister’s contribution to life in the town was “terrific” and he had brought people together.

Mr Fleming, who is married to Karyn with whom he has two daughters, Rachel, 7, and Hollie, 2, said he was “shocked and surprised” when he learned he had won the Erskine Community Council award.

The minister, who was one of 22 nominees in the annual competition, said the accolade highlighted that the Church was a “valued part” of the community.

Mr Fleming and members of his 342 member congregation have organised a wide variety of community initiatives like film nights and lunch clubs since 2012 when he took up what is his first charge.

They include providing free child care when local primary schools were used as polling stations on the day of the independence referendum last September and the General Election in May.

The church runs regular holiday clubs for children and screened the opening ceremony of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games in addition to holding a community barbecue.

Last Christmas Mr Fleming held two singalong screenings of the Disney animated film Frozen and handed out free hotdogs and popcorn, while dressed up as the snowman character, Olaf, as a “gift to the community”

Ms Fee said: “I have heard from many constituents in Erskine about the terrific work of the Rev Jonathan Fleming in the local community.

“He has brought together the people of Erskine and they have rightly thanked him for his community work by awarding him 2015 Erskine Citizen of the Year.”

Reflecting on winning the award, the University of Glasgow graduate who grew up in Milngavie and Bearsden, said: “I was shocked and very surprised and the more I thought about it I felt so grateful.

“I genuinely felt I was just doing my job but decided to accept it because it is important that the church is recognised for what we are doing and is still valued as an important part of community life.

“Receiving the award was affirming for me that my vision for the church to be a beacon and signpost in Erskine is becoming a reality.

“I think it is very important that we undertake community activities because one of the biggest misconceptions of Church is that we are only interested in those who are interested in Sunday morning.

“That is far from the reality of it all – we do anything we can to help everybody in the community.”

Mr Fleming, who attended Bearsden Primary School and Glasgow Academy and worked for his family’s food wholesale business before becoming a minister, said he was delighted to have been recognised in the Scottish Parliament.

“It was wonderful to see that there is cross-party support for the motion,” he added.

“MSPs obviously see the validity of the parish church and its involvement in the community so to get recognition means an incredible amount.”

The award presentation took place during the Erskine Festival on August 15.

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