MARY BACKS THE REPEAL OF FOOTBALL ACT

MARY BACKS THE REPEAL OF FOOTBALL ACT

 Mary Fee MSP for West Scotland has welcomed the vote in the Scottish Parliament to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act introduced in 2012, calling the legislation “illiberal” and damaging to the trust between football fans and police.

This week the Scottish Parliament debated the Scottish Government’s Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act 2012 following repeated criticisms by fans groups, law bodies and opposition parties that the SNP’s attempt to tackle sectarian behaviour was rushed and reactionary.

Scottish Labour’s Mary Fee MSP who took part in the debate has welcomed the decision of the Scottish Parliament to repeal the act and called on the Scottish Government to go back to the drawing board, working with fans groups, anti-sectarian charities, churches and law bodies to work to tackle the deep and rooted causes of bigotry in Scotland.

During the debate Mary pointed out that she has often been a victim of sectarian abuse due to the biased assumptions people make about her surname. Mary also pointed out that sectarian abuse, like that she was victim to, happens across wider society and not just at football games, and should not be tolerated or ignored.

The motion proposed by the Scottish Conservatives was supported by MSP’s from all parties, except the SNP, with the vote defeating the Scottish Government by one vote.  

Speaking after the debate Mary Fee said:

“Sectarianism is an intolerable form of human behaviour that should never be accepted or ignored. I do not doubt the intentions of the Scottish Government in tackling sectarianism, however they must listen to the will of Parliament. 

“Like many others, I believe the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act was rushed and reactionary. The act is illiberal and treats football fans differently. It has damaged trust between fans and police. 

“The Scottish Government must go back to the drawing board and work with all stakeholders, including fans, churches, law bodies and charities, to implement a plan that will work to tackle sectarianism across Scotland.”

 

MARY FEE: FAILURE TO TACKLE FUEL POVERTY IS A ‘NATIONAL DISGRACE’

A new report by the Scottish Fuel Poverty Strategic Working Group has highlighted the failure of the Scottish Government to tackle fuel poverty in Scotland and West Scotland MSP Mary Fee has labelled the failure to end fuel poverty as a “national disgrace”.

 The report revealed that more than one third of households in Scotland live in fuel poverty and the situation is particularly bad in the West of Scotland.

 The last Labour-led Scottish Government set a target to abolish fuel poverty by November 2016, however this new report states that the situation is ‘significantly worse’ now and that fuel poverty in Scotland has doubled  since the targets were established. 

The issue of fuel poverty is particularly pertinent in the West of Scotland with a staggering 40% of households in North Ayrshire living in fuel poverty, 5% higher than the national average. Whilst slightly lower, a shocking 32% of households in East Renfrewshire are also living in fuel poverty.

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In relation to the rest of the West of Scotland, the overall picture is not good with the percentage of households living in fuel poverty in Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire and West Dunbartonshire over 12% higher compared with the City of Edinburgh.

In response to the fuel poverty report, Scottish Labour has called on a SNP to introduce a Warms Homes Acts to drive up standards and regulations.

Speaking from her constituency, Scottish Labour MSP Mary Fee MSP stated:

“The high percentage of households in the West of Scotland who are living in poverty is truly shocking. It is about time the SNP Government and the SNP MSP’s for their areas starting up for their constituents and take immediate and adequate action to tackle this national disgrace.

“The SNP government must get their act together – they have been in Government for 10 years and the situation has become significantly worse under the SNP’s watch.

“This winter, tens of thousands of people across the West of Scotland will be cold in their own homes and that simply is not acceptable situation for our country in 2016. The SNP must act now to end fuel poverty and help the most vulnerable in our society.”

ENDS

DON’T DIVIDE RENFREW, SAYS MARY FEE MSP

mary-headshot-sept-2016Scottish Labour MSP and Renfrew resident, Mary Fee has called the proposals by the Boundary Commission for Scotland to split Renfrew in two as absurd following publication of the new draft boundaries.

The Boundary Commission for Scotland has released its draft proposals for new UK Parliament constituency boundaries, with the aim of reducing the number of elected Westminster politicians from 59 to 53 in Scotland and from 650 to 600 across the United Kingdom.

Now Mary Fee MSP has criticised the proposal to split Renfrew into two as absurd, with the Renfrew North ward becoming part of the new West Renfrewshire constituency along with Erskine, Inchinnan, Johnstone, Dalry and Beith, and Renfrew South joining Paisley and Barrhead to become the Paisley constituency.

As well as criticising the Tory efforts to redraw boundaries, Mary has also reaffirmed her support to scrap the House of Lords and called into question the decision to reduce the number of MP’s while increasing the size of the House of Lords by the Tory Government under David Cameron and now Prime Minister Theresa May.

Mary has pledged to support the people of Renfrew against the decision to divide the town and work with politicians of all parties, including MP’s Gavin Newlands and Mairi Black, to get the best for the community.

Speaking from her West Scotland constituency office, Mary said:

“The decision to split Renfrew into two new constituencies is absurd and nothing short of gerrymandering by the Tories. People in Renfrew will be puzzled to understand what links the north of the town with the communities of Johnstone, Dalry and Beith.

“I have long supported calls to scrap the House of Lords and it was in Labour’s 2015 manifesto to have an elected Senate instead. The Tories cannot claim to be cutting the cost of politics while increasing the number of unelected Lords.”

The changes by the Tory Government also means that millions of people across the United Kingdom are missing from the proposals with new boundaries designed around the number of registered voters in 2015 instead of population. This means that 2 million people who registered ahead of the EU referendum are missing from new constituency counts.

Scottish Labour’s Westminster Spokesperson Ian Murray MP has also attacked the changes saying that:

“These Tory proposals to redraw constituency boundaries are unfair, undemocratic and unacceptable. They are based on an out-of-date version of the electoral register with nearly two million voters across the UK missing.

“While the Tories say this is to reduce the cost of politics, they are cutting directly elected representatives and stuffing the House of Lords with their own supporters.”

ENDS

LABOUR MSP CONDEMNS RISE IN HATE CRIMES AGAINST POLISH COMMUNITY

Mary Fee, Labour MSP for West Scotland, has condemned the rise in reported incidents of hate crime against the Polish community in the UK in the aftermath of the EU Referendum during a Parliamentary debate.

The Labour MSP took the opportunity to participate in a member’s debate in the Scottish Parliament recently where there was cross-party support to tackle and condemn the recent rise in hate crimes.

It has been reported that in the week following the EU referendum, neo-Nazi stickers appeared in Glasgow city centre, as well as in other towns and cities in Scotland. Across the UK, Polish nationals were victims of hate crime with incidents such as the distribution of leaflets ordering Polish people to “go home” and a rise in physical assaults against Polish people being highlighted in local, regional and national media.

Mary Fee criticised the rhetoric of the Leave Campaign during the EU referendum for being divisive and xenophobic and stated that “it was a campaign designed to scare people and divide communities”.

It was raised by several MSP’s during the debate that the Scotland and Poland have a rich, shared history, which stretches back over 600 years to the late 15th century when trade agreements were agreed between Aberdeen and the former Baltic seaport of Danzig, now modern day Gdansk.

It is estimated that today that over 80,000 Polish people have made Scotland their home and continue to contribute to the rich fabric of our society and to our economic development.

Commenting after the debate, Mary Fee said: 

“Scotland can lead the UK by ensuring that we are a modern, tolerant and inclusive nation which accepts people of all race, religion and nationality. Polish nationals in Scotland should feel safe: safe from threats, safe from abuse and safe from attack.”

“Unfortunately the leaders of the Leave campaign divided the debate on race and immigration and the consequences have been suffered by the Polish community here in West Scotland and across the UK.

“We must condemn and report all hate crime, if we witness it. Scotland must ensure that Polish nationals who choose to make Scotland their home always feel welcome, safe and appreciated.”

 

ENDS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October Surgery & Coffee Morning

On Monday 3rd October I will be joining my colleague Neil Bibby MSP in Kirkintilloch to hold a surgery and coffee morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer Research.

If you have any issues you would like to discuss with myself or Neil, please come along between 11am and 1pm to the Miners Welfare. Everyone is welcome.

For more information, contact 0141 889 4828.

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SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT MUST ACT ON HEALTH SERVICE PROPOSALS

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The SNP Scottish Government must respect the will of the Scottish Parliament and ‘call in’ planned cuts to NHS services, West of Scotland MSP Mary Fee said today.

 In a Holyrood vote on Wednesday, a Labour motion calling for the proposed changes to be decided by ministers was passed by 64 votes to zero, with 62 SNP abstentions.

The West Scotland MSP has also called on local SNP MSP’s to join colleagues across the Parliament to stand up for local health services.

During the recent Scottish election campaign, all three SNP MSP’s who have the hospitals in the constituencies, claimed Scottish Labour were scaremongering and denied any threats to services. The First Minister also claimed the health services in Greenock would be protected.

In August the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board proposed to close or downgrade vital health facilities in West Scotland.

Scottish Labour MSP Mary Fee said Labour will make the case for local services across the West of Scotland, such as the RAH in Paisley and the Vale of Leven in Dunbartonshire, to be protected.

Cuts, closures and downgrades to services in the West of Scotland include:

•           Maternity services at the Vale of Leven Hospital in Alexandria
•           Children’s ward at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley
•           Maternity Services at Royal Inverclyde Hospital in Greenock

Speaking from the Scottish Parliament, Mary Fee MSP said:

“Before the election in May, SNP candidates across the country promised to protect local NHS services. SNP MSPs are failing the voters that put them in to office by reneging on their promise to protect local NHS services.

“Scottish Labour is committed to opposing any cuts, closures and downgrading of hospital services at the three hospitals which will be affected in the West of Scotland region.

“I would like to call on George Adam, Tom Arthur and Stuart MacMillan to stand up for their constituents and join me and my Scottish Labour colleagues in opposing cuts, closures and the downgrading of services to our hospitals in the West of Scotland.
Speaking after First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said:

“On the steps of Bute House the day after May’s election, Nicola Sturgeon said ‘we will always respect the people – now and in the future. We simply ask that other parties do likewise.
“The Scottish Parliament, the representatives of the people of Scotland, has this week spoken with one voice on the planned cuts to local NHS services.

“Before the election the SNP told people their local services were safe. Even the First Minister herself said that on the front page of a local newspaper.

“Promises made before the election must be delivered on. It would be completely unacceptable for the SNP government to sit back and watch vital local services be hit with cuts, closures or downgrades.

“The Scottish Parliament has made clear that the SNP government must call in these decisions – and Labour will make the case for them to be protected.

“If the vote of this parliament, elected by the people of Scotland, doesn’t make the First Minister keep her promises, what will?”

ENDS

MARY SPEAKS ON CHALLENGE OF TACKLING DOMESTIC ABUSE

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Speaking during a debate on domestic abuse in the Scottish Parliament recently, West Scotland MSP Mary Fee welcomed proposals by the Scottish Government to create a specific domestic abuse offence and praised the work of the third sector on caring and supporting victims of domestic abuse regardless of gender or sexuality.

On Thursday 15th September the Scottish Parliament debated the proposals for a new law which aims to tackle domestic abuse by creating a specific offence. In closing the debate for Scottish Labour, Mary Fee welcomed the Scottish Government’s intent and proposed to work with all parties in the Scottish Parliament to tackle domestic abuse across Scotland.

During the debate Mary also praised the work of third sector and voluntary organisations such as Scottish Women’s Aid and the Transgender Alliance for their compassion, creativity and dedication in supporting and caring for domestic abuse victims.

The Scottish Labour MSP also called on the Scottish Government to ensure that third sector groups receive longer-term funding to continue the much-needed work they do in supporting victim of domestic abuse.

Speaking in the debate, Mary Fee said:

“Ensuring that victims of domestic abuse across Scotland are supported to come forward and have the support they need is a must for the Parliament in the coming months and years.

“Abuse and manipulation will also have a devastating impact where children, young people and vulnerable people are involved or witnesses to such behaviours.

On the work of third sector and voluntary organisations, Mary said:

“We as a society, and especially as politicians, depend of the compassion, the creativity and the dedication of third sector organisations to provide the valuable and reliable care and support they provide.

“So we must ensure that for organisations such as Scottish Women’s Aid to continue delivering the support they do, they need stable, long-term, adequate funding to reflect their strategy and ambitions.”

ENDS

Unemployment in Renfrewshire Falls

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Mary Fee Chamber 2015MARY FEE MSP WELCOMES FALL IN UNEMPLOYMENT ACROSS RENFREWSHRE

 Mary Fee, Scottish Labour MSP for West Scotland, has congratulated Renfrewshire Council for their efforts to reduce unemployment in the area. Renfrewshire Council’s success in reducing unemployment has been challenging due to a £13 million cut to their budget, imposed by the SNP Government at Holyrood.

 New figures show that the Labour led Renfrewshire Council initiatives have resulted in unemployment falling by almost half, with more than 2,000 people across the Renfrewshire back in employment. In relation to youth unemployment, Renfrewshire has seen a 60% decline of 18 to 24 year olds claiming Job Seekers Allowance.

 This fall in unemployment across Renfrewshire has been achieved despite Renfrewshire Council’s budget being cut by the SNP Government at Holyrood. Between 2015-16 and 2016-17, the SNP Government cut Renfrewshire Council’s budget by £13.5 million, which equates to a 4.4% budget reduction in one year. 

 Speaking from her Renfrewshire based office, Mary Fee MSP stated:

  “This week’s news that unemployment in Renfrewshire has almost been halved is very welcome. Mark MacMillan and Renfrewshire Council deserve plaudits for this success, especially at a time when Renfrewshire Council are facing tough budget cuts at the hands of the SNP Government at Holyrood.

 “The SNP need to urgently assess how the impact of their cuts to local authorities is affecting communities the length and breadth of Scotland. The SNP Government seem content to use the Scottish Parliament as a conveyor belt for austerity cuts which they are passing on to our local authorities. It is only through excellent leadership and an innovative approach that Renfrewshire Council has managed to achieve such a remarkable achievement of reducing unemployment by almost half.”

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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