The final proposal for my proposed Culpable Homicide (Scotland) Bill was lodged this week, following a meeting with trade union representatives and Scottish Hazards.
Following a consultation on the proposed Bill earlier this year, with the overwhelming majority of respondents in favour, I am now seeking support from fellow MSPs to introduce the Bill to Parliament.
The proposal would amend the law of culpable homicide to ensure that where loss of life is caused by the recklessness or gross negligence of individuals, companies or organisations, conviction reflecting the appropriate seriousness and moral opprobrium can take place.
It is simply unacceptable to have workers dying as a result of negligence or recklessness by employers and this has to change.
The law of culpable homicide needs to apply equally and provide a clear set of rules defining when individuals or organisations commit this offence. My proposal seeks to do that and to ensure involuntary deaths can be investigated under the same law regardless of where they happen.
I am urging MSPs across the Parliament to support this Bill so the prospects for bereaved families achieving justice can be improved.
This week is Challenge Poverty Week and Scottish Labour is continuing to work to address the drivers of poverty in our communities – calling for the scrapping of Universal Credit and the maximisation of benefits.
As part of Challenge Poverty Week I will be writing to organisations across Mid Scotland and Fife asking them to sign up to support the Right to Food as a core part of the forthcoming Good Food Nation Bill.
Food insecurity continues to be a critical issue and key to addressing inequality is ensuring everyone has the right to available, accessible and adequate food. This is why the Right to Food must be enshrined in law.
This Bill offers an opportunity to address inequality and rising demand for food banks by making a commitment to ensure everyone in our country can access the food they need and reduce the reliance on emergency food aid.
I was delighted to receive my accreditation as a Carer Positive employer ahead of Carers Week (10-16 June), the annual awareness campaign to support Scotland’s 759,000 carers and 29,000 young carers.
The Carer Positive scheme recognises employers who offer support and flexibility to carers.
Claire receiving her Carer Positive accreditation from Sue McLintock of Carer Positive
The vital work of unpaid carers must be recognised and supported and employers have a responsibility to develop workplace policies and working practices which do this. I’m encouraging all employers to engage with Carer Positive on steps they can take to provide a supportive workplace for carers.
I also visited a Young Carers Group afternoon tea event in Lochgelly, just one of the hundreds of events taking place across Scotland as part of Carers Week. A parliamentary reception will celebrate 25 years of Carers Week and five years of the Carer Positive Award.
Most of us will care for someone, or be cared for, at some stage in our lives so it’s important for everyone to speak more openly about caring and for all of us to help support our carers practically and emotionally.
Claire with Kirstie Howell and Charlie Bowie from the Young Carers Focus Group in Lochgelly
Official figures show that the cost of private rented housing has soared across Mid Scotland and Fife as working people across Scotland have been faced with the average mean monthly rent increasing substantially since 2010.
The figures from the Scottish Government shows that Forth Valley has seen the highest increases, up 10.6% for one bedroom properties, 19.5% for two bedrooms, 21.9% for three bedrooms and 33.9% for four bedrooms.
Properties in Fife have seen a 9.1% increase for one bedroom, 18.1% for two, 17.1% for three and 26.6% for four bedrooms. Perth and Kinross have seen 8.6%, 8.7%, 11.7% and 15.8% increases respectively.
It is clear that a radical change is needed to end Scotland housing crisis and that is exactly what the next Scottish Labour government will deliver.
On average, 17 people in Scotland die each year as result of an ‘industrial incident’. It is simply unacceptable to have workers dying because of negligence or recklessness by their employers.
Far too many people in Scotland still do not return home to loved ones after going to work – this must change. That is why I have today lodged my proposal for a member’s bill on Culpable Homicide.
I would like to thank Scottish Hazards for their support and allowing me to launch my consultation at their conference in Glasgow this morning. I want to thank Thompsons Solicitors and Unite the Union for their continued support as well.
I especially want to thank Louise Taggart, whose brother Michael was killed at work in 2005 for joining me and telling her heart-breaking story.
Louise’s story shows the real human cost behind our failure to take the action needed. That is why I hope all political parties in the Scottish Parliament will join with myself and Louise to end the scandal of death and injury at work.
I am once again backing Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and their work to try and increase the rate of cervical screen in Fife and across Scotland.
The latest annual cervical screening statistics show that there has been a slight fall in Fife and Scotland in the number of cervical screenings. According to statistics attendance is lowest amongst those aged under 30, women living in areas of deprivation, or from black, Asian, and minority ethnic, communities.
This is despite the fact that cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35 and is largely preventable through screening and HPB vaccination programmes. Therefore, any decrease in screening rates is disappointing and I would urge all women who are eligible to attend regular check-ups to take part in what can be a potentially life-saving test.
That is why increasing the rate of screening must be a priority. We need to ensure appointments are more accessible, we are targeting the groups that are less likely to take a smear test for a variety of reasons and we are looking at innovative solutions such as increasing access through sexual health services and the introduction of self-sampling.
I recently visited Tullibody Healthy Living Project, a voluntary organisation which provides vitally important services to promote healthy living to the local communities of Tullibody, Cambus and Glenochil.
The service works in partnership with local volunteers and agencies to provide local access to various healthy living activities from walking groups and fitness classes, a fruit ‘Barra’ every Thursday, a work club and a Singing for Memories group, which all positively benefit local people.
I acknowledge that local authority funding is under pressure, but it is important that we recognise the benefits of organisations like the Healthy Living Project and seek to protect the good work they do.
In light of STV’s announcement that they are closing STV2, reducing their news provision and axing 57 jobs, the station’s Chief Executive was hauled in front of the Culture Committee yesterday to be grilled by MSPs.
There I asked – in light of £18m in profits and his own salary and remuneration package in excess of £1.2m – why they are putting shareholders before staff and viewers.
Mr Pitts’ also refused to rule out compulsory redundancies, which is deeply concerning for all involved at the station. There are real fears within the sector and from myself that job losses and the reduction in news programming will damage the company’s ability to properly serve all of Scotland’s communities.
These cuts are being carried out by a chief executive who is paid a gold-plated salary package equivalent to UK national broadcast bosses whilst at the same time he is turning STV from a national news broadcaster into little more than a regional outfit.
Scotland needs a vibrant and strong independent broadcaster to hold governments at Westminster and Holyrood to account. STV’s ability to carry out that role is being put at serious risk with these cuts.
Yesterday in Parliament I quizzed the Cabinet Secretary for Finance on the SNP’s latest plans for an independent Scotland.
With plans to get Scotland’s deficit below 3% from the current 8.3% it is clear that under the SNP an independent Scotland would face at least a decade of austerity max. This is not a Growth Commission but rather a Cuts Commission.
Scotland cannot afford another decade of austerity. With over a quarter of a million children living in poverty and pensioner poverty having increase by 33% since 2010 we need action now.
That is why a Labour Government would invest to grow our economy, including £70 billion in Scotland over the next decade.
Only Labour is proposing the real and radical change that Scotland needs.
Outside the Scottish Parliament I recently joined previous nominees and winners of the Young Scot Awards and youth ambassadors who are celebrating the Year of Young People 2018 on the Young Scot Awards Citylink bus.
The bus will tour around Scotland with an aim to encourage others to make a nomination for an inspirational young person for this year’s awards.
Through my role as an MSP, I hear about so many inspirational young people who make a positive impact as individuals, work hard in school, and in our local communities.