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Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Rachael Connors

All times stated are UK

That's all folks

That concludes our coverage of the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 7 January 2015.

Scottish Parliament

We'll be back tomorrow at 10am for the

Devolution Committee which is taking evidence from the Electoral Commission and its
report on the Scottish independence referendum.

Join us then, meanwhile today's business will be available on demand at

BBC Democracy Live.

Debate concludes

In conclusion, Mr Hepburn talks about the vital role of nurses and welcomes 'Nursing on the Edge' saying he would be happy to meet those behind the campaign in the future.

Hospital corridor

Nurses have a critical role in tackling health inequalities he says.

'Not just a problem for the NHS'

Mr Hepburn says the complexity of resolving Scotland's health inequalities are well understood.


It is also well understood also that this is not just a problem for the NHS, but across the public sector as a whole he adds.

Minister's response

Health Improvement and Mental Health Minister Jamie Hepburn stresses the government's commitment to improving the health service.

Mr Hepburn says despite the efforts of the SNP administration health inequalities remains a "blight on our society".

Health minister Jamie Hepburn

We need to tackle the underlying cause, he says, which is poverty.

At a time when Scotland faces the UK government's welfare cuts, he insists his government is trying to challenge that poverty.

'Complex' issue

Scottish Conservative MSP Nanette Milne says a debate like this can only "scratch the surface" on this complex issue.

Nanette Milne

Many governments have tried to tackle health inequalities, she says.

Ms Milne says Nursing at the Edge shows what can be done in the six case studies to help people facing problems and there is an opportunity to learn from these case studies.

She commends the RCN for bringing this initiative forward.

'No easy fix'

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant says there is "no easy fix" to health inequalities.

We all lose if someone doesn't reach their full potential, she says.

Rhoda Grant

Ms Grant says RCN is used to dealing with health inequalities and she's grateful many organisations recognise the scale of the problem.

'Nursing at the edge'

Nursing at the Edge says people's health is inextricably linked to the circumstances in which they live, and inequalities in health are widening.

This is because the health of the least deprived people in Scotland is improving at a faster rate than the most deprived, it says.

Nurses on a ward
Science Photo Library

Nursing at the Edge features the work of a number of nurses leading services that aim to reduce health inequalities.

In closing, Mr Chisholm says pays tribute to those behind Nursing on the Edge.

He highlights the RCN petition supporting sustainable long term funding for services.


Empowering front line staff is absolutely crucial says the Labour MSP.

"I am in no doubt that all the services highlighted in Nursing on the Edge would emerge as successful, invaluable and beacons of excellence." Mr Chisholm concludes.

'Inspiring' individuals

Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm says he agrees with the health committee which said health inequalities reflect wider inequalities in society but more work can be done to address the health inequalities which exist.

He adds the report demonstrated what can be achieved by dedicated individuals in Scotland, with six case studies.

Malcolm Chisholm

Mr Chisholm praises the work of nurses across Scotland.

He also encourages people to sign a

RCN petition looking for sustainable income for nurses services.

I am in no doubt all services highlighted in Nursing at the Edge are beacons of excellence, he adds.

Members' debate begins

Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm leads a members' debate on health inequalities focusing on an RCN Scotland's report "

Nursing at the Edge".

Nurses with elderly patient

Decision time result

MSPs back the amendment from Labour to the active travel debate.

However Green MSP Alison Johnstone's amendment is defeated with 43 MSPs backing it, 60 MSPs rejecting it and 11 MSPs

MSPs back the amended motion from Derek Mackay, with three votes against.

Decision time

MSPs are voting on amendments and the motion from the active travel debate.

Decision time
Decision time

Parliamentary bureau motions

The parliament agrees to a ministerial statement on oil and gas tomorrow at 2:30pm.

Active travel debate comes to an end

Tour of Britain
Getty Images
An extreme example of active travel!

Mr Mackay is summing up and concluding his closing speech on active travel calling for consensus to help deliver on a healthier greener cultural change.

Active travel funding

Green MSP Alison Johnstone says when a government is spending less than 2% on active travel it does not encourage local authorities to spend on the issue.

Mr Mackay says he will not tell councils how they should spend their budgets and the funding regime is complicated.

Cyclists beside beach
Keith Marshall

The minister says the amount spent on active travel will reach 2.5% by 2015/16.

'Incredibly constructive'

Transport Minister Derek Mackay says it has been an "incredibly constructive" debate.

Mr Mackay says we have moved beyond why active travel is important, to what we are actually doing.

Derek Mackay
Transport Minister Derek Mackay

He says he will look into Alison Johnstone's proposal to have one "exemplar project" on active travel that could lead to many others.

The minister agrees an exemplar project could showcase what can be done in active travel.

'Questions over funding'

Scottish Labour MSP Mary Fee says she will back the government motion this evening at decision time.

Ms Fee says, however, questions remain over the funding of active travel, which should be clear and transparent.

Mary Fee

Ms Fee adds that current pressure on local authorities will impact on active travel decisions.

She says this has been a consensual debate but for active travel to become a reality there needs to be more direction on how to achieve the government targets.

Edinburgh 20mph plans

Mr Johnstone says he is concerned Edinburgh may have voted for a blanket 20mph speed limit in Edinburgh.

More than 80% of Edinburgh's roads, including the whole of the city centre, are to have

a 20mph speed limit under council plans.

If the proposals get the go ahead, work on the scheme would begin later this year with it being completed over three financial years.

20mph sign

Meanwhile, a study into ditching free Sunday parking is to go ahead.

Plans for the 20mph limit follows a consultation exercise, which the council said showed strong support.

Education for cyclists

Scottish Conservative Alex Johnstone says people would be much healthier if they can take half an hour extra exercise on foot or on a bicycle.

Alex Johnstone

Mr Johnstone says education is important for some cyclists to help them behave responsibly.

He commends the Scottish government for maintaining funding for active travel.

I will be abstaining from voting on the Green amendment as it outlines no timescale, he adds.

'Just' transport system

The Scottish Greens say there is little chance of Scotland meeting its target of 10% of journeys being made by bike in 2020 without increased funding and greater commitment from the Scottish government and local authorities.

Alison Johnstone

Green MSP Alison Johnstone says the percentage of active journeys has stagnated and progress towards the 10% target is negligible.

The co-convenor of the Cross Party Group on Cycling says investing in walking and cycling would provide a "just" transport system.

Pedal on Parliament event
Pedal on the Parliament campaigners want Scotland's roads to be made safer for cyclists of all ages

"We need to have the infrastructure on the ground to make it safe to walk and cycle."

She highlights the Pedal on the Parliament campaigners, who last year organised thousands of cyclists to take to the streets of Edinburgh to call for Scotland's roads to be made safer.


Pedal on Parliament campaign wants improved funding and better infrastructure.

Families with small children were joined by politicians and marchers for the mass bike ride from the Meadows down the Royal Mile.

Fit for purpose?

Labour MSP Alex Rowley says if we could get fit simply by having strategies, we would be a fairly fit nation, and he points out which cycling and walking strategies must be added to a number of local authorities.

Alex Rowley MSP

Mr Rowley goes on to say more needs to be done to improve active travel in Scotland and says we must look at all the resources available and look at how we can do better in funding projects.

'Greater priority needed'

Labour MSP Cara Hilton says there are some barriers in place to active travel expansion.

She says some families don't have the time to walk from A to B and sometimes weather puts people off active travel.

Labour MSP Cara Hilton
Labour MSP Cara Hilton

It can sometimes seem more complicated and dangerous than driving, she says.

She adds that if Scotland is going to achieve the 2030 vision "we all aspire to", active travel has to be given greater priority by the Scottish government.

Lib Dems

Liberal Democrat MSP Tavish Scott says he will bring in the Highlands and Island's perspective.

He also encourages Transport Minister Derek Mackay, jokingly, to "get on his bike" and show leadership on active transport, not of course in the way Norman Tebbit meant he adds.

Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott
Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott

Mr Scott says there will not be many schoolchildren cycling home on Shetland tonight, due to storms forecast.

He highlights that a lot of policy fits more in urban areas than rural areas and rural councils should be commended for their work.

Roller skates and Mono-cycles?

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson says the debate is focussed on "entirely the wrong thing", as investment in infrastructure is not the issue.

We need instead, he says, to change what goes on in people's minds.

Stewart Stevenson

He says roller skates are a good method of active travel but has not been mentioned.

Mr Stevenson went on to say he's been looking at investing in a mono-cycle.

Hugo Duguay going down a rail on a unicycle
Hugo Duguay going down a rail on a unicycle

Tory view

Conservative MSP Nanette Milne points out that there is an increase in obesity and diminishing health across the country due to inactive lifestyles.

She says: "the more people use active travel the more likely they are to walk and cycle for recreation."

Nannete Milne

"An all round win, win situation", she says.

Ms Milne adds that sadly not enough people are reaping the benefits and funding is an issue if government targets are to be met.

'Let's be clear'

Ms Johnstone says many people are making new year's resolutions to be happier, healthier, save money and help the environment, then cross this out and say "get cycling".

Walking has the same benefits, she says.

The Green MSP says there are an increasing number of local positive stories on infrastructure or 20 mph zones.

Cycling grows in popularity year on year
Cycling grows in popularity year on year

But she adds: "if 10% is a target, let's call it a target".

Ms Johnstone continues that is important that the Scottish government maintain a "clear, positive upward trend" in investing on active travel.

Green view

Green MSP Alison Johnstone's motion reaffirms the Scottish Government's target of 10% of journeys to be made by bike by 2020.

She notes the estimate by Spokes that active travel funding in the 2015-16 draft budget is lower than in the previous year.

Green MSP Alison Johnstone
Green MSP Alison Johnstone

Ms Johnstone calls on the Scottish government to reverse this cut and substantially increase funding for active travel.

The motion notes the ongoing debate and research into the introduction of presumed liability in relation to road accidents.

It also urges local authorities to meet growing demand for high-quality walking and cycling infrastructure, extend 20mph speed limits in built-up areas and provide walking and cycling training opportunities to every child in Scotland.

Road safety

Mr Stewart tells MSPs he is pleased the minister has said he will back his amendment.

He says the benefits of active travel include health and environmental benefits.

still from advert
Cycling Scotland
The ASA said showing a rider without a helmet could encourage behaviour "prejudicial to health and safety"

Mr Stewart says improved infrastructure and making use of smartphones would encourage active travel.

He highlights the issue of road safety, saying it is deemed safer to drive than to walk or cycle.


Labour MSP David Stewart's amendment acknowledges that the number of people participating in active travel has remained relatively stagnant and more needs to be done to increase the number of people cycling and walking as a normal means of transport through improving infrastructure, promotion activities and road safety.

Labour MSP David Stewart
Labour MSP David Stewart

Mr Stewart calls on the Scottish government to set out how the active travel budget for 2015-16 will be spent, in particular the proportion that will be allocated to cycling and walking infrastructure.

National Walking Strategy

The aim of the Scottish government's 'National Walking Strategy' is:


"A Scotland where everyone benefits from walking as part of their everyday journeys, enjoys walking in the outdoors and where places are well designed to encourage walking."

The government's three strategic aims are:

  • Create a culture of walking where everyone walks more often as part of their everyday travel and for recreation and well-being
  • Better quality walking environments with attractive, well designed and managed built and natural spaces for everyone
  • Enable easy, convenient and safe independent mobility for everyone

Cycling Action Plan

The Cycling Action Plan incorporates many aims, including:

Pedal on Parliament event
Chris Hill
Thousand took part in Pedal on Parliament event
  • Establish an annual national cycling summit
  • Continue to promote a national training programme on cycling-integration design and best practice to planners
  • Continue to develop and maintain community links - i.e., high quality, local infrastructure to support active travel
  • Develop better integration with public transport, through partnership working with interests such as rail and bus/coach operators and RTPs
  • Establish the Cycle Hub at Stirling Station as a pilot

Active travel announcements

Mr Mackay says there will be further funding announcements on active travel shortly.

A busy London street
Science Photo Library
Walking or cycling to work improved the commuting experience

The minister says choosing active travel also helps to reduce carbon emissions and improves the health of people throughout Scotland.

Active travel consensus

Transport and Islands Minister Derek Mackay calls for cross party consensus on active travel and begins by saying he will accept the Labour amendment to the debate.

Transport Minister Derek Mackay

Mr Mackay says young people are leading the way on active travel, with over 50% of them choosing active travel to get to and from school.

The minister says we now have the second action plan for cycling in Scotland and the first ever national strategy for walking .

Active Travel debate begins

Transport minister Derek Mackay leads a debate on Active Travel.

His motion notes that the parliament recognises the success of active travel programmes in enabling more people to be active more often, with record levels of investment in active travel.

A woman cycling to work

It celebrates the 20th anniversary of the

National Cycle Network and welcomes the publication of the second
Cycling Action Plan for Scotland and the first
National Walking Strategy.

Mr Mackay acknowledges cross party support and commits to working together to realise the active travel vision, which outlines how Scotland will look in 2030 if more people are walking and cycling.

Minister's response

Climate Change minister Aileen Mcleod says Scotland's ambitious climate change targets remain important across the world for the year ahead.

She says the Scottish government continues to be committed to Scotland's world leading targets and the cabinet's sub-committee on climate change will meet tomorrow.

Wind farm

The minister says climate change remains the highest priority across all departments

Climate change summit

SNP MSP Dennis Robertson asks what the government's response is to the outcomes of the recent climate change conference in Lima.

United Nations members reached an agreement on how countries should tackle climate change, approving a framework for setting national pledges to be submitted to a summit this year.

Differences over the draft text caused the two-week talks in Lima, Peru, to overrun by two days last year.

A dried up irrigation reservoir in the Yala national park in Sri Lanka - 11 September 2014
Developing countries have accused wealthier nations of failing to take responsibility for climate change

Environmental groups said the deal was an ineffectual compromise, but the EU said it was a step towards achieving a global climate deal in Paris later this year.

The talks proved difficult because of divisions between rich and poor countries over how to spread the burden of pledges to cut carbon emissions.

The agreement was adopted hours after a previous draft was rejected by developing countries, who accused rich nations of shirking their responsibilities to fight global warming and pay for its impacts.

Minister's response

Climate Change Minister Aileen McLeod tells MSPs early reports from some major retailers indicate a reduction of bag use by 90%

She says it is encouraging to see so many shoppers in the habit of reusing bags.

Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Minister Aileen McLeod
Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Minister Aileen McLeod

We believe this will lead to less bags littering streets and beaches, she adds.

Ms McLeod says a poll showed 85% people asked agreed it was a positive step.

Carrier bags

SNP MSP James Dornan asks what impact the introduction of charges for single use carrier bags has had on the number of bags becoming litter or landfill waste.

A charge on single-use carrier bags came into effect in Scotland whether the bag is plastic, paper or made from plant-based material.

Discarded plastic bags
Getty Images
It is hoped that the new minimum charges for carrier bags will help tackle Scotland's litter problem

The Scottish government introduced legislation that required all retailers to charge at least 5p for "a single-use carrier bag".

The move is aimed at combating Scotland's litter problem and reduce the environmental damage caused by plastic bags.

Wales and Northern Ireland have already introduced charges and England will follow next year.

Rural Affairs, Food and Environment questions


MSPs will now question rural affairs, food and environment ministers.

Fire service control rooms

Labour MSP Sarah Boyack asks what recent discussions the government has had with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service regarding the reorganisation of control room facilities.

Labour MSP Sarah Boyack
Labour MSP Sarah Boyack

Community Safety Minister Paul Wheelhouse says there are regular meetings with the service and he is meeting with the service again tomorrow.

Ms Boyack asks the minister to take some issues to that meeting which have been highlighted by the FBU and she raises some concerns over workers losing uniform status in the reorganisation.

Mr Wheelhouse agrees to take those issues into the meeting.

Minister's response

Michael Matheson says the Human Trafficking Bill aims to strengthen the law by introducing a single human trafficking offence and life sentences for that offence.

Alongside the bill, he says, the Scottish government will continue to share intelligence with the UK government and the UK Border Agency and seek to disrupt traffickers active across borders.

He added that alongside improvement of criminal law, the bill provides a commitment to engage with stakeholders to form a strategy for Scotland on human trafficking.