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Live Reporting

By Ailsa Brown and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

That's if for today

That ends

BBC Scotland's Democracy Live coverage of the Scottish parliament on Thursday 5 February 2015.

Holyrood at night

We'll be back after the parliamentary recess with comprehensive coverage of Holyrood.

Have a good evening and a good recess.

Decision time

MSP vote to pass the Local Government Finance (Scotland) Order 2015-16 by 99 votes to 2.

MSPs voting
MSPs voting

The Scottish government motion on Working in Partnership to End the Practice of Female Genital Mutilation and the Labour amendment are unanimously agreed to.

FGM debate ends

Mr Neil concludes saying anyone aiding or carrying out FGM faces the prospect of up to 14 years in prison - maybe we need to make this more generally known in the communities he says.

He says the government and the parliament are determined to eliminate female genital mutilation from the face of Scottish society.


Mr Neil says we can learn a lot from what has happened in Kenya over the years.

He says the short life working group has a big roe to play in taking forward the agenda of ending female genital mutilation.

The group must look into why female genital mutilation is not being reported, despite there being a legal requirement to do so.

Government closing

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil says this has been a "very, very good debate" and pays tribute to the convener of the Equal Opportunities Committee Margaret McCulloch for both her moving speech and her commitment to tackle the issue of female genital mutilation.

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil
Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil

Mr Neil also pays tribute to the four ladies from third sector organisations who are tackling female genital mutilation and who are sitting in the gallery.

'Outlaw this barbaric act'

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant says we must make sure we "outlaw this barbaric act".

Ms Grant explains the Labour amendment is asking for a review of the Scottish government funding and its impact, but she also welcomes the funds.

Labour MSP Rhond Grant
Labour MSP Rhond Grant

The Labour MSP says if information about female genital mutilation can be delivered through a trusted grassroots community group it is much more likely to gain traction.

She says every girl born in Scotland to a woman who has undergone female genital mutilation should be considered a child at risk.

'Eradication of female genital mutilation'

Scottish Conservative MSP Nanette Milne says there is some small comfort that there has been only a small number of cases of female genital mutilation and as yet no prosecutions in Scotland.

Scottish Conservative MSP Nanette Milne
Scottish Conservative MSP Nanette Milne

However, Dr Milne says many young lives are at risk from this "barbaric practice" and it must be "tackled and got rid off".

She says there is no doubt every MSP is committed to the eradication of female genital mutilation in Scotland but to achieve this we must find a way to overcome the centuries of culture, which is bound to take time.


Independent MSP John Finnie says he congratulates all the organisations who are actively involved in the very sensitive work of tackling female genital mutilation.

This is an issue for us all to address and prevention and education are the key to tackling female genital mutilation.

Independent MSP John Finnie
Independent MSP John Finnie

He says we must talk about female genital mutilation and we need disclosure from individuals.

These individuals must also be protected from any backlash for speaking out, he says.

"I whole heartedly believe this is a violent act against women and young girls and must be stopped."

Female Genital Mutilation

SNP MSP Christian Allard says many people don't understand what FGM is and maybe one of the reasons was because we abbreviate it.

"We might want to call it for it is so that people understand" he say.

SNP MSP Christian Allard
SNP MSP Christian Allard

He says he would encourage everyone to use its full name - female genital mutilation.

Mr Allard says communities have to be involved and when he says communities he would like to point out that the role of men must not been excluded but must be seen as part of the solution to end this unacceptable and illegal practice.

'Power of Communities'

Labour MSP Hanzala Malik says serious concerns have been expressed about FGM for years now, but it has not been discussed enough.

Mr Malik says he commends the Scottish government for their efforts to tackle such a serious complex issue.

The Labour MSP says he has a lot of experience of working with minority communities in Scotland and in order to make a real change on FGM it has to come from these communities.

Labour MSP Hanzala Malik
Labour MSP Hanzala Malik

He says we are guilty of underestimating the power of communities and we should be funding community groups to get results.

"It will be the communities that do this work it won't be us, unless we support them we will not succeed."


Female Genital Mutilation

  • Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
  • About 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.
  • Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating. It can later lead to cysts, infections and infertility, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.
  • The practice is most common in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries in Asia and the Middle East
  • According to the World Health Organisation, more than 18% of all FGM is performed by health care providers, a trend which is increasing


Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson says that "the hidden nature of this crime demands that resources are provided and also that they are very carefully targeted".

Ms Ferguson also says we need to do what we can to persuade the practising communities that this cannot go on.

Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson
Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson

"In this debate we've heard FGM described as child abuse, and it is, but I would go further and say that FGM is akin to torture" she says.


Last June Detective Superintendent William Guild from Police Scotland told MSPs that female genital mutilation (FGM) was

"an absolutely abhorrent practice and it's a criminal practice" on 19 June 2014.

He was giving evidence to the

Equal Opportunities Committee along with Police Scotland Colleague Detective Inspector Nadine Aliane.

Detective Superintendent William Guild and Detective Inspector Nadine Aliane
(C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Detective Superintendent William Guild and Detective Inspector Nadine Aliane give evidence on FGM

FGM includes procedures that alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

Dangers include severe bleeding, problems urinating, infections, infertility, complications in childbirth and increased risk of death for newborns.

It is typically carried out on young girls between infancy and 15.

Intolerable and obscene

SNP MSP Christina Mckelvie says FGM is "intolerable, it's obscene and undoubtedly a child abuse issue".

SNP MSP Christine McKelvie
SNP MSP Christine McKelvie

Ms McKelvie says we need to work with and not against the communities where FGM is practiced.

"Our interventions need to carry the support of the communities involved, not resentment".

She also says "we need to be careful not to stigmatise the victims too".


Every head teacher in Scotland was asked to

train staff and educate parents about female genital mutilation (FGM), it emerged last February.

Campaigners describe the illegal practice as "torture" and a "form of child abuse".

The then Education Secretary Michael Russell said education was a key part of eradicating FGM.

FGM takes different forms but traditionally involves the full or partial removal of young girls' genitals for non-medical reasons.

The cutting is carried out for a number of reasons but in many areas girls are cut to improve their marriage prospects.

The practice is most common in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries in Asia and the Middle East.

It has long been associated with countries such as Egypt, Somalia and Sierra Leone.

Ensure autonomy

Lib Dem MSP Alison McInnes asks what support is there for those girls who have undergone FGM, asking if centres of excellence will be created in Scotland.

Ms McInnes congratulates the government for its efforts in tackling FGM and praises the efforts of the wide range of third sector organisations.

Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes
Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes

"At the end of the day this is about a girl's ability to make decisions about her own life and her own body, and we must do all we can to ensure that every girl in Scotland has that autonomy."

Three million girls

Ms McCulloch says it is estimated that three million girls are cut every year, often forcibly restrained.

FGM has no basis in religion it is done for cultural reasons says the Labour MSP.

She describes the case of one girl who was forced to undergo FGM, but says she cannot go into further details in the chamber and has to struggle to contain her emotions, which she indeed does.

'No medical benefit'

Labour MSP Margaret McCulloch explains in detail the varying "extreme and disturbing" forms of female genital mutilation.

There is of course, no medical benefit to FGM, she explains.

Labour MSP Margaret McCulloch
Labour MSP Margaret McCulloch

The Labour MSP describes the range of physical and health problems that arise from FGM, from infection and pain to mental health problems such as depression and post traumatic stress disorder.

Heinous crime

SNP MSP Sandra White says FGM is child abuse and that there are "no medical reasons to carry out this horrendous practice".

SNP MSP Sandra White
SNP MSP Sandra White

"I hope we move on to eradicating this heinous crime" she says.

'shocking and abhorrent practice'

Scottish Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw says FGM is a "shocking and abhorrent practice".

Mr Carlaw says anyone in Scotland subjecting a child to FGM must face "robust criminal sanctions".

Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw
Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw

He says education services have a vital role to play in the eradication of FGM

The Tory MSP repeats his call to support Police Scotland in stopping anyone in the future carrying out FGM in Scotland.


Mr Macintosh says his amendment calls for a review of the government's investment.

FGM is a problem affecting communities in nearly every part of Scotland, with 250 girls born every year to those at risk communities in Scotland, he says.

The Labour MSP says we must engage constructively with at risk communities and put a stop to this "brutality" in Scotland, adding we must eradicate FGM as a rite of passage for young women.

Criminal act

Mr Macintosh says: "It is important we give this vulnerable group the voice they need and deserve."

We need to ensure FGM is treated as the criminal act it is.

The Labour MSP says despite best efforts so far there have been "very few prosecutions".

Health professionals, teachers and police face a very tough challenge he says.

'Brutal and barbaric child abuse'

Labour MSP Ken Macintosh says it is right for us all to speak up for this "brutal and barbaric child abuse".

Mr Macintosh says one in three people in the UK do not fully understand the term female genital mutilation and one in five young people admitted they had never heard of it.

Labour MSP Ken Macintosh
Labour MSP Ken Macintosh

He says the number of women and children in Scotland who are affected by FGM or are at risk is thought to be possibly as high as 3,000.

Labour amendment

Labour MSP Ken Macintosh's amendment expresses disappointment that, despite the efforts detailed in the government motion to combat FGM, there have been so few prosecutions, and calls on the Scottish government to review its investment to ensure that it is effective and supports long-term sustainable community development in at-risk communities.

23 Referrals

In closing Mr Neil says 1st April 2013 there have been 23 referrals of child welfare concerns relating to FGM, with 25 girls at risk, but on investigation no criminality was found and no FGM or cutting had taken place.

He says he supports Labour's amendment but is not critical of the police, as Police Scotland are being very helpful indeed in challenging FGM, taking an "almost revolutionary" approach.

Minority communities

Mr Neil says how we discuss FGM is important, whilst it will not be tolerated we must be conscious of how we engage with minority communities on these sensitive issues.

He says standing up to FGM in Scotland is about much more than what's in the statue book.

Community engagement

The social justice secretary says we must work with communities and give them the enablement and facilities and support to change attitudes and culture.

Mr Neil highlights the 5 P's approach:

  • Policy
  • Prevention
  • Protection
  • Provision
  • Participation

'FGM has no place in Scotland'

Mr Neil says FGM has no place in Scotland.

Social Justice and Communities Secretary Alex Neil
Social Justice and Communities Secretary Alex Neil

He says the Scottish government has provided £50,000 to Women's Support Group to create a range of awareness raising materials, from DVDs to information leaflets which will be launched on 6 February 2015.

Voluntary and third sector

Mr Neil's motion acknowledges the positive developments made through partnership across Police Scotland, NHS Scotland, education, social services, voluntary and third sector organisations with the establishment of the Female Genital Mutilation Short-Life Working Group.

He praises the valuable contribution that voluntary and third sector organisations, such as

Dignity Alert Research Forum, the
Women's Support Project and
Scottish Refugee Council, make to the shaping of Scotland's approach to FGM.

The minister points to the Scottish government's commitment to fund a programme of work to tackle FGM in Scotland and supports Lord McConnell's proposed Girl Summit to be held in Glasgow on 9 March 2015 to mark International Women's Day on 8 March 2015.

Tackling FGM

Mr Neil highlights the Scottish government's commitment to tackling and eradicating "this intolerable behaviour".

He welcomes the launch by the

Women's Support Project of the FGM training and public education on Friday 6 February 2015.

The cabinet secretary also points towards the

Scottish Refugee Council's report on FGM in Scotland, Tackling Female Genital Mutilation in Scotland: A Scottish Model of Intervention.

International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM

In his motion, Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil says that Friday 6 February 2015 is

International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Alex Neil

Mr Neil condemns female genital mutilation as an unacceptable and illegal practice, a form of child abuse, violence against women and a violation of the human rights of women and girls.

Female genital mutilation debate


The Scottish government is leading a debate on working in partnership to end the practice of female genital mutilation.

Government closing

Mr Swinney says he would take Labour more seriously if they had come to yesterday's budget debate with ideas as to where extra funding, they want for health and local government, would come from.

He says he is putting £10m into the settlement to support teacher numbers.

Lib Dems

Lib Dem MSP Alison McInnes says the council allocation to Aberdeen is below the funding floor despite the oil and gas crisis.

That is complacency and neglect on behalf of the Scottish government she says.

Oil and gas industry

It completely ignores the situation with the oil and gas industry which has changed in the last three years, she insists.


Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan says "ultimately what matters is what the public get from their local authority".

Mr Buchanan says the Scottish government a local authorities both have a duty to be as transparent as possible over financial choices.

Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan
Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan

He says hardworking tax payers should not subsidise tax avoidance.

'Substantial decline'

Ms Baillie says Labour will vote for the order this evening but says local government funding is in "substantial decline" and that position needs to be reversed.

'Considerable failure'

Ms Baillie says there are 4275 fewer teachers in Scotland because of SNP, a "considerable failure on their part".

Teacher numbers
Getty Images

She accuses Mr Swinney of "only now attempting to put a sticking plaster on that failure".

'Austerity plus'

Scottish Labour's finance spokesperson Jackie Baillie says if we care about preventative action then services provided by local government" absolutely need investment".

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie
Labour MSP Jackie Baillie

Ms Baillie says SPICE has confirmed that contrary to what the Scottish government says, local government's share of funding has indeed fallen.

This is "austerity plus" from the SNP government in Edinburgh she says.

Teacher numbers

The finance secretary says the government is committed to maintaining teacher numbers and teacher-pupil ratios.

Mr Swinney says there has been a "specific and sufficient funding" for councils to maintain teacher numbers, yet there has been a slight rise in the teacher-pupil ratios and a slight fall in teacher numbers.


He says he has been unable to get Cosla to agree to what he terms a "fair and generous offer" of government support.

The deputy first minister says he has no alternative but to proceed on a council by council basis, with council's that sign up to the teacher number target having access to funds, but those who do no seeing a claw back of their funding.

'Bedroom tax' mitigation

'Bedroom tax' protestors
'Bedroom tax' protestors

Mr Swinney says he will bring forward a second order to distribute £35m for Discretionary Housing Payments to mitigate against the "UK government's bedroom tax" for the next year.