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  1. Next: Expanding coverage of the living wage debate
  2. 2.30pm: Making the most of the contribution of veterans to Scotland debate

Live Reporting

By Ailsa Brown and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

That's it for this week

And that concludes our live coverage from the Scottish Parliament on 30 April 2015.


Remember you can watch videos of the week's business from Holyrood at

BBC Scotland's Democracy Live.

We will be back on Tuesday 5 May.

Until then have a good weekend.

Decision time

Labour MSP Mary Fee says it has been a very good and consensual debate.

Following the very constructive comments by the cabinet secretary, Ms Fee seeks to withdraw her amendment, which is duly withdrawn.

MSPs voting

MSPs then unanimously pass the motion from the veterans debate.

Debate concludes

The cabinet secretary concludes what has been an extremely consensual debate saying veterans are an invaluable asset to employers and the community in Scotland.


The challenges facing a small number of veterans will not be ignored and they must be lent support, Mr Brown says.


The former Royal Marine Mr Brown says supporting the families of veterans must be considered as well.


'Valuable assets'

Mr Brown says it is time to refresh the Scottish government's commitments to veterans.

The cabinet secretary, a veteran himself, says new ideas will be looked at and there will be an update in early 2016.

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He says the vast majority of veterans are "valuable assets to the community".

Government closes

Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown says the debate has been constructive and thoughtful.

Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown
Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown

Mr Brown says the Veterans Commissioner's work will shape the way forward on the issue of veterans.

Amendment withdrawal? Looks likely

Mr Macintosh says he may withdraw his parties amendment to attain consensus in the debate, in light of the forthcoming comments from the cabinet secretary.

Insult to Injury campaign

Mr Macintosh says it would be wrong not to reference the Insult to Injury campaign.

He says veterans injured in service may have to use payments for their injuries to pay for car.

Poppy and medals
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Insult to Injury campaign run by Poppyscotland and the Royal British Legion, and the Labour amendment says the Scottish government should revise existing charging guidelines so that war disablement pensions are fully disregarded from means tests for social care.

Labour close

Labour MSP Mr Macintosh says he welcomes the report from the Veterans Commissioner saying there is nothing in it that any of the parties could take exception too and contains a number of sensible recommendations.

Labour MSP Ken McIntosh
Labour MSP Ken McIntosh

Mr Macintosh praises the "warmth and respect" from every member this afternoon towards veterans.

'Proactive approach'

Mr Carlaw says there should be a more proactive approach to employers taking on veterans.

He praises the "very strong contributions on mental health" during the debate.

Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw
Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw

The Conservative MSP says some charities will not be able to sustain themselves and some may have to amalgamate and merge.

Flashman at the charge

Conservative Jackson Carlaw says the debate has been very enjoyable and consensual.

Mr Carlaw praises George Adam for his contribution but says his first military contact with Paisley had been through the writings of George Macdonald Fraser and his character Flashman who had an amorous encounter outside the town.

Flashman at the charge
Flashman at the Charge

The Tory MSP gently considers any similarity between Flashman and Mr Adam.

Don't add 'Insult to Injury'

Labour MSP Hanzala Malik says he has served in the territorial army for many years and has managed to hit his own targets (unlike Jackson Carlaw who hit those of others due to poor eye sight!).

Mr Malik says veterans and their families are a very strong contributor to society.

Labour MSP Hanzala Malik
Labour MSP Hanzala Malik

He says he fully supports the

Insult to Injury campaign run by Poppyscotland and the Royal British Legion, and says the Scottish government should revise existing charging guidelines so that war disablement pensions are fully disregarded from means tests for social care.

It is unacceptable that injured service personnel who are compensated lose the money to pay for their social care, says Mr Malik.

'Positive contribution'

Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur says veterans make a positive contribution to Scotland.

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur
Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur

Mr McArthur says most veterans cope with transition remarkably well, but for those that don't support must be provided.

From ASAP: useful websites

Useful websites for veterans from the

Armed Service Advice Project:

"There are a large number of organisations in Scotland which provide specialist support to members of the Armed Forces Community and other groups.

These websites may be a good starting point for accessing this support or to find other useful services. Our funders also provide support."

Just click on the link below:

  • Combat Stress the UK's leading veterans mental health charity, and 24 hour helpline
  • Legion Scotland helps ex - services men and women of all ages across Scotland adapt to civilian life by providing community, friendship and practical advice
  • NHS Inform Veterans Health Zone provides information on specific NHS support for veterans in Scotland as well as links to information on a range of conditions and other NHS services
  • Military Matters helps people who are currently serving and veterans access housing
  • Silverline a free, confidential helpline run in partnership with Age Scotland, providing information, friendship and advice to older people 24 hours a day
  • Thistle Foundation offer lifestyle management programmes to support veterans who need help adjusting to civilian life
  • Veterans Assist Scotland a resource website with links to a wide range of information to help veterans and their families access the services they need
  • Veterans UK the MOD service for veterans
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'Immensely grateful'

Labour MSP Jayne Baxter says she is immensely grateful for the contribution of Scotland's veterans.

Ms Baxter says we need to make sure we get it right for all our veterans and their families.

Not 'sad, bad and mad'

SNP MSP Bruce Crawford praises the mature and consensual nature of this debate on veterans.

He says too often some veterans are labelled "sad, bad and mad" which is unjust.

SNP MSP Bruce Crawford
SNP MSP Bruce Crawford

Mr Crawford stresses the value of our veterans and the huge contribution they make to Scotland's economy and society.

The former minister profusely thanks

ASAP or the Armed Service Advice Project which is provide by the Scottish Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) Service.

Lothians Veterans Centre

SNP MSP Christine Grahame praises

Lothians Veterans Centre (LVC) for its support of veterans in her constituency.

Lothians Veteran's Centre
Lothians Veteran's Centre

The charity was designed to meet the need for a veterans drop-in centre with no appointment necessary allowing complex needs to be catered for in an environment which is familiar and friendly.

The LVC aims to create a welcoming & friendly environment, providing person-centred support for ex-service personnel and their families across Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Parliamentary Reserves

Labour MSP David Stewart says parliamentarians at Holyrood should be able to be part of an All-Party Parliamentary Group Reserve Forces and Cadets.

Mr Stewart served twice with the RAF reserves during his time at Westminster.

The House of Commons has an All-Party Parliamentary Group Reserve Force.
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The House of Commons has an All-Party Parliamentary Group Reserve Force.

Mr Stewart says the covenant between the country and our armed forces does not end when these men and women become veterans.

He says success rarely makes the headlines, but for the vast majority of veterans the transition to civilian life is painless and successful .

However for the few help must be given and given very quickly.

Courage and sacrifice

SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell says our veterans share a debt of gratitude from all of us for their courage and sacrifice.

He too stresses that veterans are an asset for Scotland.

Armed Forces Legal Action website
Armed Forces Legal Action website

The SNP MSP highlights the success of

Armed Forces Legal Action.

Armed Forces Legal Action (AFLA) is a nationwide scheme, founded in July 2013 by Scottish solicitor, Allan Steele, WS, bringing together lawyers from all parts of the United Kingdom to help veterans.

Huge public support

Mr Carlaw says there has been a huge change in public perception, with only recent the return of members of the armed forces wearing their uniforms in public.

This, says the Tory MSP, has led to a huge increase in public support.

He says the main areas where challenges remain are in housing, health and the sustainability of the many charities supporting veterans


Mr Carlaw says the general public do not fully appreciate the enormity of the challenge of returning to civilian life

He says the Shawshank Redemption showed the difficulty of moving from prison to civilian life, which can be similar to moving from the military to "civvy street".

Shawshank Redemption
Picture from the film Shawshank Redemption


Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw praises Mr Brown for his work as veterans minister.

Mr Carlaw says there is an all party and consensual approach to this issue which has been very important to veterans themselves.

Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw
Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw

He says that Scotland is now a model to providing the best level of support to veterans.


It can never be overstated how much we recognise and appreciate the many sacrifices of these women and men, concludes Ms Fee.

Mental health

The Labour MSP says it is crucial the support is in place to help veterans with their health and wellbeing, particularly their mental health.

Ms Fee says anything that brings further benefits to former servicemen and women will be welcome.

She highlights the extension of the military covenant in the Labour party manifeston.

Erskine praised

The Labour MSP says housing is a substantial issue and requires the sharing of information and cooperation between government, local government and all the agencies and charities that work together to help veterans.

Ms Fee praises in particular

Erskine for its work with veterans.

Intervention and reaction

Ms Fee says early service leavers should be targeted with support before and after leaving the forces.

The Labour MSP asks if any work has been undertaken to identify any issues undertaken in this area.

Early service leavers

Labour MSP Mary Fee says her party will support the Scottish government motion.

Ms Fee says for those unable to cope with the demands of civilian life, transition may be daunting and difficult.

She highlights the issues facing early service leavers.

Labour veterans debate motion

In her motion, Ms Fee says that injured veterans awarded compensation should not have most of their payments taken to cover the costs of social care.

Labour MSP Mary Fee
Labour MSP Mary Fee

Ms Fee supports the

Insult to Injury campaign run by Poppyscotland and the Royal British Legion, and believes that, as part of the commitment to the armed forces covenant, the Scottish government should revise existing charging guidelines so that war disablement pensions are fully disregarded from means tests for social care.

Labour view

Labour MSP Mary Fee is on her feet to lead for her party in this debate.

Disablement pensions

Mr Brown says the Labour amendment is well intentioned and the Scottish government backs the Poppyscotland campaign.

However he says a joint approach to disablement pensions and care charges should be taken.

He says accepting the Labour amendment would only pass the costs on to local authorities.

The cabinet secretary asks Labour to drop the amendment.


The former Royal Marine again congratulates the new commissioner on his "excellent report" which holds up veterans and their families as assets.

More needs to be done

Poppyscotland has published research indicating
more needs to be done to support disabled and vulnerable military veterans.

The charity said progress had been made, but getting these veterans into employment remained difficult.


The study was a follow-up to a report into the needs of veterans published in 2009.

The charity said there remains "a long way to go" in making sure barriers to finding work are removed.

'Daunting and difficult' transition

Mr Brown points out that some veterans do find the transition "daunting and difficult".

Vulnerable veterans often struggle to find work after they leave the armed forces
Vulnerable veterans often struggle to find work after they leave the armed forces

On the issue of housing for veterans, the cabinet secretary says: "I entirely agree service leavers who chose to settle here should be made a aware how housing legislation and systems work here.

"Housing is and will remain a priority for this government."

'Under utilised asset'

Mr Brown says Eric Fraser began work immediately engaging with a wide range of interests - most crucially employers of veterans.

Mr Fraser has spent a lot of time speaking to real life veterans and their experiences, says the cabinet secretary.

Mr Brown congratulates the commissioner on his "tremendous progress" to date and welcomes his recommendations and findings in his report.

The former veterans minister says the two main areas that require attention are employment and housing.

He stresses veterans are an "under utilised asset".

Veteran's Commissioner

The cabinet secretary highlights the importance of the creation of Scotland's first Veterans' Commissioner.


Veterans' Commissioner was appointed to provide greater support for Armed Forces personnel in June 2014.

Former Navy officer Eric Fraser took on the role last summer.

The Scottish governmen had earlier announced plans for the post, to champion the interest of ex-service men and women.


Mr Brown acknowledges the challenges facing veterans transitioning to civilian life but believes that their training, skills, sense of duty and discipline mean that employers and companies benefit greatly from employing veterans.

Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown
Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown

He is seeking a coordinated approach, bringing together public and private sector stakeholders, in removing barriers to Scotland's veterans realising their full potential.

Veterans' debate motion

In his motion, Mr Brown calls on MSPs to commend the contribution that the armed forces and veterans make to life in Scotland.

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The former Royal Marine welcomes publication of the report,

Transition in Scotland, by the Scottish Veterans Commissioner.

Veterans' debate

Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown is leading a debate celebrating the contribution Scotland's veterans make to the country.

Making the Most of the Contribution of Veterans to Scotland debate

More soldiers

The Scottish government will shortly lead a debate focusing on the positive contribution Scotland's armed forces veterans make to the country.

Welcome back

Welcome back to

BBC Scotland's Democracy Live coverage of Holyrood on 30 April 2015.


MSPs will with live coverage of the debate focussing on the contribution veterans make to Scotland.