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  1. MSPs take evidence on health care and NHS governance
  2. Lib Dem MSP asks for an update on the impact of shutting down the Forties pipeline running through Aberdeenshire
  3. There is one topical question about the reports from HMICS and Audit Scotland on police governance
  4. The Scottish government leads a debate entitled 'Celebrating our Future - Scotland's Year of Young People
  5. Labour MSP Rhoda Grant uses her member's debate to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Tackling Commercial Sexual Exploitation

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Louise Wilson

All times stated are UK

That's all from Holyrood Live

Ms Brown and Mr Morton

That's all from Holyrood Live on Tuesday 12 December.

Brave testimony from Fraser Morton revealed the maternity ward staffing levels were 30% less than they should have had on the night his son Lucas died.

He suggested HIS was not fit for purpose.

A ray of optimism came from Ella Brown, who said patient safety has improved in NHS Fife following her campaign to improve patient safety in NHS Fife after her father died in hospital due to a fall.

The government will continue to support the Challenge Demand project

Ms Ewing says there is always more to do.

The community safety and legal affairs minister says the government has committeed to establishing a multi agency group to tackle the effects of commercial sexual exploitation.

She says the government will continue to support the Challenge Demand project and support pathways out of prostitution.

The minister says the government will continue to reflect on the evidence it amasses and will continue to reduce harm.

Limited evidence base on prostitution in Scotland

Legal Affairs and Community Safety Minister Annabelle Ewing describes the government's Equally Safe strategy as "ambitious" as it seeks to address the inequalities behind violence against women.

Referring to independent research published by the government on the commercial sex industry, she highlights limitations in the evidence base are "considerable".

She says the current approach is based on existing evidence and therefore focuses on harm reduction and decreasing the numbers of women going into prostitution in the first place.

Legal Affairs and Community Safety Minister Annabelle Ewing

SNP MSP backs the 'Nordic model' for policing prostitution

SNP MSP Ivan McKee
SNP MSP Ivan McKee

SNP MSP Ivan McKee says he supports the motion and the introduction of the Nordic model.

The "Nordic model" is where the police go after the purchasers of sex by handing out tough fines or prison sentences to punters, and leave the sex workers in peace.

In other words, the aim is to stifle demand.

It was a policy adopted by Sweden in 1999 and it's since been copied by a host of other countries including Iceland, Canada, Norway and recently Northern Ireland.

The European Parliament wants more member countries to adopt the model.

Police should help sex workers, 'not jail them'

Tory MSP Maurice Corry says everyone in society should be working together to tackle the "blight" of violence against women.

On prostitution specifically, he notes sex workers are frequently victims of violent assault - and not just from clients.

"Sex workers should know the police are there to help them, not jail them."

Maurice Corry MSP

Background: Trafficking victims found in remote Scottish communities

The Scottish government has launched a campaign to raise awareness of human trafficking

Victims of human trafficking have been identified in small and remote Scottish communities including Alva, Annan and Fort William, ministers have said.

The Scottish government laid out where victims of trafficking had been located over the past five years to illustrate how close to home the issue can be.

All of Scotland's major cities feature on the list, alongside smaller towns.

Read more here.

'Prostitution is a form of violence against women'

SNP MSP Kate Forbes
SNP MSP Kate Forbes

SNP MSP Kate Forbes says as long as there is demand for commercial sex "we will never live in a country free of violence against women".

Ms Forbes says: "Prostitution is a form of violence against women."

She cites outrage at the revelation that a landlord was making women pay sex as rent.

The SNP says if you accept the principle that nothing is wrong with buying sex, how do you make supply meet demand.

She says there are not enough women to provide the supply without coercion.

"If sex work is work then poverty is necessary."

Background: Equally Safe

The Scottish Government published "Equally Safe, A Delivery Plan for Scotland’s strategy to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls 2017-21” at the end of November.

Four priority areas set out on the plan were:

  • ensuring that Scottish society embraces equality and mutual respect, and rejects violence
  • that women and girls thrive as equal citizens
  • that interventions are early, effective and maximise the safety of women, children and young people
  • that men desist from violence and perpetrators receive a robust and effective response
Equally Safe
Scottish government

Correlation between gender inequality and violence against women

Around the world, countries with the highest rates of violence against women are also the countries with the widest gender equality gaps, says Tory MSP Alison Harris.

She notes there has been progress on the issue but more is needed.

Alison Harris MSP

SNP MSP says vocal minority must not negate wider harm of prostitution

SNP MSP Ruth Maguire
SNP MSP Ruth Maguire

SNP MSP Ruth Maguire says: "I want all women to be safe."

Surely we have to act to dismantle the structures that make women unsafe, she says.

Ms Maguire says: "I hear the vocal minority of women who say that they find selling sexual access to their bodies personally and economically empowering.

"But their individual comfort in their situation does not negate the wider harm caused by accepting a society where sexual access to women and girls can be bought and sold.

"Where women and girls are treated like commodities."

Background: SNP backs changes to criminalise those paying for sex

The Scottish National Party backed changes to prostitution laws to criminalise those paying for sex, but not those who sell it.

According to a reoprt in the Independent delegates at the party’s conference in Aberdeen voted in favour of a motion proposing a “Scottish model” to handle prostitution, similar to the "Nordic model" used in Scandinavian countries.

The resolution, proposed by MSP Ash Denham, stated that “commercial sexual exploitation, including prostitution and human trafficking, is a form of violence against women”.

For example, while indoor sex work is legal in Scotland, more than one person working together is considered an illegal brothel.

'No other form of violence against women is tolerated'

Elaine Smith MSP

Labour MSP Elaine Smith says pornography is "on the spectrum" of sexual exploitation.

She suggests prostitution, pornography and other parts of the sex industry are part of a "web of organised crime".

Ms Smith says no other form of violence against women is tolerated, arguing the "time is right" to make purchasing sex a criminal offence.

"It is clear that women enter prostitution for socioeconomic reasons, not inspirational ones."

SNP MSP says some survivors call prositution 'pay as you go rape'

SNP MSP Ash Denham
SNP MSP Ash Denham

SNP MSP Ash Denham says across Scotland there are thousands of women whose daily reality is no equality or safety in relation to men.

Ms Denham says thousands of women are degraded and debased by men.

She says these men treat a women's body as a commodity.

The SNP MSP says some suvivors have described prostitution as "pay as you go rape".

She says it is appalling that it is not a crime for men to pay for sex with women.

Background: Violence against sex workers: 'He was there to kill me'


Violence against sex workers: 'He was there to kill me'

Sex workers say they are being left more vulnerable to attack by laws making it illegal for them to share premises for safety, and that they feel unable to report abuse.

Two such women have spoken to the Victoria Derbyshire programme.

"I understand I am a sex worker for a living, but I deserve the same human rights as everybody else," says Suzanne - not her real name.

Born in Romania, she has been a sex worker in Soho, London, for five years.

"Every time I come forward to report violence I end up threatened to be arrested and prosecuted for working in a brothel," she says.

"Next time I suffer violence, I sure as hell won't report it."

Read more here.

Government must look to address economic drivers behind prostitution

Tory MSP Liam Kerr expresses concern about the motion, arguing that prostitution is not always exploitation and violence against women.

He says holding the purchaser accountable would not help address the health or economic drivers behind the offer of sex which has driven women to prostitution.

He argues it is important to ""address the cause as well as the symptom".

He calls for proposals to be scrutinised to ensure there are no unintended consequences.

Liam Kerr MSP

Background: Margo MacDonald

SNP leader Alex Salmond led a tribute to Ms MacDonald at the SNP spring conference in 2014
SNP leader Alex Salmond led a tribute to Ms MacDonald at the SNP spring conference in 2014

The late Margo MacDonald took on the controversial issue of prostitution, introducing a bill to legalise prostitute "tolerance zones".

The move was prompted after a long-running experiment, operating in Edinburgh's Leith area and judged to have been a success, was scrapped after complaints from residents - although welfare workers said the move had led to an increase in attacks on prostitutes.

The chances of Ms MacDonald's legislation making it through parliament were slim, but it did prompt a debate and she eventually withdrew the bill after saying Scottish ministers were taking action to look at the issue.

She was seen by many as championing the rights and safety of prostitutes

Read more about Margo Macdonald here.

SNP MSP praises the late Margo MacDonald for her work on sex worker protection

Rona Mackay MSP

SNP MSP Rona Mackay says violence and sexual exploitation is an abuse of human rights.

She commends the strategy for taking account of "children caught on the crossfire" of abuse for the first time.

She praises the work of the late Margo MacDonald MSP, who campaigned strongly to increase protection for sex workers.

Ms Grant says paying for sex should be a criminal offence

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant
Labour MSP Rhoda Grant

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant says if we are to fulflill the vison of the Equally Safe strategy then we must work to eradicate prostitution.

Ms Grant says that can only come about when the men that use prostitutes are targeted.

She calls for more funds to help women get out of prostitution.

The Labour MSP says people exiting prostitution will have have complex problems.

Ms Grant says paying for sex should be a criminal offence.

Background: 16 Days of Activism

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence runs annually from 25 November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day).

The theme for this year is “Leave No One Behind”.

This builds on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals agreed in 2015, which includes a pledge stating “no one will be left behind” when it comes to gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Orange the World
UN Women

Women's rights 'set aside' when it comes to prostitution

Rhoda Grant MSP

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant says the rights of women and girls are "set aside" with prostitution, with "sexual gratification" taking priority.

She says the Scottish government's Equally Safe strategy lacks "vision, commitment and resources" to tackle commercial sexual exploitation.

She highlights prostitutes are more likely to suffer psychological problems and drug addiction.

Labour MSP will now lead a debate on prostitution


Labour MSP Rhoda Grant will now lead debate on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and tackling commercial sexual exploitation.

Text of motion
Scottish Parliament

The motion:

  • Argues prostitution is a form of gender-based violence
  • Suggests purchasers of sex should be held accountable
  • Commends the inclusion of prostitution in the Scottish government's "Equally Safe" strategy

Decision Time

Both Labour's amendment and the Scottish government's motion, as amended, are agreed unanimously.


Not a point of order

Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur raises a point of order in relation to his question on paments to the outgoing SPA chief executive earlier today.

Mr McArhtur says the SPA have confirmed that £56,666 for Mr Foley was discretionary and he asks if the justice secretary could clarify his comments on the payments to the chief executive of the SPA.

Despite his colleague Mike Rumbles' best efforts the Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh says it is not a point of order.

'We want young people to be front and centre in our thinking'

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop says the SNP are very happy to support the Labour amendment.

Ms Hyslop says the government wants to have a legacy for each of the themed years.

She says Mr Mundell made one of the most miserable of contributions saying it made Scrooge look favourable in comparison.

Mr Mundell intervenes saying it is a cheap political mark when she accuses him of politicking.

Scrooge or Oliver Mundell?

Not much festive spirit on show here!

Ms Hyslop says: "We want young people to be front and centre in our thinking."

He says: "This is there year, this will be there time, there time is now."

Culture secretary details YOYP events

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop closes the debate for the government, detailing various events to take place next year.

She says the first event will take place on 30 December - #ScotWord - which will put a spotlight on what makes young people proud to live in Scotland.

She highlights the importance of getting young people involved and promoting participation.

Background: Year of Young People events

Year of Young People 2018
Year of Young People 2018
Year of Young People 2018

Click here for the Year of Young People 2018 website, it's awesome!

Among the events being planned are:

  • a special #ScotWord torchlight procession as part of Edinburgh's Hogmanay
  • the TEDxGlasgow@Youth conference showcasing ideas generated in Scotland
  • Diverse CiTay Festival in Perth
  • The Big Takeover in Shetland

Tory MSP says getting the balance between generations is key

Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton says getting the balance between the generations will benefit older people as well.

Ms Hamilton highlights the impact of teachers and youth workers in supporting young people's lives.

Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton
Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton

Ms Hamilton goes over the themes of the Year of Young People.

  • culture
  • education
  • enterprise and regeneration
  • equality and discrimination
  • health and wellbeing
  • participation

'Young people have already made our world today a better and more inviting place'

Closing for Labour, Iain Gray notes the debate has been broadly consensual.

Recalling SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson saying he has four bus passes, Mr Gray wonders if Mr Stevenson is 240 years old.

On funding, he says youth services are often "in the firing line" as local authorities look to meet budget targets.

"Young people have already made our world today a better and more inviting place", he says, noting LGBT groups often go into schools.

Iain Gray

Careers guidance must meet individual needs

Careers guidance must be tailored to individuals, Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston says.

He notes that university might not be the best option for all young people, with some preferring other routes like apprenticeships.

Jamie Halcro Johnston

Background: Aberdeen International Youth Festival decision delayed until January

A decision on the future funding of the Aberdeen International Youth Festival (AIYF) has been put back until the new year after a council meeting overran yesterday.

BBC Scotland revealed last month thata decision to withdraw AIYF's 2018/19 budget was taken in a private session.

Read more.

Aberdeen International Youth Festival website
Aberdeen International Youth Festival

Aberdeen International Youth Festival decision 'short-sighted'

SNP MSP Gillian Martin expresses concern about the future of the Aberdeen International Youth Festival, suggesting councillors are being "enormously short-sighted".

She says opportunities to engage with the arts are not always available, but the AIYF provides this.

Gillian Martin

'We need to do more'

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton
Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton says the life outcomes of the 15,000 children and young people in care are demonstrably worse than any other demographic.

Mr Cole-Hamilton says: "We need to do more."

He says he hopes the current review will adress some of the issues.