Standard Responses

As an MSP, I receive hundreds of standard campaign emails from constituents on all manner of issues. Instead of replying to every one of these emails, you will be able to see my thoughts on the latest campaign emails below.

This DOES NOT mean that I will not respond to personalised constituent emails. This page is intended to supplement, not replace direct contact with constituents.


Vaccine Passports (updated)- September 2021

Thank you for writing to me regarding the use of vaccine passports for domestic events and services.

A vaccine passport or vaccine certification is proof that an individual has received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

From 1 October, a vaccine passport will be required to access certain events and venues. These include, nightclubs and adult entertainment premises, indoor standing live events with more than 500 people, outdoor standing live events with more than 4,000 people and any event with more than 10,000 people, such as football games.

Following a full debate on this issue in the Scottish Parliament the Scottish Conservatives voted against these proposals.

We have always said that we would support any measures that prevent restrictions having to be re-imposed on Scottish businesses or communities being forced into another lockdown.

However, the flaws in the plans that the SNP Government brought forward were considerable. No specific detail on how the scheme would be operated was provided, the SNP Government wanted us to vote for the measures without giving us that vital information.

The SNP Government repeatedly stated that further information on the system would be published, however all that was provided was a thin document which did not answer vital questions for affected businesses. For example, it did not define a nightclub, but did add that there will be costs to businesses for additional staffing and infrastructure, with no financial support being given. Many businesses have raised concerns about these proposals and have still received no answers.

In addition, I am deeply concerned at the impact that mandatory vaccine passports could have on individual rights and freedoms. While I would urge everyone who has been offered a dose of the vaccine to take up that offer, I respect the decision of those people who have chosen not to get vaccinated. The vaccination programme is and should remain voluntary. I also recognise that there are a number of people who for a variety of reasons cannot get vaccinated.

I am also concerned that the introduction of vaccination certification could be a precursor for the reimposition of coronavirus restrictions across Scotland. Given the high level of vaccination across the population and the impact of restrictions on people’s mental health, finances and our economy, my view is that the Scottish people would not support a return to restrictions unless there was a significant change in circumstances.

It is clear that these proposals have not been thought through. The SNP Government have failed to prepare the Scottish public or the affected businesses for the introduction of this system, it is for those reasons that we have voted against the proposals

I again thank you for taking the time to write to me.


Vaccine Passports- September 2021

Thank you for writing to me regarding the use of vaccine passports for domestic events and services.

As you mentioned,  Nicola Sturgeon announced to the Scottish Parliament on 1 September that a vaccine passport would be required to access certain events and venues. These include, nightclubs and adult entertainment premises, indoor standing live events with more than 500 people, outdoor standing live events with more than 4,000 people and any event with more than 10,000 people, such as football games. She has proposed that these measures be introduced later this month, once all adults have been offered both doses of a vaccine.

The Scottish Parliament will have a full debate this week on vaccine passports and will vote on their introduction.

I remain concerned about the lack of information from the SNP Government about the introduction of vaccine passports. Just over one month ago, John Swinney said that vaccine passports were ‘the wrong way to go’ yet has now suggested that they may be introduced permanently. The SNP Government has also wasted time and money developing an app-based scheme for those travelling abroad from Scotland when one was already available in other parts of the UK.

Affected businesses have also raised issues at their lack of involvement in planning for the introduction of vaccine passports. This includes who will pay for the administration of the scheme and how it will be managed in practice.

In addition, I am deeply concerned at the impact that mandatory vaccine passports could have on individual rights and freedoms. While I would urge everyone who has been offered a dose of the vaccine to take up that offer, I respect the decision of those people who have chosen not to get vaccinated. The vaccination programme is and should remain voluntary. I also recognise that there are a number of people who for a variety of reasons cannot get vaccinated.

I am also concerned that the introduction of vaccination certification could be a precursor for the reimposition of coronavirus restrictions across Scotland. Given the high level of vaccination across the population and the impact of restrictions on people’s mental health, finances and our economy, my view is that the Scottish people would not support a return to restrictions unless there was a significant change in circumstances.

It is clear that the SNP proposals have not been thought through.  At First Minister’s Questions last week Douglas Ross asked for clarification on a number of issues but Nicola Sturgeon was unable or unwilling to answer any of them.  These are the points on which I and my party will continue to seek clarity on from the SNP Government both before and during next week’s debate.

I again thank you for taking the time to write to me.


Sectarianism

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns around sectarian behaviour, following footage that recently circulated featuring anti-Catholic chants.

Footage such as this is deeply concerning and it is, regrettably, quite clear that the problem of sectarianism remains prevalent in Scottish society. I am clear that all forms of sectarian abuse such as this are completely unacceptable, and have no place in our society. This issue is one which requires a zero-tolerance approach from all corners of society – including from politicians and clubs.

Going forward, we need to ensure the police are able to promptly step up and deal with occurrences such as this in a proportionate manner.

Thank you once again for taking the time to contact me on this issue.


Scotland's Uplands

Thank you for writing to me regarding Scotland’s uplands.

I believe that our natural environment is Scotland’s greatest asset, and we must do everything we can to protect and nurture it.

However, in recent decades we have experienced catastrophic loss of species and their habitats, accelerated by climate change. We have heard warm words from the Scottish Government on climate change, but that must be backed up by urgent action. They have failed to meet their own critical emission reduction targets for the last three years running, which is simply unacceptable.

In our recent manifesto we proposed a Nature Bill to strengthen environmental protections on land, in our rivers and at sea - so that we can reverse the decline in native species.

This included a commitment to ending the extraction of peat for use in compost and increasing peatland restoration to 20,000 hectares annually by 2024. As you know, peatland is a vital carbon sink, sequestering more tonnes of CO2 a year than all other types of vegetation in the world combined.

Also included was a commitment to increase new tree planting in Scotland to 18,000 hectares annually by 2024. We believe that trees are nature’s carbon capture technology and the basis of many natural habitats, however quality and biodiversity are also important, so we would increase the proportion of new planting that are of native species, while ensuring that Scotland’s forests are productive.

We also put forward plans to create Scotland’s third national park in Galloway, which would protect the environment, encourage tourism and provide benefits for health and wellbeing, as a beautiful place to relax and enjoy the scenery and wildlife, as you suggest.

I want to see Scotland’s natural ecosystem thrive, so it can be enjoyed by future generations.


 

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