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Serious Questions Remain Over Childcare Expansion says Mary Fee MSP
1st November 2018


Mary Fee MSPMary Fee MSP has called on the Scottish Government to improve relations between government and private nursery providers if the free childcare expansion is to be ready by 2020 whilst speaking in a debate on Early Years provision.

During a debate on childcare, Scottish Labour’s Mary Fee MSP raised serious concerns of private nursery providers around the extension of free childcare to 1,140 and called on the Scottish Government to improve relations between government and private nurseries, as well as ensuring that the workforce is ready for the new childcare policy.

Scottish Labour’s Deputy Education spokesperson Mary Fee led the debate for Labour and raised the concerns that private nursery providers have been warning of for months in relation to the Scottish Government policy of 1,140 free hours of childcare per year for all 3 and 4 year olds and vulnerable 2 year olds.

Such concerns have included the funding that private providers are receiving compared to council-run providers and staffing provision.

Mary successfully amended the original motion to highlight the workforce issue after she has twice called on the Minister for Children and Young People for an update on the Scottish Government’s 11,000-workforce target. When asked by Mary how many people work in childcare, the Minister could not answer either time.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Mary Fee MSP said “The current childcare system is disjointed and inflexible. No one today would design a system from scratch that looked like that. It is in urgent need of reform. However, the mix of childcare providers that we have today is essential to deliver the extension to 1,140 hours. Private nursery providers fill a massive gap that council-run providers cannot meet. That is why it is crucial that there are better working relations between Government and private providers. Childcare is an important issue that impacts on the lives of thousands of families up and down the country every day. Scottish Labour believes that childcare should be flexible, affordable and of high quality, and we support the extension of childcare provision to 1,140 free hours per year for all three and four-year-olds and vulnerable two-year-olds.”


Mary Fee MSP urges Flu Vaccination Uptake
16th October 2018


Mary Fee MSP receives her flu jab.Following the announcement that there was a significant increase in Winter deaths over 2017/18, the highest since 1999/2000, Mary Fee MSP is urging eligible adults and children to take up the free flu vaccination.

Mary Fee MSP, a health spokesperson for Scottish Labour, is urging constituents in West Scotland to get advice on combatting the winter flu and where eligible, book an appointment for the flu vaccination.

Winter deaths over 2017/18 is the highest since 1999/2000 and the number of “additional” deaths is the highest in 2 years. The rise has been linked to higher numbers of people dying of flu and pneumonia.

Adults and children, including all over-65’s and primary school children, are entitled to the free flu vaccination. Those with significant health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and cystic fibrosis, and pregnant women are also eligible for the vaccine.

The Labour MSP is urging anyone concerned to speak with a pharmacist, their local GP or visit the NHS website for more information.

Mary Fee MSP said “It is important that those eligible for the flu vaccine get immunised as soon as possible. Adults and children, particularly pregnant women, over 65’s and primary school children, are at a higher risk. The rise in winter deaths linked to flu and pneumonia is sad and tragic for families and loved ones. Despite the best efforts of NHS staff, the additional financial pressures and pressures of winter illness can result in over stretched and over worked staff. If you are in doubt over your free flu vaccine entitlement, please contact your local pharmacy, GP or visit the NHS Scotland website.”


Mary Fee calls for Youth and LGBT Mental Health Action
12th October 2018


Mary Fee MSPScottish Labour’s Mary Fee MSP has called for improved access to mental health services in a motion to the Scottish Parliament recognising World Mental Health Day which took place on Wednesday 10 October 2018.

The theme for this year’s annual event was young people’s mental health and Mary Fee’s motion explicitly references the high levels of depression and self-harm experienced by LGBTI+ young people.

It is estimated that 1 in 4 people in Scotland suffer from poor mental health. The profile and importance of mental health has grown in recent years and Mary Fee has raised this issue and stated there should be a greater focus on treating mental health issues with the same priority as physical health.

This year is Scotland’s Year of Young People and recent research has revealed that an alarming number of LGBTI+ young people in Scotland’s schools have experienced poor mental health. The research conducted by Stonewall Scotland in 2017 outlined that 58 percent of lesbian, gay or bisexual pupils and 96 percent of trans pupils have deliberately harmed themselves.

In her motion to the Scottish Parliament, Mary Fee has called for greater support for mental health services and stated that every individual who experiences poor mental health should have access to well-funded and adequately resourced support services within their local communities.

In marking the 70th anniversary of the National Health Services, Scottish Labour outlined 10-point plan for the Scottish NHS, in which they pledged to provide access to a mental health counsellor for every school pupil in Scotland and improve the access to crisis mental health services. The Scottish Government has since promised to invest in extra mental health services in schools and Mary Fee has warned that any dilution of the First Minister’s pledge will cause greater difficulties for children and young people accessing much needed treatment and support.

Only last month, Scottish Labour highlighted the current crisis in the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), with almost a third of Scotland’s most vulnerable children being referred to mental health services not being seen within the Scottish Government’s 18-week target.

Mary Fee said “It is important that politicians, public servants and public bodies help to raise profile of mental health and that it why I lodged the motion to the Scottish Parliament to recognise World Mental Health Day. I believe that in order to break the stigma around mental health we must widen the conversation and deepen our knowledge and understand of the range of mental health issues that people may experience throughout their lives. I am unequivocal in my belief that mental health should be treated with the same priority as physical health. However, it is clear that the Scottish Government is failing on mental health. Waiting times are increasing and children and adolescents are experiencing long delays when they reach out and attempt to access the appropriate support services. It is a scandal that nearly one-third of young people are waiting longer than 18 weeks for vital mental health treatment. It is simply unacceptable. The recent research from Stonewall Scotland has shown that poor mental health is a growing problem for children and adolescents, particularly for LGBT children and young people. Urgent action needs to be taken to prevent young LGBT people from increasing mental health problems.”

 

 

 


Mary listens to local teachers on P1 tests
20th September 2018


Mary Fee MSPMary Fee MSP has welcomed a vote in the Scottish Parliament which calls on Primary 1 testing to be scrapped and refers to concerns raised by local teachers during her debate speech.

On Wednesday 19th September the Scottish Parliament voted 63 votes to 61 to scrap the Scottish National Standardised Assessment’s for Primary 1 pupils following recent concerns around the impact the tests are having on children and teaching time.

Mary, who voted to scrap the tests for 4 and 5 year olds, has welcomed the result and called it a win for Primary 1 children, their parents and all teaching staff. It has been reported that children are being left in tears and full of anxiety when taking the test and teachers are spending up to 50 hours in teaching time carrying out the tests.

During Mary’s speech she referenced emails she has received from teachers in Renfrew, Bishopton and Inverclyde who oppose the standard assessments for 4 and 5 year olds. The Labour MSP has been contacted by parents and teachers across West Scotland in recent months about the negative impact the tests are having.

Scottish Labour has called on the Scottish Government to act upon the will of the Parliament scrap the tests as it has been instructed to do following reports that the Cabinet Secretary for Education would ignore the result of the vote.

It was these reports that forced Mary Fee to call out the Cabinet Secretary’s arrogance during the debate and question why he knows more about teaching than teachers with decades of experience.

Speaking during the debate, the West Scotland MSP said “The idea that children as young as 4 and a half years old are being assessed in our schools is absurd.  Children in Primary 1 should learn in a stress-free and welcoming environment with constant support from teachers and support workers.  Instead of teachers teaching, we waste resources that are already stretched in carrying out useless tests of 4 and 5 year olds.”

After the vote result was announced, Mary said “We are elected to serve the people and deliver what they want. In voting to scrap these tests that is precisely what all opposition MSP’s done. As I said during the debate, Scottish Labour has no problem with teachers assessing pupils; teachers assess pupil’s learning every day using a whole variety of techniques and diagnostic methodologies, and deploying their professional expertise to do so.  The Scottish Government must now act on the will of the Scottish Parliament and scrap these unnecessary tests.”


Mary marks Baby Loss Awareness Week
9th October 2018


Mary Fee MSP supporting Baby Loss Awareness Week 2018West Scotland’s Mary Fee MSP has marked Baby Loss Awareness Week with a motion in the Scottish Parliament to raise awareness to MSPs of the issues related to pregnancy and baby loss and joined Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death national charity, to call for greater bereavement care.

Baby Loss Awareness Week is an annual event from 9th to 15th October that provides an opportunity for bereaved parents, families and friends to commemorate the tragic passing of a baby. The awareness week also provides an opportunity for politicians to hear from parents and charity organisations about the need to improve the quality of bereavement care experienced by parents and families.

To mark Baby Loss Awareness Week, Mary Fee MSP has lodged a motion to the Scottish Parliament recognising the week and urging the need to develop the National Bereavement Care Pathway to improve bereavement care for parents and families. Mary’s motion has attracted the support of more than 20 MSPs of all parties.

Mary also took the opportunity to meet with representatives from Sands, who are developing the National Bereavement Care Pathway, in the Scottish Parliament and heard about the work they are doing with parents and families across Scotland.

UK-wide it is reported that 15 babies die every day, either before, during or shortly after birth. Charities state that the level of care for parents is like a postcode lottery and Mary is joining calls for the same high standard of care to be made available to all parents after the tragic loss of their child.

Mary Fee MSP said
“The tragic loss of a baby is an extremely difficult period for parents and I support the development of the National Bereavement Care Pathway to support parents and families in their grief and further. It was important to meet with representatives from Sands last week in the Parliament as they need to raise awareness too all MSPs of the issues that baby loss can cause. I am grateful for the support of over 20 MSPs so far in my motion and I hope that by raising awareness with politicians of all parties, we can work together to ensure that the same high quality support and care is made available to parents who suffer the tragic loss of a baby.”

 


Mary Fee MSP backs call to scrap Primary 1 tests
17th September 2018


Mary Fee MSPMary Fee MSP will vote today to scrap the standardised testing of 4 and 5 year olds in Primary School after concerns have been raised in recent weeks and months about the negative impact the tests are having on children and the time teachers are forced to waste on the tests.

West Scotland MSP Mary Fee is backing calls to scrap the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSA’s) for Primary 1 pupils following serious concerns raised by parents and teachers over the impact the tests are having on children.

Mary has labelled the tests as unnecessary and damaging to 4 and 5 year olds emotional wellbeing after reports of children suffering anxiety and being left in tears whilst taking the SNSA’s. Trade Unions representing teachers have also highlighted the high number of hours’ teachers are forced to waste on carrying out the tests.

The SNSA’s were introduced by the SNP Scottish Government last year after they abolished the Scottish Literacy and Numeracy Survey, which showed falling rates of children learning to read, write and count in Scotland.

As Scottish Labour’s Deputy Education Spokesperson, Mary will close the debate scheduled for Wednesday afternoon called for by the Conservatives. The SNSA’s for Primary 1 pupils have only the support of SNP MSPs, with Scottish Labour, Greens, Lib Dems and Tories all uniting in opposition to the introduction of testing primary 1 pupils.

Speaking ahead of the debate and vote in the Scottish Parliament, Mary Fee MSP said “I welcome the opportunity to put the concerns of parents, teachers and education professionals to the Scottish Government during the debate. I will be voting to scrap the Scottish National Standardised Assessments for 4 and 5 year olds to allow them to learn in a friendly and supportive environment.  In recent months it has been well documented the damaging impact these tests are having on such small children and as a Parliament, we must put the needs of children first, as well as listen to parents and teachers, and scrap these unnecessary tests.”


End austerity and invest in services to prevent suicides says Mary Fee MSP
14th September 2018


Mary Fee MSPMary Fee MSP has called for early intervention, better mental health services for children and young people and an end to austerity to prevent suicides during a debate on the publication of the Scottish Government’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan.

The debate in the Scottish Parliament came two days after World Suicide Prevention Day 2018 and Mary, as Scottish Labour’s Mental Health Spokesperson, lead the debate on the new Suicide Prevention Action Plan: Every Life Matters, almost two years since the previous action plan expired.

In opening for Scottish Labour, Ms Fee called for greater support for every family that is affected by suicide and called on all MSPs to work together to ensure well-funded mental health services are available to those suffering in silence.

The debate followed the publication of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) statistics showing that more children and young people are waiting longer for access to treatment and Mary warned that more children will suffer if the right access and funding is not in place.

Mary’s amendment, which referred to CAMHS and the review of mental health services in Tayside, to the original Scottish Government motion was successfully passed by all MSPs.

Speaking in the debate Mary said “Behind every statistic on suicide is a loved one, family and community that faces the sad reality that a suicide was not prevented. All suicides are preventable in some way and people who have died from suicide did not need to suffer in silence or alone.  We must send a message to families that are affected by suicide that we will endeavour to prevent their suffering from happening to others because every life matters.  In times of austerity-driven public policy, it has remained harder to ensure that funding is available. That is why we must end austerity; we must invest in health and other public services that help to identify, reach out to, and support people who are at risk of suicide.  It is disheartening that the most recent child and adolescent mental health services statistics reveal a record low performance on waiting times for children and young people who access mental health services."


SNP Council Bosses spend £3,000 on Civic Reception after cutting School Meals
28th June 2018


Councillor Jim SheridanLabour Councillor Jim Sheridan has criticised Renfrewshire Council’s SNP ruling group after they committed £3000.00 of Council taxpayer’s money to host a Civic Reception for Baron Duncan Paisley of Westerlea after cutting funding for school dinners in Renfrewshire’s schools.

The Labour Councillor for Linwood, Houston and Crosslee has also blasted SNP Council bosses after they rejected a plea from the Labour opposition group to explain why they are holding this reception.

Speaking today Councillor Sheridan said, “A reception for this obscure person and his equally obscure relationship to Paisley and Renfrewshire is puzzling and the Provost of Renfrewshire, whom is ultimately responsible for this decision has refused to enter into dialogue. What does she have to hide?”

Councillor Sheridan carried on saying, “Coincidently the Civic Reception coincides with an international gathering of Clan Paisley over the same weekend. A gathering of ex-pats who love the country so well they left our shore for pastures new.”

A request from Renfrewshire Council’s Labour Group to obtain the list of 90 guests who will be enjoying tax-payer funded three course meal has been refused by SNP Councillors.

Councillor Sheridan said, “This is the same Council administration that just recently voted to increase the cost of school meals but won’t tell the public the names of those attending the lavish dinner that they are paying for. Whilst it is right that the Council welcomes visitors to Renfrewshire it is not appropriate for the SNP to ask Council taxpayer’s to foot the bill and them keep them in the dark. This smells of misuse of taxpayers money for political purposes and the SNP administration should be held to account. The spending of taxpayers money should be open and transparent. After all what do they have to hide? Please contact your local SNP Councillor and ask them.”


Mary Welcomes Passing of Pardons Bill
7th June 2018


Mary Fee MSPWest Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour Equalities Spokesperson Mary Fee MSP has welcomed the passing a Bill in the Scottish Parliament which will pardon and disregard the criminal convictions of gay and bisexual men who were criminalised for simple being who they were.

The Scottish Parliament unanimously voted for the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) (Scotland) Bill on Wednesday 6th June and Scottish Labour’s Mary Fee MSP has welcomed the move after speaking in the debate preceding the vote calling the Bill “a historic and critically important piece of legislation.”

Commonly known as the Pardons Bill, thousands of gay and bisexual men will receive pardons for any criminal convictions which were forced on them for engaging in consensual homosexual relationships. The decriminalisation of consenting sexual activity between men in Scotland was decriminalised in 1981 – 14 years after decriminalisation in England and Wales.

Mary has also secured a commitment from the Scottish Government to write to the families of deceased men who were criminalised apologising and posthumously pardoning – with each letter hand-signed by the First Minister. The Labour MSP hopes this will offer some comfort to the families of men who faced discrimination, stigma and hurt because of the wrong actions taken by the state at the time.

In closing the debate for Scottish Labour, Mary said “The Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) (Scotland) Bill is a historic and critically important piece of legislation. It is right that we acknowledge that Scots law acted in a repressive manner in its treatment of gay men. Until recently, the law in Scotland actively criminalised and discriminated against thousands of men on the basis of their sexual orientation. The Bill admits that the state was unequivocally wrong to treat gay men as criminals.  I am extremely pleased that the Scottish Government will look to put in place an administrative process that will provide the relatives of the deceased person with a letter of comfort. Most important is that each letter will be personally signed by the First Minister, which gives a clear statement that a wrong was done to the family’s relative.  It is evident that the legacy of convictions, fines and warnings as a result of the discriminatory laws that prohibited sexual activity between two men in Scotland has had an enduring, damaging and hurtful impact on thousands of men’s lives.  The bill also says much about the country that we aspire to be. It makes an important statement that Scotland is a country that firmly rejects discrimination and celebrates our LGBTI community, and supports them to be full and equal citizens who are treated with respect.”

Speaking after the vote, Mary said  “I am delighted that the Parliament has unanimously backed the Pardons Bill and this is an important step on the road to undoing the wrongs of history and building a more equal society. However, we cannot rest on our laurels as discrimination and inequality remain all too prevalent in society and we must continue to tackle them.”
 


SNP Education Cuts Causing Teaching Crisis
6th June 2018


Mary Fee MSPMary Fee MSP slams the Scottish Government after an annual survey carried out by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) shows that most teachers in Scotland wouldn’t recommend the profession.

An annual survey carried out by EIS shows the mess the SNP is making of Scotland’s education system as it is revealed that over a third of teachers said their workload has significantly increased and almost 60% would not recommend teaching as a profession.

Mary Fee MSP believes that this is a direct result of Scottish Government cutting funding to education and overseeing a fall in teacher number by over 3,500 since the SNP came to power.

The EIS survey also asked teachers to rate how satisfied they are with their jobs on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being least satisfied) with an average of 4 revealed.

The West Scotland MSP said that this rating by teachers on their own jobs is a testimony to the focus the SNP Scottish Government has on improving our education system and that the dismal rating gives little confidence for the future of teaching in Scotland.

Speaking from the Scottish Parliament, Mary Fee MSP said “Scottish Labour will always be on the side of teachers and pupils. That is why we are shocked by these figures from the EIS survey. The recruitment crisis in Scottish education is a result of the SNP cutting budgets and axing over 3,500 teachers from our schools and that has left majority of teachers telling us they are overworked and would not recommend teaching to anyone. Scotland’s once proud education record is being lost because of the choices made by the SNP and the survey is a testimony to the SNP record in Government.”


Labour Motion forces rethink on cuts to mobile library services
25th May 2018


Councillor Derek BibbyRenfrewshire's Labour Councillors have successfully forced Renfrewshire Leisure bosses to reconsider plans to withdraw mobile library services following a motion at a meeting of the full Council.

The motion tabled by Labour Councillors Derek Bibby and Carolann Davidson was opposed by the SNP administration but won backing from other parties.

Speaking at the meeting Councillor Bibby said scrapping the mobile library would affect elderly constituents and those who don’t have access to a computer.

Councillor Bibby was delighted the Labour motion won the support of a majority of Councillors and after the meeting said, “The provision of a library service in rural areas such as Kilbarchan and Howwood is crucial particularly to those who find it difficult to travel to central libraries in Paisley and Johnstone. This was simply a decision based on the need for Renfrewshire Leisure to save money and the withdrawal of the bus was bound to have a major impact on those who use the service.”

Councillor Bibby added “I am very disappointed that the SNP administration Councillors voted against bringing back the Mobile Library effectively abandoning those who use the service. I accept that there are other ways for people to access library books and materials but these need to be in the context of more resources, not less which cover the full spectrum of need.”

Renfrewshire Leisure which had announced the plans to withdraw the service at the end of April had agreed to rethink these proposals. The mobile library service was expanded in 2008 after a former SNP administration closed a number of local libraries as a cost cutting measure.


Mary leads debate on Gypsy/Traveller Culture
24th May 2018


Mary Fee MSPScottish Labour’s Mary Fee MSP calls for greater action to tackle discrimination against Gypsy/Travellers in a Members Debate initiated by Ms Fee praising the impact of Gypsy/Traveller culture in Scotland over the centuries.

Using a Members’ Debate in the Scottish Parliament, secured by votes of MSP’s from across the political spectrum, Mary Fee MSP raised the long-standing history of Gypsy/Traveller culture in Scotland which dates back to the 16th century.

The West Scotland MSP also used the debate to highlight the discrimination that the Gypsy/Traveller community faces, branding the discrimination as “the last bastion of so-called acceptable racism in Scotland”.

Mary Fee, a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee, has been a long-standing supporter of the Gypsy/Traveller community and has taken part in debates and inquiries to tackle the discrimination Gypsy/Traveller communities face, particularly in accessing public services.

The Gypsy/Traveller community is estimated to be around 15,000 in Scotland, although the community is not homogenous, with a distinct variety of groups such as Highland and Lowland Travellers, Occupational Travellers, Romanichals, Welsh Kale and Irish Travellers.

The first written evidence of the presence of Gypsy/Travellers in Scotland dates back to the early 16th century, however, as Mary raised in the debate, it is believed that the origins of Scotland Gypsy/Traveller population can be traced back to the Celtic age.

The Scottish Labour MSP praised the impact of Gypsy/Traveller culture in Scotland which includes storytelling, songs and language.

During the debate, Mary highlighted the discrimination that was revealed in the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey which shows that a third of Scots would be “unhappy if a relative married or formed a long-term relationship with a Gypsy/Traveller” and that 1 in 3 questioned believed that a Gypsy/Traveller is unsuitable to be a primary school teacher.

Mary also gave anecdotal evidence of the abuse and discrimination Gypsy/Travellers face. In 2012 the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee invited a group of Gypsy/Traveller women to the Parliament for an event, however when they entered a restaurant on the Royal Mile, minutes away from Parliament, the manager asked them to leave based on the judgement he made that they were Gypsy/Travellers and refused them serviced.

Mary hopes that debate will allow MSP’s to hear about how the Parliament can work to raise the profile of Gypsy/Traveller discrimination in order to tackle the so-called last form of acceptable racism.

Speaking after the debate, Mary said “I was delighted to secure the support of MSP’s from across the Parliament for a Members’ Debate on Gypsy/Traveller culture and discrimination. There is a rich culture that the varied groups of Gypsy/Travellers have introduced in Scotland, going as far back as the 16th century. I have asked the Scottish Government on a regular basis what action it is taking to tackle the last bastion of so-called acceptable racism that the Gypsy/Traveller communities face. I am hopeful that the Government will listen to charities involved in tackling discrimination and take credible and serious actions. As a member of the Equal Opportunities Committee in 2012, I was horrified to hear of the experience of the Gypsy/Traveller women who we invited to Parliament when they went to a restaurant near Parliament. The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey shows that discrimination against this minority group exists and it is worrying that 1 in 3 people would not accept a family member to be with a Gypsy/Traveller or have their children taught by a Gyspy/Traveller.


   

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