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28 May 2015

Committee bill to increase transparency introduced

A new Bill to increase the transparency of MSPs’ financial interests has been introduced by Stewart Stevenson MSP, on behalf of the Scottish Parliament’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.

Published today (28 May), the Interests of Members of the Scottish Parliament (Amendment) Bill is the first Committee Bill this session and follows a detailed inquiry where the Committee made a number of recommendations to streamline the reporting process for MSPs’ financial interests as well as widening the rules on paid advocacy.

Following Parliament’s agreement, the Committee has now introduced a Bill to make these changes happen.

Speaking on introduction, Committee Convener, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The need for a robust and rigorous regime for members registering financial interests is clear. The public need to know about a member’s financial interests so they can judge whether the member might be influenced.

“Our Bill builds on the already comprehensive system in place to make sure arrangements at the Scottish Parliament mean the public can have the confidence in those they elect.”

Measures contained within the Bill include:

  • Lowering the threshold for registering gifts to 0.5% of a member’s salary.
  • Ending ‘dual reporting’ which saw financial interests reported to the Scottish Parliament and the Electoral Commission.
  • Amending the definition of paid advocacy so that agreeing to receive inducements as well as actually receiving them would be an offence.
  • Introduction of a new sanction for members in breach – a motion of censure.

27 May 2015

Stevenson to Speak Against Assisted Suicide Bill

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, will speak against the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill when it is debated in the Scottish Parliament today (Wednesday).

The Bill, originally brought forward by the late Margo McDonald MSP and now promoted by Patrick Harvie MSP, seeks to create a framework in which those with a life-threatening or life-limiting condition can obtain help in ending their lives, and that those providing that assistance can be protected from prosecution.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Coming from a medical family, I am well aware of the emotional and physical trauma generally associated with the death of a relative or friend.

“The role of doctors and other health professionals has always been to support life where possible and support the dying with compassion.”

Speaking of the standards to which doctors should adhere, Stevenson added:

“Above all as the Hippocratic Oath has stated, doctors can 'neither give a deadly drug to anyone if asked for it, nor make a suggestion to this effect'.

“For me, if doctors become actively involved in ending life, their relationship with the living is diminished and on that basis I cannot support this measure.”

26 May 2015

Stevenson Supports Epilepsy Awareness Week

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has promoted National Epilepsy Week (17-23 May) in the Scottish Parliament by signing the published revised SIGN national guideline on managing epilepsy in adults.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Studies show that while just over half of people with epilepsy have seizure control, seven in ten could become seizure free with optimum care.

“The revised SIGN guidance can play a vital part in addressing this treatment gap and improving services over the next decade. I want the very best health and social care for constituents affected by epilepsy, and National Epilepsy Week helps us highlight issues and raise awareness.”

Phil Robinson, chair of Epilepsy Consortium Scotland, added:

“We are grateful to MSPs and Ministers for drawing attention to epilepsy in so many different ways. We hope the latest SIGN guidelines they will be welcomed and implemented after their launch on 18 June 2015. Part of the Consortium’s work has been mapping epilepsy services in Scotland to see where the gaps are. Our findings are going to be a useful tool for agencies when they are planning future provision.”

Mr Stevenson signed up to the World Health Organisation global resolution for national epilepsy action plans and vowed to wear a purple ribbon in the next year for the cause.
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