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27 January 2006

Local MSP Welcomes RNID Campaign

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson today welcomed the “Breaking the Sound Barrier” public campaign launched by the Royal National Institute for the Deaf.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of undiagnosed hearing difficulties, through the use of a telephone hearing test. After taking the test, people will be advised of the standard of their hearing, and what steps to take. To take the RNID hearing test, call 0845 600 5555.

Mr Stevenson said:

”I am pleased that the RNID have launched the “Breaking the Sound Barrier” campaign, as it highlights a major issue that is often neglected. Without good hearing, people can quickly become isolated from those around them.

“I was surprised to learn that one in four people over the age of 50 – some 420,000 people in Scotland – suffer from some degree of hearing loss. Many of these people would benefit from a hearing aid.

“It’s common for people to put up with deteriorating hearing, or not to notice as their hearing changes over time. Some people don’t even realise they could be helped.

“I’m happy to support the “Breaking the Sound Barrier Campaign, and would like to encourage anyone in the North-east to take the test as a first step towards better hearing.

“I would also like to encourage the Scottish Executive to put increased funding support into NHS Audiology services to help improve people’s hearing. Constituency cases have proven that there are major problems within this area of the NHS.”

Note:

More information is also available on the website
www.breakingthesoundbarrier.org.uk

26 January 2006

Executive Fails On Prescription Charges - Stevenson

Speaking following the vote in the Scottish Parliament in which the proposal to abolish prescription charges was defeated, Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson said that the Executive had failed to seize a golden opportunity to abolish an unfair tax on sickness.

Mr Stevenson said:

“I am very disappointed that the Executive failed to take this opportunity to follow the lead made by their Labour colleagues in the Welsh Assembly and vote to abolish prescription charges.

“Far from being a move to aid the rich, as Labour was desperately trying to argue, it would have removed the disgraceful anomaly of there being some chronic diseases for which prescription charges are not applicable and other where they are.

“In my discussions on this issue with patient groups in the North-east, exemption for those suffering from a chronic disease was a point which was raised again and again and which I made to Ministers. I am pleased therefore that the Executive has said it will review this area, but this has only come about as a result of pressure from the SNP.

“Abolition would have removed a significant financial pressure from people on low incomes who do not currently qualify for free prescriptions.

“In order to find out the effects of abolition, all Ministers had to do was get in touch with their opposite numbers in Wales, who could have given them any detail they desired.

“I cannot help but feel that for the want of a little bravery, the Executive has missed an opportunity to remove an outdated and unfair tax on the sick purely because of which party proposed it and which other parties gave it their support. They have done those people for whom prescription charges are an ever-present burden a great disservice.”

18 January 2006

Stevenson Backs Parliamentary Action Concerning Drink-Driving Limit

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has backed his colleague Stewart Maxwell MSP’s Parliamentary Motion on the issue of the drink-driving limit.

Commenting on the issue, Mr Stevenson said:

“It is very worrying and disappointing that an average of one in six deaths on Scottish roads is caused by drink-driving and that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of under-21s convicted of drink-driving.  An increase of 38% between 1996 and 2002..

“I have to say that I am deeply concerned by the fact that the current drink-driving limit of 80mg per 100ml of blood is amongst the highest in Western Europe and that the average drink-driving limit in Europe is 40 to 50mg.  I am therefore very supportive of any measures that will lead to a reduction in the number of people who choose to drink and drive and I include increased enforcement and greater education and awareness campaigns as the measures I offer my support to.

“The Scottish Executive should lend its backing to calls for a change in the law on this issue.

5 January 2006

SNP's Stevenson to Meet Georgian Justice Minister

The SNP's Shadow Deputy Justice Minister, Stewart Stevenson MSP will be visiting the Republic of Georgia to host a workshop on Civic Nationalism with local politicians in Marneuli and to meet Members of the Georgian Parliament in Tbilisi.

Stewart plans to meet leaders of a number of Georgia's parliamentary parties and will discuss the local elections which will take place on 5th October with members of the Georgian Parliament's Committee of Local Self-Governance.

He previously visited this area in March and met young political activists and aspiring local councillors.

Speaking ahead of a meeting with the Georgian Minister of Justice, Gia Qavtaradze, Stewart Stevenson said:

"Since Georgia regained its independence in 1991, it has faced many challenges. In particular the widespread protests that led to the resignation of then President Eduard Shevardnadze in 2003, created instability with which today's government has had to grapple.

"Mr Qavtaradze has difficulties within the country's prisons and in law enforcement generally. I am looking forward to an interesting exchange of views.

"We shall also, of course, be looking forward to next year's football matches between our two countries. And as a token of friendship I shall be presenting a Scotland football strip to the Minister."

Notes:

The Westminster Foundation for Democracy, which is funding this visit, provides money to parliamentary parties represented in the UK Parliament. The SNP has chosen to focus its efforts on Malawi and the Caucuses, building on the work of SNP MP Angus Robertson in bringing people together in Scotland to reduce regional tensions and build capacity in local democratic organisations.
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