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31 March 2015

Stevenson Welcomes Increase in Discharge Rates Across NHS Grampian

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has welcomed new figures that show that the NHS in Scotland treated more people than ever before from October to December 2014.

In NHS Grampian, the total number of inpatient and day case discharges in acute specialities has gone up from 34,386 in December 2013 to 35,741 in December 2014.

Across Scotland, inpatient and day case discharges in acute specialities rose by around 5000 during the last quarter of 2014 to around 395,000 – the highest number of hospital discharges on record.

Mr Stevenson said:

“NHS staff in Scotland are one of our best assets and these figures show that the standard of care in the North East has not been compromised by the challenges presented by increasing numbers of people coming through our hospitals.

“Reducing the number of people who are unnecessarily in hospital is one of the key priorities of the Scottish Government and measures such as intermediate care beds are being created to support the shift of more services into the local community.”

Today’s figures do not include intermediate care beds, however, there are now 700 intermediate care beds in Scotland which support older people and those preparing to leave hospital – 200 of which have been created this year.

27 March 2015

Stevenson Congratulates Buckie By-Election Victor

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has congratulated the winner of the Buckie by-election, SNP candidate Sonya Warren, on her election.

Mr Stevenson, who was present at the election count, said:

“I am delighted Sonya Warren has been elected to succeed well-respected local councillor Joe Mackay. I am sure she will be an excellent servant for the community.

“For the SNP, in the run-up to the General Election, this was a stunning result taking nearly 60% of the vote. Sonya will be a strong voice for Buckie, just as the SNP will be a strong voice for Scotland.”

Speaking after the decisive result Cllr Warren said:

"I fought this election in Buckie because I am passionate about my community and I will be a strong advocate for Buckie in Moray's Council Chamber.

"I thank the voters of Buckie Ward for their huge support in this election and the many people who helped me throughout my campaign.

"I am delighted to be joining an SNP Council Group in Moray that has fought to protect our schools, that supports our local town centres and that recognises the importance of investing in key assets like Buckie Harbour.

"The hard work of the campaign is now over and the hard work as a Buckie councillor begins."

Stevenson Toasts Local Distilleries for International Whisk(e)y Day

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has raised a glass to International Whisk(e)y Day today (Friday) and praised the work of the distilleries in his constituency who promote the premium product.

Mr Stevenson said:

“I would like to take this opportunity on International Whisk(e)y Day to congratulate my local distilleries on contributing to a world class export, enjoyed all over Scotland and abroad. This is the area of the famed Speyside whiskies and they are renowned for their quality and superior taste.”

Glenglassaugh Distillery, Knockdhu Distillery and Macduff Distillery in the Banffshire and Buchan Coast produce some of the country’s finest whiskies.

International Whisk(e)y Day was started by Nouet and Helen Arthur as a way to honour their friend and legendary whisky writer, the late Michael Jackson. As well as celebrating whisky, fans are encouraged to donate money to charities of their choice – most commonly Parkinson’s Disease charities as Michael suffered from this for many years.

26 March 2015

Stevenson Goes Purple for Epilepsy Day

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, wore a purple ribbon in the Scottish Parliament today (Thursday) to mark International Purple Day while hundreds of Epilepsy Scotland supporters organised events across Scotland.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Purple Day is a light hearted way for the public to learn about a difficult and often hidden condition. One in 97 of my constituents have epilepsy and it can affect more than their health. Too often the social impact of epilepsy can be harder to live with than the seizures. The best awareness campaigns help people to understand more about an issue so they want to make change happen. Today I wore purple with pride to support Epilepsy Scotland’s campaign.”

Epilepsy is defined as repeated seizures that start in the brain. A brief disturbance in the brain's normal electrical activity causes the nerve cells to fire off random signals, and the result is like an electrical storm that causes a temporary overload in the brain.

Epilepsy is the most common, serious neurological disorder in the world.

Leslie Young, Chief Executive of Epilepsy Scotland added:

“Everyone can enjoy being part of Purple Day, whether you are at school, work or having a rest on 26 March. We truly value MSPs for getting involved and making this a special day for 54,000 people living with epilepsy in Scotland.”

Stevenson and Allard Congratulate New MSYPs

Following the recent election of Travis Beattie to represent Banffshire and Buchan Coast at the Scottish Youth Parliament, local MSP Stewart Stevenson praised the level of post-Referendum youth engagement and encouraged it to continue. He was joined by Christian Allard, MSP for the North East who submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament to congratulate the winners on their success.

The Scottish Youth Parliament is the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people. Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP) are committed to ensuring young people are heard by the decision makers of Scotland and to campaign on issues which matter most to Scotland’s youth. Seventeen MSYPs have been elected to represent the North East of Scotland following elections which took place during March.

Mr Stevenson and Mr Allard both praised MSYPs for their role at the forefront of youth engagement in the North East.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“Last year’s Referendum and the lowering of the voting age for it engaged a whole new generation of voters with the political process and I’ve been delighted with how that has carried on post-Referendum.

“I congratulate those who have been successful in getting elected as Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament but, just as importantly, would encourage those who were unsuccessful on this occasion to continue engaging with the democratic process.”

Christian Allard, MSP for North East Scotland, added:

“It is fantastic to see so many youngsters across the North East so politically engaged.

“There were plenty of candidates that stood for election at the Scottish Youth Parliament – well done to all those who participated and to those who were successful.

“I am sure the 17 members elected to represent areas throughout the North East will work hard to progress youth engagement in the region.”

Stevenson Calls for New Look at Speed Limits

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has called for consideration of a 10mph reduction in speed limits across Scotland as a way to combat climate change.

In a debate yesterday (Wednesday) supporting WWF’s Earth Hour 2015, Mr Stevenson said:

The big thing that we should and could contemplate is reducing the speed limits in Scotland, wherever they are, by 10mph. It would cost almost nothing to do. It would not be popular, but it is one of the proposals that we must get on the agenda, and I encourage people to think about it seriously.”

WWF Earth Hour takes place for an hour at 8.30pm on Saturday 28th March where many public buildings will switch off their lights to highlight the need for action on climate change.

In Mr Stevenson’s constituency, town clocks in Buckie and in Cullen are taking part as well as Aberdeenshire and Moray Councils.

He added:

“Climate change causes very significant problems for real people. It will lead to mass migration and deaths. It is not simply an academic argument.

“There is greater variability in our climate, which will not be good news for the long-term health of our planet. We have seen shrinking of the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps, and we are seeing increased aridification in Africa in particular. As I have said in many debates before, that is a gender issue because the majority of subsistence farmers in rural Africa are female. They are having to go further for water and will have to go further for the wood that they burn in their stoves.”

Mr Stevenson will promote WWF’s Earth Hour this Saturday as quizmaster of the WWF Candlelit Quiz at the Crowne Plaza Hotel next to the SECC in Glasgow at 8.30pm.

23 March 2015

Stevenson Delighted at New Plastic £5 Note from Scotland

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, is delighted that the Clydesdale Bank in Scotland is issuing its first polymer banknote a year before the Bank of England.

The limited edition £5 note is the first of its kind to enter circulation in Great Britain, and Clydesdale Bank plan to issue two million of the new banknotes.

Mr Stevenson said:

“The Clydesdale Bank is breaking new ground by issuing this new polymer £5 bank note and I welcome its innovation. They will include added security features and have been estimated to last two and a half times longer than paper banknotes.”

The new Clydesdale plastic note features an image of the Forth Bridge and has been issued to commemorate the bridge's 125th anniversary. It also features a portrait of Sir William Arrol, whose company constructed the bridge among many other landmarks in Scotland.

More than 20 countries around the world have adopted polymer notes. In 1999, Northern Bank of Northern Ireland issued a polymer £5 commemorative note celebrating the year 2000. A plastic note was introduced in the Isle of Man in 1983 but was withdrawn in 1988 owing to problems with the ink.

Limited edition notes will be available from branches of the Clydesdale.

20 March 2015

Legislation process should be improved, says Committee

Measures to make the legislative process in Scotland more transparent have today (20 March) been published by the Scottish Parliament’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.

In the first major review of the legislative process since the Parliament was established, the Committee has called for a number of changes to make the system more open and easier to understand. Changes include making the documents accompanying draft bills clearer and extending the timescales between some stages of the legislative process.

Committee Convener, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This inquiry was about making sure that what we do as a Parliament is open and accessible for those we represent. We heard that the legislative process can be difficult and confusing to follow. Our inquiry was about what more could be done so people from all walks of life could become engaged in shaping the laws of Scotland.

“Whilst we appreciate that the legislative process can be complex, this cannot be a barrier to the public becoming involved. The language used must be jargon free where possible and the process itself must be made clearer. Just as important is to ensure that the process is not rushed which is why we have suggested increasing the time between certain stages of the legislative process.”

Contained within the report’s recommendations, the Committee has made it clear that information issued must be free from technical language. Other recommendations in the report include:
  • Better information must be available about the timetables for bills.
  • Increasing the minimum time gap between the second and third stages of the legislation process from 10 days to 14 days
  • Improving guidance on amendments to help people engage with the process at stages 2 and 3.
  • Extending the deadline for lodging amendments at the second and third stages of a bill by an extra day
A copy of the Committee’s report can be found at:
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/87985.aspx

19 March 2015

Stevenson Supports Down's Syndrome Awareness Week

Down’s Syndrome Scotland, which supports people with Down’s syndrome, their families and professionals, organised an exhibition for MSPs at the Scottish Parliament to highlight Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week (16th-22nd March 2015) and the United Nations World Down’s Syndrome Day (Saturday 21st March 2015).

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson welcomed the opportunity to learn a little more about Down’s syndrome to better represent and help constituents. The event gave MSPs a chance to obtain information on the condition and the importance of communication skills for people with Down’s Syndrome in Scotland.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Children with Ds and their parents need continuous support with speech and language therapy. Better communication not only helps children and parents to bond but it also helps children and teenagers with Ds to perform better at school and develop friendships.

“Being able to communicate also improves the chances of all adults with Ds to maintain a good quality of life and maintain wellbeing. We know that by age 40, people with Ds have an increased risk of developing dementia. Communications skills should therefore be at the core of delivering person-centred care.

“Communication is key to inclusion. By supporting people with Ds to develop and maintain their communication skills we ensure that their voices can be heard in decisions affecting their lives and that their rights are upheld and respected by all.”

Pandora Summerfield, Chief Executive of Down’s Syndrome Scotland, said:

“Through our work we have gathered evidence on the benefits of running communication groups for children with Down’s syndrome and their parents. To get it right for every child with Ds, greater recognition and resources should be given to improving communication skills across the country.

“To gain employment, maintain relationships and take part in local activities, individuals need to communicate with each other. Some of them may also be affected by early onset dementia and it is crucial to make sure that they can continue to communicate with their carers.”

18 March 2015

Stevenson Criticises Those Against Average-Speed Cameras on the A9

In a Scottish Parliament debate yesterday (Tuesday) Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, highlighted his support for average-speed cameras on the A9 and criticised those against the traffic calming measure.

Mr Stevenson said that the cameras, which have been in operation for the past few months, had changed behaviour and reduced law breaking, with evidence so far suggesting that the number of accidents with people killed and seriously injured has reduced.

Arguing against those that are opposed to the speed cameras, he added:

“They are saying that, although we have a law that sets the speed limit, we do not want to enforce that law. Because it is a matter of personal convenience and arrogance on the part of those who wish permission, unsupervised and unenforced, to break one of our laws. If the law is wrong—one could argue that it is and that the speed limit is not the right one—there is a way to deal with that. However, putting other people’s lives at risk while doing that is not on - not in any way whatsoever.”

Mr Stevenson welcomed improvements to the A9 including its dualling all the way up to Inverness, but added that not all problems would be solved by changing the road.

He said:

“We will not engineer out all the accidents and issues on the A9 by dualling it. Parliamentary answers to Murdo Fraser show that, in every year about which he asked questions, the M8—which is a motorway and a dual carriageway—had a higher rate of accidents per kilometre than the A9.”

As a private pilot, Mr Stevenson added his support to graduated training for drivers and believes it should be explored further, adding:

“In flying, people do not simply pass their test and get the right to go off and do everything. They cannot fly at night, fly out of sight of the ground or fly in clouds. They cannot fly multi-engine planes, planes with retractable undercarriage or planes with variable pitch prop. When we pass a test, be it as a pilot or a driver, we do not suddenly and magically acquire the experience that will enable us to cope with everything that we will meet during our career in charge of a vehicle - that has to be learned.”

Stevenson Highlights Importance of Language Skills in the North East

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has emphasised the importance of language skills and how they can create a higher profile for the North East.

In a Portfolio Question today (Wednesday), Mr Stevenson asked what action was being taken in the North East to help develop language skills that will bring more international business to the area.

In his response, Dr Alasdair Allan, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages, said:

“Our commitment to stronger languages provision in schools is fundamentally linked to our ambitions for business growth throughout Scotland.

“We are already starting to see exciting changes in what schools are offering and in what young people expect to be able to learn, to equip them for life and work. Since 2010 there has been an eight per cent increase in Higher language entries.”

He added:

“There is a clear potential impact on inward investment - at a recent Aberdeen Business Breakfast event, Total UK and Barclays Bank were amongst employers emphasising the value of language skills in their workforces to young people from local high schools.”

13 March 2015

Stevenson Welcomes Increase in Funding for Aberdeenshire and Moray

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has welcomed the Scottish Government’s increase in funding to Aberdeenshire and Moray councils as a further demonstration of the SNP’s commitment to his constituency.

The Local Government Finance Order agreed by Parliament on Thursday delivers an additional £107m to local government in Scotland – and shows that the budget allocated to Aberdeenshire Council has risen from £406.050 million in 2014/15 to £414.723 million in 2015/16, and to Moray Council from £154.552 million to £160.328 million over the same time frame.

This package includes funding to maintain the council tax freeze for another year, maintain teacher numbers at 2014/15 levels, to mitigate the Bedroom Tax and to provide free school meals for children in P1-3.

Mr Stevenson said:

“This latest funding boost from the Scottish Government will be welcomed by people across Aberdeenshire and Moray and is another example of the SNP’s commitment to investment in our vital public services.

“The SNP in government is providing a fair deal for local government and is delivering on key policies benefiting local people – from the council tax freeze which is protecting family budgets during tough economic times to free school meals to give our youngest pupils the best possible start in life.

“This funding will also see the number of teachers in Aberdeenshire and Moray maintained at current levels – and will keep people across my constituency protected against the imposition of Westminster’s Bedroom Tax.

“The Scottish Government will continue to work alongside our partners in local government to deliver the best possible deal for people in Scotland – and to protect our public services as much as possible from the austerity agenda being imposed by Westminster.”

Stevenson Champions Importance of Libraries

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, demonstrated his support of local and national libraries in a Scottish Parliament debate yesterday (Thursday) on the importance of the public service they provide.

Mr Stevenson, a self-confessed bookaholic highlighted the importance of libraries in the light of recent terrorist atrocities, saying:

“It is no accident that one of the first things that totalitarian regimes and extremists generally go for is books and libraries. ISIS has destroyed 100,000 books in Mosul in recent weeks. In April 2003, the national library and archive of Iraq—hundreds of thousands of books—was all but lost.”

Books can be targets in any conflict and Mr Stevenson mentioned the invading Japanese destroying more than a million books and documents in China during WWII, and the Nazi book burnings in the 1930s.

He added:

“Books can be radical and extreme and they are highly varied. We should value them in all their variety, because they tell us about where we come from and inform us about where we are going.”

Mr Stevenson praised the local libraries in Buckie and Fraserburgh where he holds regular surgeries and the National Library of Scotland as an invaluable resource for his interest in genealogy.

Stevenson Delighted at £8,000 for Buchan Archers

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has welcomed an £8000 Awards for All grant awarded to Buchan Archers this week.

The funding will be used to buy the necessary equipment to set up a new archery club.

Mr Stevenson said:

“I am delighted that the Buchan Archers have been granted this funding from Awards for All so that they can set up a club for people to enjoy. There are a diverse number of sports groups such as this one across Banffshire and Buchan Coast providing a wealth of choice and many ways of socialising and keeping fit. I wish them all the best for the future.”

Buchan Archers are just one of 66 groups across Scotland sharing in in £493,237 from Awards For All Scotland this week.

Awards For All Scotland gives groups a chance to apply for a grant of between £500 and £10,000 for projects that aim to help improve local communities and the lives of people most in need.

An Awards for All spokesperson, added:

“These awards highlight the range of projects that can be funded through Awards For All. From helping people to access employment opportunities through to bringing communities together to celebrate their local heritage, this funding shows how a relatively small amount of money can go a long way in communities across Scotland.”

12 March 2015

Stevenson Welcomes Standardised Tobacco Packaging

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has welcomed an approval of plain tobacco packaging by the UK Government this week.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Following calls by the Scottish Government, standardised tobacco packaging will now become a reality. I very much support this measure which I believe will greatly decrease the appeal of tobacco products, particularly among young people.”

The Scottish Parliament had already agreed that the legislation would apply in Scotland if approved at a UK level.

Mr Stevenson added:

“I fully support the Scottish Government’s aim to create a tobacco-free generation in Scotland by 2034, and this is one of the things that can be done to make this happen.

“Every year tobacco kills more than 13,000 people a year in Scotland, and costs our NHS around £500 million a year. By discouraging young people from taking up the habit in the first place we can start to reduce the cost this product inflicts on families and communities across Scotland.”

9 March 2015

MSP Visits Arbuthnot Museum to See Achievements and Find Out About Challenges and Future Plans

On Friday, 6 March 2015, Stewart Stevenson MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast and Morag Macpherson, Head of Research and Development at Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) visited Arbuthnot Museum as part of a series of MSP visits to museums, proposed by MGS, to engage them in championing their local museums and experiencing first-hand their achievements and challenges.
Stewart Stevenson, MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast said:

"Our local museums play a tremendously important role as the custodians of our civic heritage, but should also be places of fun and learning where younger generations engage with their history.

"I've heard some very good reports about engagement and outreach work carried out by the local museums service; Mr Arbuthnot's Cabinet of Curiosities comes to mind as a recent example. At the same time, we should never lose sight of the importance of collections such as the Shivas photographic plates, which I was shown today, as a link with the past."

Morag Macpherson, Head of Research and Development at Museums Galleries Scotland, added:

“It has never been more important for museums and galleries to showcase how they’re delivering across health and wellbeing, education and social agendas in a cost-effective, convincing and comprehensive manner.

“In addition to delivering strategic development support to a sector of over 450 museums and galleries, MGS is committed to raising the profile of these valuable organisations amongst stakeholders and opinion formers.”

MGS will be visiting other museums and galleries with MSPs over the next couple of months.

Publication of Veterans Strategy a Positive Step Forward

The publication of a new strategy for supporting veterans in Scotland has been welcomed today as a positive step forwards.

Eric Fraser CBE
Scottish Veterans Commissioner
The post of Scottish Veterans Commissioner was established in 2014 to deliver improved support for veterans in Scotland and the publication of today’s strategy sets out the work that the Commissioner will undertake.

The answer to the Parliamentary Question setting out the strategy also makes clear that housing and employability issues will be prioritised by the Commissioner in 2015.

Commenting, local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The publication of this strategy is a positive step towards improving the support that is offered to veterans in Scotland.

“Making sure that former members of the armed forces get the support and assistance that they deserve is so important and this strategy shows that the Scottish Veterans Commissioner is determined to make a real difference.

“The SNP Government has been determined to provide greater support to the estimated 400,000 ex-service men and women in Scotland, with measures like extending the free bus pass to injured veterans.

“I am sure that the work of the Veterans Commissioner will help to drive further improvement and I very much look forward to that.”

6 March 2015

Stevenson Supports Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, lent his support to Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal this week by sporting a yellow daffodil and visiting their exhibition at the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Stevenson met staff and heard about the work of the charity that cares for terminally ill people and their families across Scotland, before posing with a placard pledging support for people with a terminal illness.

He said:

“Everybody is related to or knows of someone that has been given a terminal diagnosis and realises how devastating this can be. The service that Marie Curie provides in caring for people in their own homes and in their Scottish hospices in Edinburgh and Glasgow is wonderful.

“The Great Daffodil Appeal is Marie Curie’s biggest fundraiser and the money raised will go towards helping those in our communities who want to make the most of the time that they have left. Their services are offered free of charge to those with a terminal illness, but they need to raise around £9 million each year to fund this.”

More than 200 Marie Curie Nursing team members work in Scotland, caring for around 4800 terminally ill people and their families at home each year. The hospices in Edinburgh and Glasgow care for around 2600 people annually.

Richard Meade, Head of Policy and Public Affairs Scotland added:

“It’s thanks to the support of MSPs such as Stewart we can spread the word about the Great Daffodil Appeal and raise vital funds to support terminally ill people in Scotland. Every March millions of people across the UK support our biggest fundraising campaign and it’s easy to join in, simply give a donation and wear your daffodil pin.

“With the support of the Scottish Parliament, Scotland will lead the way in caring for people with a terminal illness.”

Marie Curie is also a leader in research into the best ways of caring for people with a terminal illness. Around 70 per cent of the charity’s income comes from donations with the balance of funds coming from the NHS.

Greater transparency for Member’s financial interests proposed

Measures to improve the transparency of information about MSPs' financial interests are today (6 March) being proposed by the Scottish Parliament’s Standards Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.

In its report, the result of a detailed inquiry conducted over a number of months, the Committee proposes a committee bill to amend the Interests of Members of the Scottish Parliament Act 2006 which sets out requirements for Members to register and declare certain financial interests.

The new bill is aimed at streamlining the reporting requirements for MSPs so that all their registrable financial interests are reported in one place, in the Parliament’s register of interest. Currently MSPs have to report financial interests both to the Electoral Commission and to the Parliament.

The proposals would also strengthen the sanctions available to the Parliament to deal with breaches to Member’s interests rules as well as widening the definition of paid advocacy.

Committee Convener, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The Scottish Parliament prides itself on its openness and accountability and nowhere is this more important than in relation to the conduct of its Members. Our proposed bill will not only build on the existing robust regime, but will also streamline reporting for MSPs, ensuring all information about MSPs’ financial interests is in one easily accessible place for the public.

“We have also suggested broadening the definition of paid advocacy. Whilst no MSP has ever been found to have breached the current rules, the Committee is clear of the gravity with which paid advocacy should be treated. This is why our Committee is proposing an expansion to the scope of the criminal offence.”

Mr Stevenson added:

“This is a piece of work that our Committee has been examining for a number of months and before developments elsewhere have come to light.”

Other recommendations contained within the Committee’s report include:
  • Lowering the threshold limit for registering gifts to 0.5% of a member’s salary (currently 1% or £570)
  • Amending the threshold for registering remuneration received solely as expenses from 1% to 0.5% of a member’s salary.
  • Increasing the range of sanctions available if a member breaches the Interests Act, to include withdrawal of salary or privileges as well as exclusion from Parliamentary proceedings.

4 March 2015

Stevenson Recognises Work of Missionary Mary Slessor

from wikipedia
Dundee missionary Mary Slessor died 100 years ago and Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has celebrated her as “one of Scotland’s best-known and most important daughters.”

In a speech on Tuesday which also recognised International Women’s Day 2015, Mr Stevenson said:

“Not many Victorian women who were born in Aberdeenshire and brought up in the slums of Aberdeen and Dundee earned a state funeral at the end of their lives, were a member of the Order of St John or were a magistrate, which was exceptional in Victorian times.”

Miss Slessor’s father came from Buchan, and Mr Stevenson said that her life was formed by “deprivation, her Christian faith and the inspiration that came from African missionary David Livingstone.”

He added:

“Mary Slessor was quite different and disjointed from women of her time. We have heard that she dressed, ate and drank in the way that the people in Nigeria she supported did. More fundamentally, she learned to speak the native language, which she learnt from the people she was supporting.”

He paid tribute to the Mary Slessor Foundation which supports her memory and is dedicated to improving the lives of people in Nigeria.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Mary Slessor did a lot for people in Scotland and in Africa, and it is right that we celebrate her life.”

3 March 2015

Stevenson Welcomes over £400k for Youth Employment in Aberdeenshire

The announcement of an extra £400,295 for Aberdeenshire to deliver programmes that help to employ young people has been warmly welcomed by Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast today (Tuesday).

Aberdeenshire will use the funding to support the implementation of recommendations made by the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce in their blueprint published last year.
Recent labour market statistics show that youth unemployment in Scotland has fallen to its lowest level in five years, while youth employment has risen over the last year.

Mr Stevenson said:

“The announcement of £400,295 to allow Aberdeenshire to do more to help reduce unemployment amongst young people in the area is great news.

“We have made huge progress in Scotland in tackling youth unemployment, but there can never be any room for complacency when young people still struggle to find work.

“That is why this new funding is so important and should enable us to go even further in tackling youth unemployment and providing opportunities for all of our young people.”

He added:

“The Scottish Government is doing all that it can to boost employment with the powers currently available to it, but with greater responsibilities over tax and welfare we could do even more.

“Electing a strong team of SNP MPs in May is vital to secure the job-creating powers we need to build on this progress and make Scotland a fairer, more prosperous country.”
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