In the few years since it was reconvened The Scottish Parliament has grown in confidence and influence.
MSPs (Members of the Scottish Parliament) are elected by a form of Proportional Representation which is intended to better reflect the views of the People of Scotland.
Even within the limitations of the powers it has as a devolved parliament and unable to have any borrowing powers to enhance its finances, the Scottish Parliament has passed legislation which has directly enhanced the well being of Scots.
On 24th of November the Scottish Parliament passed the Period Products (Free Provision) Bill, which now goes for Royal Assent before it becomes Law.
This Bill which proposes different ways to make period products (like sanitary pads and tampons) available for free to people who need them was introduced to the Parliament by Monica Lennon, a Labour MSP.
- the Scottish Government must set up a Scotland-wide scheme to allow anyone who needs period products to get them free of charge
- schools, colleges and universities must make a range of period products available for free, in their toilets
- the Scottish Government will have the power to make other public bodies provide period products for free
Passing this Bill makes it the first of its kind, anywhere in the world.
MSPs in the Scottish Parliament, who are not members of the Scottish Government (SNP) can get their Bills accepted and passed in a way that the UK Parliament in London finds almost impossible to do.
It is a great strength of the Scottish Parliament that it is not only able to do this but that MSPs support legislation which is presented by those in other political parties.
Another Bill, the first of its kind in the UK, was also passed recently which gave children in Scotland the same protection as those of adults. That Bill was introduced by John Finnie, Scottish Greens, – supported by all except Conservative & Unionist MSPs. Scotland’s Smacking Ban Comes Into Force
The words of the ceremonial mace in the Scottish Parliament state: Wisdom, Justice, Compassion & Integrity – and sometimes it is hard to see that if you watch First Minister’s Questions and the behaviour of some of those elected to represent us.
But put that to one side for that reflects badly only on those who behave in such a way and who need some reminding of those words on the mace.
Think of what we have in Scotland delivered to us by MSPs sitting on our behalf in the parliament.
You can find a list of all those Bills that have been passed and received Royal Assent, becoming law recently here: Scottish Parliament
And let’s just pick out a few:
The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill passed by a vote of 118 for, 1 against, 0 abstentions. The Bill became an Act on 9 March 2018.
It made non-physical abuse a criminal offence. It recognised the impact and consequences of all types of abusive behaviour. This includes patterns of controlling behaviour.
The Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) (Scotland) Bill passed by a vote of 119 for, 0 against and 0 abstentions. The Bill became an Act on 11 July 2018.
It pardoned those convicted of criminal offences for engaging in same-sex sexual activity when it was illegal.
The Islands (Scotland) Bill passed by a vote of 122 for and 0 against or abstentions. The Bill became an Act on 6 July 2018.
This was another ground breaking piece of legislation with a National Islands Plan to be developed and impact assessments required for policies/strategies which will affect islands.
Other legislation which has benefited Scots.
In 2005, Colin Fox, an SSP (Scottish Socialist Party) MSP introduced a Bill to abolish prescription charges for NHS medicines. That Bill fell but that was not the end of the story because in 2011 prescription charges were finally scrapped in Scotland.
And in Scotland there are no university tuition fees for our students, we have free personal care for the elderly and those who need it, we have a saltire travel card which gives us free travel on our public buses for those who are 60+ , our NHS continues to be free at the point of delivery and our education system is one of the finest in the world.
There is of course much work to be done to improve Scotland with dreadful rates of poverty and unemployment rising.
But within its limitations the Scottish Parliament – and all those working within it – is doing a pretty good job at delivering for the People of Scotland.
One day, those limitations may well be removed if Scotland returns to being an independent nation – if opinion polls are anything to go by. An independent nation, with control over its finances and its direction of travel would still have much work to do. If the legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament , in its devolved state, is anything to go by, a future Scotland with Human Rights at its core and its abundance of natural resources would be a nation worthy of its citizens.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame