David Stewart MSP

Archive for September 2007

MSP in bid to save Monarch Country from Pylons

In a Holyrood debate this evening over the Beauly to Denny powerline, Highlands and Islands Regional Labour MSP David Stewart will call on Inquiry Reporters to be even handed when considering the evidence.

He says the concerns of our local communities, authorities and the National Park on the impact of 65m pylons on the environment, on tourism and on the economy must not be disregarded.

In favour of renewables, Mr Stewart believes we must consider all aspects of our legacy to the next generation.

“Commercial concerns should not be the focus in this case.

“Pylons must not be built through the Cairngorm National Park, it was created to protect the very environment that this scheme threatens.

“There is a real argument that a sub sea cable is more appropriate or at the very least there should be undergrounding on sections of the line to avoid unsightly pylons running through a countryside that people travel from all around the world to see,” he said.

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Written by davidstewart

September 19, 2007 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

MSPs welcome Buckie Win

The North’s Regional Labour MSPs have tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament congratulating Buckie Thistle Football Club on lifting the Aberdeenshire Cup at Christie Park last Saturday.

 

MSPs Peter Peacock, David Stewart and Rhoda Grant have all put their names to the motion asking Parliament to congratulate Duncan Shearer’s team following the 1-0 win against Keith.

 

David Stewart has also written to the Buckie Manager congratulating him and the players on registering a fine victory.

The text of the motion reads :

Congratulations to Buckie Thistle Football Club—That the Parliament congratulates Buckie Thistle football club on its 1-0 win against Keith to lift the Aberdeenshire Cup at Christie Park, Huntly, on 15 September 2007; notes the hard work and commitment shown by all members of the Buckie Thistle football team, and congratulates the club’s manager, Duncan Shearer, for leading his team to victory.

Written by davidstewart

September 18, 2007 at 3:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

David Stewart questions Lord Advocate

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Highlands and Islands Regional Labour MSP David Stewart is quizzing Scotland’s top Prosecutor at Holyrood over the laws in place to protect the public from sexual predators.

 

Scotland’s Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini is meeting with MSPs today to explain the circumstances surrounding the collapse of the World’s End murder trial.

 

The 30 years old case against Angus Sinclair, a convicted double killer and paedophile who is currently serving a life sentence at Peterhead prison, was thrown out by the trial judge on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

 

Mr Stewart is pressing the Lord Advocate over what risk management procedures are in place to ensure that predators like Sinclair can not pose a risk to the public again.

 

“Since the Criminal Justice Act in 2003 those convicted of a serious violent, sexual or life threatening assault can be placed on an Order for Lifelong Restriction.

 

This means that offenders are assessed with a view to minimising the risks – including remaining in prison until the Parole Board is satisfied that the person can be released,” said Mr Stewart.

 

“Attempted murderer Colin Ross was the first person to be placed under an OLR following the appalling incident in the Highlands and it clearly shows we are by no means immune. We need to see that those convicted before 2003 face the same rigorous controls to safeguard the public.”

 

Mr Stewart is also to ask the Lord Advocate whether she will consider a review on allowing judges or juries sight of previous convictions where a defendant has a history of predatory sexual assault.

 

“My concern is that all possible measures are put in place to protect women from sexual predators and those who commit serious violent acts,” said Mr Stewart.

 

From the Official report of the Scottish Parliament 13th. September ’07

David Stewart (Highlands and Islands) (Lab): Does the Lord Advocate share my view that a case can be made for allowing juries sight of analogous previous convictions when defendants have a history of predatory sexual assaults? In the case of Angus Sinclair, what risk management procedures are in place in the event of his release to ensure that he never endangers the public again?

The Lord Advocate: In Scotland, evidence of a previous conviction can be admitted in the course of a trial only very rarely and in exceptional circumstances. That is not the case in many other jurisdictions, where evidence of similar fact, including previous convictions, may be introduced as part of the Crown case to show a disposition, particularly if the conviction relates to a similar crime. That is not the situation in Scotland. It would make my life as a public prosecutor easier if I could lead such evidence, but that is not to say that that is the correct approach. The matter must be considered objectively by the Government, the Parliament and others more widely so that a fair balance is reached. It would not be appropriate for someone who could be perceived as partisan to decide on such principles. Of course I would say that I want prosecutions to be made easier and to have more evidence available. My view is that allowing such evidence would enable more prosecutions to take place but, in a democracy, a balance must be struck by the Parliament rather than by prosecutors.

Mr Stewart asked about the risk management of Angus Sinclair. As Mr Stewart knows, Angus Sinclair is serving a sentence of imprisonment. He is not due to be paroled until 2016. That will be a matter for the Parole Board for Scotland. He is serving a number of life sentences and the Parole Board for Scotland will decide if or when he will be released on to the streets. That is not a matter for ministers, nor is it a matter for the prosecutor.

 

 

Written by davidstewart

September 14, 2007 at 7:16 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Fast track for University of Highlands and Islands

 

Highlands and Islands Regional Labour MSP David Stewart is pressing the SNP government for action to help the University of Highlands and Islands achieve full university status.

 

Mr Stewart has been supporting the University’s bid since it was confirmed as a higher education Institution in 2000.

 

He is set to meet Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Fiona Hyslop, at the end of this month to maintain pressure on the Government to do all it can to fast track the University’s application.

 

“Historically many young people left the area to study and didn’t come back – that situation is changing.

 

“With full university status there will be added economic benefits as the University will act as a magnet to attract young people from within the Highlands, from the UK and foreign students coming to study here,” said Mr Stewart.

 

“With the Life Long Learning Agenda the majority of UHI students now and in the future will be mature and not necessarily geographically mobile – without the UHI they would not have access to higher education.”

 

He added: “The UHI has worked hard to meet the rigorous academic criteria required and its aim has been to achieve full University status this year.

 

“The new Scottish Government has a role to play in ensuring this happens.”

 

Mr Stewart asked the Scottish Executive to look to the example of the University of Cumbria which gained University status on August 1 – as they had their achieved their title relatively quickly.

 

In a written response Ms Hyslop said that the UHI’s application was with the UK Universities Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education and that they would apply the same standards in assessing UHI Millennium Institute as it did in assessing the University of Cumbria.

 

She said: “The Scottish Executive continues to support UHI Millennium Institute in its aspiration for university title and officials are working closely with UHI, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Quality assurance Agency and the Scottish Funding Council.

 

Written by davidstewart

September 6, 2007 at 11:06 am

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Stewart Calls for Ferries Inquiry

 

Highlands and Islands Regional Labour MSP David Stewart, who is a member of the Transport Committee of the Scottish Parliament, has called on the committee to undertake a major inquiry into ferries.

Mr Stewart attended a two-day meeting of the committee last week at Dunkeld.

 

Speaking later he said, “Undoubtedly the whole issue of ferry transport is one of the most important rural transport issues facing the Highlands and Islands and indeed Scotland as a whole.”

 

“During my recent visits to Argyll and Bute, the Western Isles and Shetland this was the number one issue raised by local authorities, the health boards and island communities.

 

“The speed, availability and cost of ferries have a major bearing on the viability of many island communities and add greatly to the overall cost of living, the availability of goods, inward investment and tourism.

 

“At a time when the new administration has set up an inquiry into Road Equivalent Tariff, with a pilot scheme to operate to the Western Isles, it seems a very appropriate time for the committee to look at the whole question of ferries.

 

“This should include not just RET but the entire question of tendering processes, development of new routes and the costs borne by both pedestrians and vehicle travellers, in going between the mainland and the islands.

 

“The internal council operated ferry routes within the islands groups should also be scrutinised for possible improvements in methods of financing and service delivery.”

 

Mr Stewart added, “I have asked the committee not just to follow the usual procedures for an inquiry but to commit to visiting the islands, particularly Shetland.

 

“Only by visiting the islands and meeting with those who live and work there, can committee members fully appreciate the significance of ferry links to our island communities.”

Written by davidstewart

September 6, 2007 at 11:04 am

Posted in Uncategorized