Patricia Ferguson MSP

Ferguson supports proposed Organ Donation Bill

Maryhill & Springburn MSP Patricia Ferguson has given her support to a proposal to amend the current ‘opt-in’ system of organ donation in Scotland, whereby those wishing to become a donor are encouraged to add their name to the NHS Organ Donation Register. 


The proposed Organ Donation (Scotland) Bill being brought forward by Labour MSP Anne McTaggart would mean that unless an adult had expressed an objection and ‘opted-out’ of the organ donation register, then their organ and tissue could be removed posthumously. In view of the significant difference between the number of people on the waiting list for transplant operations and the number of organs available, Ms McTaggart believes that reform is now essential.


Within 24 hours of the proposal being put forward in the Scottish Parliament enough MSPs had given  their support to allow  a Bill to be introduced.  


Welcoming the proposal Patricia Ferguson said:


“Moving to an opt-out system will make it easier for people to become an organ donor.  The UK currently has one of the lowest organ donation rates in Europe and I welcome this proposal which will help to address that.


“I am pleased that the proposal has gained sufficient support from MSPs to allow the Bill to be introduced in the Scottish Parliament, and I look forward to supporting it as it progresses through the parliament and hope that it will gain sufficient support to allow it to come into effect.”

Patricia Ferguson MSP

Ferguson welcomes Scottish Labour’s commitment to 1,000 more nurses

1000_more_nurses.jpgMaryhill & Springburn MSP Patricia Ferguson has welcomed the recent announcement by Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy that a future Labour government would deliver 1,000 extra nurses for Scotland.


Mr Murphy has pledged that funding from the UK wide Mansion Tax will be used to fund the additional nurses, meaning that a UK Labour Government will deliver funding for more nurses over and above anything the SNP propose.


Scottish Labour would target 1000 new nurses, paid for by the Mansion Tax on properties across the UK, on pressure points in Scotland’s NHS – it has specifically identified mental health, health visitors and A&E.  Further pressure on nursing occurs in community palliative care and specialisms like cancer nurses, who are picking up general duties so can’t perform as many of their specialities.

The party also pledged to at least double the number of MND nurses, whilst calling on the Scottish Government to find the funding for this now. The Scottish Government’s subsequently announced that it would invest more money towards nursing care and support for those with motor-neurone disease.


Welcoming the promise of 1,000 more nurses Patricia Ferguson said:


“Scotland’s NHS is under immense pressure with around 2,000 nursing vacancies and student nurse numbers at a 6 year low.  Over recent weeks we’ve been hearing  about cancelled operations and lengthy A&E waits.  


“In 2012 the SNP gave patients a legal right to be seen within 12 weeks, but we now know that since then over 12,000 patients have had to wait longer than this.  This is unacceptable and can’t be allowed to continue.


“Scottish Labour’s pledge to deliver 1,000 more nurses recognises that action is needed to tackle the pressures faced by our NHS, ensuring patients receive the care they deserve.  I welcome this promise, and look forward to Scottish Labour delivering on it in government.”





Patricia Ferguson MSP

City rent rises show SNP were wrong to oppose reform

Maryhill & Springburn MSP Patricia Ferguson has said that spiralling costs for renting in Scotland’s three biggest cities is further evidence that SNP MSPs were wrong to oppose Scottish Labour’s proposals to reform the private rented sector.


A new report by Citylets has shown:

  • National rents have increased by 7.9% last year
  • Rents rose by 9.5% in Edinburgh
  • 9.4% In Glasgow
  • 8% in Aberdeen


Scottish Labour will ban rip off rent rises, and proposed amendments to the Housing (Scotland) Act last year. However their moves were blocked when the SNP voted with the Tories to oppose the amendments.

The private rented sector has exploded in size in the last decade, with nearly half of the households in the private rented sector in Scotland are families, and over 100,000 households in the sector live in poverty.

A recent report by Shelter Scotland noted a disproportionate increase in the number of homeless applications from the private rented sector.


Commenting on the situation Patricia Ferguson said:


“Too many people in the communities of Maryhill & Springburn constituency are facing a cost of living crisis, and rent increases of 9.4% for those in private rented accommodation add to their pain.


“That’s why I supported moves to ban rip off rents and was disappointed that SNP MSPs sided with the Tories to block the move.  Scottish Labour will continue to fight for reform of the private rented sector and I hope that the SNP will eventually act to prevent Scots living in the private sector suffering at the hands of unscrupulous landlords.”


Scottish Labour Housing spokesperson Michael McMahon said:

“The evidence is stacking up that the private rental market needs reform to make it work for tenants, especially in our cities.

“An unfair rent hike from a bad landlord is the last thing anybody needs, especially the over 100,000 households in Scotland who live in poverty.

“Scottish Labour will ban rip off rent rises. This is about making the system fit for purpose. When the SNP opposed our plans last year they sided with Tories and bad landlords, rather than with tenants across Scotland. “

Ann McKechin MP

The MPs in City Link inquiry pledge

meeting with citylink employees 120115.JPG

MPs have pledged to do everything possible to investigate the collapse of parcel delivery firm City Link.

Members of the Scottish Affairs Committee met with a number of workers and sub-contractors who lost out when the courier company called in the administrators.

MPs on the committee are due to question Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, in Westminster tomorrow, while the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee is pressing UK Business Secretary Vince Cable to investigate what happened at City Link.

Shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran pledged: “We are going to use every single platform we can to continue to raise this, because I think a lot of people think this is finished, but we cannot let this happen again and we need to reassure people we will do that.”

City Link, which had 2,727 employees across the UK, called in administrators from professional services firm EY after years of ”substantial losses”.

Many of the company’s staff found out about its collapse on Christmas Day, with administrators announcing on New Year’s Eve that there would 2,356 job losses.

The company directly employed 165 people in Scotland.

Pamela Nash, Labour MP for Airdrie and Shotts, said: ” There’s never a good time to get this news but to get it out of the blue at Christmas time and then confirmed at New Year was the worst possible time.

“We are devastated for our constituents and appalled at what has happened, and we will do everything we can to investigate what has happened.”

Mick Ward, who had been the RMT representative at City Link’s Motherwell depot, told the MPs: “It’s been over a fortnight now since the announcement; I thought maybe my anger and bitterness would have died down a little bit, but if anything it’s getting stronger.”

He welcomed today’s meeting in Glasgow “t o try to keep the pressure on and get some answers” from bosses at the firm.

Mr Ward added: “If it only means it never ever happens to other people, that would be something.”

He said: ” I went down to London two weeks prior to the announcement where I met the management as there had been concerns raised that the company was having problems. They assured me that everything was OK.”

Gordon Martin, RMT regional organiser for Scotland, stated: “We believe a full investigation has to be carried out.

“We will be calling for a full, forensic investigation to get to the bottom of this for these workers in particular, but also for other workers across the UK.

“It’s far too easy under UK employment legislation for this kind of thing to happen.”

Scottish Affairs Committee chair Ian Davidson said: ” We’ve obviously been very concerned about what has happened to City Link workers – the way in which they have been dismissed, the shortage of notice, the fact that the notice was coming out on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

“There were rumours of the company closing beforehand but the employees were kept on working and given assurances, as were the sub-contractors, that everything was OK.”

Mr Davidson said: “What we’ll try to do is identify what we believe is wrong, then we will get to the stage of identifying solutions, we will want to hear from the RMT at UK level what the overall pattern is.”

Labour MP Ann McKechin, a member of the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee, said City Link did “not appear to have followed good practice”.

She said: ” What is quite unusual is that the UK Government have confirmed to me in a written answer they were not aware of the problems with the company until the Christmas holiday period.

“Quite often companies, if they are having financial difficulties, would normally alert government departments so they can make available a range of services for employees who may have to cope with redundancy and issues about re-training.

“It does appear as if the Scottish and UK Governments had no advance notice, and, given this was a holiday period, it has meant their response has been delayed, and that has had an impact on employees.”

She added: ” We spoke to a small contractor and they were due to receive a payment on the Friday before Christmas, which would have been a substantial payment given this is the busiest time of year, and they were told the payment was being deferred.

“That caused them considerable alarm but they had been assured payment would be received and they worked right up to the Christmas holiday period, so that does raise questions to me about why the company were deferring payment on the Friday before Christmas.

“Were they trading insolvently? – and that’s a question that the administrators must fully investigate in the report which they are obliged to submit to the UK Government in the next few weeks.

“The Business Committee has written to Vince Cable last week, asking him whether or not he will be carrying out an investigation and the Secretary of State is due to come before our committee next month, so I anticipate this will be an issue that our committee will continue to pursue.”

Scottish Business Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “The Scottish Government is committed to providing support to the former City Link staff and subcontractors over this difficult period through our work with local agencies and key partners.

“Following my meeting with the trade union RMT representatives last week, we have set up support events for the former City Link employees through our initiative for responding to redundancy situations, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (Pace). Pace aims to minimise the time people affected by redundancy are out of work and I hope that those affected will find this useful.”

Meetings offering help for City LInk workers are due to take place in the coming days in Motherwell, Livingston, Aberdeen, Glenrothes and Glasgow.

Mr Ewing said many of City Link’s largest customers had already made other arrangements for deliveries, and “therefore our main focus is to provide assistance to the people who have now lost their jobs at the worst possible time of year”.

Ann McKechin MP

Labour List: Scottish MPs back Jim Murphy over Mansion Tax spat

Yesterday a row emerged between potential Labour London mayoral candidates – Diane Abbott, Tessa Jowell and David Lammy –  and Jim Murphy over the Scottish Labour Leader’s pledge that he ensure some of the funds raised from the Mansion Tax would be used to hire 1,000 extra nurses in Scotland.

Diane Abbott and Jim Murphy then went head-to-head on BBC Radio 4’s World at One.

Two Scottish MPs have come out in Murphy’s defence. Sheila Gilmore, MP for Edinburgh East, told The Huffington Post UK:

“it’s wrong for Diane Abbot to describe Jim Murphy’s proposal as expropriation from London. In reality it’s just another example of the pooling and sharing of resources that makes our United Kingdom so valuable.”

In the same vein, Ann McKechin, MP for Glasgow North defended Murphy’s speech, saying

“The mansion tax proposal is one of our key election offers. It is probably not surprising that London colleagues want to secure new funds for their own local needs but the mansion tax allocation is simply a logical consequence of the existing longstanding Barnett formula.”



This article was originally published by Labour List, January 7, 2015 2.09pm.