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July 2013

Marco Biagi MSP

Holyrood Update
Parliamentary News for the Edinburgh Central constituency
RAISED IN PARLIAMENT IN JUNE: Bringing National Performance Centre for sport to Edinburgh Capability Scotland research on jobs Edinburgh Central Mosques interfaith work Edinburgh International Film Festival Public works projects in Edinburgh Assessment of carbon savings of tram project Powers of police surveillance

School leaver success reaches all-time high


The rate of young people staying in employment, training or education after leaving school is now the highest on record. Results presented to Parliament in June show that 89.5% of school leavers now go on to what are called 'positive destinations', more than in the time before the recession. This follows considerable efforts by schools, Scottish Government, councils, business and charities. Scotland is now for example unique in guaranteeing an offer of a place in education or training for 16 to 19s, and this is paying off. Here in Edinburgh, 89.8% of school leavers go on to positive destinations, with many of the secondary schools serving Edinburgh Central having very proud records of improvement in recent years.

After meeting employees and volunteers of homeless charity Crisis at their recent Celebration of Success I briefly joined in with a demonstration of one of the workshops they offer service users.

Holyrood Update

Marco Biagi MSP

JUST SOME OF JUNES DIARY HIGHLIGHTS: Giving the Junior Award Scheme Scotland (JASS) awards at Tynecastle High Contributing to new Open University course on renewable energy Speaking at STUC Conference on the Bedroom Tax Judging Thomas of Aquins Youth Philanthropy Initiative Opening new office of Aberdein Considine in the West End Tour and Q&A with the Welcoming Association at Holyrood Speaking at local Princes Trust learners awards Debate hosted by Edinburgh Open Rights Group on the UK Communications Data Bill And much more.

One of the 45 Lothian Buses funded by the Scottish Governments Green Bus Fund. Other companies must follow suit.

Time to save our breath


With air pollution levels now above legal limits across the heart of the capital, I have called for Edinburgh to follow the example of cities in England like Oxford and Norwich and only allow the cleanest buses to be allowed into the city centre. The pollution means that under national legislation the City of Edinburgh Council is now obliged to produce an Air Quality Action Plan for these areas, with Scottish Government funding available to assist. Buses are already regulated, so introducing a Low Emission Zone would be a straightforward exercise. Air pollution can have serious health effects, causing or aggravating heart and lung problems. Children and the elderly are also more at-risk. Conditions affected include asthma, bronchitis and heart disease. Lothian Buses have improved their fleet massively in recent years. Theyve been especially forward-thinking in their use of the Scottish Governments Green Bus Fund to deliver first-class top quality new hybrid buses. Citylink and Stagecoach buses are also good performers environmentally. There must be no place in our city for other buses that are little more than lingering antiques, belching out noxious fumes. Its time to lay down the law and take action for city centre residents, pedestrians and cyclists by setting a deadline by which all buses using the city centre have to meet the top standards.

Holyrood Update

Marco Biagi MSP

Marriage Bill introduced


A Bill to allow same sex couples to marry in Scotland has been introduced to Parliament. The proposals offer protections for religious bodies, individual celebrants and the Bill also makes it clear that freedom of speech is unaffected. Under the plans, religious bodies who wish to perform same sex marriage will have to opt in. I know there are many religious organisations who believe marriage is between a man and a woman, and all will be entitled to continue to practise marriage as they choose to understand it. Ensuring these protections are effective will be a central part of our work on the Equal Opportunities Committee in the autumn. In Edinburgh Central there are also however religious organisations who consider marriage should be between two people. These include the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Unitarians at St Mark's, the Liberal denomination in Judaism, and others. These faiths will now be free to be true to their beliefs as well. Civil marriage, offered by the state, must reflect the wishes and values of society as a whole. Just as this has changed with regard to minimum age of participation, rights to divorce and the role of women, so too now does it need to change to accommodate the right of same-sex couples to have their relationship recognised like any other.

Hosting performance at Holyrood of charity single in aid of Alzheimer Scotland by local band Einsteins Wardrobe.

More cuts from Westminster


With the ink barely dry on last year's Scottish Parliament budget, Westminster confirmed a further 333m cut in June. George Osborne's spending review made it clear that he has chosen austerity over investment, despite continuing criticism from the IMF about the damage austerity is doing to the UKs chances of economic recovery. Further cuts to Scotlands capital budget were also confirmed, despite Osbornes attempts to cover up the cut, claiming that the budget would increase by over 12%. This is not the case as the increase will is made up of a loan facility, rather than real cash. In fact, since 2010 Scotlands capital budget has been cut by 26%, hitting key areas like housebuilding, hospital rebuilds and key transport improvements. The total impact of capital cuts from 2010-11 over the 5 years to 2015 will be to cost Scotlands economy over 3.2bn.

CURRENTLY WORKING ON IN COMMITTEE: Economy, Energy & Tourism Committee: Regulatory Reform Bill Equal Opportunities Committee: Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill

Holyrood Update

Marco Biagi MSP

Visiting Gorgie City Farm stall at Gorgie Dalry Gala Day with Councillor Fullerton

Holyrood Update is published by Marco Biagi MSP to give members of the community a window into his parliamentary and constituency work. For further information on Marcos activities as an MSP see the Scottish Parliament website. The cost of producing this publication has been met out of Parliamentary resources. As an enewsletter the cost is minimal.

Climate progress marked


Figures out this month showed a sharp fall in Scottish greenhouse gas emissions. The 9.9 percent decrease was the biggest single year-on-year decrease since regular reporting of emissions began in 1998. Cross-border carbon trading, where one company is paid by another to reduce carbon through the Emissions Trading Scheme, means that for accounting reasons Scotland nonetheless unfortunately missed the target as framed in law. Low Carbon Scotland (also known as 'RPP2') was launched on 27th June, projecting that Scotland is at least on course for a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

How to contact me
Please feel free to contact me at any time about any of the matters in the remit of the Scottish Parliament or of wider concern. I am always happy to hear from constituents, whether you want to make your views known, to inquire about mine, or to seek further information about any of the decisions being considered by Holyrood. Marco Biagi MSP Edinburgh Central 77 Buccleuch Street Edinburgh EH8 9LS
marco.biagi.msp@scottish.parliament.uk 0131 668 3642 or 0131 348 6482