Occupational Segregation in the Highlands and Islands

Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie has welcomed the publication of the report, Occupational Segregation in the Highlands and Islands, commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Green MSP Finnie, said:


“I welcome the publication of this important report, which coincided with International Women’s day. The research demonstrates that there is much work to be done if we are to end gender based inequality in the Highlands and Islands.


“I am particularly supportive of the recommendation for a region-wide strategic approach to the issue and I hope this can be brought forward as soon as possible.”


Full motion:


Motion Number: S5M-04536
Lodged By: John Finnie
Date Lodged: 09/03/2017

Title: Occupational Segregation in the Highlands and Islands

Motion Text:

That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the report, Occupational Segregation in the Highlands and Islands, which was commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise; notes that the research, which was carried out by Ekosgen, identified that occupational segregation is more pronounced in the Highlands and Islands than the rest of Scotland, impacting on individuals, employers and the economy; understands that the study highlighted that employment rates for men (82.8%) and women (75.3%) in the region exceed the Scottish average but that employment levels are higher among men compared to women, and that the difference is more marked than for Scotland as a whole; considers that the report, which was published to coincide with International Women’s Day, identified that, while occupational segregation impacts on both genders, it is more often women that experience the negative consequences, and that there is clear evidence of a gender pay gap in the Highlands and Islands, with men more likely to work in more senior well-paid positions and women more prevalent in less senior roles, and with the types of jobs often reflecting traditional views of what is “women’s work” and “men’s work”, and that these patterns persist across most sectors and are evident in subject choices across modern apprenticeships and further and higher education; believes that the report highlights a range of factors that contribute to this, including perpetuating stereotypes, workplace practices and cultures, working patterns and structural barriers such as availability of childcare, and that it states that, while there is a need to acknowledge local circumstances, there is a need for a region-wide strategic approach to address the issue, and considers that such a strategic approach should be brought forward as soon as possible in order to ensure that the same opportunities are available to all regardless of gender.



John Comments on Audit Scotland Report onFailed Police i6 IT System

Today (9th March) Audit Scotland has published its report into the failed project which was to deliver a national IT system for Police Scotland. Audit Scotland said the sorry affair leaves an urgent need to deliver improvements.  Audit Scotland says the i6 project collapsed due to a loss of trust between those involved.

Commenting John said:

“The now discontinued i6 project was intended to draw together about 130 computer and paper-based systems and be an intrinsic part of future policing. Audit Scotland correctly point out that the company which won this £46million project were ‘strongly challenged’ by Police Scotland, the Police Authority and the Scottish Government and, indeed the Parliament’s Police Committee of which I’m a member.

“Whilst the police service has come out the other end of this sorry affair with both its reputation and finances intact it still hasn’t the robust information systems it sought and clearly needs. Police Scotland’s ‘2026 draft strategy’ focuses on the future of policing. It’s self-evident that information technology will be key to that future and I endorse the Auditor General’s comment that there is ‘an urgent need for a frank assessment of Police Scotland’s IT requirements.’

“Of course, any future IT procurement process will be subject to the same detailed scrutiny.

Finnie Welcomes Justice Centre Decision

Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie has welcomed the Highland Council’s decision to grant permission to the new Inverness Justice Centre.

The centre, which will be developed at the site of the former bus depot at Longman Road, will see the courts services moved out of Inverness Castle.

This decision also paves the way for the High Court to return to Inverness.

Mr Finnie, The Scottish Greens’ Justice Spokesperson said:

“I welcome the decision by Highland Council’s south planning committee to give the go ahead for Inverness’ new Justice Centre. This is positive news for the area and means that the most serious Highlands and Islands cases will no longer need to be heard down in Glasgow or Edinburgh.

“The new facility will mean the High Court will return to Inverness for the first time since 2013.

“I had called upon the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service to bring High Court justice back locally and was delighted when they recently confirmed this would be the case with the new facility.

“Our courts play an important role in our communities. This new development will provide top class facilities which will help ensure victims and witnesses are treated in an appropriate manner, and do not have to suffer the inconvenience of travelling to the Central belt to see justice be done.

“This development will also allow Inverness Castle to be used as a tourist attraction, which will be welcome news for the tourism industry in the area.”

Finnie Welcomes Climate Challenge Funding


Green MSP John Finnie has welcomed awards of over £2 million from the Climate Challenge Fund for projects in the Highlands and Islands.

The awards, totalling £2,136,315 were shared between 25 organisations across Argyll and Bute, Highland, Moray, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.

John lodged the following parliamentary motion congratulating the organisations on their awards:

Motion Number: S5M-04139
Lodged By: John Finnie
Date Lodged: 21/02/2017

Title: Highlands and Islands Climate Challenge Fund

Motion Text:

That the Parliament congratulates the 25 projects in the Highlands and Islands that have been awarded a total of £2,136,315 from the Climate Challenge Fund; notes the important roles that these groups play in supporting their respective communities to recycle, reduce, reuse, promote energy efficiency, grow food locally and tackle fuel poverty, and wishes the projects, which are run by Lorn Island Partnership, Iona Renewables Group, Fyne Homes, Mull and Iona Community Trust, Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust, Lairg and District Learning Centre, Raasay Development Trust, New Start Highland, Lochaber Environmental Group, Cantraybridge College, Raasay House Community Company, Pentland Housing Association, Broadford and Strath Community Company, Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, Spean Bridge Community Centre, Scottish Highlands and Islands and Moray Chinese Association, Buckpool Golf, Sports and Social Club, Earthtime For All Ltd, REAP, Orkney Zerowaste, Papay Community Co-operative, Fetlar Developments Ltd, Tagsa Uibhist, Tighean Innse Gall, Bragar and Arnol Community Trust, well for the year ahead.

Highlands and Islands MSP, Finnie said:

“The Climate Challenge Fund provides support, resources and training to community groups taking action on climate change. I am delighted that 25 projects spanning all local authorities in the Highlands and Islands have been awarded funding which will support local communities to recycle, reduce, reuse, promote energy efficiency, grow food locally and tackle fuel poverty.”

Funding Announcement: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Environment/climatechange/ccf/projects/CCF23

Greens Secure £17.7million for Highlands and Islands communities

The Scottish Green Party have secured an additional £17.7m for local services in the Highlands and Islands as part of a £160m concession won during budget negotiations with the Scottish Government.

The deal means vital extra funds will be given to the six local authorities in the Highlands and Islands, as follows:

  • Highland Council £8.2m
  • Argyll and Bute Council £3m
  • Moray Council £2.8m
  • Comhairle nan Eilean Siar £1.3m
  • Shetland Islands Council £1.3m
  • Orkney Islands Council £1.1m

Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie said:

“Greens stand firmly with Highlands and Islands communities and public sector workers affected by cuts and closures, and these new funds secured by Green MSPs mean we can start to repair the damage done by years of underfunding and lack of local flexibility.

“This deal means £17.7m additional funding for local services in Highland.

“This is the biggest budget concession in Holyrood’s history. Other parties effectively ruled themselves out of constructive dialogue. Green MSPs have achieved more in a single budget than the Labour Party has in a decade of opposition.

“This is, however, only the start of a journey on restoring financial powers at local level.”


International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation

Today (Monday 6th February) marks International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. To mark the day last week the Parliament debated how to best prevention and eradication Female Genital Mutilation and all other forms of so-called honour-based violence. 

You can read John’s speech below.

John Finnie (Highlands and Islands) (Green):

“Yesterday, as part of the work done by small groups of members in the Justice Committee, my colleague Mary Fee and I took evidence from a gentleman in his 50s who described a whole childhood of abuse. In the previous session—when you chaired the committee, Presiding Officer—we took evidence in private from victims of domestic abuse and heard the harrowing details of what they had gone through. Likewise, in the previous session, the Equal Opportunities Committee held three evidence sessions on the issue of female genital mutilation and heard harrowing testimonies from individuals. It is important to say that those sessions took place in private with appropriate support and safeguards. I, for one, am full of admiration for those individuals for the strength that they have shown in coming forward to inform us, as lawmakers, about such complex issues—and there is no issue more complex than FGM.

The answer is not more laws, which is why we have the national action plan on the prevention and eradication of FGM. It is not an issue for Parliament, as many members have said, and for that reason we will support the Labour amendment, which recognises the key role that community leaders can play. It is not lost on many of us that those community leaders will be men and that the power that is an intrinsic element of this obscene practice lies with men—this is gender-based violence. I am amazed at the ability that humans have to abuse each other, and FGM is linked to abusive and coercive power, as members have said.

I have difficulty with the phrase “honour-based violence”, as does Pauline McNeill. I do not get that terminology at all. Similarly, to the overwhelming number of victims, the term “female genital mutilation” means nothing. Many euphemisms are used in front of those young girls and women. For example, they are told that they are going to a party or on a holiday. They are tricked by their family and community, which in itself is a huge breach of trust that resonates for a lifetime.

I acknowledge that there are cultural pressures, but let us be quite clear about how those pressures manifest themselves. They manifest themselves in a child being attacked, sexually assaulted, mutilated, restrained and detained, often for days. The most worrying thing is the psychological effect that that has on them, which is immeasurable, and the fact that their dignity has been stolen. I will not rehearse the various medical issues that follow FGM, but the reproductive issues are significant and the victims suffer many lifetime medical issues as a consequence of it.

The legacy paper of the Equal Opportunities Committee from the previous session says that

problems identified could have been avoided if staff had been trained”.

There are issues there. That is not a criticism; there are issues around cultural sensitivities such as some women appearing at medical practices accompanied by a male and the challenges that people will understand. However, we have to get on despite those cultural sensitivities. I do not want a monoculture for Scotland—I think that Scotland grows from the growing diversity of our culture—and this is not an attack on any individual culture. It is entirely in line with the United Nations approach, which is to afford the utmost protection to all females and give the maximum support to those who seek to end this abhorrent practice.

It is not easy, but I can cite examples of where there have been sizeable changes both in the reporting of the practice and in the courts. There has been a wholesale change in the approach to domestic violence, including in police practices in courts and the support that is available. Likewise, there have been changes in how we deal with child abuse and sexual assault. Although there is some way to go on all those issues—we can all see that these things never happen straight away—progress can be made.

Education is vital in those challenging communities in which men often have undue sway. Training is important in raising awareness, particularly among health professionals. I am grateful to the British Medical Association for its briefing paper. It talks about those who are at risk and the assistance that the medical profession gives to identify them. The education authorities also help people who are returning to countries where their previous generation came from by raising awareness about what might happen at key moments in a young girl’s life.

I commend the professionals who have been involved. I also commend the volunteers, many of whom are unsung because, to be effective, regrettably, they must remain anonymous.

It is important to have international days and this is an international issue. We will support the Conservative Party amendment and—I need to take a deep breath to say this—I commend the UK Government for its support on the issue.

The reality is that we have an action plan. As others have said, it is tied into the equally safe strategy. This is about equality and it is about gender-based violence. We must have zero tolerance towards gender-based violence and, as the BMA says, we must break the generational cycle of FGM.

The motion agreed to after the debate and amendments agreed unanimously read:

That the Parliament recognises 6 February as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM); is clear that FGM, along with all other forms of violence perpetrated against women under the guise of gender, culture or religion, so-called honour-based violence, is a violation of the human rights of women and girls; acknowledges that a preventative, supportive and legislative approach is crucial to tackling, preventing and eradicating FGM; recognises that communities and individuals affected by honour-based violence must be at the heart of work to effect significant social, cultural and attitudinal change over the long term; further recognises that faith leaders of communities potentially affected by FGM and so-called honour-based violence have a role to play in working to change cultural attitudes; welcomes the positive engagement and ongoing partnership approach across the police, NHS, education, social services, third sector and community-based organisations, in taking forward the actions from Scotland’s National Action Plan to Prevent and Eradicate FGM, and recognises the international work of the UK Government, which has allocated £35 million to reduce FGM by 30% in 17 countries across Africa

Ship to Ship Update

Earlier this week it was confirmed that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has asked the Cromarty Firth Port Authority (CFPA)  to prepare a new application if it wants to continue with its highly controversial  unacceptably dangerous plans to carry out ship to ship oil transfers in the Cromarty Firth.

While this is a welcome announcement, CFPA have made clear their intentions to move forward with a fresh application. So the fight against these plans must go on. Hopefully this time the Scottish Government will stand with the communities of the Cromarty Firth, in opposing this renewed application.

There are currently two open petitions on these proposals.

First the petition to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee (http://external.parliament.scot/gettinginvolved/petitions/shiptoshiptransfers) which calls on the Scottish Government to “ensure that environmental legislation in Scotland is sufficient to prevent ship-to-ship transfers of crude oil in environmentally sensitive locations, such as the Inner Moray Firth, and to enhance the accountability of trust port boards to their stakeholders.”

Secondly the 38 Degrees petition which is addressed to the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling MP (https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/danger-to-sea-life-from-oil-spills).

I would strongly encourage you to sign both of these petitions to show both the UK and the Scottish Government the strength of feeling in the community and wider against these dangerous proposals.

If you are interested in joining the campaign against please see the community campaign website (http://www.cromartyrising.com)