11 March 2024 – yesterday’s press releases (part 2)

  • McArthur looks to include cruises ships in visitor levy bill
  • Prison exec admits no plans to bring back rehabilitation services
  • Yousaf’s economic credibility is down the drain

McArthur looks to include cruises ships in visitor levy bill

Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur has lodged amendments to the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill to allow a debate on the inclusion of cruise ship visitors within the scope of the legislation.

In light of concerns raised by local tourism businesses in Orkney, as well as Orkney islands Council, Mr McArthur is seeking to ensure the bill is both more flexible and fairer in the way that any levy might be applied by local authorities.

Commenting ahead of the Local Government Committee meeting that will begin consideration of Stage 2 amendments on the bill on Tuesday, Mr McArthur said:

Providing local councils with the power to set a visitor levy is a reasonable step to take. As ever, though, the devil is in the detail.

At present, Ministers have come forward with a bill that would apply to some parts of the tourism sector but not others. People in Orkney will not be alone in wondering why visitors to our islands who stay in hotels, self-catering or B&Bs should be charged, but not the increasingly large numbers who visit Orkney on cruise ships or indeed in mobile homes. All place demands on the local infrastructure and services, and all should therefore contribute. Anything else would be unfair and undermine business and public confidence in the scheme.

I am concerned too at the lack of flexibility local councils will have in the way any levy will apply. Just because it works in Edinburgh or Glasgow doesn’t mean it will work in our islands. Councils should therefore have scope to apply any levy in ways that make sense in local circumstances, such as collection via airlines and ferry companies.”

I support the principle behind this legislation but getting the detail right will be crucial. Unfortunately, that has not been a strong suit of this SNP/Green Government over recent years.

Prison exec admits no plans to bring back rehabilitation services

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has today urged the SNP government to explain how it will support rehabilitative measures in prisons, as he revealed that there are no plans to bring back the throughcare system that helped 100 prisoners a month move on and away from reoffending.

The throughcare service paired prisoners up with a support officer who helped them make arrangements for housing, medical provision and benefits, both before and after release.

The service was suspended “temporarily” in summer 2019, but Scottish Liberal Democrats subsequently revealed that it was never restarted.

Now it has been revealed that there are no plans to bring the service back, with the Chief Executive of the Scottish Prison Service, Teresa Medhurst, stating that while the prison population continues to grow, “it is unlikely that SPS will be able to resume a Throughcare Support Service.”

Mr McArthur said:

Our prison population is at worryingly high levels, but that should be the argument for, not against, throughcare. Support like this makes all the difference between a life rehabilitated, or a life of reoffending.

Scottish Liberal Democrats have been warning for years about the impact of overcrowding. The response to date from Ministers, however, has made no difference. Indeed, the problems only appear to be getting worse.

We are now seeing prison bosses making decisions they don’t want to make and third sector organisations are having to step in to plug the gaps.

Our justice system needs to be able to strike the right balance between punishing, supporting and, crucially, rehabilitating. To do that, it needs to be properly funded.

Scottish Liberal Democrats want to see prisons used as an opportunity to provide new skills and a means of making a positive contribution upon release. That requires a basic standard of support and continuity both before and after an individual leaves prison.

That’s the best way to keep communities safe.

Yousaf’s economic credibility is down the drain

Speaking ahead of Humza Yousaf’s speech at the London School of Economics, Scottish Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson Willie Rennie said:

Humza Yousaf lost the argument over independence in 2014 and since then his arguments have only got worse.

Everyone can see that Brexit has been bad for the economy, why would anyone want the same thing on steroids with independence?

No one was forcing his government to make such a mess of the Ferguson ferries or get taken for a ride by Sanjeev Gupta. The SNP’s economic credibility has poured down the drain.

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This entry was posted in News, Press releases and Scotland.
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