Alison McInnes makes debut at First Minister’s Questions

Highly regarded Scottish Liberal Democrats Justice Spokesperson Alison McInnes stood in for Willie Rennie, who’s recovering well from routine surgery, at today’s First Minister’s Questions. You can watch her here from 23 minutes in.

Alison chose to ask about mental health today, asking why there had been a rise in the number of children suffering mental ill health who had been hospitalised in non specialist wards. The First Minister actually gave a serious and welcome response, offering her a meeting with the Health Secretary.

Alison McInnes

Last week, the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland raised concerns about the rise in the emergency detention of young people. It also highlighted the problems caused by the admission of children to general hospital wards. The Scottish Government has a policy to reduce the number of children sent to hospital wards that do not specialise in the care that they need, so why did the number of children needing mental health care who were admitted to non-specialist wards rise last year to more than 200?

The First Minister

The member raises an important point. I had a meeting yesterday that touched on that exact issue. Perhaps I can arrange a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, so that the member can develop the point and see what the plans and the vision are for the national health service to get back on track in reducing the number of children with mental health problems admitted to general wards.

Alison McInnes

There are growing calls for mental health to be given the same priority as physical health. When people are taken into emergency detention, the action is supposed to be signed off by a mental health officer. Last week, however, the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland expressed concern that that does not always happen. That means that we cannot be sure that children are taken into emergency detention only with that safeguard in place.

I do not know whether the First Minister will leave a note for his successor. If he does, will he ensure that mental health services for young people are on the list of things to put right?

The First Minister

Happily, I do not have to leave a note. My successor is sitting alongside me, and her compassion, interest in and commitment to the national health service are well known and well established.

The member has raised a serious issue, and it should be taken and developed in that fashion. I will arrange the meeting that I have discussed so that it can be pursued in all its detail to ensure that there is an adequate reply that satisfies Alison McInnes on the future direction of that highly important matter.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • And in other news from Scotland, IPSOS Mori poll of Westminster VI shows the SNP at 52% (Lib Dems at 6%)

  • An object lesson in how a minister should respond to serious questions from an opposition member.
    “..The member has raised a serious issue, and it should be taken and developed in that fashion. I will arrange the meeting that I have discussed so that it can be pursued in all its detail to ensure that there is an adequate reply that satisfies Alison McInnes on the future direction of that highly important matter.”

    No wonder Salmond has built up the reputation and growing success of his party

    Compare that with Hansard of the DPM answering questions from opposition members in the Westminster Parliament. Some of Clegg’s antagonistic attacks on Labour Party MPs when answering questions as DPM reveal not just his inexperience and failure to learn how the House of Commons works, but why he is inadequate as party leader. Some of those answers may come back to haunt him if on 8th May if the shoe is on the other foot.

    There is no comparison– Salmond is clearly in the Premier League whilst Clegg has yet to learn that a polite and informed reply can have positive benefits all round.

  • Toby Fenwick 31st Oct '14 - 10:00am


    I look forward to a comment from you that isn’t all about your personal animus with Nick Clegg.

  • Toby
    I am happy to have already met your wish more than once this morning. See my comment on Andrew Stunnel’s piece or my comment on Toby Matthew’s piece. You will note that they make no reference to Clegg.
    Most of my comments in LDV make no reference whatsoever to him.
    Why would you want to create a different impression, I wonder?

  • Sorry but Alison is the most uninspiring MSP in Holyrood. Maybes its her voice or somthing but she just made me want to watch paint dry.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 31st Oct '14 - 9:02pm

    Fraser, people can’t help their voices, and if you are going to dismiss her like that, then you are the one who is missing out. Alison is a passionate liberal who has had the Justice Secretary on the ropes many times. On Cornton Vale, on mental health support, on stop and search and armed police. She’s forced changes of policy and has repeatedly been lauded as an extremely effective justice spokesperson.

    You might want to think before you are so gratuitously offensive about someone again.

  • Eddie Sammon 1st Nov '14 - 10:02am

    Alison’s questions and tone were fine. Salmond largely batted them away by simply saying “we care about the NHS”, so we need to find a way to pin him down, but overall Alison was fine. She demonstrated Lib Dem concerns and policy. She certainly didn’t deserve Fraser’s response.

  • I’m sure she is a fine MSP and stands up for what she believes in. It might sound harsh what i’ve said and maybe offensive too but thats how i felt after watching her I cant change that. I’ve found that to make people hear you you need a message that is strong, true and heard with conviction.

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