Archive for October, 2007

Harper Urges Supermarkets to Take Responsibility for Packaging Waste

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Robin Harper MSP said ’30-40% of all household waste which ends up in landfills comes from the top five supermarket chains. Supermarkets are taking no responsibility for the waste they produce. As citizens we pay for it three times over; as consumers buying unnecessary packaging, as Council tax payers paying for recycling collection, and where there are no recycling facilities we pay for it to be wasted. Consumers are trapped in a lose, lose, lose scenario which must be changed.’

Robin Harper MSP said

“Supermarkets must take responsibility for the waste they produce, through re-design they can reduce the need for bulky packaging and must use recycled materials rather than virgin resources. As consumers we need to recognise the potential waste in what we buy and shop for local, seasonal and unpackaged food where possible.”

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Childhood Leukaemia: Greens Press Ministers to End Secrecy

Green MSP Robin Harper today pressed Scottish Ministers to explain why they support withholding health information from the public, despite the NHS being ordered to do so by Scotland’s Information Commissioner and the Scottish Courts. A letter to Robin Harper from Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that the Scottish Government is putting itself in the bizarre position of backing an appeal to the House of Lords by the NHS, and opposing rulings by the Scottish Courts and a Scottish Commissioner appointed by the Scottish Parliament.

Greens have been pressing a freedom of information request since 2004 for the NHS to reveal incidences of childhood leukaemia by census ward, which has seen a long and drawn out process of refusals, appeals, court cases and now another appeal to the House of Lords being taken by the NHS.

The NHS refuses to release the information because it says that patient confidentiality will be compromised, yet this issue was considered at length by the Commissioner and by the courts, and was considered ill-founded because the information could be released in a form that would not do this. Greens also understand that the UK Information Commissioner who holds overall responsibility for the Data Protection Act is to support the release of the information when the case appears before the House of Lords next April.

Robin Harper MSP said:

“It seems odd to say the least that the Minister should continue to stand against the view of the Scottish Courts and the Information Commissioner, and instead back an appeal to the House of Lords to maintain this secrecy. This is an important case to make information about local health available to local communities and would be a valuable
tool for considering health and environmental injustice and inequalities. I am disappointed that Nicola Sturgeon maintains a position that is frankly untenable.”

“She has asked me before that I meet with the NHS privately. I have asked them for a meeting to discuss the issue. But I must stress that I am doing this as well as, not instead of, seeking the information requested to be placed in the public domain.”

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Time for a Crackdown on Wildlife Crime

Greens today backed calls for a crackdown on wildlife crime, particularly the poisoning of Scotland’s birds of prey, which has reached its highest level for 25 years in Scotland. Greens welcomed a Scottish Government announcement today in parliament to review the prevention, investigation and prosecution of wildlife crime. (1) However, Greens want to see dedicated Wildlife Crime Officers in every police force and the crimes treated more seriously with sufficient prioritisation and resources to tackle them, and not treated as minor offences.

Robin Harper MSP said:

“Wildlife crime is a serious matter, and indeed one that the public cares about very much.  And of course we should care about this issue, for cruelty to animals is totally unacceptable and has direct links with other forms of human violence and degrading behaviour.”

“Scotland’s wildlife protection laws may be among the best in Europe, but our record on the effective prevention, investigation and prosecution of wildlife crime is not one to be proud of. The Scottish Government’s motion rightly commends the collaborative work and commitment of those involved in tackling wildlife crime, but it is clear that there needs to be greater action.”

“We need to get more Wildlife Crime Officers.  We need at least one Wildlife Crime Officer in each police force. And these officers must be properly resourced, valued and supported – a special and dedicated force of full-time officers.”

“There has to be a greater prioritisation of wildlife crime. Training in wildlife crime legislation and procedures must be consistent across all police forces and throughout the
Procurator Fiscal service. Any compassionate society should properly enforce legislation on wildlife crime.  This is not an optional extra.  It is an absolute duty.”

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