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GM Crops: The Welsh Assembly Has Led, The Scottish Government Must Follow

Greens today put down a motion at Holyrood (1) calling on Scottish Ministers to follow the approach of the Welsh Assembly Government to GM crops, and welcoming their proposals, published today, which would bring in full liability for all GM crop producers. (2) These plans, which are backed by the Farmers’ Union of Wales and by environmental campaigners, would ensure that GM companies would have to bear the costs of any environmental or economic damage their crops cause, such as contamination of either organic or conventional produce.

Robin Harper MSP said:

“The science clearly shows the failings of GM crops, which bring nothing but risk for Scotland’s farmers and corporate control for our food chain. Scottish legislation must now be extended beyond the moratorium to make GM companies fully liable for any problems their unwelcome crops bring.”


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Sparrowhawks: Ministers Must Take Wildlife Responsibilities Seriously

Scottish Ministers have bowed to pressure from the pigeon-fanciers’ lobby and agreed to trap and relocate protected sparrowhawks this autumn, although the plans will not now start before the autumn. (1) The Scottish Greens believe this approach is misguided, unscientific, and potentially illegal, and have today lodged a motion setting out these serious concerns. (2)

Robin Harper MSP said:

“This trial planned by Michael Russell and the “doo lobby” is scientific in just the same way that Japan’s approach to whaling is scientific: cynical, flawed, and driven by vested interests.

“This matter has been examined three times already over the last eight years and the science hasn’t changed. Sparrowhawks are a protected species for good reason (3), as Parliament has recognised, and Ministers must respect that.”

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UK Oil And Gas Plans For Moray Firth “Blown Out Of The Water”

Oil and gas exploration plans for the Moray Firth were today thrown into doubt as Robin Harper MSP pressed Michael Russell, Minister for the Environment, on scientific revelations that Westminster’s science is fundamentally flawed. (1) Scottish Ministers have yet to come off the fence on this issue, but
Michael Russell today committed to “do his usual robust thing” when SNH’s scientific review of the project is completed next week. (2)

UK Ministers claim to have used the work of Professor Paul Thompson, the leading expert on the Moray Firth’s bottlenose dolphin population, to justify their exploration plans, but Professor Thompson’s view is that they have misrepresented his views. In his submission to the consultation, Professor Thompson also notes that UK Ministers have not used “the best available science”, and that the decision to expose the Moray dolphins to this risk “would fail to stand up to expert review in the European Court.”

The full text of Professor Thompson’s letter is available on request.

Robin Harper MSP said:

“This proposal to drill for oil in the home of a protected and endangered dolphin population was obviously flawed from the start. Now it turns out that UK Ministers have misrepresented the science to justify their plans, which have now been blown out of the water by the top expert on this population.

“The Moray Firth and other parts of Scottish waters are protected for a reason, and Malcolm Wicks must now do the right thing and put conservation and the environment ahead of this polluters’ charter.”

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Harper Launches Innovative Community Arts Project In Parliament

Green Lothians MSP Robin Harper will launch “Parallel Lives 2 – See the Future” in the Scottish Parliament, on Tuesday 19th February.
In 2002 the original groundbreaking Parallel Lives project aimed to introduce socially excluded young people to the experience of responding to art and emphasised the relevance of historical paintings to their lives today.  The project proved that works of art can captivate the minds of an audience who may never have visited an art gallery.  This objective is again at the heart of Parallel Lives 2.
The National Galleries of Scotland will mount a display of works from the inaugural Parallel Lives project in the MSPs first floor lobby of the Parliament building in order to allow MSPs and other government employees to become familiar with the project.
Robin Harper said

“I’m delighted to host an exhibition that demonstrates how important the use of art can be to communities that want to express their views of an ideal society.  It is an important truism that a picture can be worth more than a thousand words.  Using original works of art as an inspiration for creating and interpreting new art to give important messages on local issues is exciting, innovative and above all inclusive for all those taking part.”

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Green MSP and Councillor Support Green Christmas Tree Scheme


Green Lothians MSP, Robin Harper and Green Council Convenor, Alison Johnstone will be at the Bethany Christmas Tree at Morningside Clock, Morningside Road at 9.30am on Friday 30th November.   

For the third year running Scottish charity Bethany Christian Trust are running their excellent “Caring Christmas Trees” scheme where all money made by the Charity through sale of their trees, goes straight to helping homeless people in the cold winter period.  As well as the City of Edinburgh Council, churches, schools and businesses across the Lothians have ordered Caring Christmas Trees to help homeless people this winter.   Proceeds from the Caring Christmas Tree sales help fund Bethany‘s life-saving Winter Care Shelter service which is hosted in Edinburgh City Centre churches, and provides around 750 rough sleepers with overnight accommodation, hot meals and advice every night for 5 months during the winter.

Robin Harper said

Bethany offers a life-line to many people, providing essential services like shelter, heat and food.  If you’re going to buy a Christmas tree, please buy one that helps people out this winter.  The cost of funding the Care Shelter is around £100,000 so Bethany need to aim high, with sales of at least 4000 Christmas trees in Edinburgh needed.”

Councillor Johnstone said

“To keep costs down, Bethany needs about 400 volunteers to promote and distribute trees.  Using volunteers lets Bethany plough maximum profit into providing vital services for homeless people.  Do volunteer if you can and tell friends about the project.”

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Harper Hosts Childline Scotland Event

Tonight, Tuesday 11th December, Robin Harper MSP will host a special event for ChildLine Scotland.  Harper, a dedicated supporter and fundraiser for ChildLine Scotland will hand over a large cheque for £1000.00 to ChildLine at the meeting, to be held in the Scottish Parliament.

Robin Harper will lead the guests in a well-known and much loved Scottish song.  Mr Harper said

“ChildLine provides a unique and invaluable service for vulnerable young people.  It’s vital that this is funded sufficiently as it can make such a difference to these young lives.  It may be their sole source of hope.  I cannot thank those who volunteer for ChildLine enough.  They give so much of their time and compassion to help young people through difficult times in their lives.”

Robin Harper’s Festival Fringe Event has become an annual occurrence.  His show includes Robin and friends singing and playing guitar.   Robin donates all money raised from the show to ChildLine Scotland.

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Harper Warns SNP Cod Plan Could Reduce Stocks To Danger Levels Unless Action Is Taken To Reduce Discarding

Green MSP Robin Harper, speaking in advance of tomorrows annual fisheries debate, warned that SNP plans to support an increase in the total allowable catch of cod by up to 15% will result in cod stocks being reduced to danger levels, unless effective action is taken to reduce the dumping of out-of-quota fish.

Robin Harper said:

“Due to years of over-fishing Scotland’s cod stocks are still way below what they should be. We are now seeing small signs of recovery, but this must not be undermined if we are to have sustainable stocks for the future. Too many cod are being caught by boats fishing for other things, such as prawns, and then thrown over the side because there is no quota to land them. If there are any increases in cod quota, they must be accompanied by real action to ensure fisherman use gear that reduces the accidental catching of cod, and the introduction of an effective quota system for prawn fishermen and the like for any cod they do catch”

Harper added

“For many years I have been campaigning for an effective system of preserving young cod so they can reach maturity and help to rebuild a viable population. We need a system of closed areas, both at specific times and in specific places to protect the young fish. With these measures in place we can build a sustainable future for Scotland’s fishing communities as well as Scotland’s fish. Without fish there will be no fishing, without fishing no fishing communities”

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Harper Urges Support For Hate Crimes Legislation As Parliament Celebrates Equality And Diversity Week

Green MSP Robin Harper, speaking in advance of today’s debate in the Scottish Parliament on equality and diversity, urged MSPs from all parties to support Green proposals for new legislation on hate crimes. Green MSP Patrick Harvie’s bill will strengthen the law to tackle hate crimes against people based on their disability or sexual orientation. The move will introduce ‘statutory aggravation’ power to ensure that abuse and violence towards these groups is treated the same as racist attacks, and provide courts with clear and consistent sentencing powers.

Robin Harper said

“it is good news for equality and diversity that Patrick’s bill has already passed the minimum threshold of signatures from MSPs to allow it to proceed to the next stage. However, I will be asking MSPs to continue to sign up and indicate their support for Patrick’s proposals.”

Harper continued

“I first proposed action on this issue in 2003 (3). I think we are winning the argument for this legislation. I hope we can progress this as speedily as possible.”

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We should be a country that is at peace with itself and at peace with the world. I have always felt that one of the best ways of judging society is how well it looks after children and older people. There are many societies from the forests of Brazil to the advanced economies of northern Europe that do things that we should aspire to. Children have a right to love, health and protection from birth and we could do a lot more for many children in Scotland in their early years.  It should not be possible for anybody on retirement to find that they have been robbed of their pension. The basic pension should provide a decent basic income. In fact I would like our pension, child support and entire benefits system to be redesigned to provide a basic income for all.  We need to recognise that our mental and spiritual health is just as important as physical health. To achieve this we need a huge investment in the arts, theatre, music and in reconciling people with their natural environment.

We should look at the yin and yang of investment. 70% at least of offenders are between 15 and 25, so put more money into youth clubs and sport, not more police officers and ASBOs. .  Educating offenders and giving them self respect and opportunities is better than locking them up in prisons, invest more in the former and you wont need the latter. We waste up to 80% of the energy we use so put 80% of new investment into insulation and energy saving.

One size does not fit all. At least a quarter of our children leave secondary school having not enjoyed it very much. Education should offer experiences and the opportunity for children to develop all of their potential not just those skills that can be expressed through writing examinations.

My vision for Scotland is a country where everyone has a sense of place and those places are well designed, environmentally sustainable, secure, in a community that loves cares for and respects every single member from birth to death.

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Robin Harper Hosts Unique Parliamentary Event

10 Questions, 10 Answers, 10 Minutes 

On Friday 2nd November, Green Lothians MSP Robin Harper will host “Why Democracy”, in the Scottish Parliament, for the Scottish Documentary Institute, with the BBC and the University of Edinburgh.

Why Democracy? explores the meaning and universal values of democracy in different societies and cultures. Launched in October 2007, with ten one-hour films focused on contemporary democracy broadcast in the world’s largest ever factual media event, more than 40 broadcasters on all continents are participating, with an estimated audience of 300 million viewers.

The Scottish Parliament is the only parliament actively involved in the initiative. Robin Harper is hosting a film about what democracy means, and a debate that will bring public debate on democracy to the heart of parliament. Robin Harper said “I am delighted to be hosting this exciting event in the Parliament. Examining what democracy means is essential if we are to engage with the big issues in Scottish society and beyond. Ten speakers will be addressing big questions in only one minute, including ‘Who rules the world?’ and ‘Is democracy good for everyone?’ I will be speaking for one minute addressing ‘Can politicians solve climate change?’ I am looking forward to a lively debate.’

The film to be screened is “Please Vote for Me” is a revealing political tale about a class of third graders in China electing a class monitor. The film follows the children as they develop their strategies to win the election and much of the behaviour we know from our own democratic process is mirrored by the pupils.

This will be followed by ten speakers, speaking for one minute each on one of ten themes raised by the Why Democracy? Project. The speakers are drawn from across Scottish society, from academics to emcees.

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