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Fergus Ewing: What is at stake is surely beyond party politics Gender reform legislation vote

By Fergus Ewing

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Last week in the Holyrood chamber I pressed the case for the dualling of the A9 and the A96 in my constituency.

Many Courier readers have expressed to me their concern and worry about the A9 and the tragic deaths which have occurred on it this year. Indeed, I said that for every family impacted by the loss of a loved one, and in a few cases more than one, 2022 would be an “Annus horribilis”.

The minister is sympathetic to the three “asks”: a plan to improve road safety now; a new deadline for completion of the projects in both roads; and in the case of the A9 a detailed high-level plan showing when each section will be dualled.

I also requested that she come back to the chamber with oral ministerial statements on these


What is at stake is surely beyond party politics, I argued, namely life and death – and saving life will be the result of a fully dualled road.

The Road Safety Foundation has found that the risks of a serious incident is seven times as great in a single-carriageway road than a motorway. All Scottish cities, apart from Inverness, already enjoy either dual or motorway links in and out of their location.

During the debate, the minister indicated that announcements will be made shortly indicating some progress – which is welcome.

I suspect that these will be important but technical announcements – and so my work continues to press the minister and indeed the Deputy First Minister, the acting finance secretary, to agree to all three asks.

Meanwhile, the minister met with me and is to meet all Highland MSPs to discuss these matters.

I voted against gender reform legislation, going against the party whip in so doing. I did so because I believe , profoundly , that the changes proposed are wrong, and may well have very serious consequences for some people, especially young vulnerable people.

Existing checks and balances in place should remain.

In addition, the bill would allow males to change gender lawfully and then demand access to private female-only spaces such as public toilets, changing rooms, hospital wards and so on. That, too, appears to me to create additional risk of sexual attack, and therefore cannot be supported.

I know those who support the Bill strongly believe in it but I must respectfully disagree with them. I shall oppose these measures at the later stage three process.

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