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Inside Holyrood: Highland MSP formally lodges a Right to Food Bill in the Scottish Parliament as says it will place the responsibility for realising this right on the Scottish Government

By Scott Maclennan

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MSP Rhoda Grant.
MSP Rhoda Grant.

Highland Labour MSP Rhoda Grant says the SNP have promised but 'failed' to do the same and the proposals if accepted would allow others to hold the government to account for not realising this right

As the days begin to become shorter and the Scottish Parliament has reconvened after the summer recess, I’m excited to see what this new parliamentary session brings.

I have formally lodged my Right to Food bill. I have raised the issue of food poverty and the need for stronger legislation for many years, the Scottish Government promised to bring a bill, but failed to do so.

Many of us take the availability of food for granted, but the truth is so many people are living in food poverty in Scotland, even in 2021. The pandemic has only exacerbated this and increased the need for action.

My bill will place responsibility for realising and progressing this right upon the Scottish Government, including the ability for others to hold them to account.

No-one should be going hungry in a wealthy nation like Scotland, particularly a country which has such a strong reputation for excellent food production, and by enshrining the internationally recognised right to food in Scots Law we can send a clear message that hunger has no place here.

n Last week, we saw the SNP government and the Greens pass a “co-operation agreement” which will see two Green MSPs promoted to government as ministers. Of course, the constitution was the main focus of the deal and, sadly, this means that vital issues such as housing and transport were put on the backburner.

So now the government can expect an extra seven votes on these matters regardless of whether the legislation is good or bad.

This deal means that 21 per cent of our MSPs are now government ministers. This is a high number when considering there are only 129 MSPs in total. It will ultimately mean that there are fewer people to debate, scrutinise and hold the government to account.

I really hope this deal will bring positive changes – especially in rural parts of our country like the Highlands and Islands – but I fear that the opposite will be the case, especially with so little scrutiny.

n I understand that some people are feeling anxious about the rising number of cases of Covid-19 across the country. The NHS has a serious backlog of patients waiting to see a specialist or to have an operation. Many have lost their jobs and so many businesses across the region and country have felt a financial blow.

People are sensing uncertainty again after what was quite a nice summer of fewer restrictions.

Although I can’t predict what steps the Scottish Government or Westminster will take next to curb these rising numbers, I will continue to be ready to support those who need it and my door is always open should you require it.

Related Story – Highland MSP pledges to enshrine the 'right to food' in Scots Law on the #RightToFood National Day of Action

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