Johann Lamont : To ask the Scottish Executive on what date the next meeting of the Ministerial Progress Group on Second Stage Transfers in Glasgow will be held.
Answered by Stewart Maxwell (15 October 2007): The Scottish Government has no plans to reconvene the Ministerial Progress Group.
Johann Lamont : To ask the Scottish Executive how many meetings of the Ministerial Progress Group on Second Stage Transfers in Glasgow have been held since April 2007.
Answered by Stewart Maxwell (15 October 2007): There have been no meetings of the Ministerial Progress Group since April 2007. I understand the group has not met since December 2006.
Johann Lamont : To ask the Scottish Executive whether it is intended to continue the Cities Growth Fund beyond 2008.
Answered by John Swinney (12 October 2007): Decisions on the future of the Cities Growth Fund are being considered in the spending review. It would not be appropriate for me to comment in advance of the outcome of that review.
Johann Lamont : To ask the Scottish Executive what meetings are planned with Glasgow City Council to discuss the future of the Cities Growth Fund.
Answered by John Swinney (12 October 2007): No meetings are currently planned with Glasgow City Council to discuss the future of the Cities Growth Fund.
Johann Lamont : To ask the Scottish Executive what meetings have been held with Glasgow City Council to discuss the future of the Cities Growth Fund.
Answered by John Swinney (12 October 2007): The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing and I have discussed the Cities Growth Fund, amongst other things, with Glasgow City Council in meetings on 2 October and 22 August respectively. Officials from councils in receipt of Cities Growth Fund and the Scottish Government meet periodically to discuss issues around the fund, most recently on 21 August 2007.
Johann Lamont : To ask the Scottish Executive how much was spent between August and December 2006 on publicising the previous administration’s anti-sectarian strategy.
Answered by Fergus Ewing (21 September 2007): Between August and December 2006, the Scottish Government spent £100,000 on publicising and promoting its work to tackle sectarianism. Activity during this period centred around reconvening the Summit on Sectarianism and the publication of a series of documents, including ones relating to twinning schools, guidance on the new procedures for marches and parades, and tackling football related sectarianism.
Johann Lamont : To ask the Scottish Executive how much is proposed to be spent between August and December 2007 on publicising its anti-sectarian strategy.
Answered by Fergus Ewing (21 September 2007): The Scottish Government will spend £106,000 to publicise and promote initiatives to tackle sectarianism during August to December 2007. Activities will include a football weekend of action on 24 to 25 November 2007; an artwork event on 25 September, and a seminar to publicise the £100,000 which we have made available to support anti-sectarianism projects in schools.
Johann Lamont : To ask the Scottish Executive how much was spent between May and July 2007 on publicising its anti-sectarian strategy.
Answered by Fergus Ewing (21 September 2007): The Scottish Government is committed to tackling all forms of sectarianism and religious intolerance. £4,000 was spent on promoting the anti-sectarian agenda during May to July 2007. The focal point of activity during this period was the First Minister’s reception on 19 June 2007 which recognised the achievements of those individuals and organisations that have made a positive contribution to tackling sectarianism.
Johann Lamont : To ask the Scottish Executive when it will confirm the future of the Glasgow Domestic Abuse Court and the Assist support service.
Answered by Kenny MacAskill (19 September 2007): I refer the member to the answer to question S3W-1296 on 16 July 2007. All answers to written parliamentary questions are available on the Parliament’s website, the search facility for which can be found at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/webapp/wa.search.
I set out then the various factors I would take into account in reaching a view about how the Scottish Government can best support the courts in dealing with domestic abuse cases.
I reaffirmed our commitment to developing a range of complementary and mutually supportive measures, within and beyond the justice system, for combating domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse is a serious crime.
The Scottish Government will uphold a zero tolerance policy towards it.
Our criminal justice partners are firmly committed to investigating all allegations of domestic abuse and to bringing all appropriate cases before the courts.
We already have a powerful framework of national policy and operational guidance in place for the pursuit of this crime.
I have carefully considered the evaluation of the domestic abuse pilot court in Glasgow, which was published in the spring.
The court has clearly brought benefits to victims and families.
Yet the research does not recommend replication of the pilot model across Scotland: it proposes that local solutions should be developed to meet local needs.
To this end I propose to take two specific actions.
First, I want to extend our thinking about the range of options for handling domestic abuse cases from the point they enter court until disposal.
We will prepare, consult upon and publish a guide to research and practice across Scotland.
We will put this at the disposal of sheriffs principal and local criminal justice boards in order to support self-assessment and innovation at local level.
I do not expect to see specialist domestic abuse courts in all parts of the country.
I do expect to see criminal justice partners in each area examining their own practice and pursuing new approaches where appropriate.
Secondly, I will take practical steps to further the aim of the sheriff principal for Glasgow and Strathkelvin to ensure the vigorous and sensitive handling of domestic abuse cases across the city.
The current pilot only serves cases arising in G Division of Strathclyde Police.
There is a need for new capacity to deal with the heavy caseload arising across Glasgow.
My officials will convene a short-life working group with relevant interests including the police, Glasgow City Social Work Department and providers of victim support services.
I have asked for a report by January 2008 to enable me to decide how the Scottish Government can best support a domestic abuse court serving the whole of Glasgow.
This is not simply a matter of extending the work of the current pilot.
We will need to develop a new and cost-effective model, including for the provision of support services to victims and witnesses and family members, that is sustainable in the longer term.
In addition, I am keen to use the opportunities of summary justice reform to improve the handling of domestic abuse cases right across the country and irrespective of whether there is a specialist court. Many of the efficiency gains reported in the evaluation of the Glasgow pilot should be attainable across the board as we implement changes to streamline summary business and move cases more quickly through the system.
To provide continuity during the transitional period whilst the Glasgow feasibility study is underway, the government will extend until the end of March 2008 the funding provided to the pilot specialist court.
These initiatives are part of the Scottish Government’s wider programme of work to combat domestic abuse.
We will make further announcements on this in due course.
Johann Lamont To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will ensure that the Housing Supply Task Force makes publicly available details of the land with outline planning permission currently owned by major housebuilding firms.
Answered by Stewart Maxwell (18 September 2007): The Housing Supply Task Force is continuing to develop its agenda and will make public its findings at the appropriate time.