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Bin the Bomb Campaign

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Speech in Scottish Parliament Linda Fabiani

14 June 2007

The Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture (Linda Fabiani): I welcome the debate and thank Patrick Harvie and the Greens for lodging the motion, as the issue is incredibly important. We should debate the matter until the two thirds of Scots whom Patrick Harvie mentioned are given justice and their right to reject weapons of mass destruction on their shores. That right should be recognised and acted on.

There have been a lot of speeches. I thought some were absolutely super in that they showed depth and knowledge. There were too many to mention them all, so I will address them by party grouping.

I say to Mr Foulkes, Mr McMahon and others that it is the right of parties to decide what will be debated during their debating time. Labour members will recognise that when they get the chance to bring debates to the chamber for the first time as an Opposition party. Right from the start, the Scottish Parliament, across all parties, has had a proud record of debating, discussing and voting on issues that are not technically within its remit.

George Foulkes: You can call me George, by the way, with pleasure.

Labour has already put two motions before the Parliament while in opposition. I spoke to one of them last Thursday, when I made my maiden speech. Both were on devolved matters. We recognise the importance of the devolved areas and the importance of spending time discussing them.

Linda Fabiani: See the way I feel about you just now, George? It is going to be Mr Foulkes for a while longer.

One thing that I very much respected about Jack McConnell as First Minister was the fact that he brought to the chamber issues that were not within the remit of the Parliament but about which members right across the chamber felt strongly—dawn raids and how we treat asylum seekers, for example.

Rhona Brankin: Will Linda Fabiani give way?

Linda Fabiani: I am responding to George at the moment.

Similarly, there was anger right across the chamber about the treatment of the Black Watch. Jack McConnell was not slow to recognise that, or to speak about it. When George Foulkes has been here for a while longer, he will see that we are not a parish council but a Parliament with the right to reflect what people are thinking. We have the right to put forward their views, including the view that we should not have weapons of mass destruction on our shores.

The Deputy Presiding Officer: One minute.

Linda Fabiani: See—I told you I had a lot to say.

Sadly, some Labour members have tried hard to justify being unable to follow their individual consciences on the matter—although following their conscience is what Labour members at Westminster did when Scottish MPs voted against the renewal of Trident. I really enjoyed listening to Bill Butler, Malcolm Chisholm and Elaine Smith. Marlyn Glen did not speak today, but I know that she is re-establishing the cross-party group on nuclear disarmament. I hope that there will be so many members on the group that we will force the Parliament to debate the matter over and over again. That is one of the most important things we can do. I absolutely defend the Parliament's right to do that.