South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine, has hit out at attempts by Tory and Labour MSPs to end crucial rates relief schemes that benefit 6060 businesses in Dumfries and Galloway and over 100,000 across Scotland. Businesses in the region would lose over £9 million of relief under the plans.


Tory and Labour MSPs voted for an amendment by Green MSP, Andy Wightman to the Non-Domestic Rates Bill that would remove the ability of Scottish Ministers to set the business rates poundage. The amendment sets out to devolve powers to set business rates to councils. The effect is that rates would no longer be set nationally and business rates reliefs – including the Small Business Bonus and rates relief for nurseries – would automatically end.


The Federation of Small Businesses, CBI Scotland and the Scottish Retail Consortium have all raised concerns over the impact of the proposed changes, warning it will create added costs and deter investment.


SNP MSPs were the only members of the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government Committee to oppose the move.


Commenting, Ms McAlpine says:


“Analysis by the UK Government predicts that Dumfries and Galloway will be one of the worst hit regions under the proposed Tory Brexit. Our businesses need an escape from this – not yet more uncertainty and unnecessary cost.


“The Scottish Government offers the most generous package of business rates reliefs anywhere in the UK, worth nearly £750 million to Scottish business. Astonishingly Tory and Labour MSPs have voted to withdraw nearly £300 million of relief in a move that would devastate local business.


“More than 100,000 businesses across Scotland – and 6000 in Dumfries and Galloway – benefit from the Scottish Government’s Small Business Bonus. That would disappear, alongside other reliefs affecting including support for nurseries, under the proposals being forced through by opposition parties.


“A majority of Scottish businesses benefit from the lowest poundage anywhere in the UK and incentives that only exist in Scotland. All that is under threat as ministers would not be able to set a consistent rate and provide national reliefs.


“These plans would deliver a body blow to the region’s businesses and would put at risk the delivery of local services. The Tories and Labour must back track on this disastrous move at the final stage of the bill.


“The oppositions economic credibility was already in tatters, but this is just reckless.


“This makes crystal clear that the SNP is the only party that will stand up for Scottish business.”


Notes to Editors:


Stuart Mackinnon, FSB’s external affairs manager for Scotland, said: “Across Scotland, small businesses will be alarmed to hear that nationwide rate relief for smaller operators is under threat.”


Tracy Black, Director of CBI Scotland, said: “Businesses have been clear that we wanted simplification – instead we could face more complexity and fragmentation. And complexity and fragmentation = bigger administrative burden and increased business costs.”


David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, commented:

“Allowing each of Scotland’s 32 councils to set the poundage rate in their area is an alarming and retrograde step, and flies in the face of the Bill’s aims and the thrust of the rates reform agenda.”




Tory and Labour members voted for Andy Wightman’s amendment 9.


Clauses 2 and 3 remove the ability for Scottish Ministers to set the poundage rate or national reliefs under secondary legislation.


After section 8, insert—

<Levying of rates

Levying of rates


(1) After section 7 of the 1975 Act insert—


            “7ZA Provisions as to setting of non-domestic rates

(1) The Scottish Ministers must by regulations make such provision as they consider appropriate with a view to giving full effect to section 7, as amended by the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Act 2020, by the year 2024.


(2) Regulations under subsection (1) are subject to the affirmative procedure.


(3) If a rating authority does not choose to discharge their power under section 7, the Scottish Minister may, in respect of the financial year following that in which subsection (1) has come into force and each subsequent financial year, prescribe a rate which will be the non-domestic rate to be levied throughout Scotland in respect of that financial year.”.


(2) Section 110 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 is repealed.


(3) Section 153 of the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994 is repealed.>

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Smuggling and organised crime in the Cairnryan and Stranraer area are a real threat following a no-deal Brexit, the First Minister has said.

She was questioned about the local effects of Brexit during a Q&A session led by the convenors of Scottish Parliament committees.

Concerns were expressed at reports of the risk of smuggling and organised crime in the event of a no-deal Brexit, which is now more likely given the election pact between Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.

The First Minister spoke about the plans for an emergency lorry park in Stranraer in case of a backlog of vehicles and revealed that she had been having discussions with Police Scotland about the risks that face the area and other parts of Scotland.

The First Minister also warned of Tariffs of 65% on beef and 46% on sheep meats in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Speaking at the meeting, Nicola Sturgeon said:

“The path the UK Government wants us to go down is fraught with risk and just guarantees either a no-deal Brexit or years of more of the same wrangling we’ve experienced the past three.

“There is definitely a risk, with a no-deal scenario, of organised crime and smuggling around Stranraer and the points of access to Northern Ireland. These are issues that have been under very close and regular discussion.”

Roads in south west Scotland, in particular the A75 and A76, were very much on her agenda for future infrastructure projects. The First Minister told conveners ‘South Scotland has a particularly strong case to make’ with regards to upgrading roads infrastructure.

Ms. Sturgeon said that while the climate emergency meant Government policy would try to find alternatives to road travel, she recognised that road improvements were still necessary in the rural south and north of Scotland. She was answering a question in relation to a petition filed by roads campaigners in Dumfries and Galloway, and she promised to write to the committee outlining how Government plans to deal with the petition’s demands.

The argument is as follows:

A “Brexit Pact” between these two guys, Nigel Farage MEP and Boris Johnson MP, will have devastating consequences for the economy of south west Scotland, which already has one of the lowest average salaries in Scotland.
Those two guys are Brexiteers and by having this pact it would make “no-deal” more likely, which is what the Brexiteers really want.
The current UK Government plans for “no-deal” would drop tariffs on the import of cheap food, but impose tariffs on agricultural exports such as beef, lamb, and eggs.

This will result in many farms in Dumfries and Galloway going out of business and will increase congestion in Cairnryan and Stranraer, along with the possibility of smuggling.
Everyone in Dumfries and Galloway should know about this significant risk to the region’s economy, and that the Conservative and Unionist Party Candidates for Dumfries and Galloway and Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale are actively trying to bring this huge risk about, while fighting hard to prevent you from having any say in it whatsoever.

Their stock is so low that they are in the absurd position of trying to persuade you as a constituent of Dumfries and Galloway that having no choice over your future, and preventing the opportunity for having a choice about your future, is a good thing for you and future generations.


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South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has called for a dedicated Scots Language Board to promote the language and push for it to be protected in policy.

Ms. McAlpine highlighted the ‘Oor Vyce’ campaign for a Scots Language board in a speech at Holyrood which she delivered in Scots. The speech was part of a debate celebrating 2019 as the UN’s year of indigenous languages.
Scots is widely spoken in Dumfries and Galloway, with 33.7% of respondents from the region in the 2011 census saying that they can speak the language. By comparison, this is higher than the proportion of people across Scotland who identify as Scots speakers as nationally the result was 30.1% 
Commenting, Ms. McAlpine said: 
“Dumfries and Galloway is a Scots speaking area, with census results from 2011 showing that 33.7% of locals consider themselves able to speak the language.
“There is a lot of evidence to show that teaching kids Scots in school can boost their confidence and self-esteem, as well as helping to boost their attainment in other curriculum areas.
“Scots doesn’t get the official recognition or support as Scotland’s other indigenous language, Gaelic. There is no impetus on local or national Government to produce info, leaflets or documents in Scots, as there is for Gaelic in the areas where Gaelic is spoken. 
“I very much support the recently formed ‘oor vyce’ group, which was set up to call for the establishment of a Scots language board, on a par with Bòrd na Gàidhlig. The group has already met twice, and is made up of educators, activists and artists. “

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Joan McAlpine MSP has welcomed reassurances from the Scottish Government’s Transport Secretary that Langholm’s case will be considered in a study on extending the borders railway to Carlisle.

The South of Scotland MSP arranged a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary Michael Matheson and Langholm Railway campaigners at Holyrood this week. The campaigners sought reassurance that Langholm’s case would be given due weight in the full appraisal of proposals to extend the line which will be undertaken early next year.
Campaigners Denis Male, Andrew Scott, and Ian Royall told the Minister that it would be technically easier and cheaper to run the line through Langholm, which would increase the chances of an extension to Carlisle being built.
Ms. McAlpine pointed out that the major job losses in Langholm in recent years meant the case for a railway line to help tourism and economic regeneration was compelling. The Minister explained that any decision to extend the Borders Railway would be part of a process identifying National Priorities for Scotland. He pointed out, however, that the Department of Transport in London had not yet committed the UK Government to look at extending the section of the line south of the border to Carlisle.
The meeting was also attended by Dumfries & Galloway councillor John Campbell, who is a member of the Swestrans Committee.
Commenting, Joan McAlpine said:
‘The minister was made aware that there was a strong Lobby supporting the extension of the line from Tweedbank to Carlisle that wanted to see the old Waverley line through Newcastleton reinstated. This would exclude Langholm as an option. I was really pleased that Mr. Matheson committed the Government to a fair examination of the case for both Langholm and Newcastleton.
“He told his officials to make sure that ‘Langholm and District Rail Group’ were kept informed about future plans and any technical information they need to make the case.
“He also praised the work they had undertaken in making a case for reconnecting the town. The meeting was very timely, because they were also able to tell the Minister about the Langholm Action Plan which will be launched later this month.
“I was disappointed, however, to hear that the UK Government has not yet committed to appraise the proposals to extend that part of the line that they control. That’s disappointing when you look at the amount of work the Scottish Government has done on this end.” 
Denis Male of Langholm and District Rail Group said: 
“We had an excellent meeting with the Minister. He gave us an accurate appraisal of the situation and assured us that the line through Langholm and Eskdale would be part of the consideration. He also said that as well as the line from Tweedbank to Carlisle there was consideration being given to the Tweedbank Berwick link. I would like thank MSP Joan McAlpine for setting up the meeting”.
Picture of Joan McAlpine with campaigners and Cabinet Secretary Michael Matheson in Holyrood attached

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Joan McAlpine MSP has welcomed news that care experienced young people in Dumfries and Galloway will benefit from £340,800.00 of funding. 

The Scottish Government announced today (Friday) that the Care Experienced Children and Young People fund would increase from £8 million to £12 million in this academic year. 
The fund is designed to support the educational attainment of young people, up to the age of 26, who have been in care, with projects as diverse as mentoring programmes, counselling services and driving lessons were supported.
Commenting, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said:
“Improving the education and life chances of all our children and young people is the defining mission of the SNP in government.
“Young people living in, or leaving, the care system often face additional barriers to learning – which is why this funding can be so vital. 
“I’m delighted that care experienced young people in Dumfries and Galloway will benefit from £340,800.00 of targeted funding this year, with a substantial increase in funding across Scotland.”

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Joan McAlpine MSP has welcomed a new scheme allowing men prosecuted for same-sex sexual activity under obsolete laws to have their convictions erased.

The Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) Act passed by the Scottish Parliament comes into force this week. It grants an automatic pardon to every gay and bisexual man in Scotland convicted under discriminatory laws.

Men with such convictions can now also apply to have them removed from central criminal records under a ‘disregards’ scheme.

Welcoming the news, McAlpine, SNP MSP for South Scotland said:

“I am delighted that legislation which was previously passed by the Scottish Parliament is now in force and that Gay and Bi-Sexual men who have lived with historic convictions for simply being themselves can now set the record straight.

“There is no place for homophobia in Scotland, and I would encourage all Gay and Bi-Sexual men with historic convictions for same-sex sexual activity to take advantage of the opportunity to clear their records of these discriminatory convictions.

“Information on how to apply to have these offences removed can be found on the MyGov.Scot Website.”

Same-sex sexual activity between men was made legal in Scotland in 1980 and the age of consent was equalised in 2001.

In November 2017, the First Minister issued an unqualified apology to those convicted of same-sex sexual activity that is now legal.

Under the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) Act, which was passed unanimously in June 2018, the pardon is automatic as of 15 October 2019 .

Separately the disregards scheme, also in place from 15 October, will allow anyone with such a conviction to apply to have it ‘disregarded’ so that it will never show up on, for example, an enhanced disclosure check.

Further information on how applications should be made can be found on the website.

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Joan McAlpine has welcomed news that police, and the courts will be given new powers to remove suspected domestic abusers from the homes of victims or others at risk.

The Scottish Government will introduce a Bill to Parliament which will create new protective orders to keep a suspected perpetrator away from the household of someone at risk of abuse.
In contrast with existing civil measures such as Non-Harassment Orders and Exclusion Orders, protective orders would not require the person at risk to make the application to the court themselves. Police would be able to impose a short-term order directly and to apply to a court to put in place a longer-term order.
Welcoming the announcement, Joan McAlpine MSP said:
“Domestic abuse remains a significant problem for many people in Scotland, and I am thrilled that the Scottish Government will introduce a Bill to strengthen the protections already in place to protect victims in Scotland.
“In 2017-18, the highest percentage of incidents of domestic abuse that included the recording of at least one crime or offence also being recorded was in Dumfries & Galloway, which goes to show that victims in our region are particularly at risk of harm. 
“I welcome this announcement from the First Minister, and I hope that the new protections, once introduced, will go some way to combatting key issues like Women’s homelessness, which is most often caused by domestic abuse.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Parliament came together to pass what campaigners described as ‘gold standard’ domestic abuse laws, creating a specific new offence that includes not only physical abuse but other forms of psychological abuse and coercive, controlling behaviour. The legislation gave clarity for victims and more powers for police and prosecutors to bring perpetrators to justice.
“But with many tens of thousands of people reporting domestic abuse in Scotland each year, we can and we must go further – and that includes taking action to reduce the threat of homelessness from those who seek safety for themselves and often for their children.
“We need to change the reality that for many women and their children the only way to escape an abuser is to flee their home. It should not be the victims of abuse who lose their homes, it should be the perpetrators.
“So we will introduce a Bill in this Parliament to give police and courts new powers to remove suspected perpetrators from the homes of those at risk.
“Such orders would allow Scotland’s justice system to safeguard people who, for example, are being controlled to such an extent that they could not initiate court action themselves, and give victims time to seek advice on longer-term housing options.
“While violent crime has significantly reduced in Scotland over the last decade, instances of domestic abuse – an appalling, often hidden crime – remain far too high. Our legislative reforms, together with work to promote healthy relationships and tackle the roots of gender-based violence, can help build a safer Scotland.”
Dr Marsha Scott, Chief Executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said:
“Domestic abuse is the leading cause of women’s homelessness in Scotland. This Bill, if passed, would be an immediate and significant improvement, offering children and women a breathing space as they seek safety. Without this legislation, women experiencing domestic abuse in Scotland will continue to have to choose between staying in the home with an abuser or making themselves and their children homeless to get away from the abuse.
“As survivors have asked for years, why should those being abused, rather than the perpetrator, have to leave their homes, pets, and belongings?
“We very much welcome today’s announcement and look forward to engaging with the Scottish Government on the detail of the legislation going forward.”
The Scottish Government held a public consultation seeking views on proposals to create new protective orders that could be used to keep people at risk of domestic abuse safe by banning perpetrators from their homes.
Responses to the consultation, which ended on 29 March, showed widespread support for such protective orders, with many respondents highlighting domestic abuse as a leading cause of homelessness for women.
The Scottish Government will introduce legislation in the current session of Parliament, which ends in 2021, to introduce a new scheme of protective barring orders to protect people at risk of domestic abuse. The views offered in response to the consultation will inform development of this legislation.

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Joan McAlpine, SNP MSP for South Scotland added a dash of pink to her usual attire to support Breast Cancer Now’s wear it pink fundraiser, which takes place on Friday 18 October. 

Since launching in 2002, wear it pink has had an enormous impact on the lives of those affected by breast cancer, raising over £33 million to date. Joan McAlpine is calling for her constituents to join her, by signing up for wear it pink and helping to fund world-class breast cancer research and life changing support for those affected by the disease. 


Breast Cancer Now supporters Alison Tait and Jane O’Neill, who have both been affected by breast cancer, joined Joan McAlpine at the Scottish Parliament. 

Alison Tait, 49 from Edinburgh, is a single parent living with incurable secondary breast cancer. Commenting on why she is supporting this year’s wear it pink day she said: 

‘“Being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer turns your world upside down. Breast Cancer Now does incredible work that makes a real difference for people like me who are living with this disease. 

“In May 2018, I helped Breast Cancer Now to launch the Perjeta Now campaign in Scotland. It successfully made this extraordinary drug routinely available to women in Scotland living with incurable secondary breast cancer – giving them nearly 16 months of extra life compared to other treatments. 

“Fundraising events like wear it pink help to support Breast Cancer Now’s invaluable work and I would like to encourage people across Scotland to get involved and donate what you can.” 


Joan McAlpine MSP, said: 

“Every year in Scotland, around 4,700 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and over 1,000 women die of the disease. 

That’s why I’m encouraging my constituents to take part in Breast Cancer Now’s wear it pink day on Friday 18 October. 

“The money raised by this wonderful event has such a huge impact, allowing Breast Cancer Now to fund vital research and support for those living with a diagnosis. I hope that everybody will wear it pink this October and support this very important cause.”


Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now, said: 

“Breast cancer still affects so many of us, and our goal as a charity is that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live, and be supported to live well. The money raised from wear it pink is so crucial to this helping us to fund vital breast cancer research and support for those affected by the disease. 

“We hope that by wearing pink, Joan McAlpine will encourage more people to wear it pink in on 18 October and help us to continue to fund vital breast cancer research and support.” 

Anyone can take part in wear it pink. Some people will choose to hold a cake sale, while others will opt to organise a raffle and some will arrange a pink fancy dress day at their school or workplace. No matter how people chose to wear it pink, all the money raised will help to fund vital breast cancer research and support. 

Wear it pink on 18 October and raise funds for breast cancer research and support. Visit to register and claim your free fundraising pack. 


About Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now: 

Breast Cancer Now is a working name of Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now, a charity registered in England and Wales (1160558) and Scotland (SC045584). 

Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now have merged to create one charity for everyone affected by breast cancer, united by the shared ambition that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live, and receive the support they need to live well. 


About Breast Cancer Now: 

· Breast Cancer Now is the UK’s largest breast cancer charity. 

· Breast cancer is still the most common cancer in the UK. Every year, around 4,700 women in Scotland are diagnosed with breast cancer and over 1,000 people lose their lives to the disease. It’s time to act. 

· Breast Cancer Now funds around a third of all breast cancer research happening in the UK. The charity currently supports nearly 380 of the world’s brightest researchers across the UK and Ireland. Together, they’re working to discover how to prevent breast cancer, how to detect it earlier and how to treat it effectively at every stage so we can stop the disease taking lives. 

· Last year, Breast Cancer Now committed over £16 million to cutting-edge research projects, including almost £400,000 to three new studies in Scotland. To date, Breast Cancer Now has invested over £15 million in world-class breast cancer research in Scotland. · For more information on Breast Cancer Now’s work, visit or follow us on Twitter or on Facebook. 


About Breast Cancer Care: 

· Breast Cancer Care is the only specialist UK wide charity providing support for women, men, family and friends affected by breast cancer. We’ve been caring for them, supporting them, and campaigning on their behalf since 1973. 

· Today, Breast Cancer Care continues to offer a unique range of support including reliable information, one-to-one support over the phone and online from nurses and people who’ve been there. They also offer local group support across the UK. 

· From the moment someone notices something isn’t right, through to their treatment and beyond, Breast Cancer Care is there to help anyone affected by breast cancer feel more in control. 

· For care, support and information from day one, call Breast Cancer Care free on 0808 800 6000 or visit Follow us on twitter, facebook or Instagram

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Joan McAlpine MSP for South Scotland region is backing the Scottish Powerchair Football Association in their call to give more people across Scotland the chance to play powerchair football. Joan met with representatives of the SPFA who were visiting the Scottish Parliament to promote the growing sport. 
Powerchair football is a growing sport in Scotland with teams competing in the Scottish Powerchair Football Association Leagues. Players can either compete by having special bumpers attached to their own wheelchairs or, for more serious competition, they can use specially modified chairs sports Powerchairs that are faster and more responsive.
Currently, Scotland has 6 powerchair football clubs with 9 teams, all of which are giving disabled people the chance to take part in exciting competition as well as helping to reduce isolation, improve mental wellbeing and build the self-confidence of players. Played by 4-a-side teams on a pitch roughly the size of a basketball court, the sport is open to powered wheelchair users and is currently the only team sport open to disabled athletes who use a powered chair.
Scotland has its own national league with two divisions and two Cup competitions. In addition, a national powerchair football team, formed from players across the country will be hosting a tri-nations tournament against Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland at the Sportscotland National Centre in Inverclyde. Ms McAlpine met with the South Ayrshire Tigers Football Club in parliament.
The SPFA used the opportunity of a stand outside the debating chamber in Holyrood to bring the sport to the attention of more MSPs. To support the continued growth of the game across Scotland and allow more disabled individuals to take part, the SPFA are asking MSPs to write to Sports Minister Joe Fitzpatrick MSP and back their calls for the Scottish Government and Sportscotland to provide funding.
After signing a pledge in Holyrood to support powerchair football in Scotland Joan McAlpine MSP said:
“The SPFA is doing great work in giving power wheelchair users in Scotland the opportunity to play football and to participate in a team sport has so many benefits; allowing players to compete locally, nationally and even internationally. Powerchair football allows people to develop skills, discipline and friendships as well as giving players a focus that benefits them both physically and mentally. It would be great to see more provision, especially in the South of Scotland.
“I welcome the decision by the Scottish Government to require Changing Places toilet facilities in all new build Sport Centres, however many existing sports facilities across Scotland are not accessible to Powerchair footballers. By improving disabled facilities and supporting the work of the SPFA, the Scottish Government has the chance to make a real difference to Scottish Para footballers.
“I will be writing to the Joe FitzPatrick MSP, the Minister for Sport, and asking him to consider greater funding and support for powerchair football and other sports aimed at disabled individuals.”
“I would encourage all local authorities and SportScotland to consider their current facilities and ask if they meet the needs of all Scottish Para athletes”
PHOTO – Joan McAlpine MSP at the SPFA Stand in Parliament with Clyde Alba player Thomas Pettigrew
For More information about powerchair football and the SPFA:
Website –
Twitter – @The_SPFA
Facebook – @TheSPFA
E-mail –
Telephone – 07903030028 (Willie Pettigrew, Chairperson)

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South of Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has signed an open letter from MSPs condemning the US withdrawal of forces from North-East Syria, leaving the Kurds vulnerable to Turkish aggression.

Ms. McAlpine added her name to the letter along with other MSPs following news that Turkey has launched a major military operation in North East Syria three days after President Donald Trump agreed to withdraw U.S Forces.
Commenting, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said:
“This decision is a terrible betrayal of the Kurds who are historically persecuted in Turkey and who are owed a great debt in for leading the fight against Isis fanatics. President Trump’s administration encouraged its Kurdish allies in the area to pull down their defences. Now America has exposed them to attack. Trump’s action is dishonourable and an affront to the international community.
“It has left thousands of civilians open to attacks and abandons the Kurdish-Syrian people who gave so much in the fight against Isis barbaric rule. The Kurds lost many of their soldiers during this time, under American direction. 
“I, along with many of my colleagues in the Scottish Parliament, am calling on immediate remedial action to be taken to reverse this decision, which puts thousands of innocent lives at risk, and risks hard won stability in the region.”
A picture of Joan McAlpine MSP is attached 
For further information, please contact below

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