Irvine Office

Constituency Office:

29A Eglinton Street, IRVINE KA12 8AS

TELEPHONE NO: 01294 311976 

I will be holding constituency surgeries on the last Monday of each month in my office. Just telephone the office to arrange an appointment.

Stage 1 Debate: Prisoners (Control of Release) (Scotland) Bill

Watch my speech during the Prisoners (Control of Release) (Scotland) Bill, starts at 1:17:12

“Routine Group B Streptococcus testing would reduce cases” says Margaret McDougall MSP

Speaking during her member’s debate on rising awareness of Group B Streptococcus, Labour MSP Margaret McDougall  demonstrated how routine testing can dramatically reduce incidence of Strep B, despite this, the Scottish Government has no intentions to introduce routine testing, quoting the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guidelines.

Speaking after the debate, Margaret McDougall MSP, said; “In the UK it has been estimated that Strep B infects over 500 babies a year.  Sadly, 50 babies die as result of contracting Strep B and around 30 suffer life-long physical and mental disabilities.”

“Currently 22 developed countries, including the USA, Canada, Germany and Spain, offer routine testing for GBS at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy. While 60% of obstetric units in the UK are offering testing to some or all pregnant women while 76% are carrying out tests at the mothers request.  This is despite the advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, who do not recommend routine testing.”

“Routine screening of GBS has proven to be effective, for example in the US, where screening was introduced in 1996, and incident rates fell from 1 to 0.24 per 1,000 live births in 2013. In addition to this the University of Birmingham, carried out studies into the cost effectiveness of introducing routine screening for GBS and they founded that  £427,000 would be saved for every baby death avoided and £32,000 would be saved per infection  avoided.”

“I was therefore disappointed that the Scottish Government refused to move on the issue and won’t carry out a cost benefit analysis, they instead told me what the guidelines were. However, in my view the guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, has being overtaken by events, with more and more maternity units offering testing, and it’s time both the Scottish Government and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists reviewed them.”

Massive Shortfall in Student Support Funding

Figures have revealed that colleges such as Ayrshire College are facing a massive shortfall in Student Funding.

Over this financial year there has been an £11m shortfall in student support funding in Further Education. The Scottish Government has advised colleges to make up the shortfall by using Depreciation Funds, money which is not meant to be used for this purpose, and some colleges don’t even have this money to spend.

Even taking in to account Depreciation Funds, there is still a £7 Million shortfall.

Labour MSP Margaret McDougall, said:

“The Scottish Government keep telling us students in further education have never had it so good, buts in student support funding which the Scottish Government just doesn’t want to face up to.”

“Take Ayrshire college for example, they have  a shortfall in bursary funding of over £1 million, this is after receiving additional funding and viring £328,000 from discretionary funds.  This impacts significantly on students from our most deprived areas and where there are high numbers of mature students as is the case in Ayrshire College. This shortfall is set to increase to £1.7m. This could translate into a loss of 600 student places”

“It’s clear that Student Support in Further Education is underfunded and in crisis, the Scottish Government needs to face up to this harsh reality, address the shortfall and stop treating college students like second class citizens.”

“I shall be submitting question to the Scottish Government to find out what they are going to do to tackle this crisis.”
Question submitted to the Scottish Government.


To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to address the reported £7 million shortfall in student support funding.


To ask the Scottish Government whether it considers it appropriate to advise colleges to use depreciation funds to cover shortfalls in student support funds and what it is doing to assist colleges that do not have such funds available.


To ask the Scottish Government what the total budget for further education student support funding has been (a) across Scotland and (b) for Ayrshire College in each year since 2007.


To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to ensure that college students are receiving sufficient financial support.

Group B Streptococcus Awareness Members Debate.

Delighted that my motion on Group B Streptococcus Awareness has secured cross party support and will be due for members debate 5 o’clock on Tuesday 31st of October in the Scottish Parliament.

Group B Streptococcus Awareness. 

That the Parliament notes with concern what it understands is the lack of public awareness regarding group B streptococcus (GBS) and the effects that it can have on newborn babies; understands that, in the UK, GBS infects over 500 babies every year and that 340 will develop early-onset GBS infection and one in 10 of them will die; believes that the incidence of early-onset GBS infection in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has remained unchanged since prevention strategies were first introduced in 2003 and that, in Scotland, it has increased from 0.21 per 1,000 live births in 2000 to 0.47 in 2012; understands that many countries, including the USA, Canada, Germany and Spain, offer routine testing for GBS at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy; notes that, although the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists does not recommend routine testing, the Scottish Government is not bound by this approach, and notes calls for the Scottish Government to introduce guidelines so that hospitals in the west of Scotland and beyond provide expectant mothers with information regarding GBS and either offer routine testing or provide information on how testing can be accessed privately.

Supported by: Margaret McCulloch, Patricia Ferguson, Hanzala Malik, Graeme Pearson, Michael McMahon, Cara Hilton, Elaine Murray, James Kelly, Sarah Boyack, Elaine Smith, Neil Findlay, Rhoda Grant, Jackie Baillie, Anne McTaggart, John Wilson, John Finnie, Jean Urquhart, Mary Scanlon, Lewis Macdonald, Nanette Milne, Siobhan McMahon, Malcolm Chisholm, Annabel Goldie

Current Status: Achieved Cross Party Support

SNP Government provide lowest student grants in Western Europe

Maintenance grants for students from poorer families are now lower in Scotland than anywhere in the rest of the UK.

The grants are also lower than any country in Western Europe, with the exception of Iceland, who do not have a system of grants at all.

The maximum grant such students get is £1750 in Scotland.  In England it is twice that.  In Northern Ireland it is twice that, and in Wales it is almost three times as much

Speaking about the figures, Margaret McDougall MSP said:
“The worst thing about this is the big lie the SNP told students in 2007.  They promised to abolish student loans, replace them with grants and pay off all student debt.  Not only have they broken the promise, they have slashed grants for those students who do qualify for them, and pushed up levels of student indebtedness to unprecedented levels.
“Scottish Labour abolished tuition fees in 2000 while the SNP abolished the graduate endowment which paid for maintenance grants.  So, Scottish Labour abolished fees, and the SNP are abolishing grants for poorer students, Labour supported students the SNP are putting them further into debt.”

Student grants by household income


Household income Maintenance grant
Young Independent
£16,999 (young) £1,750 £750
£23,999 (independent) £1,000 £0
£25,000 £500 £0
£33,999 £500 £0
£34,000 £0 £0


Household income Maintenance grant
£18,370 £5,161
£25,000 £3,347
£30,000 £2,099
£34,000 £1,142
£40,000 £734
£45,000 £393
£50,020 £50
£50,050 £0

Northern Ireland

Household income Maintenance grant
£19,203 £3,475
£25,000 £2,201
£30,000 £1,215
£35,000 £689
£41,540 £0


Household income Maintenance grant
£25,000 £3,354
£30,000 £2,416
£35,000 £1,478
£40,000 £540
£42,875 £0
£45,000 £0


The SNP’s Barnett bombshell would cost 138,000 Scottish jobs, new figures published by Scottish Labour revealed today.

Yesterday the SNP’s own figures confirmed that the Barnett formula was worth £4 billion to Scotland’s finances in 2013/14. The experts say this will rise in the coming years.

Earlier this week the Scottish Affairs Select Committee said scrapping Barnett would cost Scotland £6.5 billion immediately. The independent and impartial Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said yesterday the cost to Scotland would be £6.6 billion.

The impartial experts at the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe), using the SNP Government’s own economic model, confirmed that reducing public spending in Scotland by £6.5 billion would cost 138,000 jobs here.

Labour MSP Margaret McDougall,  said:

“After years of the SNP telling us only they can stand up for Scotland, we now know the reality is very different. Far from standing up for Scotland, the SNP’s Barnett bombshell would cost 138,000 jobs. This would be devastating for families in Scotland and cause damage to our economy.

“The SNP’s plan for full fiscal autonomy and scrapping Barnett would mean massive cuts to our NHS and thousands of job losses for Scotland. This would all be on top of the cuts already planned by the Tories. The SNP want to impose austerity-max on Scotland.

“Only Scottish Labour can claim to be the anti-austerity party of Scotland. The Tories want to take us back to the public spending levels of the 1930s and the SNP would put thousands of jobs at risk.

“The only way to get a Labour Government is to vote for Labour. We need to do everything we can to stop the Tories being the largest party at the election. A vote for anybody other than Scottish Labour risks the Tories being the largest party across the UK and letting David Cameron into Downing Street by the back door. That would be a disaster for Scotland.”

Barnett bombshell to cost 138,000 jobs


Analysis by the impartial experts at the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe), using the SNP Government’s own economic model, confirms that cutting public spending by £6.5 billion (5% of our GDP) in Scotland would cost 138,000 jobs.


According to SPICe that would mean one in every sixteen Scottish jobs would be lost.


Source: Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe)

Nicola Sturgeon is committed to full fiscal autonomy, which means scrapping Barnett

“I believe we should have full fiscal autonomy and I will continue to argue that case”

Nicola Sturgeon, Financial Times, 11th March, 2015.



MSP's show their support for Earth Hour.
Margaret McDougall  MSP is joining millions around the world by signing up to WWF’s Earth Hour.

This year’s switch off event takes place at 8.30pm on Saturday 28 March.  Around the globe workplaces, homes and iconic landmarks will be going dark for an hour in the world’s biggest symbolic display of care for the planet and action on climate change. In Scotland, Edinburgh Castle, Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies are just a few of our famous landmarks marking the hour.

Urging her constituents to join in Margaret McDougall MSP said:

“On Saturday 28rd March I’m urging all constituents to join me in switching off for Earth Hour. This is a great event not only to highlight the effects of climate change but with all the lights out it will be a great night for stargazing. So at 8:30 for an hour let’s turn off the lights and join people all over the world in support of renewable energy and highlighting the need to get serious about climate change.”

Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland said:

“I’m really excited about this year’s Earth Hour and it’s shaping up to be a big one.  It always delights and amazes me how Scotland gets behind the event, whether its political parties or classrooms full of children. By signing up and switching off you’re joining a symbolic display by millions around the world who care about our planet and are willing to take action, beyond the hour, to protect it.

“Its important decision makers, politicians and business leaders are left in no doubt people care about the impacts of climate change and want action.”

”This year is an important year for climate action, with world leaders being urged to make further progress on addressing global climate change in Paris in December. Closer to home, we look to all of our politicians to help Scotland deliver on its world-leading climate commitments and to play a proactive role in striving for greater ambition at a global level.”

Now in its ninth year, WWF’s Earth Hour continues to grow.  Last year 162 countries and 7000 cities took part, from the islands of the South Pacific already feeling the impacts of climate change, to the Scottish Parliament and Government in Edinburgh and the corridors of power in Paris where the next UN climate negotiations will be held in December this year.

Sign up for Earth Hour at

Prestwick in Space

Prestwick is quickly becoming the Scottish front runner for the development of the Spaceport as as Stornoway pulls out and Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd don’t intend to develop a plan for Campbelltown, I’ve submitted a motion supporting Prestwick.

Motion Text:

That the Parliament congratulates Glasgow Prestwick Airport on being one of the five places shortlisted for the UK Government’s Spaceport initiative; notes that one shortlisted airport, Stornoway, has already pulled out; considers that this initiative would be a game-changer not only for Prestwick but for the Ayrshire economy and would bring considerable economic benefit; believes that this would not only allow Prestwick access to space tourism but would allow Ayrshire to capitalise and play a key role in satellite launching and manufacturing and in the space science sector, which is currently earning £11.3 billion in revenues, and considers that Prestwick has all the attributes required, including runway length and weather reliability, with the UK Government’s consultation report suggesting that it has better transportation links than other shortlisted Scottish airports.

SNP vote with Tories to Deny vulnerable Scots dignity by Denying them Choice in Welfare.

The SNP have once again voted with the Tories to block Labour amendments to Stage 3 Debate on the Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill. 

As a result the SNP have denied vulnerable Scots dignity by denying them choice in the welfare system. Scottish Labour were putting forward amendments that were supported by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Poverty Alliance and the Child Poverty Action Group.

Scottish Labours amendments would have ensured councils had to take on board the views of the individual and either offer an award in cash or in kind, we also proposed to add a new category dealing with families under exceptional pressure as well as pushing for yearly reviews.

Labour MSP Margaret McDougall, said: “No doubt Margaret Burgess will tell me this is another non-story, but she has to face up to facts her Government has voted against openness and transparency, assisting families under exceptional pressure and denied them choice in the welfare system.”

“The same old arguments were used, they SNP preferred administrative convince over helping vulnerable people, denying choice to those most in need when they seek help by stating that it would cost too much.”

“I reaffirm the view that dignity and respect is about allowing them to exercise their right of choice of help either financially or in kind and this amendment ensured that the local authority listens to the applicant’s views and allows them to make a choice from the options that are available to them, it doesn’t have to cost more.”

“While these amendments were being lodged by Scottish Labour they were asked for by the third sector, including the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Poverty Alliance and the Child Poverty Action Group. If Margaret Burgess thinks this is a non-story then she needs to explain to the third sector why their views don’t matter to her. Furthermore if she thinks I’m confused as she stated in Scottish Parliament during the debate, then she must also think the third sector is confused.”

“The SNP might disagree with Scottish Labour but Margaret Burgess MSP, Minister for Housing and Welfare, must now apologise to the third sector for ignoring their views.”

Prestwick Airport down to last five in Spaceport bid

Labour MSP Margaret McDougall has welcomed the recent announcement that Prestwick Airport is still in the running for the UK government Spaceport initiative after the 8 earmarked sites were cut down to 5.

Margaret McDougall, MSP, said: “To get the Spaceport at Prestwick would be a major game changer, this wouldn’t just mean space tourism for the superrich, it would allow Ayrshire to capitalise and play a key role in satellite launching and manufacturing and in the space science sector, which is currently earning £11.3 billion in revenues – a figure which grew by 7.2 per cent between 2011 and 2013”

“Currently the UK has no satellite launch facilities of its own, so this would the first of its kind and would open up Prestwick to an untapped wealth of future potential, ideal for building Scotland’s infrastructure for the future! It would have a huge impact on the Scottish Economy through promotion of skilled jobs, training facilities opportunities for hi-tech supplies and services, and the boost for tourism.”

“Now that Prestwick has been selected as one of the last five in the running, I will be campaigning vigorously to ensure that the first Spaceport, due by 2018 is a Scottish one, based at Prestwick because it has all the attributes required.”