The SNP Doesn’t Seem Serious about Protecting the Marine Biological Station at Millport!
The SNP has shown contempt for the public and parliamentary procedure today by passing a 10,000 strong petition that was addressed to the Scottish Government straight to the University of London without giving it due consideration.
Labour MSP, Margaret McDougall, who was not invited to the meeting, despite representing the area and being requested by the people representing the Marine Biological Station at Millport was shocked to hear that Cabinet Secretary Michael Russell, washed his hands of the petition.
Instead the Cabinet Secretary choose to pass all responsibility to the University of London, instead of taking the petition on board himself and doing everything he can to save the station.
Labour MSP, Margaret McDougall: “When I met up with those in attendance after the meeting I was shocked to hear what took place. This is why I raised the point of order on the 17 January. This seems to be totally unacceptable to me that the Cabinet Secretary can apparently show such contempt for this 10,000 strong petition.”
“The petition put together in only a few days and serves to show the strength of feeling for the Marine Biological Station at Millport, for Michael Russell MSP to then pass it off when it was addressed to the Scottish Government is in my view an utter disgrace.”
“We all understand that the University of London are the owners of this station, and quite rightly the local outrage should be highlighted to them. However, Scottish University have a stake in this to, so to pass this petition off without due consideration doesn’t seem right to me, and it certainly doesn’t look like the SNP are taking this issue seriously or giving it the respect it deserves.”
“They should be doing everything they can to protect the 30 jobs this station provides as well as safe guard the research and training that takes place there. If Millport was to lose this station it could impact the local economy in the region of up to 2 million pounds”
First Point of Order
On the 20th of December in response to a question asked by Kenneth Gibson to the first Minister regarding The closure of the Marine Field Station at Millport on Cumbrae, the first minister said that the station and I quote “is not actually used by any Scottish university at present, although the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council contributes some funding to it.”
Following this statement I have had several emails from numerous academics that use the station from Scottish Universities, most notably Professor Harry Birkbeck, who has been working in the field of Marine Biology since 1972 and still volunteers there, who has pointed out that Glasgow, Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Napier, Herriot Watt and the West of Scotland universities have all made use of the station and are stilling doing so. In fact 533 Scottish University students and 521 English university students used it last year.
I checked the Official report this morning to see if the statement had been corrected but it hasn’t I believe the first minister made this statement in good faith and was simply misinformed I’m now asking if the First Minister will correct the official report to reflect the fact the station is used by Scottish Intuitions for research and training.
Second Point of Order
This morning prior to a meeting for stakeholders regarding the possible closure of the Marine Biological Station at Millport a 10,000 plus strong petition was presented to Cabinet Secretary Michael Russell.
This petition was for the Scottish Government addressed to Alex Salmond and presented to Michael Russell to highlight the importance of the Marine Biological Station to students acroos the UK.
I ask if it is within Parliamentary procedures to pass a 10,000 named petition addressed to The First Minister to another body. I think this is a disgraceful way to deal with a petition and shows the contempt the Cabinet Secretary has for the public.
Petitioners will be rightly more than disappointed with this behaviour and will now believe that the Scottish Government is not serious about doing anything to protect the station and the islands economy and will feel very disheartened by this development.
We all understand that the University of London are the owners of this station, and quite rightly the support for the station should be highlighted to them but Scottish University have a stake in this to, so to pass this petition off without due consideration doesn’t seem right to me. I was wonder if the presiding officer could confirm if this is in keeping within parliamentary procedure and if it is not what would she advise is done?
You can sign the petition here - https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/the-scottish-government-save-the-university-marine-biology-station-millport-from-closure-2?utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=url_share&utm_campaign=url_share_before_sign