General Questions - 17th January 2008
Jamie Hepburn (Central Scotland) (SNP): Does the minister agree that decisions by John Prescott and the Labour Government have thus far prevented direct links from Scotland to Europe via the Channel tunnel? Will the Scottish Government continue to ensure that its welcome upgrades to the railway system in Scotland always take into account the potential for links to the wider European network and not just the UK network?
Stewart Stevenson: The member highlights the significant investments that we are making to improve the railway system in Scotland, thus addressing many of the difficulties that we have inherited. It is a shame that Charlie Gordon was not sufficiently persuasive when he talked to John Prescott, but I am certainly not going to overly criticise him for that.
Health and Wellbeing Questions - 17th January 2008
Older People (Lifestyles)
Jamie Hepburn (Central Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what measures it is taking to promote active and healthy lifestyles among older people. (S3O-1946)
The Minister for Public Health (Shona Robison): "All Our Futures: Planning for a Scotland with an Ageing Population" sets out a framework for supporting older people to live life to the full. A healthy and active life is central to that. A range of measures are in place to promote good physical and mental health and active lifestyles among older people, including community walking initiatives for older people, such as the paths to health walking programme.
Jamie Hepburn: Does the minister agree that older people are a vulnerable group in our society? Of late, we have heard much from certain quarters about a concern for vulnerable groups. Although publicly run leisure facilities are primarily a matter for local government, does he share my concern about the removal of discounted swimming for pensioners by Labour-run North Lanarkshire Council? Does that not undermine the health and well-being of vulnerable older people in North Lanarkshire?
Shona Robison: The Government would never want to undermine older people's health and well-being. Although that matter is for the local authority, we expect local authorities and health boards to take account of the recommendations of "All Our Futures" when they develop leisure and other services for older people, and to ensure that those services are accessible and affordable.