Teenage Pregnancies

Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 24th June 1999.

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Photo of Tricia Marwick Tricia Marwick Scottish National Party 2:30 pm, 24th June 1999

To ask the Scottish Executive what plans it has to tackle the level of teenage pregnancies in Scotland. (S1O-74)

Photo of Susan Deacon Susan Deacon Labour

Tackling the serious issue of teenage pregnancies is a top priority for this Executive. We are developing a comprehensive strategy which recognises both the importance of individual responsibility and the complementary roles of the statutory and voluntary sectors. A major element of our strategy will be the health demonstration project "Healthy Respect", which was proposed in the white paper "Towards a Healthier Scotland". That will place particular emphasis on reducing unwanted teenage pregnancies.

Photo of Tricia Marwick Tricia Marwick Scottish National Party

Does the minister agree that poverty coupled with low expectation and lack of self-esteem are key factors affecting the level of teenage pregnancies? Will she join me in condemning the rhetoric of her new Labour colleagues south of the border, whose solution is to force single young mothers into supervised hostels, thereby continuing-not solving-social exclusion?

Photo of Susan Deacon Susan Deacon Labour

The Executive very much recognises the link between poverty and ill health in many areas. The problem of teenage pregnancies is very complex and requires us to consider imaginative solutions that cut across different departments; I am discussing how to go about that with my colleagues. We will draw up appropriate plans to deal with the specific needs that we have in Scotland and which will take a sensible and mature approach to this important and complicated area.

Photo of Tricia Marwick Tricia Marwick Scottish National Party

I want to ask one more supplementary question. The Department of Health's new unit dealing with teenage pregnancy has been awarded £60 million over the next three years. Will the minister confirm that a similar amount will be available for projects in Scotland?

Photo of Susan Deacon Susan Deacon Labour

Fifty million pounds has been allocated to the health demonstration project that I mentioned earlier. However, it is important that we spend the time in this chamber discussing what the Scottish Parliament will do instead of talking about what is going on in other parts of the UK. We have an opportunity to do that with this very important issue.