Mike Tyson

– in the Scottish Parliament at 9:30 am on 24th May 2000.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament 9:30 am, 24th May 2000

We now move to the first item of business, which is the SNP motion S1M-890, in the name of Roseanna Cunningham, on Mike Tyson.

In view of the complaints about the level of noise in the chamber—which seems to be exaggerated by the acoustics—that we received after last week's proceedings, Patricia Ferguson, George Reid and I would like to remind members, before we begin the debate, of rule 7.3.1 of the standing orders, which says:

"Members shall at all times conduct themselves in a courteous and respectful manner and shall respect the authority of the Presiding Officer . . . In particular, members should not speak or stand when the Presiding Officer is speaking."

Members should also note paragraph 9.3.4 of the code of conduct, which states:

"no behaviour that interferes with the conduct of proceedings" will be tolerated by the Presiding Officer.

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party 9:34 am, 24th May 2000

I would like to begin by dealing with one or two issues that this debate is not about. First, it is not about boxing—it never has been and it never will be. I know that individual members have their own views on boxing—one member in particular may have a very particular view—but to suggest that the opposition to the spectacle planned for 24 June comes only from those who oppose boxing is quite wrong.

I, personally, do not oppose the sport. The debate is not about boxing, because what I refer to as the spectacle has little to do with boxing and everything to do with circus. In the welter of accusation and counter-accusation, I know that some small voices from the boxing fraternity have been heard, pointing out that Michael Tyson is hardly a good advert for their sport. I can only agree with that—this is not sport, but spectacle. Many of those who attend the spectacle will do so in the hope that they see blood.

Secondly, the debate is not about Michael Tyson being black. His victim, Desiree Washington, is black. Perhaps if those who shout so loudly about Tyson's civil rights stopped to consider the civil rights of the black woman he raped, they would be a little more circumspect about what they say. However, in some quarters, circumspection is somewhat lacking.

Thirdly, several commentators have made great play of the fact that Tyson has done the crime and served his time. He has, but this is not about a refusal to forgive and to allow a man who has tholed his assize to get on with his life. We are not dealing with just one crime of violence; Tyson has a rape conviction, has spent time in jail for road rage, demonstrated a total lack of control in the ear-biting episode with Evander Holyfield and is the subject of further investigations as a result of allegations made against him by a waitress. That is a pattern of behaviour in which the common factor is Mike Tyson's inability to deal with his own aggression and an apparent lack of remorse for anything he does.

What the debate should be about runs the risk of being lost if we do not state it now. It is about the values of society and how seriously society is prepared to view violence in general and violence against women in particular. We have already had a lengthy debate about domestic violence in this Parliament. Recently, the Executive launched a consultation paper on stalking and harassment. The Justice and Home Affairs Committee is considering a committee bill that would extend the power of interdict in a way that would benefit a great many people—mostly women—threatened with violence.

Violence against women is something that both the Executive and the Parliament take very seriously, as evidenced by the debates that we have had, the motions that have been lodged and the parliamentary questions that have been asked. Naturally, much of what we discuss centres around potential changes in the law, which would either make successful prosecution easier or make the whole judicial process less daunting for the victim. Equally, we are concerned to deter assailants where possible. We may consider early identification of the propensity for violence, followed by support and education to teach men ways in which to deal with their anger without resorting to violence. We may examine the penalties imposed on those who are convicted and take a view on whether the sentences send out the right signals to offenders.

In all the discussions, both formal and informal, on violence against women, one view has come up repeatedly: if we are to make real headway we must know what signals and messages we are sending out to young people right now. The omens are not good. In previous debates, reference has been made to research carried out on behalf of the Zero Tolerance Trust, which investigated young people's attitudes towards violence, sex and relationships. The findings of that research are worth considering, because they are germane to this debate. They provide the real background to the whole debate and the extent of the problem that requires our attention.

The depressing truth appears to be that young people tolerate both physical and sexual violence against women. The research showed that between one in four and one in 10 young men think violence against women is okay, depending on prevailing circumstances. When it comes to forcing a woman to have sex—that is how it is described in the research, but otherwise known as rape—the picture is no better.

The research revealed that one in five young men think it is okay to force a woman to have sex if he is married to her. One in seven think it is okay if they have been going out together for a long time. One in 10 think it is okay if the man is so turned on that they cannot stop. More depressingly, a further 16 per cent were unsure in that case whether it was okay. Six per cent thought it was okay if the man had spent a lot of money on her. Six per cent thought that it was okay if she had slept with loads of men. Overall, the research indicated that one in two boys and one in three girls still think that there are circumstances in which it is okay to hit a woman or force her to have sex. The findings make depressing reading indeed.

I make no apology for quoting those findings extensively because, significantly in view of this debate, the attitudes and actions of adults and mass media messages were seen as key. The Zero Tolerance Trust states in its information that

"media representations were often used as reference points helping young people to justify certain ways of looking at the world or making sense of their own experiences."

That is a key statement for society and this Parliament to consider. Young people do not learn in a vacuum. Zero Tolerance rightly points out that what is important is understanding how young people are socialised. That means understanding the role played by media images.

With Tyson, the message is that no matter what the crime, the level of violence, the fact that your behaviour has included rape—a crime right up there with murder—you can go on, live your life, make megabucks, be a hero, be surrounded with all the trappings of success, and gain preferential treatment from officialdom. If we do not challenge that head on in every way we can, by default we collude in that image. It is therefore entirely proper that we should question the apparent adulation of an individual such as Mike Tyson and seek to address the problem of the message that that sends out.

This Parliament may not have power over immigration, but it does have responsibility for justice and education, and both of those areas are key to this debate. It is this Parliament that will develop any strategies for dealing with the problem of violence against women. It is this Parliament that has to devise the appropriate criminal justice responses. It is this Parliament that is concerned with the way in which our children learn and grow. Therefore, this Parliament also has responsibilities in this debate that cannot be ignored.

We are perfectly at liberty, of course, to take on board Frank Warren's helpful suggestion that the spectacle of Mike Tyson fighting in Glasgow will be an ideal opportunity to focus on the issue of violence against women. One could almost imagine that Mr Warren's motives are totally pure and that he really believes he is doing society a great service by allowing us this opportunity. I will not court disaster with the Presiding Officer by being blunt about what my own views are of that breathtakingly disingenuous approach. I am sure everyone in the chamber can fill in the blanks. But in any case, if—and I say if—this fight goes ahead, all the relevant groups and individuals will undoubtedly try to ensure that some balance is maintained in the coverage.

Photo of Mike Watson Mike Watson Labour

I cannot disagree with anything Roseanna Cunningham has said so far and I suspect that many of my colleagues would say the same—perhaps that will not be true about what she goes on to say. Why did she not use the opportunity of Home Office questions in the House of Commons on Monday to raise this issue; or table a question for Scottish questions in the House of Commons yesterday; or go to the House of Commons—or ask her colleagues John Swingy or Alasdair Morgan to raise these issues in the House of Commons—yesterday? Those opportunities existed and they were passed by. Why?

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

One of the simple answers to that, which Mr Watson might be surprised to hear, is that I was convening the Justice and Home Affairs Committee on Monday afternoon, trying to get the Executive's legislative programme through as quickly as possible.

I said that I would be sad if we simply accepted that the fight will go ahead and that there is nothing that can be done in any forum to alter the decision, no matter how late in the day. The Home Secretary's decision was unfortunate, unwise and unwelcome. It was also wrong. I am well aware that strenuous attempts are being made by back-bench Labour MPs at Westminster to achieve a reversal of that decision. I welcome those attempts and I wish them every success. Those members may have channels of communication that are not open to me. Equally, I believe that strenuous attempts should be made in Scotland to achieve the same result. Who knows, one or other of those attempts may be successful. It is the potential for that successful outcome on which we should focus.

During the past week, a great deal of controversy has surrounded the decision itself, the way it was reached and its implications. I do not want to rehearse all that, but one or two things should be highlighted. First, the issue was considered sufficiently important for it to be decided that this Parliament's views should be conveyed to the Home Office in advance of the decision being taken. The Minister for Justice and, I think, the Presiding Officer, made the required calls. It is a pity that the minister was unable to speak directly to his Westminster counterpart. It is even more to be regretted that having been assured that no decision had been taken, within a few hours it transpired that a decision must already have been taken because extensive briefing of the media had already been under way. Perhaps Barbara Roche, the minister to whom our Deputy First Minister spoke, was unaware of that. We must assume so.

Secondly, it now transpires that the Home Secretary had, some 12 days previously, met the principals promoting this event. The Home Secretary is not, as I understand it, required to consult on an issue such as this, but if he does begin to undertake consultation it is not unreasonable to expect him at least to hear from those—including representatives of the Scottish Executive—who might have an opposing view. At no stage was that done. Arguably, it should have been done anyway. He cannot have been unaware of the likely furore. He chose to disregard it. That was, at best, unfortunate. That unbalanced level of consultation is, in my view, a real flaw in the process of coming to a decision.

Just as flawed is the reliance on the economic argument for justification. Surely I am not alone in the chamber in feeling that the demand for tickets should not govern whether the fight goes ahead. There are undoubtedly many things that, if allowed to proceed, would engender the same level of interest. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that a number of the ticket buyers will be interested only in the possibility of another exhibition of Tyson's complete lack of control. Like the crowds that will gawp at a tragedy, they will be there in the hope that something outrageous will happen.

If we take the view that demand is all, that could be used to justify legalising many things that are currently illegal. Simple demand is never considered sufficient—not even for those who state their belief in the free market as vociferously and frequently as the Conservatives. Even they do not accept that simple demand should dictate everything. It is never considered sufficient and never should be; otherwise, we would be selling tickets to public executions.

We should not rule out any potential means of stopping this fight. We have asked that that include not ruling out a judicial review of the decision. The minister must know that a great many judicial reviews are taken each year, a significant percentage of which are initiated by the Government, local authorities and non-departmental public bodies. There would be nothing unusual in the Scottish ministers seeking to apply for a judicial review. I am sure that they have done so frequently in the past.

Photo of Malcolm Chisholm Malcolm Chisholm Labour

Like Mike Watson, I agree with everything Roseanna Cunningham has said. However, as a Westminster MP, surely she knows that the Home Secretary has wide-ranging discretion in matters of immigration and that therefore the issue of a judicial review is a red herring?

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

I do not know where Mr Chisholm has obtained his legal advice; the advice given to us is that a judicial review is perfectly proper and appropriate in the circumstances. Its success cannot be predicted, but there is no reason not to do it.

Despite the disappointing tone of the Tory amendment and the Executive amendment to it, it should be kept in mind that any judicial review is not about whether the Home Secretary has the constitutional right to make a decision, but whether the decision he made was flawed. He, along with every other minister, is subject to the same processes—he will undoubtedly have been judicially reviewed in the past.

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

With respect, I must finish. I am getting close to the end of my time.

Women's groups throughout Scotland support the idea of a judicial review—my colleague Gil Paterson will speak more about that. I very much hope that the message we send out from this debate is not, "We will leave it up to cash-strapped voluntary organisations to do what it is within the power of the Executive, with all its resources, to do." That is my plea to everyone in the chamber today.

I will finish on a lighter note. I have been much entertained by the comparison between those who object to the Tyson fight and cackling geese. Geese are useful: they provide an efficient early warning system. I suggest that, from here on in, all individuals and women's groups active in the field of violence against women adopt the cackling goose as their motif. I would be proud to be so described.

I move,

That the Parliament notes the decision of the Home Secretary to grant a visa for Mike Tyson to enter the United Kingdom; is concerned that his decision was taken without any genuine consultation with members of the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Executive or relevant women's groups; further notes that Mike Tyson has at no time expressed public remorse for the crimes of violence for which he has been convicted, and calls upon the Scottish Executive to ensure by whatever means possible, and if necessary by arranging for a judicial review to be sought, that the boxing match scheduled for 24 June 2000 at Hampden Stadium does not go ahead.

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative 9:49 am, 24th May 2000

Today's debate is yet another illustration of the fact that the SNP will exploit any issue to further its political agenda of separation and division. It is not about rape or violence about women; it is about the SNP trying to deliver a volley of uppercuts and haymakers to the constitutional settlement. That is why we are debating this motion today.

All the warm words about the Scottish Parliament that Alex Salmond and his colleagues uttered during the run-up to the devolution referendum and the Scottish elections have been shown to be so much hot air. Far from wanting this Parliament to work in the interests of the Scottish people, the SNP wants to rip up the Scotland Act 1998 and start all over again. It ignores the fact that people in Scotland have had 30 years of debate about the constitution and made their decision in the devolution referendum. They voted for a Parliament that would improve housing, health and education in Scotland, not one that would continue to debate endlessly Scotland's constitutional position.

Photo of Tricia Marwick Tricia Marwick Scottish National Party

Did Mr McLetchie listen to a word of what Roseanna Cunningham said in her speech?

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative

I listened with great interest to her speech. What matters is not the words that she spoke but the import of the motion that followed. The motion is about subverting and disrupting the constitutional settlement that was voted for in the referendum and established this Parliament.

The campaign to keep Mike Tyson out of Scotland is yet another bandwagon on which the SNP has jumped to further its political agenda. It is happy—indeed, delighted—to ignore the fact that this matter is reserved to Westminster and is not a matter on which the Scottish Parliament or the Executive has authority. Whatever one's personal views might be on the rights and wrongs of the decision taken by Jack Straw, the fact remains that, constitutionally, Jack Straw was the right person to take that decision.

Photo of Sandra White Sandra White Scottish National Party

I have a simple question for Mr McLetchie: is he or is he not in favour of allowing Mike Tyson to enter this country?

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative

I am in favour of the decision about Mike Tyson's application being made by the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom. I am not here to second guess the Home Secretary. The SNP wants to change the constitution to allow us to do so.

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative

I am not feart; I have given way twice already.

Of course we can discuss the Tyson issue, as we have discussed other issues in the Parliament on which we have no legislative or executive competence, such as the Act of Settlement. There is a clear difference, however, between the debate on the Act of Settlement and today's debate. The motion in the Act of Settlement debate was an expression of opinion by this Parliament that Her Majesty's Government could take on board if it so chose. That motion did not call for any executive action.

We should not instruct the Executive to take action in areas for which it is not responsible, which is what today's motion demands. Moreover, this motion bemoans the fact that neither the Scottish Executive nor MSPs were consulted by Jack Straw before he reached his decision on Tyson. Taken to its logical conclusion, that is tantamount to saying that this Parliament should be consulted on every aspect of policy for which Westminster is responsible and which might impinge on the lives of Scots. Does that mean that Robin Cook has to run all his foreign policy decisions past this Parliament, Gordon Brown all his decisions on taxation and spending, Geoff Hoon all matters relating to defence or Alistair Darling all matters relating to social security? Of course not. The idea is ludicrous and completely impractical.

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

Does the member believe that this Parliament has any locus on the matter of violence against women, which is what this debate is about?

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative

This debate is not about violence against women; the Parliament and its committees have had very important debates on that subject. This debate is about an SNP motion that calls on the Executive to disrupt the constitutional settlement.

The SNP motion is explicit, because it calls on the Scottish Executive or a surrogate to take the UK Government to court. Given that this Parliament has existed for only a year and that our new constitutional settlement is still bedding down, the last thing we need is for the SNP to foment division between Westminster and the Scottish Parliament for its own selfish political ends through the legal contrivances that Ms Cunningham has described. That is irresponsible gesture politics of the worst kind and does no service whatsoever to people working to counter violence against women.

If the SNP was really serious about helping victims of domestic violence, it would support our calls to the Scottish Executive to reverse the cuts planned for the next two years in the victim support budget.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party

The SNP has already made that point several times in this chamber.

As for the logic of Mr McLetchie's argument that there should be no consultation on a range of issues, does he think that the acting First Minister was wrong to phone up the Home Office to give the Scottish Executive's opinion, or does he think that that should have been done without disrupting the UK constitution?

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative

The acting First Minister can answer for his own actions. [MEMBERS: "Oh."] No, seriously, it was wrong for the Deputy First Minister to phone the Home Office because the 72 MPs at Westminster are there specifically to raise issues and concerns such as the Mike Tyson affair. For the time being, six of those MPs are members of the SNP, although they have all served notice to quit Westminster. Instead of raising in this Parliament issues over which we have no authority, SNP MPs should do the job for which our taxpayers pay them in the House of Commons, and ensure that the concerns of Scots are raised in the proper forum.

By their actions, the Scottish Executive and individual members of the Labour party are not immune to criticism about the handling of this issue. From the evidence of yesterday's emergency motion in the Education, Culture and Sport Committee, Labour members seem quite happy to subvert the decision of a Labour Home Secretary by calling on the Scottish Football Association to cancel the boxing match by refusing to lease Hampden for that purpose, notwithstanding the fact that the Home Secretary's decision was based on the economic benefit that Mr Tyson's participation in the boxing match would bring to Scotland and the UK. Why are all the Labour members of the Education, Culture and Sport Committee subverting a Labour Home Secretary's decision by the back door? It is a piece of absolute nonsense.

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative

No, sorry.

Labour members have once again fallen victim to their fear of the SNP.

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative


Instead of standing firm—

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative

No, I am sorry.

Instead of standing firm and arguing from a unionist perspective, Labour members cravenly bend the knee to the SNP because they are tied into the same gesture politics agenda and are afraid to let the SNP steal their thunder.

I will take Mary Mulligan's intervention.

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative

Well, I think that I have taken six interventions.

Photo of Mary Mulligan Mary Mulligan Labour

Mr McLetchie criticises the motion before the Education, Culture and Sport Committee yesterday, but the committee was only meeting his suggestion that the Parliament restrict itself to issues over which it has some influence. I hope that the committee will have a very positive relationship with the SFA. It is quite within our remit to ask that organisation to examine the consequences of having Mike Tyson at Hampden stadium and the message that that gives the people of Scotland. As a result, the committee quite legitimately asked the SFA to take a different decision.

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative

It is no doubt within the competence of the Education, Culture and Sport Committee to express such an opinion, but it was wrong to do so. The committee is attempting to subvert a Labour Home Secretary's decision that was partly based on the economic benefit to Scotland and the UK of having Hampden as a venue for major international sporting events. It is quite wrong for the committee to try to subvert that decision.

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative

I am sorry. I have taken too many interventions and must wind up.

What I have said today does not mean that I wholeheartedly approve of Jack Straw's decision, but we are not in the business of playing constitutional politics with what was undoubtedly a very difficult decision for the Home Secretary.

When she was questioned about this matter, the shadow Home Secretary, Ann Widdecombe, acknowledged that. She said that, had she been Home Secretary, she would have refused Mr Tyson's application, based on her belief that the fact that someone is a celebrity does not mean that they can evade laws that apply to everybody else. The Conservatives support Ann Widdecombe's position on this matter because, as a party, we understand that devolution means respecting the division of responsibilities between this Parliament and Westminster.

Several concerns have been raised in regard to the substantive issue of the current review of rule 320(18) of the UK immigration rules, which is at the centre of the Tyson argument. No doubt the SNP would argue that that review is irrelevant as, in an independent Scotland, we should be able to decided our own immigration policy and keep people such as Mike Tyson out.

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative

I am sorry, I am winding up.

That position ignores the fact that, even in an independent Scotland, the immigration policies of the rest of the United Kingdom would materially affect us. As fervent supporters of European integration, the nationalists would no doubt support a common European immigration policy that would leave Scotland with far less control over who entered the country than it has as part of the United Kingdom.

Whether the SNP likes it or not, one thing is for sure: at present, the Tyson decision was not, and is not, ours to make. Long may it remain so, as issues of nationality, immigration and residency are the cornerstone of a nation state. They are a cornerstone of the nation state that is the United Kingdom, and long may that remain the case. It is about time the SNP grew up and accepted that fact and let this Parliament get on with the real business that we are here to conduct.

I move amendment S1M-890.1, to leave out from first "notes" to end and insert:

"regrets the determination of the SNP to promote an agenda designed to wreck rather than address the issues for which the Parliament is responsible; recognises and supports the current constitutional settlement, which was endorsed by a referendum of the Scottish people and which leaves immigration policy in the hands of the Home Secretary, and accordingly notes that the Home Secretary is the proper person to take the decision on whether Mike Tyson should be allowed into this country."

Photo of Angus MacKay Angus MacKay Labour 10:02 am, 24th May 2000

The Executive and the partnership parties deplore all violence, in particular violence against women. This debate should be about changing the public perception and ending the culture of violence. Instead, the nationalist motion and Roseanna Cunningham's remarks focus on constitutional politics. Two weeks ago, the nationalists wasted parliamentary time, supposedly dealing with the state of the nation. Instead, that debate was about independence, in an attempt to appease the fundamentalists. This time, the SNP's opportunism is far more damaging, as it belittles a far more serious issue.

I want to begin by considering some of what the Executive has done to protect women in Scotland from violence. The protection of women from all forms of violence is a high priority for the Scottish Executive.

Photo of Angus MacKay Angus MacKay Labour


We are determined to take whatever steps are necessary to raise awareness, to improve the availability of information on the scale and nature of the problem and to ensure that women in Scotland are offered the protection and support that they need. One of the first things that we have done is to make a difference by establishing the Scottish Partnership on Domestic Abuse, which will report to us and recommend minimum levels of service provision for abused women and their children, to ensure consistent levels of service provision throughout Scotland.

We know that domestic abuse is associated with broader gender inequalities in society; it is one of a range of behaviours that constitute a male abuse of power, and is linked to other forms of male violence such as rape and child abuse. That is why the partnership has defined domestic abuse as physical abuse such as assault; sexual abuse, which includes any acts that degrade and humiliate women and which are perpetrated against their will; and emotional abuse such as threats, verbal abuse and other types of controlling behaviour such as isolation from family or friends.

That partnership will put its recommendations to ministers this summer, including recommendations that relate to the impact of existing policies and legislation. The submission will also include an examination of current criminal and civil law and the policies that affect service provision. The partnership will also examine how the criminal justice system deals with victims. It will consider which recommendations should be given priority for action, taking into account such factors as their impact, the speed with which they can be implemented and local variations in needs and existing provisions.

That is real action that is designed to benefit women throughout Scotland. It is not soundbite politics and posturing; it is an attempt to change attitudes and improve provision. We must concentrate on the long-term substantial issues on which Parliament is competent.

If that is what we are doing, and if the Tyson fight is a threat to our attempts to change the perception and the reality about violence towards women, what should we make of the nationalists' position in that context? As has been mentioned, an attempt was made yesterday in the Education, Culture and Sport Committee to reach a coherent position of tactical unity, but the SNP rejected that proposal. For them, the debate is about borders, not boxers. Their pitch for a judicial review is not about stopping a fight; it is about trying to start a fight between Holyrood and Westminster. The SNP's strategy is not anti-violence; it is pro-nationalism.

Photo of Angus MacKay Angus MacKay Labour

I am glad that Alex Neil has said feart, because in The Herald on 22 May, Mr Salmond said:

"as Tom McCabe is not as enthusiastic as I am about this, then we will be prepared to give up our own parliamentary time."

It is a pity that Mr Salmond was so feart about getting another doing from Jim Wallace that he is speaking at the end of the debate rather than at the beginning.

Photo of Angus MacKay Angus MacKay Labour

There is no SNP solidarity with Scottish women; there is only solidarity with the nationalist desire for separation. They lost the argument with the Scottish people last year and they are now trying to assert their view that this Parliament must exercise all the powers that the Parliament of a separate state would. Their true credo is not about solidarity with women; it is about separation from England. SNP members came into politics not because of identification with women or with workers, but because of a desire to build barriers.

Photo of Angus MacKay Angus MacKay Labour

I will give way in a moment.

The SNP does not want to stop only boxers on the M74 and its agenda is not about social inclusion, but about exclusion from Scotland.

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

The minister has seriously lowered the tone of the debate with his comments. He should, perhaps, have taken some time to rewrite his speech during Roseanna Cunningham's comments. Given his comments on judicial review, does he also condemn the moves that are afoot by women's groups throughout Scotland to consider judicial review as a course of action?

Photo of Angus MacKay Angus MacKay Labour

At least that intervention was worth waiting for.

I do not condemn women's groups for rightly attempting to represent the interests of women whose position they are trying to defend. Those pressure groups should rightly use all the means at their disposal to raise the issue of domestic violence, which is not mentioned in the motion in Roseanna Cunningham's name.

The SNP motion reveals the real agenda. That agenda puts women last and puts Parliament and the Executive first. The SNP's agenda is less about domestic violence than it is about the nationalists' perpetual demand for the break-up of Britain. Why are they so unwilling to accept the devolution settlement and to accept that Westminster deals with immigration and Glasgow deals with licensing? None of us was sent here by the Scottish people to undermine that settlement; we were sent here to uphold it and to make it work. We have moved away from the time when one institution exercised all the power and held all the democratic legitimacy and have moved towards a pluralist and diverse system in which discrete institutions exercise discrete powers.

If the nationalists were sincere about devolution and did not merely waste time arguing about what we cannot do, they would devote themselves to improving Scotland with the powers that we can exercise. They are less interested in excluding Tyson from Scotland that they are in excluding Scotland from Britain—as they are in every debate.

Photo of Angus MacKay Angus MacKay Labour


So much for the words. What do the nationalists' actions show? While Scottish Labour MPs were raising the issue in Parliament, what were the nationalists doing? What concerns did they raise in the Parliament that is constitutionally responsible? Two days ago, at Scotland Office questions in Westminster, they did not even raise the issue. Of all the Westminster early-day motions that had been tabled as of yesterday, only one had been signed by one nationalist MP, and that was sponsored by Labour's Maria Fyfe.

Maybe they were saving themselves for the real opportunity to speak up—at Home Office questions. Not so very long ago, Jack Straw, the minister directly responsible for immigration policy and for the decision on Tyson about which the nationalists are so exercised, stood at the dispatch box specifically to answer questions on Home Office business. Not one nationalist asked him a question. Why? Because not one nationalist had even turned up, just as they did not turn up to support the national minimum wage.

At the next election, members of that party will ask Scots to vote for them.

Photo of Angus MacKay Angus MacKay Labour


We can predict what their slogan will be. It will be, "Vote SNP—Scotland's voice at Westminster". When Scotland waited for that voice to be heard, what did it get? Silence. Did SNP members stand up for Scotland? No. Did they speak up for Scotland? No. Did they even turn up for Scotland? No.

Photo of Tommy Sheridan Tommy Sheridan SSP

On standing up for Scotland and letting Westminster hear the voice of Scotland, will the minister explain what the Labour voice of Scotland in Westminster has been?

Photo of Angus MacKay Angus MacKay Labour

Maria Fyfe and Frank Roy, for starters, did an excellent job of raising the issue on behalf of the Labour party in the Westminster Parliament. I am sure that Mr Sheridan is aware of that.

Perhaps SNP members would like to ask Margo MacDonald about the views that she expressed on Lesley Riddoch's programme recently—that Mike Tyson had committed a crime and served his time, and should now be allowed to get on with resuming his career and boxing in Scotland.

Devolution brings real and substantial powers to tackle domestic violence. This partnership Executive has already used those powers to put in place an £8 million fund to address the gaps in service provision and to create 123 more refuge spaces across Scotland, an increase of a third. We have also launched a national telephone helpline, with help from Thus plc, so that help is instantly available for those who need it.

The job of this Parliament is not constitutional warfare; it is to improve the lives and safety of men and women across Scotland. Let the nationalists use their time to seek division; we shall concentrate on the work of this Parliament in delivering.

I move amendment S1M-890.1.1, to insert at end of amendment S1M-890.1:

"and, whilst recognising the widespread concerns, in this Parliament and elsewhere, about the proposed visit, believes that this Parliament should use its time to discuss and to take decisions on matters within its competence and so help to build a Scotland true to the values of fairness, equality and justice, and supports the work of the Scottish Executive in tackling domestic abuse and supporting its victims, in particular in developing effective intervention and service provision to prevent male violence against women and their children".

Photo of Nora Radcliffe Nora Radcliffe Liberal Democrat 10:12 am, 24th May 2000

In January this year, the Home Secretary decided to allow Tyson to fight in Manchester, despite vocal opposition and despite the wording of paragraph 320 of the UK's immigration rules, which states that visitors from abroad convicted of certain crimes will normally be refused entry, save where the immigration officer is satisfied that admission would be justified for strong compassionate reasons.

Jack Straw stated that his reasons for admitting Tyson in January were concerned with the potentially devastating effect on businesses in the Manchester area providing services for the fight. I would not have felt so compassionate towards fight promoters making large profits, but at least there was some justification for the decision, as arrangements had been finalised and there would have been real losses. At the time, we were also assured that it was a once-only decision.

This time, arrangements were not so far advanced that real money would be lost—only the potential for profit. The fight promoters knew about the recent pronouncement by the Home Secretary that Tyson's last visit had been allowed as a one-off. That might have been considered a warning to them not to commit themselves, but their cynicism was evidently more justified than my faith in the Home Secretary's previous assurance.

Jack Straw made the following statement concerning his decision to allow Tyson to fight in Glasgow:

"I have today, informed Mr Tyson that he will be granted entry clearance for a single visit of three weeks' duration strictly for the purpose of a boxing match in Scotland on 24 June 2000.

The decision to grant entry clearance has been taken in accordance with Rule 320(18) of the United Kingdom Immigration Rules . . . but also bearing in mind the residual discretion which I have under the Rule."

Because of the element of discretion allowed to the Home Secretary, it is unlikely that a judicial review of his decision would result in its being overturned, especially as the Home Secretary also said that, before reaching his decision, he had taken into account

"the fact that Mr Tyson has relevant convictions for the purposes of the application of this Rule."

He also took into account recent allegations of an assault still under investigation,

"the views expressed by the public about Mr Tyson visiting the United Kingdom" and the views of the Scottish Parliament relayed by Jim Wallace.

Mr Straw

"did not consider that there were strong compassionate reasons which would justify admission in Mr Tyson's case for the purpose of the Rule."

However, he

"concluded that there were other exceptional circumstances which justified his entry to the country for the purpose of participating in the boxing match."

I take exception to the word "exceptional". This is a straightforward fight promotion for profit.

Mr Straw also said that his decision took account of Mr Tyson's behaviour on his previous visit, which was satisfactory, that risk to the public would be minimised because of all his minders and

"that a refusal to permit entry would result in a loss of economic benefit to the United Kingdom, and in particular to the areas in which engagement took place, and would not enhance the United Kingdom's standing as a venue for major sporting events."

We have to wonder what the word "sporting" now means. The crime of which Mr Tyson was convicted, the conviction that would normally have debarred him from entry to the UK—the crime of rape—is one of violence against a weaker person, surely the antithesis of sport.

Mr Tyson's record as a sportsman is not an especially savoury one either. Any contest in which he participates is, somewhat unsportingly, weighted against his opponents who cannot fail to be aware of previous notorious behaviour which was well outside the rules of the sport.

Mr Straw also said that he

"took account of the fact that rule 320(18) currently operates in an inconsistent manner in that those in the public eye whose convictions are known are more likely to be caught by its provisions."—[Official Report, House of Commons, 18 May 2000; Vol 350, c 210W.]

It seems perverse to argue that a rule should not be applied because it has been applied inconsistently. Surely it should be imperative to apply it to achieve consistency.

I acknowledge that whether Mr Tyson should be allowed entry is entirely a matter to be decided by the Secretary of State for the Home Department and that it is a decision that he must take in accordance with law. I believe that he made the wrong decision.

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

If Nora Radcliffe is of the opinion that the Home Secretary had taken a decision that was contrary to law, that the decision that he had taken is on the wrong basis, does she not accept that a judicial review would be entirely appropriate?

Photo of Nora Radcliffe Nora Radcliffe Liberal Democrat

I believe that he made the wrong decision, but I presume that he believes that he made the right one. It is his right to make the decision.

Rape represents the most serious of all major crimes against the person short of homicide. Making this exception for someone convicted of rape inevitably sends the message that the crime has been discounted against a higher priority of making money.

Research information tells us that, out of 2,000 young people aged between 14 and 21, half the boys and a third of the girls interviewed believed that there were some circumstances in which it was all right for a man to hit a woman or to force a woman to have sex. That makes the Home Secretary's decision even more dangerously wrong.

That is why so many women's organisations in Scotland have been clear and consistent in their opposition to Tyson gaining entry to fight in Scotland.

Photo of Nora Radcliffe Nora Radcliffe Liberal Democrat

I am winding up.

That is why the Scottish Trades Union Congress and Unison have also expressed anger about Jack Straw's decision and why many members of Parliament opposed it at Westminster, together with the majority of members of the Scottish Parliament.

It means that we must work all the harder to get the message across to our young people and to every citizen that violence is deplorable and intolerable. That includes domestic violence, violence committed against women by celebrities such as Mike Tyson and violence committed by people who are anonymous but inflict violence day in, day out on members of their family or other women.

Setting aside violent crimes committed by a celebrity has not helped us, Mr Straw.

Photo of Gil Paterson Gil Paterson Scottish National Party 10:19 am, 24th May 2000

I am speaking today as the convener of the proposed cross-party group on men's violence against women and children. I cannot help but make a plea to Labour members not to sign up to the speech that David McLetchie made earlier, which was quite deplorable.

The announcement last week by Jack Straw that Tyson was to be granted entry into the UK for a second time sickened me, for both legal and moral reasons. Under Jack Straw's rules, Mike Tyson should be refused entry into the United Kingdom.

Photo of Gil Paterson Gil Paterson Scottish National Party

I will give way in a moment.

Jack Straw has decided that he can make up the law as he goes along. He says that he has applied rule 320(18).

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

Order. The member has indicated that he will take the intervention shortly. [MEMBERS: "It is a point of order."] I am sorry. It is difficult for me to hear from where I am.

Photo of Elaine Murray Elaine Murray Labour

Mr Paterson has indicated that he is speaking on behalf of the cross-party group on domestic violence. I am not aware that that group has discussed this issue. Mr Paterson appears to be speaking from the benches of the Scottish nationalist party, which is rather different.

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

I cannot rule on what Mr Paterson claims to be. I ask him to address that and to push on.

Photo of Gil Paterson Gil Paterson Scottish National Party

I will address it. I am not speaking on behalf of anybody. I said that I was speaking as the convener of the cross-party group on men's violence against women and children, which is slightly different.

Under Jack Straw's rules, Mike Tyson should be refused entry into the United Kingdom, but Jack Straw has decided that he can make up the law as he goes along. He says that he has applied rule 320(18). The first time that he allowed Mike Tyson into the United Kingdom he said that there were strong compassionate reasons for doing that. Now he says that there are no strong compassionate reasons for allowing Tyson to enter the UK. That means that Tyson should be refused entry. It is as simple as that.

But no, our Jack has other ideas. He has ignored his rules and decided to invent something new. He says that there are exceptional circumstances. I say that this has everything to do with money and nothing to do with compassion. The rule is supposed to allow people with criminal convictions to enter the UK to visit dying relatives or for other compelling reasons. It is not supposed to open the door for rapists to come to our national stadium and get rich. Jack Straw is applying Lego rules to his own law: when he does not like a bit of it, he takes it out and puts something else in.

Photo of Gil Paterson Gil Paterson Scottish National Party

I will not give way.

The vast majority of members of this Parliament, a majority that cuts across all parties, condemned the decision to allow Tyson to fight, despite our feelings, which are well documented. In January I lodged a motion—which is still in the business bulletin, if people care to look for it—condemning Jack Straw's decision to allow Mike Tyson entry into the UK, and wrote a letter to Jack Straw voicing our strong concerns. We now know that the Secretary of State for the Home Department has chosen to ignore the lot of us.

Rape is seen as a women's issue, and we must endeavour to change that. Men such as me must take responsibility and join those who are arguing on behalf of victims of rape. Boxing and football are almost exclusively male dominated, and our voices must be heard in those sports if we are to make a difference. It is, therefore, sad that boxing is promoting a man who is a convicted rapist and elevating him almost to hero status.

I would like to take this opportunity to quote from some letters that I have received since the weekend.

Scottish Women's Aid states:

"We are opposed to Tyson coming to Scotland. As an organisation working against violence against women, we feel welcoming Tyson sends the wrong messages out to people."

Edinburgh rape crisis centre states:

"Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre wishes to support the efforts of women's groups and MSPs in protesting against the decision to allow Mike Tyson to come to Glasgow . . . We are deeply concerned that women have not been consulted about their feelings and that those who have suffered male violence will be disgusted at the high profile that this convicted rapist is given."

The women's support project states:

"We are very concerned and extremely disappointed about the recent decision to allow Mike Tyson to fight in Scotland.

It has been encouraging in recent months to see such positive commitment within the Scottish Parliament to tackle violence against women and children, working along with those organisations supporting survivors. We feel that this has been undermined by the decision. We live in a society where young people (especially young men) are very much influenced by sports personalities and a situation has been created to glorify male violence."

My final quotation is from a letter from the Dundee young women's centre.

"We protest vigorously about Mike Tyson coming to Scotland and we would like to ask for a Judicial Review regarding this."

The letter continues:

"Women and children who have been raped are the real heroes of our society because of what they live with on a daily basis and it is a real slap on the face for them to have this rapist come to Scotland to be upheld as a sporting legend."

Instances of rape have risen by 64 per cent in the past six years. In 1998, 613 rapes were reported in Scotland; in the same year, only 43 charges of rape were proven—only 5.5 per cent. I think we all know that most cases of rape go unreported because of the double trauma that is involved.

Parading Tyson as some kind of hero is setting women's groups and those who have campaigned against rape back years.

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

Speeches should last about four minutes, plus interventions.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour 10:25 am, 24th May 2000

We have heard strong views on this issue, both for and against Tyson coming to Scotland. Most of the debate, properly, has focused on his criminal conviction for rape. Rape is the most horrific violation of a woman and a brutal exercise of power. It seems that Mike Tyson is to be for ever connected to the horror of his past. I argue today that only he can dissociate himself from that.

Those who argue for the fight to proceed say that he has paid his price and that it is now time to move on. Many of us would subscribe to the idea of rehabilitation. However, the key ingredients of rehabilitation are contrition and a renunciation of past behaviour. Without those, Tyson cannot be rehabilitated. Jack Straw therefore made the wrong decision. If Tyson is to make huge sums of money and benefit from public attention, he must accept the responsibility of his role. He is a public figure; to some he is a sporting hero and a role model. We cannot allow him, in any way, to legitimise violence against women.

I know that many people in the west of Scotland appreciate the sport of boxing. To many of them, Tyson is a towering figure. They distinguish clearly between the man, the sporting hero, and the crime. I do not wish to associate them with any of these comments, because I know that they have no wish to collude in violence against women. However, I ask them to think about this. How would they feel if it had been their daughter, their wife or their mother? Seeing the perpetrator express no remorse and be hailed as a hero would perhaps be too hard to bear.

However, the most powerful argument as to why this debate is fundamentally about violence against women is seen in the slippage in the way that the issue has been debated in some quarters. Some people start off by saying that the crime is in the past; then they call the rape conviction into question; then they question the woman—her motives, her dress, or the lack of it. That line of argument is all too familiar to those of us who have been involved in the rape debate.

I have been involved in that debate for a long time—more than 20 years. I make a genuine plea today. Do not usurp the fundamental issues to serve narrow party political interests. When Tyson came to Manchester, I raised the same issues. If Jack Straw decided next week to let Tyson into Cardiff, my message would be the same. I hope that Alex Salmond's would be too. Morality does not stop at the Scottish border.

I call on the SFA not to stage the fight. However, if the fight is to go ahead, let the victims receive some of the economic benefits. If Tyson comes to Glasgow, let him make a public statement denouncing rape and violence against women.

I appeal to the Parliament and beyond: do not get lost in constitutional politics. This is not about the powers of the Scottish Parliament; this is about solidarity with women in England and Wales. That is where the argument properly is. We should never believe that we have dealt with the crime of rape. Too many women still have great fear of reporting crime; and too many women still face violent subjugation. As Angus MacKay said, we have begun to tackle violence against women in our society. Do not let Mike Tyson deter or undermine that drive.

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party 10:29 am, 24th May 2000

I congratulate Margaret Curran on addressing the key issue of this debate—violence against women. All of us in the SNP support that position. I hope that others will address the key issue, because unfortunately, so far, debate has not.

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

I would like to get started.

The issue is whether Jack Straw made the right decision or the wrong decision when he granted Tyson, a convicted rapist, a visa—nothing more, nothing less. If members agree that he made the wrong decision, the question is what they are prepared to do about it. The debate is about the way in which Jack Straw made his decision and the conclusion that he came to. It is about the lack of consultation with the Scottish Executive, which the Tories seem to think was okay, and the fact that Jack Straw was prepared to see the promoters of the Tyson fight, but was not prepared to speak to Jim Wallace directly. He then came to the decision to let Tyson in, despite that being against the wishes of the majority of members of this Parliament and of the Scottish public.

Photo of Ian Jenkins Ian Jenkins Liberal Democrat

Shona Robison said that Margaret Curran had addressed the issues, which are about domestic violence, not Jack Straw. The wording of the motion makes us talk about Jack Straw and judicial reviews, when we should be talking about the effects of domestic violence. Margaret Curran talked about the issues; Shona Robison is taking us away from them.

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

The problem is that Jack Straw's decision has real implications for the issue of violence against women. Unlike Ian Jenkins, I believe that the fight is not yet over. I believe that we can get a reversal of the decision, which is what I am going to talk about.

Jack Straw's decision was reached in accordance with rule 320 of the UK immigration rules, which states that admission will not normally be granted to people with criminal convictions for relatively serious offences unless it can be justified on strong compassionate grounds. I see no compassionate reasons for the decision, let along strong ones. The decision is therefore wrong, which is why the idea of a judicial review must be considered.

Glasgow rape crisis centre has stated that women's organisations met and came out fully in favour of a judicial review. That is one of the ways that the Parliament can address the issue; there are others. All the motion asks is that the Scottish Executive consider all the possibilities for getting the decision reversed.

I am saddened by the Tory and Labour amendments. The Tories' amendment makes no mention of whether they think the decision was right or wrong. All the Labour amendment talks of is widespread concerns—the understatement of the decade when women's groups the length and breadth of Scotland are up in arms about the decision.

I am also puzzled as to why the amendment appears to say that the Scottish Parliament has no locus, when it has been accepted that Jim Wallace and David Steel attempted to make representations to Jack Straw and the Home Office. The fact that they were ignored is another matter.

Members from other parties who are unhappy about the Tyson decision must ask themselves what they are going to do about it. Do they not accept the need for a judicial review of the decision? Are they saying that the numerous women's groups considering such action are wrong? If members agree with the principle of judicial review, why do they think that cash-strapped women's groups should finance it—creating a David and Goliath situation—rather than a well-resourced Scottish Executive?

The SNP motion calls on the Scottish Executive to consider all the options to stop Tyson, whether through pressure on the SFA, a judicial review or whatever. The important thing to establish today is that this Parliament's will is to do whatever it can to prevent Tyson coming to Scotland. We should be united behind that call.

Photo of Johann Lamont Johann Lamont Labour

If we are focusing on the issues, does Shona Robison agree that this matter is of concern—an affront—not just to women in Scotland, but to all women in the United Kingdom? Does she agree that it was therefore most unfortunate that her leader last week chose to talk about Scotland instead of women and about Scotland being sold out for Tyson's gold rather than about women's safety being sold out for Tyson's gold?

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

This Parliament has a locus because justice and crime are devolved issues. I would support a call that Tyson should not be allowed into Scotland, England, Wales or Ireland—it does not matter where. I support Maria Fyfe and others at Westminster who have been vociferous on the issue. That does not mean that this Parliament should not debate the matter. If anything, we should be encouraged to do so and encourage our colleagues at Westminster to do so.

The issue of whether Tyson comes to Scotland is a matter for this Parliament because of the signal it sends out to our young people that a convicted rapist and a notoriously violent man is someone they should respect and look to as a role model. If the state is prepared to condone his behaviour, which is the implication of the decision, then how can we expect young people to reject the idea that violence against women is acceptable?

We should all think beyond party politics today. After years of working with women who have been abused and raped, my motivation in this debate is not party politics but to raise the issue of violence against women and to argue that this Parliament should send out a clear message on the unacceptability of violence against women. I urge all members to do that today.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative 10:35 am, 24th May 2000

I think that most members will agree with Shona Robison's emotive remarks—but what she said is not represented in the SNP motion. Sadly, the motion is clouded by the constitutional issue. I am happy to speak on the issue of violence against women at any time. I have done so in this Parliament in the past and I look forward to doing so in the future, but I would like to do so in a way that honestly addresses the issues and does not try to subvert them.

On the constitutional issue, we have 72 Scottish MPs at Westminster. I checked their record through the internet today, and I find that only five Labour members have signed an early-day motion on the Tyson affair. One of them, John McAllion, serves in both Parliaments. Only five Liberal Democrats have signed an EDM—not including the Minister for Justice, but including Donald Gorrie. Not one SNP member has bothered to table an EDM or, as far as I can see, has been prepared to participate in the debate on the matter at Westminster. Why is that? Six SNP MPs are sent to Westminster to represent Scotland on UK issues. Why has none of them spoken up for Scotland on the issue, when the leader of the SNP in this Parliament concentrated on it in question time last Thursday? Why, when SNP members proposed the issue for debate today, did they not use their Westminster position to promote the issue there? Nobody rises—nobody is defending that. It is to their shame that they sit on their backsides and say nothing.

Among Scottish MPs at Westminster, Maria Fyfe is at the forefront, and Jimmy Wray is on the other side. Some of the characters from the boxing world whom I have seen Jimmy Wray trail round Westminster in the past have not seemed to me to be very savoury. We have to recognise, when we look at those in boxing, in the USA especially, they are hardly angelic.

I shall not query the decision of the Home Secretary. My home affairs spokeswoman in the House of Commons has said that she would have been minded not to allow Tyson into the country. That is an issue for the Westminster MPs.

Photo of Dorothy-Grace Elder Dorothy-Grace Elder Independent

Why does not Mr Gallie, who represents a law and order party—as we always hear—query the Home Secretary's decision? Surely the Home Secretary, even more than Mike Tyson, is responsible for this situation.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

Much has been said today about judicial reviews. There was a judicial review earlier this year, since when I do not think that the circumstances have changed. The finding of that judicial review was that it is a condition for the Home Secretary to consider the public interest, and entertainment or economic grounds. In this issue, there are certainly economic grounds and, to some degree, for the many who follow boxing, entertainment grounds. We have been down the judicial review trail.

Photo of Sandra White Sandra White Scottish National Party

Throughout Phil Gallie's speech, I have not heard him mention violence against women once.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

The lady must have lost her hearing, as I opened my speech by backing what Shona Robison said about violence against women. I am sorry that Sandra White is hard of hearing, but that is another matter.

Mike Tyson is an unsavoury character and is certainly not a role model, as some people have suggested. I deplore not only his violence against women, but his cannibalistic tendency. I ask members to support David McLetchie's amendment.

Photo of Allan Wilson Allan Wilson Labour 10:40 am, 24th May 2000

This is a place of opinion—a Parliament ought to be full of different personal and party political opinions. Therefore, it is correct that parliamentarians should express the opinions on whatever matter exercises them. In this instance, it is whether Mike Tyson, former heavyweight champion of the world and convicted rapist, should be allowed to enter the UK to fight at Hampden park in Scotland.

For a variety of reasons, which have been given by Roseanna Cunningham and others, I would prefer that Mike Tyson did not come here. I admit that I am not a boxing fan, although I appreciate that many others are—even boxing fans have expressed the opinion that he should be denied entry. I recognise, as does the Scottish Labour party, that there is widespread concern in the Parliament and the country about the decision to grant entry to Mike Tyson.

However, that is not really the point or the point of the motion that we are debating. I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that it was entirely predictable that permission would be sought and granted, based on Mike Tyson's most recent visit only a few months ago, when by all accounts his behaviour was satisfactory. No one claims that he poses any risk to the public, which is a ground on which a less high-profile applicant could normally be denied access—assuming that he declared his convictions. Instead, a refusal to permit entry could, undeniably, result in a loss of economic benefit to Glasgow and the UK and militate against such promotions in future.

Therefore, the case against granting permission for entry is based entirely on the presumption that, because of his spent criminal conviction for rape, to grant entry to Tyson sends out the wrong messages and glamorises his criminal past. However, that is an entirely subjective opinion, which serves only to underline the importance of the discretionary element in the process. After all, it is perfectly possible to conceive of circumstances in which it would be desirable to permit the entry of another high-profile applicant with a criminal past because it sent out the right messages—for example, a former terrorist who was reconciled to the democratic process. Indeed, some people think that the visit of Mike Tyson provides precisely such an opportunity—to reinforce to young males the fact that, world heavyweight boxing champion or not, if someone commits rape, they go to jail. That message was strongly associated with the Manchester fight.

Whatever opinions we hold, as immigration is a reserved matter, the decision to grant entry is quite properly one for the Home Secretary. Scotland's Parliament can express its opinion on any matter, but immigration policy is determined at the Westminster Parliament, to which Scotland still sends 72 MPs, who have the power to speak out on the matter.

Labour members have done that, but, as Angus MacKay said, SNP members have been noticeable by their silence. They are all talk in Scotland but no action in Westminster. As Johann Lamont mentioned, last week, the nationalist leader asked the rhetorical question:

"is the only solution for Scotland for this Parliament to have the power to decide who shall and who shall not enter our country?"—[Official Report, 18 May 2000; Vol 6, c 857.]

The I-word is not mentioned, but that is independence unmasked. The SNP is not interested in violence against women, but is interested in searching Eddie Stobart lorries for illegal boxers. How would the nationalists enforce their decision to restrict entry to Scotland to someone granted entry to England? They want the power to grant entry visas, and to do so they must restrict the right of free movement within this island. That means immigration controls and border posts.

Two weeks ago, the Scottish Parliament rejected independence as a solution. Today, the Parliament rejects the nationalists' final solution to the Mike Tyson affair. I support the Labour amendment to the amendment.

Photo of Ian Jenkins Ian Jenkins Liberal Democrat 10:45 am, 24th May 2000

When so many of us agree about so much of the ground of the debate, it is a shame that we should end up squabbling about technicalities. I have said before that I do not like the idea of politicians banning things. However, when motions were circulating the Parliament last week, with some reservations, I signed a motion that declared that the fight should not take place in Glasgow.

When I was a student, I was a boxing fan. I lived in Glasgow and would go and watch the amateur boxing at St Andrew's Halls before they were burned down. I saw Walter McGowan, before he became a professional boxer, fighting three or four times in one night and winning an amateur championship. I still watch boxing matches on the rare occasions when they are televised on BBC or ITV, rather than on pay-per-view. Nevertheless, I cannot see anything about the whole Tyson episode that is to do with sport. As others have said, it is a media circus.

This is a tawdry exercise, in which a once dominant fighter, now at the fag-end of his career, is cashing in his notoriety by staging a bout against a fighter whom no one has ever heard of. It is a contest where blood lust and a desire to witness crude violence are given full rein and where the audience willingly submit to being financially exploited—as they have every right—in order to be present at a disreputable and probably short-lived mismatch. We are talking about a guy who has bitten off the ear of his opponent when in the ring and who has been convicted of raping a woman in his hotel room.

When we stand back, we can recognise that Tyson is a victim of the social and cultural pressures of his experience. He has been exploited by the managers and hangers-on who surround him. I can understand the arguments of people who say that he has served his sentence and should not be punished further. Those are both arguments for compassion and generosity of spirit. However, the clinching argument for me is that Tyson should not be treated differently from anyone else. I cannot accept that Tyson should be picked out for special treatment.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

There is a danger that Tyson will be treated differently. The majority of visa applicants are not checked out—their backgrounds are not known—and they are allowed to enter, but if Tyson were banned, that would mean that someone in the public eye would be refused entry because of their past record.

Photo of Ian Jenkins Ian Jenkins Liberal Democrat

There is a presumption against entry, and in this case, the presumption should have been exercised. If those are the rules for Joe Public, they should also apply to rusty Mike Tyson. The whole bout is a farce that should be ended before it begins.

The problem with a judicial review is that if we follow that path and lose, by definition, we have conferred legitimacy on the whole exercise. That would be a spurious legitimacy. Jack Straw is wrong.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party

The Home Secretary has already conferred legitimacy by his decision, and that is why it should be challenged through every avenue, including a judicial review.

Photo of Ian Jenkins Ian Jenkins Liberal Democrat

The trouble is that the legitimacy that the Home Secretary has given would be reinforced if a judicial review were lost. His decision is likely to be legally correct, but the decision is morally bankrupt, and we should say that openly. A judicial review is a non-event and would be likely to backfire on us.

Photo of Dorothy-Grace Elder Dorothy-Grace Elder Independent 10:50 am, 24th May 2000

I felt rather alarmed as some members questioned the integrity of those of us who submitted motions early on. One of my motions was lodged in January, opposing Tyson's visit to Manchester, and my other motion was lodged on 12 May. I thank members of all parties who signed my motion and that of Hugh Henry, because they signed up willingly on principle, so members should not lose their bottle now.

In the past week or so, a wonderful thing has happened. I have had calls from all over the world praising the stance of this Parliament, and praising the fact that Scotland has people here who are willing to stand up for principles in an age of plummeting standards. We are a small country, but we are trying to stand firm on a big principle. It is tragic that Jack Straw's standards reach no higher than Mike Tyson's wallet. Another Home Secretary might have made a different decision.

People overseas are puzzled about our Scottish situation. They know that we have our own Parliament, and they also know that we have our own legal system, yet a convicted rapist can be foisted on Scotland against our will. A judicial review in this case might halt Straw from opening the doors wider to let in criminals who have been sentenced for up to 10 years, which would include murderers.

Try telling those in the Asian community in Glasgow why their decent grandmothers cannot get into this country for a holiday, but the same Home Secretary admits a rapist because, frankly, he is a rich and famous rapist. Sometimes, Asians cannot even visit for a family funeral or when someone is dying. Last year, two Asian grandparents were barred from going to Glasgow to attend the wedding of their granddaughter. Every year, around 7,000 Pakistanis are refused temporary entry, and 22,000 people are refused entry from the Indian sub-continent as a whole. Just think of the money that their visits would generate when people talk about money and Tyson.

The Home Office is not putting principles first. This is a story of two men: Tyson and Straw. One is a man who shows no principles and is willing to grub in the gutter for money, and the other is Mike Tyson, and we know about him.

Photo of Dorothy-Grace Elder Dorothy-Grace Elder Independent

I do not have time to give way, although I applaud Margaret Curran's speech.

Straw is breaking his own rules to make us a rogues' gallery for vile visitors—a haven for celebrity criminals—and he started with the mass torturer General Pinochet.

There are so many examples of cruel contrasts. If members went to the British embassy in Islamabad at 7.30 of a morning, they would see a piteous queue of elderly people waiting like beggars—waiting for four hours at a time without food or liquid just to try to gain entry to Britain to see their grandchildren. I know of one family in which the son is a justice of the peace in Glasgow, but his elderly mother has been through that humiliation. She wants to see three grandchildren; that is all. She might never see them, because the British embassy returns the word from the Home Office in London, "No, no entry to Glasgow," and no entry to Britain for that old lady. But Mike Tyson gets in. That is all right. The Home Office keeps out the innocent grandmothers. Let these decent people come into our country. Let us welcome them.

Meanwhile, we have not sold out like Jack Straw—the one-time student activist, remember. The message from this Parliament is still, "We do not sell out. Scotland still has standards."

Photo of Tommy Sheridan Tommy Sheridan SSP 10:54 am, 24th May 2000

In the course of this morning's debate, I heard a number of statements—from the Tory benches and, unfortunately, from some of the new Labour members—about this issue being beyond our competence and outwith our remit. I heard shouts of "Posturing" from one particular new Labour member sitting to my left.

I find it quite ironic that we are meeting in Glasgow, one of the first cities that conferred the freedom of the city to Nelson Mandela. That was roundly condemned by the Tories, who said that to grant the freedom of the city to Nelson Mandela was beyond Glasgow's remit, that it was beyond the competence of a local authority and that it was posturing. Allan Wilson has made the point that it was a Labour local authority. That is precisely the point, because now some of the same new Labour members—Richard Simpson in particular—shout "Posturing" at those who to try to use all legal means possible to prevent the entry of Mike Tyson to this country.

Photo of Duncan McNeil Duncan McNeil Labour

Does not Tommy Sheridan share the regret of the Parliament that Alex Salmond and his Westminster colleagues did not take the opportunity to raise the issue where it belongs at Westminster? Did they not miss an opportunity?

Photo of Tommy Sheridan Tommy Sheridan SSP

I found the comments, particularly those directed towards Roseanna Cunningham, the convener of—

Photo of Tommy Sheridan Tommy Sheridan SSP

I let Duncan McNeil ask his question. Will he let me answer it?

Roseanna Cunningham, the convener of what is probably the busiest and most heavily laden committee in the Parliament, was attacked for not being at Westminster on Monday, when she was convening a parliamentary committee. As a member of the Scottish Parliament, I am much more interested in what we do as parliamentarians than in what is done at Westminster. Members who have a fixation about this debate being about the settlement that has been arrived at, and our devolved arrangement, are showing an awful lot of concern about what happens at Westminster and not enough about what we do in the Scottish Parliament.

If the Parliament agrees to take on board a judicial review, it does not mean that those who support it, support independence. It does not mean that they support the break-up of the United Kingdom. What it means is that the Parliament is doing everything in its legal power to try to stop a wrong decision.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

I have been trying to intervene to make this point, because it is the nub of the argument about the powers of the Parliament and how we handle this debate.

I have every respect for SNP members who are committed to the issue of violence against women. If we are honest, there is a debate about that in all parties; it is time that we all recognised that. This is not quite the tidy party political issue some of us would like to pretend it is—I have always made that clear and have a record of doing so. However, I have seen distressing evidence of violence against women—I will not stand back and let that issue be hijacked for yet another dispute about the powers of the Parliament.

Photo of Tommy Sheridan Tommy Sheridan SSP

I thank Margaret Curran for her intervention. I agree that the issue should not be hijacked for party political reasons, which is why I sat in an all-party press conference last week, at which we jointly condemned the decision that Jack Straw had taken. At the end of the day, he is the main villain. As Jack Straw happens to be a Labour secretary of state, it might be party political to have a go at him. However, I remind those who have attacked the Parliament and told us that we are a Johnny-come-lately on the issue, that in January, we signed motions opposing Tyson coming to Manchester. We said then that he should not have been allowed in.

Perhaps members can remember Jack Straw's argument—Maria Fyfe has expressed it particularly well—which was based on exceptional circumstances: the potential loss to Manchester businesses, which had apparently already spent millions on staging the fight. The reason why I think that a judicial review is worth attempting is that there were no exceptional circumstances in this instance—a stadium had not even been booked. Support for a judicial review does not necessarily indicate support for an independent Scotland—although I would like people to support an independent socialist Scotland—but it shows a willingness for the Scottish Parliament to do all in its power to make its views clear. The debate is about violence against women, and this Parliament must make clear the fact that under no circumstances is violence against women to be tolerated.

Margaret Curran made a good point in her speech; I will repeat it. Some people have tried to cast doubt about what happened with Desiree Washington. They have asked what really happened in the hotel room and have raised questions about whether she went with him voluntarily. I invite anyone who has doubts about the matter to watch again the Evander Holyfield fight that took place in June 1997 in front of millions of viewers. Tyson did not just bite Holyfield's ear; he held his teeth there for several seconds for the world to see. Watching that, I trembled to think what it would it be like to be a woman—someone with the least power in our society—alone with that man.

This debate is about violence against women, but it is also about exceptions being made for multi-millionaires. If a poor black rapist with poor white friends wanted to come into this country, he would not be allowed in. Tyson is a rich black rapist with rich white friends, which is why he is being allowed in. That is why the Scottish Parliament should not only condemn Jack Straw's decision but do everything in its power to keep him out, including calling for a judicial review of that decision.

Photo of Maureen Macmillan Maureen Macmillan Labour 11:01 am, 24th May 2000

If we turn this issue into a debate on the constitutional settlement or on immigration, we do it a disservice. The call for a judicial review shifts the focus away from the core of the debate, which must be to address the deep-rooted culture of violence in Scotland. This boxing match would not take place if there were not men in Scotland who admire Mike Tyson, condone his behaviour and will buy tickets to see him fight or if there were not organisations willing to promote or host the fight.

Our debate is about the values of Scottish society. What do we value more: footballers, film stars, pop stars and boxers—whether they be rapists or wife beaters—or the creation of a country free from abuse and violence, particularly violence against women?

Ours is a society that too readily accepts violence against women. I have campaigned to change the attitudes of this country for 20 years. This Parliament and Executive are committed to changing the culture, but the culture is strong. We are told that £20 million was generated in Manchester, but that will not compensate women for the insult caused by this boxing match. It is impossible to separate the so-called sportsman from his unrepented past violence. Who will pocket that £20 million? I do not expect much of the money to find its way to women's refuges or rape support organisations, although the approbation given to Mike Tyson—an unrepentant rapist—will surely increase the numbers seeking help from such organisations.

I do not imagine that the promoter of the fight has any conception of the depth of insult and despair that this affair has caused to the majority of Scots—men and women. The promoter said that it was good for all the worthy women's groups that the issue had been raised. By the way, he also said that he believed that Mike Tyson had been wrongly convicted. As Margaret Curran said, such opinions lead us down the road of assuming that women are to blame for rape after all.

I do not imagine that the Scottish Football Association realises that, by insisting that this is merely a commercial decision and that sport has nothing to do with the fact that the man is an unrepentant rapist, it might destroy its reputation. I am old enough to remember when the SFA made much the same kind of excuse about another sporting fixture: a football match in the Santiago stadium in Chile—Pinochet's torture chamber. That destroyed the reputation of Scotland in the eyes of the world. I want to say to the SFA that it has a moral responsibility for its decisions. Hampden will survive without this fight.

To the SFA, I say, "Do not destroy your reputation again. Do not host this fight." To people who are thinking of attending the fight, I say, "Think again." They must realise that they insult their mothers, wives, daughters and sisters by doing so and give encourage and support to the culture of violence and male abuse of power that mars this society.

Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party 11:04 am, 24th May 2000

It is important to recall Roseanna Cunningham's opening remarks on what this debate is not about. It is not about boxing, in which I do not have a marked interest, and it is not about whether Jack Straw has the power to make this decision. Furthermore, I resent the implication that our opposition to this boxing match is somehow based on the fact that Mike Tyson is a black American. Such a suggestion neglects the issue of violence against women.

Violence against women knows no international boundaries. The problem is not new to our society; our society has suffered from it for centuries. Although there is no magic solution for eradicating violence against women in our society, we should never relent in our commitment to tackling the problem and must always be prepared to use every avenue to do so, even judicial review.

If we are honest, the message that we want to send out about the type of society in which we want to live is at the heart of this debate. There are currently various campaigns to change people's attitudes—particularly young people's attitudes—to violence against women; the decision to allow Mike Tyson into this country sends out the wrong message at the wrong time. By stopping Mike Tyson and others like him entering this country, we send out a strong message that his attitude problems towards women and the violence that he has perpetrated against them are unacceptable. Such a message would resonate throughout the country.

When Helen Liddell—whom I do not quote very often—launched the domestic violence helpline, she said that, over the past couple of decades, we had been able to change people's attitudes to drink-driving and now we had to do the same to people's attitudes to domestic violence and violence against women. We must continue to campaign on that principle and to ensure that we achieve the objective that she set back in 1998.

This Parliament might not have any powers over immigration and might not be able to change Jack Straw's decision, but it is responsible for dealing with domestic violence issues in Scotland and for introducing strategies to help people who have suffered from domestic violence to pick up the pieces. We must use every possible avenue to send out a strong message that domestic violence will not be tolerated and that Jack Straw's decision is wrong.

Photo of Jamie Stone Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat 11:08 am, 24th May 2000

I want to say what a pleasure it is to be in Glasgow and to thank Glasgow members for their cordial welcome. It is nice to be in a place where everyone knows my name, although here they call me "Jimmy" instead of "Jamie".

I compliment Margaret Curran, Shona Robison and Dorothy-Grace Elder on their sentiments. They gave fine speeches in a debate that is about abuse to women not just in Scotland, but in the UK and the rest of the world. It is a disgrace that Tyson got as far as he did in the US, but that is a problem for another country to sort out.

Today's debate has seen the Tories with their tails up, while our friends the nationalists are a little glum. Phil Gallie landed a few direct punches. It is easy to be smart-assed—and that is parliamentary language—about whether members were at Westminster question time. However, in fairness to Nicola Sturgeon, she and the other SNP members in the Education, Culture and Sport Committee yesterday had the goodness to support Mary Mulligan's motion when their amendment fell. That was appreciated and shows a solidarity of spirit in this Parliament.

Photo of Jamie Stone Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat

Aha! Mr Salmond. I have been waiting for this moment.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party

If the Tories have their tails up, might that be because the Liberal Democrats seem to be about to support a Tory amendment that makes no reference whatever to violence against women? Why are the Liberal Democrats going to support that Tory amendment?

Photo of Jamie Stone Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat

I have waited for this moment. The man has been belted by the depute rector, he has been belted by the head teacher of the neighbouring grammar school and now he is going for the first-year pupils. Mr Salmond knows exactly what we are saying about violence against women. The Tory amendment is—well, do we want to get party political about this? I could say that Mr Salmond is playing party politics with the constitution on an issue that is much greater than that.

It would be nice if a judicial review would work, but, as Mr Gallie said, that course of action has not worked previously and our legal advice is that it is unlikely to work this time. Ian Jenkins has made the point that a judicial review could cement in those people who support Tyson—that would be a dangerous route to go down.

Photo of Tommy Sheridan Tommy Sheridan SSP

It appears that Jamie Stone has already taken legal advice and that a judicial review has been considered as a course of action. Can he tell us who gave that advice, when it was given and whether it could be published?

Photo of Jamie Stone Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat

I am certain that Tommy Sheridan can get legal advice from the Executive, if he wants it. What I am saying has been common parlance among members of this Parliament.

I make no apologies for repeating what I said yesterday in the Education, Culture and Sport Committee. This is a big issue, which goes far beyond this Parliament. I hope that Tommy Sheridan and others will spearhead a campaign beyond the Parliament. The whole of Scotland should—I had better be careful about my language—raise two digits to Mr Tyson. I hope that every restaurant and pub door is slammed in his face. I hope that every cab avoids him. I hope that every old lady swings her handbag at the man and—yes, as I have parliamentary privilege—it would be no bad thing if he got an egg or two in the face. I have parliamentary privilege and I shall see my fellow members in court.

There is only one language that the guy understands. The only way to hit him hard is to humiliate and ridicule him. I say to Tommy Sheridan that we did it with the poll tax—I apologise to Tory members—and we can do it again. If we can send out a message to all sectors in society to give Mike Tyson an un-Highland welcome and a thoroughly un-Scottish welcome, that would stop him in his tracks and make him think again. We should use every tool that is available to us. In deference to Nicola Sturgeon, and in closing, I hope that we will do that together. Let us send one message from members of all political colours.

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

I say gently to Mr Stone that parliamentary privilege does not cover him against charges of incitement.

Photo of Jamie Stone Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat

You will forgive me if I leave the chamber now.

Photo of Lord James Selkirk Lord James Selkirk Conservative

I am very pleased to say a few words in this debate. My father was Scotland's amateur middleweight boxing champion. Scotland's professional middleweight champion at that time, with whom he trained, was his friend Mr Tommy Milligan of Glasgow. Tommy Milligan nearly became the world champion, but came up against a Tyson-like figure called Mickey Walker. Although he fought heroically, Tommy was eventually overwhelmed.

I am glad to be in Glasgow as, when I was a young advocate, the city provided me with my bread-and-butter work in the High Court. On one occasion, I was the unlikely choice to act as the junior counsel for a member of the Workers Party of Scotland. Members of that party had been charged with robbing banks in Glasgow, with sawn-off shotguns, to swell party funds. My association with the Workers Party of Scotland began and ended with that case. That type of fundraising would not be compatible with our present code of conduct, but I can reassure Tommy Sheridan that that party was a great deal to the left of him.

Photo of John McAllion John McAllion Labour

While Lord James is reminiscing about his time with the Workers Party of Scotland, will he confirm that the client he represented was sent down for 25 years?

Photo of Lord James Selkirk Lord James Selkirk Conservative

John McAllion's point is very interesting. John's grandfather was in the Cameronians—an honour that I had—and connected with that regiment was the McGowan family. Walter McGowan was a world champion boxer who was smaller than Tyson, but a great deal more skilful.

It is my considered opinion that Mr Tyson is not as great as boxer as our Mr Lennox Lewis, who has been totally underestimated and who is a very good ambassador for boxing. Lennox Lewis is a man who exercises self-control; he is an admirable example of the best of British sportsmanship. He is a genuine role model and would not dream of biting off his opponent's ear.

David McLetchie has dealt with the constitutional position, but I endorse the view that has been expressed that boxers should, like everybody else, obey the law. Boxing should, after all, be about self-control and it is for Jack Straw to prove that he has acted honourably, wisely and consistently.

Margaret Curran rightly advanced the theme of consistency. I understand that if Tyson had had a British passport, he would not have been allowed into the United States of America. It would surely be totally unacceptable if a poor man who was convicted of a serious crime was denied entry to Britain, but different rules were applied to a rich sportsman. There should be one strictly enforced law for all. If the law is to be changed, it should be changed for everybody. That is a theme that ran through the speeches of Ian Jenkins and Dorothy-Grace Elder.

We should remember that the matter is not about Tyson only—it is about the challenger, who would not wish to be denied the opportunity to further his career. We must also take into account the issue about those who have paid their debt to society by completion of the sentence for their crime. Should that conviction be held against the person for all time? That might deprive the person of a proportion of his livelihood. Whatever the answer to the problem, there must be consistency.

On the present charge against Tyson, there is a presumption of innocence until guilt is proven. As an ex-boxer, I would not regard a wee push from Tyson as a laughing matter, but we should not be too hasty and we should allow court proceedings—should they arise—to take their course.

Finally, the matter is reserved and is within the constitutional competence of the Home Secretary. We will not, however, sign any blank cheques for Jack Straw. It is for him to justify his controversial decision to all our countrymen and countrywomen—he owes us nothing less.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party

I am delighted with the tenor of Lord James's speech—I wish that it was reflected in the Tory amendment. Lord James is well known as a gentleman, but one of his colleagues alleged that no SNP MP had signed the early-day motion at Westminster. I now have an opportunity to correct that. Both the SNP MPs who were at Scotland Office questions signed that EDM and one week ago I placed on the members' board a letter to Jack Straw outlining our opposition to his decision. Now that Lord James—unlike Mr Gallie—has the facts, and because he is a gentleman, will he apologise for the mistakes that his colleagues have made?

Photo of Lord James Selkirk Lord James Selkirk Conservative

I am grateful to Alex Salmond for clarifying his party's position. I understand that Mr Gallie checked on the internet this morning, which might not have caught up with the most recent events.

I make the point, however, that when there was a debate on this in the House of Commons last night, instead of sending a junior minister, Jack Straw should have had the courage to justify his own decision and to give his reasons for it. Ann Widdecombe, the shadow Secretary of State for Home Affairs, has made it clear that if the decision had been hers to make she would have refused Tyson's application. We respect her view, but the decision is the Home Secretary's and he is accountable to the House of Commons.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour 11:18 am, 24th May 2000

I have listened intently to the debate, not just today but over the past week, and I regret the content of some of the contributions from the SNP.

At last week's question time, Mr Salmond claimed that this was an affront to Scotland. As we have seen today, the SNP line has changed, but that change is superficial. This is not an affront to Scotland; it is an affront to all women and to all people who abhor violence. There is widespread concern about and opposition to the Home Secretary's decision to grant Mike Tyson an entry visa to Britain, in this chamber and beyond. The views of this Parliament, of women's groups and of many people in Scotland have been clearly expressed.

However, instead of debating the real issue of women being subjected to violence, the underlying agenda of the SNP's motion is a sterile constitutional debate. It is a debate not about violence against women, but one in which the SNP uses this emotive and distressing subject to secure some perceived constitutional advantage. That is politics at its worst.

If newspaper reports are to be believed, Gil Paterson is now actively seeking a woman who has been raped to come forward to front the SNP's campaign for a judicial review. He wants a high-profile woman, but to use a survivor of rape in that way is deplorable. I find his actions shameful and I suggest to him that this is not a game.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

Let me say quite clearly—

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

I suggest that, having named Mr Paterson, you should allow him to respond, minister.

Photo of Gil Paterson Gil Paterson Scottish National Party

Perhaps I can correct the minister. I did not look for an individual at all; the letter I sent was looking for a group of people. I know how people who have been raped, or whose daughters have been raped, band together to cope with the trauma. It is just a shame that members of this Parliament are not all banding together and that the minister's party is using this debate to let Jack Straw off the hook.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

Mr Paterson is quite clearly quoted in the press and I have yet to see a rebuttal from the SNP.

This is not a constitutional issue; it is a moral issue. As we all know, immigration matters are the responsibility of the Westminster Parliament. It has already been acknowledged that this is a matter to be decided by the Home Secretary in accordance with the law.

I was particularly struck by Muriel Gray's article in The Sunday Herald, where she said:

"It's okay for English women who have been the victims of domestic violence to feel undermined by the acceptance of Tyson—but not in Scotland".

She is right. This is not about Scotland; this is about women in Britain. It is about our right—the right of all women—to live in peace without the fear of violence or abuse. That is the society that we should strive to create and that is the climate that the Scottish Executive is trying to create—using real actions, not words.

We have established the first ever national domestic abuse development fund with £8 million to address gaps in provision in local communities, so that women and children, wherever they are, can access services.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

No. We have created 123 more refuge spaces across Scotland, increasing capacity by a third. We are working with the Zero Tolerance Trust in our schools to change the attitudes of children and young people towards violence and to prevent it from happening in the first place. We are using the media—

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

We are using the media and advertising to get the message across that domestic abuse is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We are reviewing the law to afford more protection to women. Soon, we will be launching a national telephone helpline so that help is instantly available whenever someone needs it. Those are practical and worthwhile measures that start to tackle the cause and the effect of violence and abuse.

This Executive is determined to create a climate in which violence will not be tolerated and in which women and children can live their lives without fear of violence and abuse. This is no longer an issue that we can sweep under the carpet. There is a long way to go, but the practical measures that I have mentioned can create the basis of improved provision, protection and our ultimate goal of prevention.

That is not what the SNP has debated. What we have seen is political opportunism—checkpoint Alex checking every visa application and every safety certificate, two sets of border controls and demands for border guards and immigration controls on the M74. If Mr Salmond was so concerned, why did he not do something about this earlier? After all, he is still an elected Westminster MP, so why did he not represent Scotland's interests there?

Let me share with the chamber the total hypocrisy of the SNP's position. Fact No 1 is that two early-day motions were tabled on 18 January of this year, which both rightly opposed Mike Tyson's entry to Britain to fight in Manchester. A selection of MPs supported them, including Tony Benn, Ernie Ross, Ray Michie, Norman Godman, Audrey Wise, Jenny Jones, Maria Fyfe and many more. Were any SNP members among them? Just one. Let me give the SNP the benefit of the doubt; after all, it would have perceived the issue as very much an English one and not about women and violence.

However, fact No 2 is that on 16 May an early-day motion was tabled by Maria Fyfe, MP for Glasgow Maryhill. It, too, opposed Mike Tyson's entry to Britain, this time to fight in Glasgow. Some of the MPs who supported that motion were Jenny Jones, Jackie Ballard, Michael Connarty, Tony Worthington, Malcolm Savidge, Ernie Ross, John Maxton, Ian Davidson, Norman Godman—the list goes on. As of yesterday, not one SNP member was on the list—where were they all? I understand that Alasdair Morgan and John Swinney were dispatched on the last day to sign up and save the SNP's honour. As we have heard, Roseanna Cunningham was at the Justice and Home Affairs Committee, but where were the rest of the SNP members?

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

I am winding up. I have been told to wind up.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

Is this debate about the SNP's concerns for women or is it mere political opportunism? Despite claims from the SNP that the debate is about domestic violence, the SNP's trails in the press, its actions and its motion tell us something different.

If the SNP was so concerned, it would have, as it suggested in the motion, used every possible means of stopping Mike Tyson. Why did the SNP not press the case at Westminster, as many Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs did? Phil Gallie consistently asked why that was so. We did not get an answer. This is the first time that I have seen SNP members so quiet and ashen faced—surely they are not on the run from Phil Gallie.

Margaret Curran is absolutely right that morality—

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

On a point of order. Is it in order for a member to accuse other members of being quiet when that member refuses point blank to take any interventions?

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

Yes. She is so entitled.

I am trying to create time for the SNP winding-up speech, so I ask the minister to conclude, please.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

Morality does not stop at the Scottish border. This issue affects all people in Britain. We must tackle all forms of violence against people, especially against women and children. That is a job that this Parliament and this Executive will do.

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party 11:28 am, 24th May 2000

In this debate, a lot of sense has been spoken, but also a lot of nonsense—I make no apology for directing that remark at the Executive. In summing up the debate, I will focus on the real issue before us today, which is about Michael Tyson and whether this Scottish Parliament is prepared to allow that man to come to fight here in Glasgow.

This morning there has been an attempt—through the Tory amendment and the Labour amendment to that amendment, as well as in some of the speeches—to divert attention from that central issue and to turn this into a debate about the SNP and the competency of this Parliament. I say to Margaret Curran, who made an excellent contribution, that if anyone has tried to hijack this debate for party political purposes it is Angus MacKay and Jackie Baillie, who this morning have spent more time indulging their obsessions about the SNP than talking about violence against women.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

Is Nicola Sturgeon's concern today the powers of the Scottish Parliament and what it does, or violence against women? Which one is it?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

Margaret Curran's timing is perfect. In case there is anybody out there who does not know this, the SNP believes that this Parliament should have all the powers of an independent Parliament, and that decisions about who should or should not be allowed to come to Scotland should be taken not by Jack Straw in London, but by a Scottish Parliament here in Scotland. The SNP has always argued that, and it always will, in election campaigns and whenever and wherever else that is appropriate. However, today's debate is not about that issue.

I say to everyone in this chamber, especially to Labour and Liberal back benchers—to people such as Margaret Curran and Johann Lamont

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

Not just now.

I feel disgust at the prospect of a man who has been convicted of rape and other violent assaults, and who currently stands accused of violence against women—a man who has never faced up to his aggressive behaviour and has shown not one ounce of remorse—coming to Glasgow to be cheered, adored and glorified in our national stadium. In all sincerity, I urge those members who share my disgust not to be conned into thinking that this debate is about something that it is not about, or into siding with a party that cannot—even today—find it within itself to say that Michael Tyson should not be allowed to come to Glasgow to fight. I urge them not to be conned into voting for a combined amendment that does not even condemn Jack Straw's decision to allow Michael Tyson an entry visa.

Photo of Jamie Stone Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat

Everyone in this chamber appreciates the correctness of the sentiment that SNP members are expressing. However, has not the SNP chosen the wrong ammunition to fight this battle? Given who made the decision, is this not so much a case of checkpoint Alex as of checkpoint Charlie?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

The problem is that Jamie Stone and his coalition partners seem to have no ammunition to fight this case. That is the problem. I noticed—and I am sure that I was not the only member to do so—that, when David McLetchie was on his feet, many members on the Labour back benches were looking a bit shamefaced. So they should, because their leaders are asking them today to sign up to David McLetchie's comments. I ask them not to do that.

Photo of Johann Lamont Johann Lamont Labour

Earlier, Nicola Sturgeon said that the debate was about whether the Scottish Parliament would allow Mike Tyson to come to fight in Glasgow. Does she accept that it is not within the powers of this Parliament to decide whether Mike Tyson should be allowed to come to fight in Glasgow? Does she agree that she is being dishonest and using this issue as an opportunity to debate the powers of the Parliament? She should focus on condemning the circus that we are about to have celebrating male violence—that is what this debate is about. Does she accept that she is attempting to hijack this debate?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

This is a debate about violence against women—our attitudes and responses to it as a society and the messages that we send to women and young people. Do Labour or Conservative members really believe that that is not within the competency of this Parliament? I think that I know the answer to that question and the answer that people outside this Parliament would give, in a society where one in five women will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives.

Domestic violence is a public health issue. Here in Glasgow the annual cost to the national health service of treating health problems related to domestic violence is £12 million. Is not that within the remit of this Parliament?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

Not just now.

Violence against women is an education issue. Roseanna Cunningham quoted at length from the survey by the Zero Tolerance Trust. One in two boys and one in three girls surveyed thought that it was okay in some circumstances to hit a woman or to force her to have sex. That survey says that we are losing the fight against violence against women in the next generation. We must change those attitudes. We must do so through education and through the actions that we take as a Parliament. Is that not within the remit of this Parliament?

There is no doubt about this Parliament's competency. The people of Scotland want this Parliament to speak. Two thirds of the people of this country do not want Mike Tyson to come to Scotland, and they want this Parliament to send that clear message. The effect of amendments lodged by the Tories and by Labour is to stop this Parliament speaking on this issue. That is why the amendments are unacceptable.

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

Not just now.

We must do much more than speak; we have to take whatever action we can to prevent Mike Tyson from setting foot in this city. I congratulate people in Westminster. Maria Fyfe, for example, is prepared to stand up and say that Michael Tyson should not be allowed to come here and that Jack Straw was wrong. We should follow the example of people such as Maria Fyfe.

Yesterday, the Education, Culture and Sport Committee resolved to put pressure on the SFA, and I was happy to support that motion. I see that Mary Mulligan, the convener of that committee, is nodding. I also think that we should put as much pressure as possible on Glasgow City Council to prevent the use of Hampden stadium.

We can do more. Judicial review is an avenue that should not be closed. As we have heard from Gil Paterson, judicial review is already being considered by women's groups around Scotland. Glasgow Rape Crisis said that women's organisations in Glasgow met on Tuesday and came out fully in favour of a judicial review. Angus MacKay said that he would not condemn a women's organisation that sought judicial review. If he accepts the principle of judicial review, does he agree that it would be fairer and more equitable for the Scottish Executive, acting in the public interest, to take that action, rather than leave it to cash-strapped local authorities or voluntary organisations? Let the Executive not hide behind the constitutional argument—at the moment, that is all that it is doing. The judicial review does not challenge Jack Straw's right to take such a decision; it challenges the basis on which this decision was taken.

Nora Radcliffe said that she thought that Jack Straw's decision was wrong. What she did not say was what we could do about it. Surely nobody is arguing that Jack Straw is above the law if there is an argument—and I think that there is a strong argument—that his decision was flawed on a number of grounds.

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

Not just now, Phil.

There was an over-reliance on economic considerations. Jack Straw ignored relevant information and he ignored the views of this Parliament while being lobbied by the promoters of the fight. There was inconsistency. Dorothy-Grace Elder spoke about the hundreds and thousands of Asian families who cannot get access to this country for their relatives. On all of those grounds, I believe that Jack Straw's decision is open to challenge. It is for people in this Parliament to be prepared to stand up and make that challenge.

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

I am winding up, Tommy.

This is a key test for this Parliament. We know that a majority of us are opposed to the visit of Michael Tyson. The question is not what we think, believe, or are prepared to say; the question—and I say this in all sincerity—is what we as a Parliament are prepared to do about it. We will be judged on our actions, not on our words. I say to the Scottish Executive, and I say to those back benchers who agree with what the SNP is saying: do not close down any avenue to prevent Michael Tyson, a convicted rapist, from coming to Glasgow. As has been said by many people, allowing him here would be a disgrace not just for the city of Glasgow, but for the whole of Scotland. It is for us, the elected Scottish Parliament, to do everything that we can to stop it happening.