Ethnic Minorities

Question Time — Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 14th December 2000.

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Photo of Elaine Thomson Elaine Thomson Labour 2:30 pm, 14th December 2000

To ask the Scottish Executive what role the voluntary sector has in the provision of services for ethnic minorities. (S1O-2701)

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

Voluntary organisations in Scotland provide a wide range of services for the black and minority ethnic communities. A review of Executive support for the black and minority ethnic voluntary sector is under way and I expect to receive the consultants' report on 29 January 2001.

Photo of Elaine Thomson Elaine Thomson Labour

Does the minister agree that leaving a non-English speaking Chinese family late at night with instructions for tending a sick child that they could not understand—as happened recently in Aberdeen—is unacceptable? Furthermore, does she agree that all NHS services—whether acute or primary care—should ensure that they have access to suitable interpretation services, which could be provided by the voluntary sector?

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

The example that Elaine Thomson has highlighted is unacceptable and I recognise the difficult issues that she flags up. The Executive is committed to ensuring high standards of translation, interpreting and communication across the public services in Scotland. In fact, we have convened a group to assist in the development of national standards in that area. I hope that the group will report by summer 2001.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

Will the minister define broadly the make-up of ethnic minority groupings? Will she offer some idea of the proportion of those groupings in our overall population? Finally, how much public funding goes to the voluntary sector to support those groups?

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

According to recent figures, that proportion is 1.6 per cent of the population. We are undertaking a review of strategic funding to the voluntary sector, which will include the funding of black and ethnic minority organisations.

Photo of Sandra White Sandra White Scottish National Party

Is the minister aware that asylum seekers and refugees who wish to volunteer their services as interpreters and helpers for the Scottish Refugee Council and for other asylum seekers are prevented from doing so because they are not allowed access to bus fares that would take them to the middle of town? They are not even allowed money for lunch, which means that they are prevented from helping out. Does the minister agree that that situation is detrimental to asylum seekers and refugees and to the voluntary sector? Furthermore, will she give me an assurance—

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

I do not understand the question.

Photo of Sandra White Sandra White Scottish National Party

I will make it quick. Will the minister make representations in order to remove that anomaly, which is happening in Glasgow in particular?

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

I refer the member to Malcolm Chisholm's earlier reply. The Executive is committed to ensuring that there are proper services for asylum seekers within our communities. Having listened to Malcolm Chisholm's commitment on this issue, I have great confidence that he will deal with all the details and any anomalies.