Violence Against Women

First Minister's Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 12:00 pm on 4th December 2008.

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Photo of Angela Constance Angela Constance Scottish National Party 12:00 pm, 4th December 2008

To ask the First Minister how the Scottish Government will support the 16 days of global activism to tackle violence against women. (S3F-1253)

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

The 16 days of global activism is an important feature of this time of year. On Thursday 6 December, during the days of action last year, I signed the statement of intent. By signing the statement I pledged this Government's commitment to tackle violence against women over our parliamentary term.

Specifically, the Government has committed more than £44 million to address violence against women. That includes funding every rape crisis centre in Scotland and working with Rape Crisis Scotland on its hard-hitting, awareness-raising campaign. We have launched the national domestic abuse delivery plan for children and young people and we have provided funding for the Scottish domestic abuse helpline, the national rape crisis helpline and the national offices of Scottish Women's Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland. We have also provided funding for a network of dedicated children's workers across Scotland. This year, we have continued with that commitment by holding what has now become an annual Scottish Government debate. This year's debate, which will take place later today, will be on forced marriages under a motion lodged by the Minister for Communities and Sport.

Photo of Angela Constance Angela Constance Scottish National Party

I am sure that the First Minister will want to extend a warm welcome to Scottish Women's Aid and Amnesty International, whose representatives are outside the Parliament today.

Women with insecure immigration status who are fleeing violence are unable to access public funds, which pay for refuge accommodation and support, so will the First Minister state whether the Scottish Government is able, within its powers, to offer financial support? Will he make representations to the Home Office to exempt women who are fleeing violence from the no-recourse-to-public-funds rule?

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

We will continue to work with the Home Office to implement the new scheme, which was announced earlier this year by Vernon Coaker, a Home Office minister, to provide women on a spousal visa who have no recourse to public funds with a contribution to housing and living costs of up to £1,000. The Government has set up a working group to look at the matter further and it will report to ministers when that scheme is in operation.

It is true that, under the devolved settlement, the Scottish Government cannot go beyond the remit of the Home Office, but we will continue to engage with the Home Office and ensure that the views of this Parliament are put forward to protect many vulnerable women.