Remploy (United Kingdom Government Response)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 22nd March 2012.

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Photo of Helen Eadie Helen Eadie Labour

I thank the minister, but I have another request for him: I ask him to create a task force. It should comprise the Scottish Trades Union Congress and the GMB, Unite and Community unions, and should have cross-party support from the Parliament. It should be chaired by a minister—as we know, it is vital to have ministerial magic dust. If we could get cross-party activity in the Parliament on that basis, it would make a difference.

Before I forget—given everything else that I want to say—I point out that at the conference this morning were people from European social fund projects who do not know whether their wages will be paid next week. That is a matter for Westminster, but perhaps the minister will take that up with Westminster—perhaps the minister and I can speak about that after the debate. One of the organisations in question is from Fife.

Supported businesses arose because people came back from the second world war who were in dire need of the support that has been described so well by colleagues. They had lost limbs or had mental health issues—they faced a range of the issues on which Mary Scanlon has campaigned long and hard. We must ensure that that holistic support is given to people with those problems.

Today, thankfully, there is not the same volume of people facing those problems as were affected by them during the first and second world wars—from which many did not come back at all. However, there remains a fundamental need for specialist supported enterprise. [Interruption.] I hear that members in the central part of the chamber support that view.

We must seek clarification on the closures. Not only will four factories close in Scotland, but many jobs will go in employment services, which provide advice and support. There is a lot of silence about that area, and we need to give it some consideration.

I appeal to the minister to work in partnership with the Welsh Assembly. The First Minister worked with Carwyn Jones on the European Union Council of Ministers veto issue, and we must work together on the Remploy issue too. On 7 March, the Welsh Assembly heard an excellent ministerial statement, which was followed by a lot of questions from members.

On whether we have co-operatives or mutuals, the fundamental point is that we should have a community of interests for disabled people, whether or not that is called social enterprise. I pay tribute to the SNP Government for its work on social enterprise, which was applauded at the conference this morning.