St Andrew’s Day

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 27th November 2012.

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Photo of Hanzala Malik Hanzala Malik Labour

I look forward to the cabinet secretary going to Pakistan to do similar work. Glasgow is twinned with Lahore and we have a close and wonderful relationship. I hope that we will hold a Burns supper in Lahore, which she could lead.

We hope that, in the years to come, St Andrew’s day will become embedded in Scotland’s culture, of which the Burns supper is an important element. Burns suppers have become popular; we can offer vegetarian haggis for all those who have issues with meat or who require halal food.

How many events among minority ethnic communities to celebrate St Andrew’s day has the cabinet secretary or any other MSP visited? I do not think that any such visits have been made; I certainly have not made any. We must deal with that issue and encourage our minority communities to participate in St Andrew’s day. Our schoolchildren do that—that is wonderful and positive, and getting to the younger generations is marvellous. However, we need to celebrate St Andrew’s day equally with hogmanay and Burns suppers. It is important to look towards building such relationships.

If the winter celebrations are to be truly national, people should not be excluded from them. My comments about engaging with communities to encourage celebration of St Andrew’s day and what it stands for relate to Scottish Labour’s amendment and its comment on Historic Scotland’s decision to allow free access to some of its facilities. I do not understand why only that Scottish heritage organisation is taking on that challenge. I encourage all organisations—including private museums and other centres—to do the same.

I am proud that Glasgow City Council is supporting free swimming for our youngsters at school and for over-60s. I do not understand why the same thing cannot be done in all of Scotland. I encourage that to be done, starting from St Andrew’s day as a benchmark position.

There is a charge for entry to our castles, which I do not believe our schoolchildren should pay. If we are talking about heritage, promoting Scottish history and engaging our communities, we need to provide facilities.