Access to Elected Office Fund (General Election)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 17th May 2017.

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Photo of Colin Beattie Colin Beattie Scottish National Party

11. To ask the Scottish Government whether there are plans for the access to elected office fund Scotland to be open to disabled people wishing to be nominated for the 2017 general election. (S5O-00989)

Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

Because all aspects of election to the House of Commons are reserved, the Scotland Act 2016 prohibits us from using our fund to assist disabled candidates in the general election. The United Kingdom equivalent of the fund ended in 2015 when the Conservative Party came to power, and repeated calls to reopen it have gone unheeded.

Photo of Colin Beattie Colin Beattie Scottish National Party

Given the fund’s success at the most recent local elections in helping 39 disabled people to take part, 12 of whom were ultimately elected, does the minister agree that such funding levels the playing field between disabled and non-disabled candidates? Will she join me in calling on the UK Government to reopen the equivalent UK fund?

Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

More important than what Mr Beattie or I might say is the fact that candidates who used our fund to stand in the most recent local council elections and organisations including Inclusion Scotland, which monitors and delivers the fund on our behalf, say that the fund significantly levels the playing field. It is proving to be successful, and we will continue it for the Holyrood elections. As we said yesterday, we are looking at how we might use the fund and its approach in other areas of public life, and I am happy to continue calling on the UK Government to follow our example.