Disability Sport and Participation

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 5th December 2019.

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Photo of David Stewart David Stewart Labour

This has been an excellent debate, with thoughtful and considered speeches by members from across Parliament. My only disappointment is that the debate was scheduled to take place in this twilight zone slot. I hope that next year the business managers will put their heads together and perhaps schedule another such debate for a more prime-time slot for us all.

The minister set the tone for the debate in a very positive and upbeat speech. I hope that my saying that does not ruin her future political career.

A number of members have given first-class examples from their regions and constituencies. In particular, I want to mention Jackie Baillie and Jenny Gilruth, who both mentioned many such examples.

Members including Mary Fee mentioned good timing. As members will know, Tuesday was the international day of people with disabilities. I am sure that the business managers had an eye on that.

We all know the truism that participation in sport is good for health. I have lost count of the many long hours in which we have debated that in the chamber or in the Health and Sport Committee. Members—not least Brian Whittle—have said that. As members know, Mr Whittle is an award-winning athlete in his own right. As I have said before, I suspect that he is faster in one running shoe than I am in two. If people want to know the context of that remark, they should look up—I think—the Moscow Olympics.

As we have heard from many members, 52 per cent of non-disabled people get the recommended level of daily physical activity, compared with only 20 per cent of people who have disabilities. As 21 per cent of Scottish people have a disability, that number is obviously appallingly low.