I am pleased to close the stage 3 debate on the bill.
Alex Cole-Hamilton said that FGM is a hidden practice. However, we know that it happens and we should not think that it does not; we heard the stories from Michelle Ballantyne and Pauline McNeill. Michelle Ballantyne talked about having to hand back a baby girl who she knew was at risk. The bill will protect babies such as that, and it will protect professionals such as Michelle in their roles.
Pauline McNeill talked about that wee girl’s story. Some wee girls are taken to a birthday party or on an outing by an auntie or a granny, and they do not know what is coming. The practice might be hidden, but we know the stories and they are the reason why we are doing what we are doing.
In key parts of their speeches, members asked for more information. Michelle Ballantyne asked about data collection. We are taking the issue on board and I have committed to develop a data collection strand of work through the FGM national action plan work, in partnership with health and other relevant organisations.
Michelle Ballantyne also asked about FGM equipment. The issue was raised with me at the beginning of this process and we did some work with Police Scotland on the matter. We do not need a new offence, because the matter is already caught by the law: it will be an offence to attempt to break an FGM protection order, including by carrying equipment for FGM. Police Scotland has powers.