Statutory Right to Food

– in the Scottish Parliament on 18th March 2021.

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Photo of Elaine Smith Elaine Smith Labour

The First Minister might be aware that, last week, my bill proposal to enshrine the right to food into Scots law received enough cross-party support to proceed and has now been lodged. I take the opportunity to thank the members who supported my proposal. Although the pandemic has highlighted concerns around food insecurity and poverty, food bank usage was already surging before the lockdown. Does the First Minister agree that malnutrition and hunger, and poor wages and conditions among workers in the food industry, are unacceptable in 21st century Scotland? What priority does she place on a statutory right to food?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

I agree with much of that. Obviously, we are getting to the point when all parties in the chamber are focusing on our manifestos of what we will do if we are elected in a few weeks. I would expect a statutory right to food to feature in the election campaign. I certainly think that that is an important issue, and I will set out my manifesto in due course.

We have invested heavily in trying to deal with food insecurity but, as a Government—and, of course, we have seen the Parliament take a significant step in this direction in the past few days—we are keen to see a whole spectrum of human rights incorporated into our law, and there are perhaps fewer more basic rights than the right to food.

I hope that that gives Elaine Smith some indication of where my mind is at on the issue. Of course, most of us are about to put our plans before the Scottish people.