Ukraine (Displaced People)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 20 April 2022.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Liam McArthur Liam McArthur Liberal Democrat

The next item of business is a statement by Neil Gray on displaced people from Ukraine—an update. The minister will take questions at the end of his statement, so there should be no interventions or interruptions.

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

It has now been eight weeks since Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine began. That dreadful act of aggression has triggered the biggest displacement of people in Europe since world war two within Ukraine and across Europe. The International Organization for Migration estimates that more than 7.1 million people have been internally displaced. Almost 5 million people fled Ukraine between 24 February and 18 April this year according to the United Nations refugee agency.

Each day, we see and hear increasingly grim reports of war crimes, including sexual violence. The bravery and resilience of the people of Ukraine in conflict and resistance is remarkable. We also see the fundamental importance of the role played by the free media and human rights organisations in exposing atrocities. That should be contrasted with the disinformation and denials issued by the Russian state and media in the face of convincing, mounting evidence.

Since the invasion, Putin’s regime has rightly been isolated by the international community. In early March, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly for a resolution demanding that Russia immediately end its military operations in Ukraine. Earlier this month, the UN Human Rights Council voted to suspend Russia’s membership of that body.

Scotland has played a part in that global response. Many Scottish exporters have done the right thing and severed links with Russia, for which I am grateful. We call upon others to do the same where it is safe to do so. We have withdrawn enterprise agencies’ support for exports to Russia and produced guidance for public bodies on how to reject bids to procure a contract for goods or services from firms that are established in Russia or Belarus.

There has also been a huge effort to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches Ukraine. The Scottish Government has committed £4 million in humanitarian assistance: £1 million to the British Red Cross and the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund, which are both members of our standing humanitarian emergency panel; £2 million via the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal; and £1 million to UNICEF to support work providing life-saving services and support families, including children with disabilities.

I am also grateful to people across Scotland for their incredible community fundraising efforts to support people in Ukraine or to prepare for their arrival here. The generosity has been truly inspiring. We have also taken significant steps to establish a warm Scots welcome.

The whole chamber will want to join me in recognising, again, the generosity demonstrated by the people of Scotland and the United Kingdom. In their tens of thousands, people have offered to open their homes to Ukrainians. The speed and scale of that response has been remarkable. Unfortunately, the speed and scale of bureaucracy from the Home Office has been predictable.

Given the UK Government’s regrettable decision to insist that people escaping war had to secure a visa to enter the UK, trying to cut out some of the other barriers was one of the key reasons for our supersponsor approach. However, until recently, the key blocker has been not only the requirement for displaced Ukrainians to have a visa to enter the UK but the on-going and serious issues around the speed with which visas and permission to travel are issued to applicants. We have consistently pursued that issue with UK Government ministers in meetings and in correspondence. Initial changes have now been made, but we are aware that delays are still occurring for a range of applicants across the various schemes.

The latest information that has been shared by the UK Government shows that 31,400 Ukraine family visas have been granted, with 13,200 people arriving in the UK. For the homes for Ukraine scheme, 25,100 visas have been issued at UK level, of which 570 visas have been issued naming the Scottish Government as the supersponsor and 1,050 have been issued naming a Scotland-based private sponsor. Across the UK, of the 25,100 sponsorship visa holders, 3,200 people have arrived so far, and we assume that more will begin to arrive in the coming days and weeks. However, at present, numbers of arrivals to Scotland remain low. We will continue to closely monitor that.

To further alleviate issues with the process, the UK Government should immediately implement automatic status updating for applications that are outstanding for more than five days and an escalation process for applications that are outstanding for more than a week. It also needs to commit greater resource to visa processing and helplines for updates. One of the greatest frustrations that has been reported to me and, I am sure, to colleagues, has been the total lack of information available to applicants or people here who are seeking to support them.

For those people who choose to come to Scotland and secure a visa, the welcome that they receive will be a warm one. I commend the approach of the councils, health boards, local chambers of commerce, third sector organisations and community groups that continue to work with the Scottish Government to make sure that that is the case. Last week, I visited the Edinburgh welcome hub and was able to pass on my thanks to the City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh airport, private partners and the staff of hotel accommodation who have been key in preparing and delivering that initial welcome.

The welcome hub model, which is currently focused in Edinburgh, at Glasgow airport and in Dumfries and Galloway, provides vital initial support and an opportunity to begin to assess needs such as health, education, employment and translation services. It is important that the hubs offer a safe space and a place where people arriving under the supersponsor scheme can rest their heads and eat a warm meal as we work hard to secure longer-term accommodation options for them in Scotland.

The hub model is local authority led with local partners who are best placed to determine the right level of support and the right structures to meet the immediate needs of Ukrainian arrivals. Although local authorities are firmly in the lead, the Scottish Government is supporting them in establishing their response, and other partners, including third sector and community groups across Scotland, are playing a key role in ensuring that the warm Scottish welcome is in place.

We have made a number of changes, at speed, to be ready to welcome people, despite the delays in getting people here. We have passed emergency regulations to allow specified groups coming to Scotland from Ukraine to access social security benefits from day 1. We have made changes so that, from 1 April, householders who accommodate a Ukrainian refugee will not lose their council tax single person discount.

Subject to parliamentary approval, displaced Ukrainian students settling in Scotland will be given access to free tuition and living costs support. Legislation has also been laid to put in place a safe, fast and free vetting system for those who open their homes to displaced Ukrainians. Enhanced disclosure checks will ensure an adequate level of vetting to minimise the risk of placing displaced Ukrainians with unsuitable individuals, while also allowing for the homes for Ukraine scheme to achieve its aims.

With operational partners, we have produced bespoke public protection guidance to ensure that displaced people of all ages receive the necessary care and support and any required protection. That guidance makes clear our preferred approach to identifying, supporting and maximising safety, the principles that should be applied and how that can be achieved within the existing safeguarding and child or adult protection legal frameworks. That will be an iterative document and will be updated with time.

We have also produced initial guidance for local authorities on the supersponsor and homes for Ukraine routes, which includes information on the quality assurance of accommodation, and we have published an information document that will be updated as necessary—I sent a link to that document to every MSP on Thursday. That is in addition to the information that is available on the Ready Scotland website. Support and information are also available through the NHS National Services Scotland’s national contact centre helpline and on the mygov.scot website.

The UK Government has indicated that it will provide a £10,500-per-person tariff to the Scottish Government for those arriving through the supersponsor arrangements. However, it is confusing and illogical that public funding is only attached to certain visa routes and not others. There remains uncertainty about whether those who arrive on the Ukraine family scheme will attract the same tariff. I made it clear to the UK Government, in tandem with my Welsh counterpart Jane Hutt, that there will be revenue implications for local authorities regardless of the type of visa that is held by someone from Ukraine. The Scottish Government has committed significant additional funds to local authority partners, over and above the UK Government tariff, to assist their preparations.

The newly announced Ukraine extension scheme goes some way to help existing Ukrainian residents in Scotland. The scheme will provide reassurance to many Ukrainians in Scotland, including seasonal workers, but others will be left out. Ukrainian seasonal agricultural workers play a vital role in soft fruit and vegetable production. As a result of the conflict, a range of issues are likely to be of concern to them, and it is essential that they receive support to navigate those. The Scottish Government has therefore committed £41,000 to fund a worker support centre to provide an enhanced package of advice and practical support to Ukrainian seasonal horticultural workers.

The UK Government should provide a firm commitment that all individuals from Ukraine without the correct immigration status should be supported to secure that status. The Home Office needs to deliver support to finalise displaced Ukrainians’ three-year visas, which should include ensuring that biometrics can be taken locally, timeously and without charge, with appropriate signposting to immigration advice.

All those who flee conflict and seek refuge, wherever they are from—Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria or elsewhere—should get the care, compassion and sanctuary to which they are entitled. It is not their fault that the UK Government took a decision not to establish a separate resettlement scheme for people who are displaced by the conflict in the Ukraine, but rather to build on the existing immigration system. That has resulted in a complicated range of different visa routes for individuals, which risks causing confusion for people who are seeking refuge as well as for service providers. The immigration system is clearly in need of urgent reform—it does not work for people or for Scotland.

The war in Ukraine shows little sign of abating. We will work for as long as is necessary to ensure that everyone and anyone who comes to Scotland seeking sanctuary receives a warm welcome and the care and support to which they are entitled. Scotland has a proud record of helping those in need. The fact that all 32 local authorities in Scotland participated in the Syrian programme and welcomed more than 3,300 refugees into their communities is testament to that.

As set out in the new Scots refugee integration strategy, we have a tried and tested approach to integrating refugees into our communities, schools and workplaces. Nonetheless, we will continue to seek to improve our approach where we can. We are learning all the time, and will learn more over the coming weeks. We will continue to highlight and address bureaucratic barriers and call for further improvements from the UK Government where necessary. I encourage all colleagues across the chamber to continue to engage positively with that work, highlighting issues to me and recognising that we all share the same goal, which is to help the people of Ukraine.

As with other groups who have come to Scotland, we know that the Ukrainians who come here will make a valuable contribution to communities the length and breadth of the country. They are welcome and will have a home here for as long as they need it.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The minister will now take questions on the issues raised in his statement. Despite the statement overrunning slightly, I still intend to allow around 20 minutes for questions, after which we will need to move on to the next item of business. It would be helpful if members who wish to ask a question could press their request-to-speak buttons or place a R in the chat function.

Photo of Donald Cameron Donald Cameron Conservative

I thank the minister for prior sight of his statement.

The Scottish Conservatives remain resolute in our support for the people of Ukraine and the need to provide a place of sanctuary for those who are fleeing the war and arriving in Scotland. It is imperative that we continue to provide assistance to those who are fleeing the horrific violence in their home country. Members on the Conservative side of the chamber remain entirely supportive of the Scottish and UK Governments working together to ensure that the various routes for Ukrainian refugees coming to Scotland are open and effective.

Leaving aside the predictable criticisms of UK Government migration policy, I note from the minister’s statement that, in Scotland, almost twice as many visas have been issued to private individuals than visas under the supersponsor route. In the light of that, I ask him to comment on anecdotal reports that when potential sponsors select the Scottish Government as a supersponsor, that has the effect of slowing down the process because it does not count as an actual application. If that is true, what actions will the Scottish Government take to address it?

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

I appreciate the initial support that Donald Cameron gave, and I concur that at ministerial and official levels we have been working pretty effectively with the UK Government and the Welsh Government. This morning, I had a constructive meeting with Lord Harrington and Jane Hutt.

The data that was published last week on private versus supersponsor routes will now be quite out of date. New data will be published this week, which might change the situation in Donald Cameron’s mind. I have no evidence to suggest that the supersponsor route in itself is a blockage, other than in respect of the visa system that is operated by the Home Office, which is the issue that has slowed matters down. If he has evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, that he would like to share with me, I would be more than happy to see it and to pass it on to the Home Office to ensure that processing happens as quickly as possible.

Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour

I thank the minister for advance notice of his statement.

Although we do not know how long the invasion will last, Ukraine is being destroyed brick by brick and, in the future, we will need to help it to rebuild. For now, we should do everything that we can to help people who are fleeing Ukraine. I agree with the minister that the Conservative Government’s approach has been woeful, leaving people vulnerable, confused and in limbo, and it just got worse with the Rwanda proposals.

I have heard of families that have had to return to Ukraine because underlying health conditions were not being supported as they attempted to travel to safety and waited for visa clearance. I have also heard about women and children becoming victims of sexual violence by invading soldiers, or being put at risk of sexual abuse during their lengthy and uncertain journeys, while waiting for their visas to be approved.

What dedicated support will be available to traumatised refugees, particularly victims of sexual violence, to access rape crisis centres and mental health support from the day that they arrive? What dedicated digital support will be available so that refugees are not excluded from accessing online support and connectivity? Will the minister commit to updating the frequently asked questions advice, because the tour of the websites that he sent is not what we or our constituents urgently need right now?

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

I thank Sarah Boyack for the support that she outlined, and I put on record my shared concern and disgust at the shifting of asylum seekers to Rwanda.

On her substantive questions, we have also received anecdotal evidence of people either returning to Ukraine or choosing other options due to the delays in the immigration system that is operated by the UK Government. We are extremely concerned by that, which is why we have used every tool in our box to put as much pressure on and work with the UK Government to unblock some of the delays in processing visas.

When people arrive, we will do everything that we can to ensure that the support that they need in the areas that Sarah Boyack outlined is addressed. As members would expect, we have been working with our health partners and with our local government and third sector partners to ensure that that is the case.

On digital support, ensuring that we have translation and other services in place through local government partners will be a priority.

With regard to the update that Sarah Boyack feels is required to the frequently asked questions, I previously held constructive meetings with her and other political colleagues from across the chamber. I would be happy to do so again in order to hear any particular concerns so that the document is as up to date as possible to allow her and colleagues to provide support, assistance and advice to constituents and others who are in contact with them.

Photo of Michelle Thomson Michelle Thomson Scottish National Party

I thank the minister for his statement. I have been approached by a constituent who offered, and which offer has been accepted, a place in their home for a Ukrainian family using their own direct social media connections. I am aware that there will be considerations around ensuring safety and that various checks will be required, but my constituent is asking how they can proceed, which authorities should be made aware and whether they can self-match at all. Can the minister provide any advice to those in such situations and advise when he expects the system to be fully operational?

If I write to the minister, will he endeavour to reply to me as soon as possible so that the situation can be rectified timeously?

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

The huge groundswell of compassion, generosity and support that has been shown for the people of Ukraine has been heartwarming to see. Those wanting to offer their homes to displaced people should contact and register their interest through the homes for Ukraine portal. I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is to ensure that people do that through that official channel rather than through informal correspondence.

We have recently published guidance for local authorities, individuals and organisations wishing to support people arriving from Ukraine, and we will shortly be publishing guidance specifically for hosts. If Michelle Thomson wishes to write to me, I would be more than happy to respond as quickly as possible, and to follow that up with a meeting if required.

Photo of Sharon Dowey Sharon Dowey Conservative

Refugees coming from war-torn countries often live through atrocities that none of us here can ever imagine. They need our help now, but to do that we need to be able to communicate. Will the minister tell us how many Ukrainian language speakers are embedded in local authorities as of today? How many spaces are still to be filled? What steps is the Government taking to recruit more individuals fluent in Ukrainian?

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

Sharon Dowey is absolutely right that having access to people who are able to interpret for displaced Ukrainians is crucial. We have been very grateful for offers of support from the Ukrainian communities across Scotland who have been supporting us at our welcome hubs, and we are grateful to the Scottish Refugee Council and others for the work that they are doing to ensure that we have dedicated support in place.

If the member wants further detail, I would be happy to respond in writing. I have been very pleased with the uptake of offers, voluntary or otherwise, to ensure that we are able to communicate effectively with displaced Ukrainians.

Photo of Emma Roddick Emma Roddick Scottish National Party

I am aware of a few individuals and families from Ukraine who have already moved into communities in my region, and of even more of my constituents who stand ready to open their homes. How will the Government support Ukrainian refugees who are placed in areas that do not have a significant existing refugee population and therefore do not have the existing community support networks that we know are so important?

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

I am extremely thankful for the generosity of everyone across Scotland, including from those in Highlands and Islands communities, for offering their support to Ukrainians displaced by the current conflict.

Like you, Presiding Officer, Ms Roddick represents Orkney, which is where I am originally from. I know that there is a great appetite there to help ensure that a warm welcome is provided, not least, I suspect, because of the historical links in providing support to children from the Chernobyl area on an annual basis.

Once matched to a specific local authority and home, individuals and families will receive support to integrate into the local area. Resettlement teams are in place in all 32 local authorities. Those teams have been supporting refugees in those areas for a number of years as part of previous resettlement schemes. Our local authorities, as well as partner and third sector organisations, will play an important role in supporting displaced people from Ukraine to rebuild their lives in their new communities.

If Ms Roddick has any further concerns that she wishes to raise with me, I would be more than happy to do what I can to ensure that that information is forthcoming.

Photo of Foysol Choudhury Foysol Choudhury Labour

The minister said that all who flee conflict and seek refuge should get the care, compassion and support to which they are entitled. However, in Edinburgh, we still have hundreds of refugees from Syria and Afghanistan who are stuck in hotels and other temporary accommodation. There is no suitable permanent housing. Homes for Ukraine is welcome, but not everyone will fall within that scheme. How will the Government ensure that the refugee housing crisis does not continue?

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

Foysol Choudhury is absolutely right to raise that question. The success of the Ukrainian scheme will be based on a true partnership between the UK Government, Scottish Government, local authorities, t hird sector organisations and housing organisations in particular. Sadly, that was not the case previously, particularly with the Afghan scheme. As a result, people were placed in accommodation without the local authority or the Scottish Government being made aware or being able to provide the level of support that we are looking to put in place through the Syrian scheme and now through the Ukrainian scheme.

However, that is not to say that the Scottish Government has washed its hands of responsibility to the Afghans who are here. We want to do everything that we can to ensure that we are supporting them. We continue to do that work, and I would be more than happy to meet Foysol Choudhury to discuss some of the ways in which we are ensuring that that is happening.

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

Like many MSP colleagues across Scotland, I have been involved in trying to seek clarity about outstanding individual Ukrainian visa applications, on behalf of constituents who have offered their homes as sanctuary. Most recently, I did so on Saturday evening in helpful correspondence with the private office of Lord Harrington. However, I think that that helpful approach is very much the exception rather than the rule. I would like it to be the rule.

Can the minister confirm that he will continue to press the UK Government to proceed with extreme urgency, given that lives are at stake? I also ask him to ensure that relevant information is made available to local communities about how they can get involved in helping the refugees who will be, or already are, housed in their area. I know that local communities are very keen to do that.

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

I have repeatedly raised concerns with the UK Government about the speed with which the visa applications are being processed, and I will continue to do so. People must be given visas quickly so that they can travel safely. Most recently, I raised the issue this morning in a meeting with Lord Harrington and Jane Hutt from the Welsh Government.

The huge groundswell of compassion, generosity and support that has been shown to the people of Ukraine has been heart-warming to see. Ms Ewing’s experience in Cowdenbeath will be similar to mine in Airdrie and Shotts, with the community wanting to come together to provide support for people who are arriving here.

We recently published guidance for individuals and organisations that wish to support people who arrive in Scotland from Ukraine. I also encourage people to look at the Ready Scotland website to find out more about what they can do to support people in their area. Those who want to offer their homes to displaced people should register their interest through the homes for Ukraine portal, and I encourage community groups across Scotland to get in touch with their local authorities to ensure that that warm welcome is in evidence in all our areas.

Photo of Alex Cole-Hamilton Alex Cole-Hamilton Liberal Democrat

I declare an interest in that my family and I have signed up for the homes for Ukraine scheme.

I am pleased to hear about the welcome hubs that were mentioned and the opportunity that they provide to assess needs. The minister will share my deep concern that many of those who are fleeing Ukraine will have experienced untold trauma and will need our support. Many will arrive with profound mental health needs. Some will have suffered deep psychological harm. What reassurance can he offer the Parliament that they will be met with immediate mental health support and a trauma-informed and compassionate welcome on their arrival?

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

I thank Alex Cole-Hamilton for his question and for the generosity that he has shown, in common with tens of thousands of others across Scotland, in looking to open his home to people from Ukraine. Like others, he can expect to be contacted soon by local authority partners to ensure that the appropriateness of the accommodation is sound and that he, as an upstanding individual, is also disclosure checked.

There are no exceptions to those checks.

On his more substantive point about ensuring that trauma and mental health support is in place, as I have said, we are working with our national health service partners to ensure that it is. There will be a triage process when people arrive at our welcome hubs in order to ensure that the expectation of service is established at a very early stage. Services can then be put in place from there. I again extend the offer to the Labour Party, through Sarah Boyack, and the Liberal Democrats, through Alex Cole-Hamilton, to provide a regular update on that, if required.

Photo of Ross Greer Ross Greer Green

Just a few days ago, the Westminster Government unveiled inhumane plans to deport people who seek refuge in the UK to Rwanda. Although the response to refugees from Ukraine has so far been inadequate, it is positively generous compared with that deliberate cruelty.

Has the minister had any communication with the UK Government about those plans and any potential consequences that they could have for Ukrainians who seek refuge in Scotland? Can he confirm that the Scottish Government will do what it can to protect all refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland from deportation to Rwanda?

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

I thank Ross Greer for that important question. Unfortunately, when we were given notice of the new immigration plans by the UK Government, the plan to deport people to Rwanda was not part of the discussion. We have therefore not had an opportunity to have the fulsome discussion that we would want.

However, I hope to have an opportunity, when I meet UK ministers in the coming weeks, to make sure that our displeasure at that move is articulated in the strongest possible terms. I know that that is also being articulated by faith groups and other community groups that represent refugees. It should be to the UK Government’s shame that it continues to progress with that plan.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

We have just under four minutes and four more questioners. I am keen to get them all in, but we need brief questions and responses, as far as possible.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

Small communities in and around West Linton in my constituency have formed the West Linton area supports Ukraine group, with over 30 households signing up to the UK Government programme. However, to date, because of the sluggish visa process, which has been referred to, no Ukrainians have been allocated. Will the Scottish Government, through its welcome hubs, together with local authorities, when relocating families in rural communities, take account of the need to ensure that they have other refugee families relocated with them in order to provide them with additional support in adjusting to their new circumstances after such dramatic experiences?

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

I thank Christine Grahame for that important question. I share the frustration that she and her constituents have about the delays in processing visas. I also share her view on the need to take a holistic approach to the matching service and the allocation of people who are displaced from Ukraine to different parts of Scotland. She can rest assured that that is part of the considerations that we are applying to that service.

Photo of Maurice Golden Maurice Golden Conservative

With regard to mental health and emotional support, what work is being conducted to prepare toolkits for people, including children in schools, on knowing what to look out for and how to approach and broach issues?

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

My colleagues in education have been working at pace to ensure that schools and educational settings are appropriately resourced so that people arriving from Ukraine are given the support that they need. That applies to the educational experience in the classroom and to the wraparound support that parents will need. If there is anything specific that Maurice Golden feels should be added, I would be more than happy to hear about it.

Photo of Evelyn Tweed Evelyn Tweed Scottish National Party

What specific support will local authorities receive to assist Ukrainian refugees and their hosts on arrival in Scotland?

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

We have provided funding to local authorities to sustain and enhance resettlement teams and enable co-ordination of the third sector contribution to this work. We have also offered more than £7 million to local authorities to support refurbishment of accommodation to support displaced Ukrainian people.

Clear guidance has been published for local authorities, covering critical issues such as safeguarding and access to services. In addition, the UK Government has confirmed funding for local authorities at a rate of £10,500 per person. I have already articulated my concerns about ensuring that that applies regardless of the visa route. There is also an expectation that local authorities will administer the thank you payments to sponsoring households, at a rate of £350 per person, and additional funding will be provided to local authorities to meet that need.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The next question is from Paul Sweeney, who joins us remotely.

Photo of Paul Sweeney Paul Sweeney Labour

The minister’s update is certainly welcome, and it is clear that there is good will across the chamber towards Ukrainians who are seeking refuge in Scotland. In March, when the minister appeared before the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee, he indicated that the Government was supportive of the idea of providing free concessionary travel to Ukrainian refugees and other asylum seekers. Will he provide an update on when we might see the Government’s work on that policy to date? Will he meet me and other members who are concerned with the matter to discuss how we can work together to take those plans forward?

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

I thank Paul Sweeney for his long-standing interest in that area. The matter is not just my responsibility, but the responsibility of other ministers. However, I would be more than happy to meet Mr Sweeney and others to update him on the work in that regard, and to hear any further ideas that he would like to feed in.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

That concludes this item of business. There will be a brief pause before we move on to the next item.