If in the last few weeks the Scottish Government has demonstrated anything, it’s the ability to listen, consider different options, and have the guts to change course - taking into account the evidence that they could do things in a better way.
Take the decision to scrap the proposed new ‘super’ women’s prison to replace Corton Vale. Our new Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson, having listened to views expressed by a number of key interest groups and recommendations by the former Lord Advocate Dame Eilish Angiolini has agreed that female offending should be tackled with small regional units.
He has understood that, ‘we must be smarter with the choices we make and be more sophisticated in the way in which we deal with female offenders.’
The Scottish Government will now undertake a period of extensive engagement with key partners including the Scottish Prison Service with a view to investing in smaller regional and community-based custodial facilities across the country.
These will provide an alternative to imprisonment for vulnerable women and support them to make positive changes in their lives.
Likewise we have a government that is listening to the serious concerns expressed by both industry and environmental NGOs about onshore oil & gas fracking under the homes of folk across Scotland.
The Scottish Government has announced a moratorium on fracking, and there will be a full public consultation on unconventional oil and gas exploration, along with a public health impact assessment.
The UK Onshore Operators’ Group recognises that the general public have concerns about the issues around fracking, and they welcome the opportunity to present the facts to the Scottish people. Ineos, the large chemical operation based in Grangemouth, understand the importance of public consultation to assess the impact of unconventional oil and gas and indeed welcome the Scottish Government’s approach.
We can now look at the evidence and come up with the right policy for Scotland: decisions made by a government accountable to the Scottish parliament rather than the unrepresentative House of Commons and the unelected House of Lords.