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Meeting of the Parliament [Draft]

Meeting date: Thursday, April 18, 2024


Scottish Employment Injuries Advisory Council Bill: Stage 1

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Liam McArthur)

The next item of business is a debate on motion S6M-12882, in the name of Mark Griffin, on the Scottish Employment Injuries Advisory Council Bill at stage 1. I invite members who wish to participate in the debate to press their request-to-speak buttons now or as soon as possible.


Mark Griffin (Central Scotland) (Lab)

I make a voluntary declaration of interests as a member of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers and Unite.

I am absolutely delighted to speak to the motion in my name and ask that the Parliament agrees to the general principles of the Scottish Employment Injuries Advisory Council Bill. I thank the staff in the non-Government bills unit, who have worked closely with me to introduce the bill to the Parliament, alongside members of my staff past and present.

The bill would establish an independent advisory council with permanent trade union and worker representatives. The council would scrutinise legislative proposals and the framework for our employment injury benefit in Scotland. It would have the power to investigate and review emerging industrial and employment hazards that result in disablement through disease or injury, as well as the power to conduct research independently and make recommendations for the on-going evolution of the devolved employment injuries assistance framework.

The council’s investigations might lead to the expansion of benefit eligibility to further groups of people who are injured or ill because of where they work. I appeal to every member not to turn their backs on workers who find themselves grappling with injury and disease that have been brought on as a result of their job—nurses, social care workers, teachers, footballers and shop workers who have become ill directly because of the work that they do. They deserve our support.

Sheena is a teacher in Dundee who now suffers from long Covid after—it is likely—catching the virus in the classroom that she was teaching in. She told me about her invisible disease, which has left her hard of hearing, continually fatigued and unable to return to the job that she loves.

Sam, who suffers from an asbestos-related condition, has highlighted the plight of women workers who have been exposed to chemicals, dyes and dust, but a gendered system, in effect, prevents their entitlement to the benefits that they clearly need.

John Mason (Glasgow Shettleston) (SNP)

There is a lot of agreement with what Mark Griffin says, in that we should be dealing with some of those issues, but am I right in saying that his bill does not include any money or costing to pay teachers and other people who deserve such benefits?

Mark Griffin

The bill would establish a council that would get the workers who are impacted by illnesses and injuries around the table to design the benefit. The budget to pay for addressing those conditions has been devolved from the United Kingdom Parliament to the Scottish Parliament. It is up to the Scottish Parliament to take up the responsibility of creating a system that is fit for purpose and that does not ignore the female workers who have been ignored for the past 40 to 50 years.

If a man works with asbestos and contracts mesothelioma as a result of his exposure, he is covered. However, a woman who works in an environment that has asbestos in it is completely ignored by the system just because she happens not to touch the asbestos during the course of her work—she still inhales the fumes every day. We need such people around the table to design the benefit as it is introduced and devolved. There is a huge gap in the devolution process so far.

I express my sincere thanks to Sheena, Sam and the countless others who have shared their absolutely heartbreaking stories with me over the years. They have convinced me of the necessity for the bill. Organisations such as the disabled workers committee of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, Action on Asbestos, Thompsons Solicitors Scotland, Scottish Hazards, Long Covid Scotland, the Child Poverty Action Group, Close the Gap, the Scottish healthcare workers coalition and even the Government-established Fair Work Convention have all shaped and supported the development of the bill. I am grateful for the endorsement of trade unions, including Unite, USDAW, the GMB, Unison, PFA Scotland and the Fire Brigades Union, as well as all members of the Scottish Trades Union Congress who back the proposal. The Scottish National Party trade union group backs the proposal; it is just a shame that the Government does not listen to its own trade union members.

Yesterday, the STUC unanimously adopted a motion of support for the bill, calling for the Government to accelerate the delivery of Scottish employment injury assistance and an advisory council.

I will mention the many ex-professional footballers who have supported my colleague Michael Marra’s Injury Time campaign to have brain injuries from football classified as an industrial injury. That is a cross-party campaign, with support from SNP MPs down south, but it does not seem to have the party’s support up here. It is backed by Sir Alex Ferguson, Craig Levine, Gordon Strachan and Alex McLeish.

In their work and support, all those organisations have highlighted the absolute urgency of giving to people who are ill because of their job a stronger voice and a fairer deal on employment injury assistance in Scotland. Absolutely nobody should suffer unnecessarily because of the job that they once did.

Firefighters who keep us safe from burning buildings and toxic fumes are now three times more likely to suffer from prostate cancer, leukaemia or oesophageal cancer. Right now, they are entitled to absolutely no support from the Government in recognition of the role that their job played in making them ill. Teachers who worked in classrooms with asbestos are now suffering from mesothelioma but, again, they are entitled to no support. Footballers such as Billy McNeill and Gordon McQueen were three times more likely than the rest of us to suffer from dementia but, again, they were entitled to no support with the illness that their job caused.

Martin Whitfield (South Scotland) (Lab)

We have heard across the chamber throughout this session—indeed, at last—that we recognise the importance of the lived experience of people feeding into the construction of legislation. Is Mr Griffin’s proposal today not the very visual effect of that—of people being able to formulate their lived experience so that, in the future, people have a much better benefit than they have had?

Mark Griffin


It seems strange that we have a current UK industrial injuries system with a UK advisory council with medical experts, trade unionists and people with lived experience on it advising Government while, in devolving the system, we cut out trade unionists, workers and people with lived experience and somehow pretend that this Parliament is a more progressive place than big, bad Westminster. It is clearly not. It is clearly failing workers, those with lived experience and those who absolutely deserve a seat at the table in order to make sure that this newly devolved benefit is fit for purpose.

The only reason for opposing the bill that I have heard from the Government is that it is not the right time. I absolutely cannot accept or understand that argument at all. The Government must devise and publish a business case on the devolution and introduction of this new benefit, in line with its agreement with the Department for Work and Pensions, for the end of March 2025. That is less than a year away.

How can the Government expect to create a business case to devise a fairer system for those who become ill or injured at work without the very people who become injured and ill at work being around the table to set up the new benefit, set out what the entitlement criteria should be and design the system from day 1? It is a huge omission.

Will the member give way?

Mark Griffin

I am sorry, but I think that I am in my last minute. I would be happy to take another intervention in my closing speech.

The time for action is now. The bill represents a crucial opportunity to deliver meaningful change. I ask the Government: if not now, when?

I move,

That the Parliament agrees to the general principles of the Scottish Employment Injuries Advisory Council Bill.


The Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice (Shirley-Anne Somerville)

I thank Mark Griffin for his on-going commitment to people who have experienced an industrial injury or occupational disease, which is evidenced by the introduction of the bill. Equally, I pay tribute to those who have worked with him in developing the bill, giving evidence and taking part in the consultation process that he has driven. I also express my appreciation to members of the Social Justice and Social Security Committee for their thorough consideration of the bill and comprehensive report.

I recognise that there is a degree of support for the concept of a Scottish advisory council. I am keenly aware of the issues that people have with the UK Government’s industrial injuries scheme, many of which Mark Griffin referred to in his opening remarks, which are primarily related to the current scheme’s age and the changes to the employment landscape in the more than 70 years since its introduction. That is evidenced by the underrepresentation of women, young people and ethnic minorities in the current scheme.

I therefore very much appreciate the views of the many people who would like changes to be made through employment injury assistance—our planned replacement for the UK scheme—and I share those ambitions. I want to work with stakeholders to modernise the scheme in a way that delivers for the people who receive assistance while, of course, delivering value for money.

The Government does not oppose the principle of a Scottish advisory council, but Mr Griffin’s bill would introduce such a body without employment injury assistance being in place, and, as the committee and many of the stakeholders who gave evidence on the bill recognised, consideration of whether and how a Scottish advisory council should be formed should be taken alongside the wider question of how we deliver employment injury assistance. It is essential that we do things in the most logical order in relation to policy development, the best use of resources and value for money.

Daniel Johnson (Edinburgh Southern) (Lab)

The cabinet secretary has just set out that the Government agrees with the principles that Mark Griffin has articulated. Given that stage 1 of the process is about the principles underlying the bill and its general purposes, why will the Government not support it at decision time?

Shirley-Anne Somerville

I agree with the principles underlying why Mark Griffin is introducing the bill, and I say the following with the greatest genuine respect to Mr Griffin, with whom I have had several discussions on the issue. The concerns that he raised in his opening remarks would not be addressed if the advisory council were to be put in place. The bill would not get us any closer to helping the people whom he spoke about. In due course, I will explain some of the reasons for that.

Until Social Security Scotland started to deliver employment injury assistance, we would not be able to act on the council’s recommendations. It would take time to set up a council, and it would not then have anyone to report to in order to enact its recommendations. There is no possibility of renegotiating the agency agreement with the Department for Work and Pensions, which is required to ensure the continuing payment of existing awards in Scotland. Again with the greatest respect, because I recognise that there is a genuine wish to see a better system in Scotland, I say that we must develop the whole system and not set up part of a system that cannot then have its recommendations put into practice.

It is therefore important to clarify that the bill does not make any changes to the criteria, nor does it mean that the health conditions that are not currently covered, such as long Covid, would be considered industrial diseases. Instead, the bill largely replicates the function of the UK Industrial Injuries Advisory Council, of which the committee has heard extensive criticism. It makes more sense to wait until we have a much better understanding of the level and form of advice, expertise and scrutiny that are required.

I therefore welcome the conclusions of the Social Justice and Social Security Committee’s stage 1 report, which questions whether the body that the member has proposed would deliver on its objectives or aims.

Michael Marra (North East Scotland) (Lab)

The cabinet secretary says that it is more sensible to wait. Does she not realise that, for many people with life-limiting and debilitating conditions, whose families are also suffering, waiting years and years longer would be entirely intolerable?

Cabinet secretary, I can give you time back for interventions.

Shirley-Anne Somerville

Thank you, Presiding Officer. I appreciate that.

I understand why there is frustration and impatience, but that is why I wish to be able to introduce the consultation shortly and to move on with getting people round the table and working out what the new benefit would look like. Again with the greatest respect, I say that we do not need the bill—or, indeed, any other statutory footing—to get people around the table to design a benefit. We have not needed that for any other benefit that we have co-designed, and we do not need it for this one. Rather than putting the Government under an obligation to set up a council, which would be the case if the bill were to become an act, we could already be getting people round the table and having discussions without the bill, and I am happy to confirm that we will be doing so.

The committee has raised important questions about whether the model for a statutory advisory council that the bill proposes is the right option for employment injury assistance. The bill seeks to set up a council; it does not simply seek to set up a body that advises on the development of a benefit. The committee believes that the creation of an advisory council could add to the advice and scrutiny landscape across the UK, which can already be confusing. I want to take time to consider that carefully, including whether and how a future advisory council might work with the Scottish Commission on Social Security. I therefore agree with the committee’s conclusion that the bill does not represent the most effective way of meeting the aspirations of the many people who wish to see change in the new system.

Replicating a fundamental aspect of the UK system, which has been so widely criticised, in the absence of proper considerations of the wider purpose, structure and administration of employment injury assistance is not the right approach. However, as I said, I appreciate that some people are keen for changes to be made more quickly. I have made no secret of how complicated replacing the industrial injuries scheme will be. Many of the changes that stakeholders want, including a greater emphasis on the prevention of workplace disease, are not possible with the powers that we currently have.

The scheme as it stands was introduced in 1948 and is delivered almost entirely using a paper-based system. That contrasts with the digital systems that we use for benefits that have been devolved to date. Developing a paper-based replacement will have costs attached. If we include any digital actions of replacement, that will also have costs attached.

In addition, the up to 150,000 files relating to Scottish awards are held in bulky paper case files going back many years. We need to consider carefully how, given the age, condition and location of those files, we can undertake case transfer. That is important work that we will continue with the UK Government.

We are considerably constrained in our ability to make changes in the short term, but I am committed to exploring how employment injury assistance can be reformed so that it meets the needs of the people while protecting payments to current clients. To that end, in the coming weeks we will launch a consultation on employment injury assistance that will be focused specifically on the immediate next steps. That is an important first step in what will be a comprehensive process of engagement with stakeholders and, crucially, people with lived experience of the current scheme. In the weeks following the launch, meetings with disabled people’s organisations and trade unions will be set up, should they wish to take part, to discuss the range of challenges with replacing the scheme and our next steps, as well as the opportunities that come with that.

In line with our commitments, and depending on the outcome of the consultation, that will be followed by the establishment of an advisory group. Again, I stress that we do not need the bill to have that type of group established. The group will consider the responses to the consultation, along with many of the issues that have been raised during the evidence sessions on the bill. Given the understandable interest that has been generated by the member’s bill, I agree with the committee that it is important that the advisory group carefully considers those offers.

Will the cabinet secretary take an intervention on that point?

If I have time, Presiding Officer.

Very briefly, Miles Briggs.

What will be the make-up of that advisory group?

I would be obliged if you would start winding up now, cabinet secretary.

Shirley-Anne Somerville

Certainly, Presiding Officer.

I am happy to respond to Miles Briggs’s question in my closing remarks, but the group would particularly include people with lived experience, trade union representatives and others who have shown an interest in the bill. We have learned a lot from the bill’s progress and can take that forward.

I reiterate my thanks to Mark Griffin for his work on this important matter. Although the Government cannot support the bill, I appreciate the work that he has done on it, and it will inevitably assist us as we develop employment injury assistance in the future.

The Deputy Presiding Officer

There have been a number of interventions already. I would be grateful if, as well as asking for an intervention in the normal way, members would press their intervention buttons, which is helpful for those who are joining us online.


Collette Stevenson (East Kilbride) (SNP)

I am pleased to contribute to the debate on behalf of the Social Justice and Social Security Committee. I thank everyone who sent submissions in response to the committee’s call for views, and I thank the organisations and individuals who attended committee meetings to provide evidence. I also thank the clerks for all their assistance in producing an excellent report.

In scrutinising the bill, the committee first heard from the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council and the Scottish Commission on Social Security. We then took evidence from witnesses representing trade unions, occupational health services, academia and campaign groups.

The bill proposes the creation of an independent employment injuries advisory council that would, among other functions, scrutinise regulations on employment injury assistance, which is the planned equivalent of the industrial injuries disablement benefit. The current industrial injuries scheme and associated benefit have been in place for more than three quarters of a century: the scheme was created for a world that is very different from the one that exists now. Unite the union, in particular, has described it as “outdated” and “laborious”. Other witnesses to whom we spoke were similarly critical of the system that is in place and highlighted its shortcomings.

The weaknesses that were cited include the facts that the system is slow to effect change, that it fails to deliver for women and ethnic minority workers, and that it does not take account of modern occupations and diseases. The Scottish Trades Union Congress characterised the system as

“inherently unequal and inaccessible”,


“a hugely disproportionate impact on women.”

What came through clearly in evidence was that the system needs to change, and that there is considerable support for the bill among stakeholders. The Fire Brigades Union Scotland said in evidence that having an advisory council in place is

“essential to reform the benefit so that it is properly devolved and fit for purpose in the modern day.”—[Official Report, Social Justice and Social Security Committee, 23 November 2023; c 14, 6.]

Despite the strength of sentiment from witnesses, members of the committee felt uncertain whether the bill could bring about the change and modernisation that stakeholders want. There was concern about whether the advisory council would be able to deliver its aims and address gaps in data collection, given the limited research budget that was proposed as part of the bill.

Members also questioned whether it would be possible to recruit the expertise that is needed for an advisory council, given that the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council and the Scottish Commission on Social Security indicated that recruitment has been an issue and the advisory council would seek people with similar expertise.

There is also the question of timing. The Scottish Government argues that introducing the bill’s provisions and the associated advisory council before employment injury assistance is in place is impractical and financially inappropriate. That is because the Scottish Government’s agency agreement with the Department for Work and Pensions to deliver the benefit until case transfer is complete means that it must abide by DWP policy. Ministers would therefore be unable to act on any of the council’s recommendations, even if the bill were passed.

The Scottish Government has also said that, once employment injury assistance is in place, it will still not make changes to it while some claimants’ awards are being delivered by the DWP. That is because doing so would risk the creation of a two-tier system, with some people potentially being better off than others.

Another point of opposition is that the Scottish Government has said that it is committed to holding a public consultation on its approach to replacing the industrial injuries scheme in Scotland. It considers that that is a more appropriate way of considering whether to enact the creation of a new public body because the question whether to create such a body can be considered alongside other questions related to the new scheme.

In its stage 1 report, the committee noted the concern that the creation of an advisory council could add to an already cluttered policy landscape. Either way, the committee is very concerned that it is still not clear when the consultation will begin, so it calls on the Scottish Government to urgently provide information on that. The committee notes that, in the cabinet secretary’s written response to the stage 1 report, she said that the Scottish Government intended to publish its consultation in early 2024. Given that it is now April, the committee urges the Scottish Government to provide updated timings.

An associated issue that arose during the committee’s scrutiny was the time that will be required to complete case transfer for the benefit, because more than 100,000 paper files need to be converted to a digital format. Although the cabinet secretary picked up on that point in her response to the committee’s stage 1 report, we seek a further update on progress and on the expected completion date.

I return to the merits of the bill. Although the committee recognises the good intentions of the member in charge of the bill in introducing it, ultimately the majority of the committee could not support it. Although we were all persuaded that major reform of industrial injuries benefits is needed, most members of the committee remain unconvinced that the bill can deliver the reform that is sought, and we do not want its passage to falsely raise expectations.

It also felt that the timing was not right. Given the expected Scottish Government consultation and the fact that ministers will remain constrained by the agency agreement with the DWP until case transfer is complete, it would not be possible for recommendations that the advisory council makes to be acted on.

For those reasons, the committee recommends that the general principles of the bill not be agreed to.


Jeremy Balfour (Lothian) (Con)

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in the debate. As a member of the Social Justice and Social Security Committee, I have, over the past number of months, spent a great deal of time carefully considering the bill. I genuinely commend Mark Griffin for the time and effort that he has put into the process; I know from personal experience that it requires no small level of effort and dedication to get a member’s bill to this point.

I should also mention Mark Griffin’s parliamentary staff, who have, I know, done a lot of work to support the member in getting us to where we are today. In addition, I thank the committee clerks for the work that they have put into helping us to produce the report.

Unfortunately, despite that, I will not be able to support the general principles of the bill, as we see it today. Although I agree with a number of the underlying assumptions that Mr Griffin sets out, Conservative members do not believe that the establishment at this time of a Scottish employment advisory council is the best way forward.

One of the more unfortunate aspects of the context surrounding the bill is that it has been introduced too early. As is clear from its title, the body that the bill seeks to establish would be closely linked to the employment injury assistance benefit. Unfortunately, however, the Scottish Government is still waiting for EIA to be devolved, eight years on from the passing of the Scotland Act 2016. It seems that we are still nowhere near the Scottish Government taking over administration of EIA. We are therefore far from needing an advisory board to oversee it. Even if, for a moment, we were to accept the premise that such a board is strictly necessary for implementation of the benefit, if we were to establish it now there would be a pause for goodness knows how long before it actually had any work to undertake. That would be neither financially nor practically sensible.

Mark Griffin

The point has been made about timing. We are at the stage 1 debate; we still have stage 2, stage 3, royal assent and commencement to go. We are nowhere near having a council established overnight, and there is only a year until the Government needs a business case. We are fast running out of time to get a council in place, never mind being too early.

Jeremy Balfour

Again, I understand where Mark Griffin is coming from, but the point is that we need to undertake—with cross-party support, as we have done with every other benefit—a safe and secure transfer. We have not looked at changing the rules and regulations on a benefit until everyone who should be is in receipt of it and all cases are being administrated from Scotland. My understanding—unless the cabinet secretary is going to correct me—is that that is what the Government wants to do in this instance. It will, therefore, be at least two to three years before we are in a place to be able to do that.

As I said, even if the timing had been perfect, I am afraid that I am not convinced that such a council is the best way forward. Devolution of social security was meant to be an opportunity to put in place a radically different social security system that addressed the unique landscape in Scotland. We had an opportunity to create a system that would look exactly as we wanted it to look. Instead, the Government took the view that we would have a carbon copy of the DWP in every way but delivery, which has been less than smooth.

I admit that the reality is that there have been limits to the extent to which we could have deviated from the previous system, but it is clear that the Scottish Government has in no way tried to make any meaningful changes, and that it will not make meaningful changes during this parliamentary session. In hiding behind the façade of a safe and secure transition, it has abdicated the responsibility for which it fought so hard.

This could be an opportunity to make a difference. There could be ways other than a council to support administration of EIA that could represent better value for money, as well as fulfilling people’s needs better. It will be no surprise to members to hear that Conservatives are generally sceptical about the creation of new levels of bureaucracy when there are other possible solutions. I would like to see more innovation from the Government, and that adds to the case that is being made against the bill.

As members will be aware, the Social Justice and Social Security Committee has called on the Government to publish a consultation on employment injuries. The work that Mr Griffin has done has shed light on the fact that we must make faster progress on the issue. We were unable to get a straight answer on the timing of the Government’s plans for a consultation. In the cabinet secretary’s opening remarks, she said that it would be in a number of weeks. Could she add to that in her closing speech, or even now?

Briefly, cabinet secretary.

Shirley-Anne Somerville

I am happy to confirm that I wished to wait to see what would happen today because, quite frankly, there would have been no point in going through a consultation if the Parliament had agreed to proceed with the bill and to set up an advisory council. The consultation is ready and we will be able to hold it within the next few weeks.

Wind up, please.

Jeremy Balfour

I thank the cabinet secretary for that.

As I said at the outset, Mr Griffin and his team have undertaken a lot of good work to get his bill to this point. He has shed light on the delays in the devolution of EIA and, I hope, has focused the Government’s eyes on the issue.

However, unfortunately, we will not support the bill’s general principles at decision time.


Paul O’Kane (West Scotland) (Lab)

I am pleased to open on behalf of Scottish Labour in this stage 1 debate, and I am pleased to support the general principles of my colleague Mark Griffin’s bill. I pay tribute to Mark Griffin, his team past and present and everyone who has assisted him, not least those from the trade union movement and workers across Scotland, in the preparation of the bill. What Mark Griffin has outlined is in the best traditions of the Labour Party and the labour movement, representing working people in the Parliament, giving voice to their real concerns and driving forward the change that we need to see. That is where we have always been, and it is where we remain.

We have already started to hear many of the excuses that are being lined up by the Government and Conservative members about why they will not support Mark Griffin’s bill. That will be a real disappointment to the working people who are watching the debate and who have been part of the process of consultation and development of the bill. Timing has been mentioned a lot already. The reality is that we have seen delay and, very often, confusion around what is happening with the development of employment injury assistance in Scotland. In his intervention on Jeremy Balfour, Mark Griffin made clear the need for these things to be put in place, because we are still a long way off from them being put in place.

Shirley-Anne Somerville

I clarify that any changes to the timetable on which we are looking to deliver employment injury assistance are based on two issues: first, Covid, when the DWP and the Scottish Government had to reassess our work plans, and secondly, the delivery of the Scottish child payment, which I am sure the member will appreciate was a very big undertaking, but an important one.

Paul O’Kane

I remind the cabinet secretary that, when she gave evidence to the Social Justice and Social Security Committee, she spoke about the consultation coming forward early in the new year. We are now in April. I understand what she has said in the debate, but the delay has caused deep concern for people about the progress of the benefit and making sure that we get the right assistance for the people who deserve it.

It is therefore incumbent on Parliament to support the bill, so as to make some forward movement in this area. I recognise, as stakeholders do, that the bill will not introduce the benefit, and it has not been outlined at this stage what the benefit will look like. However, the bill sets up the key components that will be needed when that benefit comes forward. Expert advice and workers’ voices will be required to ensure that the right illnesses, injuries and disabilities are covered, and we believe that an advisory council, as proposed, is the right vehicle for that.

The proposals as outlined by my colleague Mark Griffin would make the proposed council independent from Government and gender balanced, with permanent representation from workers and able to carry out its own research. Critically, in my view, and, in contrast with the alternatives that could exist, they put the body on a statutory footing, so that the Government cannot just disband it, as it has done with other advisory groups, such as the disability and carers benefits expert advisory group, or DACBEAG.

What struck me from all the evidence that we heard, as a member of the committee, was the widespread support from stakeholders and the fact that there was very little opposition to the proposals.

Shirley-Anne Somerville

Can the member tell me whether he agrees that we should continue with a medical definition of disability, as applies in the current scheme, or does he think that we should change to a more social definition of disability? If he does not know the answer to that question, that points to why we need to consider the benefit as a whole. How the member wishes to define disability affects the type of support mechanisms, whether an advisory council is needed and what it looks like.

Paul O’Kane

As we have said throughout, we are interested in the lived experience element, and in people talking about their experience of disability, which would suggest that model of people’s experience in the social model. I do not understand why the cabinet secretary would not support workers and people with that lived experience giving voice to it through the council in terms of what is being proposed.

Returning to the point that I was making about support for the bill, the trade union movement supports it, and Roz Foyer of the STUC commented just this week that,

“by rejecting Mark Griffin’s Bill,”

the Scottish Government

“would be sending out the message that workers injured at their work and now in need of assistance from the state can be discarded or ignored.”

We know that the bill has the support of organisations that recognise that it does not represent the end of the road for employment injuries assistance but is a step in the right direction towards getting voices heard and making calls for assistance. Such groups include Action on Asbestos, Long Covid Scotland and the Injury Time campaign, ably led by my friend and colleague Michael Marra and supported by legends of the game in Scotland. All those people have spoken about the hazards that they experienced at work and the need to be covered by employment injury assistance. That should involve an expert body that looks at the evidence and makes recommendations. They consistently told us that an advisory council was a step in the right direction towards that.

Michael Marra

The member will recognise that many high-profile former Scottish football players have backed our Injury Time campaign. Many of them have no time to wait, however; they are in their own injury time and are putting huge pressure on the families they live with to pay for their care. Now really is the time when they need the Government to act, so that they can get the support that they need.

Paul O’Kane

I completely agree with the points that Michael Marra and Mark Griffin have made that people are running out of time to get justice, to get their sense of injustice fixed or sorted and, crucially, to have their voices heard in the process as we develop the benefit.

It is clear that the SNP’s failure to move forward at pace and with purpose on these issues, and its failure to support the bill, marks another failure to support workers and working people in this country. It would appear that the Government wants to give us warm words about its support for the general principles of the bill, but without putting that into action by backing the bill at decision time. It seems to me that the Government is only interested in paying lip service to Scotland’s workers and trade union movement, while never actually carrying forward the policies that are needed with any sense of urgency.

As I said at the outset, Scottish Labour will always be the party of working people in Scotland, and that is why we are pleased to support the bill at stage 1.

The Deputy Presiding Officer

As we move into the open debate, I remind members that what time we had in hand has now been exhausted, and members will now need to stick to their speaking time allocations, including if they take interventions.

John Mason has up to four minutes.

Four minutes?

I beg your pardon, Mr Mason—you have six minutes.


John Mason (Glasgow Shettleston) (SNP)

Thank you for that reassurance.

To start on a positive note, both the committee as a whole, and I, personally, are convinced that the present UK system for employment injuries and industrial injury disablement benefit is seriously out of date and not fit for purpose.

The UK system was designed for a time of mining and heavy engineering, with predominantly male workers, but times have changed, and there is a need to include a range of employments, as we have heard, with teaching and football being just two examples. The system has not adapted to modern times, in which a much wider range of injuries and diseases is recognised, including stress and mental ill health, along with relatively recent conditions such as long Covid.

We had helpful evidence on all of that from a range of organisations, such as the Royal College of Nursing and the Fire Brigades Union, whose representatives spoke about their members developing cancer, and also, as we have heard, from campaigners for footballers with head injuries. The NASUWT made the point that only 13 per cent of new claims are made by women. Therefore, there is no dispute about the need for change, but the question is how and when that change can and should come about.

I am a relatively recent member of the Social Justice and Social Security Committee, but it seems clear that transferring UK benefits from the DWP to Social Security Scotland is a major challenge in itself. The transfer process often takes longer than expected and, in this case, it seems that many files are still held entirely on paper, whereas previous transfers have involved digital records. I am persuaded that the first step has to be that transfer. Only once we are in full control of all the casework can we really look at amending the UK system for employment injuries. I hope that we can work towards a more inclusive and caring approach, but I think that we have to accept that all of that will take time.

Mark Griffin makes a fair point that we need to have appropriate experts, certainly including people with lived experience, feeding into the design of the new Scottish system. Apart from anything else, the IIAC cannot advise Scottish ministers, so we will need to find a solution to that.

Whether there should be a new advisory council or, perhaps, an existing body taking on extra responsibilities, is a pertinent question that will need to be answered. Personally, I have reservations about setting up yet another public body in a relatively small country such as Scotland, so I am not convinced that setting up the proposed council at this time is the appropriate next step.

When it comes to finance and the financial memorandum, we can argue about specific items, such as whether the fairly modest research budget of £30,000 per year is really sufficient. We heard that, at the UK level, much of the research is carried out by IIAC members in their own time, but that does not strike me as a satisfactory model for us to follow. Perhaps more seriously, we heard that the present UK system is very slow at acting on recommendations from the IIAC—for example, that has been the case with illnesses related to Covid.

We could set up our own advisory council immediately and then largely ignore its output, as the UK seems to do. However, that does not strike me as satisfactory. I want to see a much improved system in Scotland, which adapts quickly to new conditions such as Covid and to increased understanding of conditions around mental health.

Parliament knows that the finance committee has concerns about the number of framework bills—and their financial memorandums—which are mainly brought forward by the Government and which we are expected to examine. One of the key problems with such bills is that only the costs that pertain strictly to the bill are included in the financial memorandum, so even if it can be clearly seen that much larger costs will inevitably follow, those are not included. The National Care Service (Scotland) Bill is an example of that.

Today’s bill might not technically be a framework bill, but a similar problem arises. If we set up an advisory council and it starts churning out recommendations as to which new groups of people should receive employment injury assistance, the costs could rise and rise.

Morally, I agree that many more people than at present should be considered for the new EIA, and we should all work to make that happen. I also accept that such a new system might save money in the long run. However, we also have to live in the short term, with the financial constraints that are put on us. The money is just not there to increase payments substantially, however well deserved and needed they might be.

If we in Scotland are to be fairer than Westminster has been in paying people what they deserve and need, I am afraid that that money will not come from the DWP. Let us remember that, in this year’s budget, we increased social security spending by some £1 billion while most other budgets were being squeezed. We cannot afford to keep on repeating such increases.

In the longer term, I would hope that we could address this challenge. The trade unions gave evidence to the committee, and I pay tribute to the STUC and its proposals as to how we should raise more tax in this country. Like it or not, when we consider policy and legislation in Parliament, we need to take into account the likely costs in both the short term and the longer term.

Just this week, representatives of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have been in Edinburgh to carry out a review of the Scottish Fiscal Commission. They met both the Social Justice and Social Security Committee and the Finance and Public Administration Committee. One of the points that came up was that all subject committees in the Parliament, not just the Finance and Public Administration Committee, need to consider the financial impact of any changes that we are looking to make.

For all those reasons, I am afraid that I cannot support the bill. I am fully on board with the overall aims and direction of travel; however, I do not believe that creating an advisory council is the best place to start. I would also argue that we need to fully think through the inevitable costs that would follow on from such a bill, not just the costs that are narrowly defined within it.

Thank you, Mr Mason. My apologies again for attempting to slash your speaking time.


Roz McCall (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

I begin my contribution this afternoon by congratulating Mark Griffin on getting his bill to stage 1. I have met Mark Griffin in relation to the topic and I know how passionate he is about it. We could all hear that in his speech. I understand that the process can be somewhat cumbersome, and I appreciate the amount of work that is required to get to this stage, so I congratulate him and all who have been involved on what they have managed to achieve so far.

As a member of the Social Justice and Social Security Committee, which was tasked with scrutinising the proposal, I also place on record my thanks to the clerks for their diligent work on drafting such a comprehensive report and to everyone who came to give evidence.

As members will be aware, the bill aims to create an independent Scottish employment injuries advisory council, which would have three functions: to scrutinise regulations on employment injury assistance; to report on any matter relevant to EIA; and to carry out, commission or support research into any matter relevant to EIA. The bill would also mandate the membership and membership balance of the advisory council, including the representation of workers on the council.

In examining the bill and working through its initial stages, I think that all members of the committee kept an open mind and have based their conclusion on the findings. The committee heard evidence from trade unions and other stakeholders on the need for change. For example, evidence highlighted the current system’s unequal treatment of particular groups, with the STUC noting that the present system

“is inherently unequal and inaccessible and has a hugely disproportionate impact on women.”

It went on to say:

“Everything is gendered”,

from the

“lens that it is seen through, the industrial injuries that it covers and the accessibility to women of its processes. We need to think about how we can modernise and change that.”—[Official Report, Social Justice and Social Security Committee, 23 November 2023; c 14.]

The NASUWT also agreed that the current benefit is “unequal and discriminatory”, and I was shocked to hear that, up to December 2019, only 13.5 per cent of all new claims were made by women.

There was also strong evidence for the need to reform and modernise the way in which the industrial injuries scheme operates in Scotland, in particular who is eligible for EIA. For example, Unite the union emphasised the historical nature of the scheme and the need for a new system that is fit for a modern Scottish workplace and emerging industries, noting that

“The current system is out-dated, laborious and does not cover the myriad of new and existing diseases experienced by workers in the 21st century”.

In essence, its argument, and that of several other witnesses, that the model of work has changed significantly in the past 50 years is a compelling one.

We also heard that the current system is slow and ineffectual and that people are missing out on assistance that could positively impact their lives. Change is therefore needed, and I agree with the conclusions of the committee’s report, but the question is, what is the right way to secure that change? I am afraid that I do not believe that the bill is the right way to do it.

First, given that the Scottish Government is still to move forward with the transfer from the DWP, which will continue to administer industrial injuries benefit until at least March 2026, the advisory council would duplicate the work of the existing UK body. We heard evidence from Professor Macdonald that, if the advisory council were to examine the same issues as the UK body,

“There will be duplication of the research, which is wasteful, because the same diseases are occurring internationally. Why do we have to do everything ourselves?”—[Official Report, Social Justice and Social Security Committee, 16 November 2023; c 12.]

I agree whole-heartedly with that sentiment, as the legislation would establish a body that would broadly mirror the existing UK body. I find myself asking, if the UK body is not fit for purpose and slow to effect change, why would we want to duplicate those issues in a new Scottish body?

Claire Baker (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)

I recognise the member’s points about international research, but does she accept that there are particular challenges in Scotland, given our industrial background? We know that our figures are higher than those in the rest of the UK when it comes to workplace fatalities and other areas. I think that there are particular challenges in Scotland that an advisory council could be helpful in addressing.

Roz McCall

Although I accept that, I think that there are charities that can provide additional information and I am still not sure that moving forward with this body is the right way to go.

My main concern, however, centres on the fact that the bill is meant to deal with a benefit that does not yet exist—the EIA. The DWP will continue to deal with this area for at least another two years, and then the Scottish Government will launch a lengthy consultation process, which I hope will bring in additional information. The committee noted during its evidence taking that there is still not a definitive timescale for the completion of that consultation; however, I note that the cabinet secretary has mentioned the timescale not only in her opening comments but in response to interventions today. I look forward to that being put forward as a matter of urgency.

I acknowledge the good intentions of the bill. I have noted some of the evidence about the current system’s deficiencies, and I whole-heartedly accept the need for change. However, unfortunately, due to the Scottish Government’s inaction on putting forward a proposal on how it intends to deal with the EIA, I think that the proposed legislation is putting the cart before the horse. I accept that that is not Mr Griffin’s problem, but in my view it makes the bill unworkable and it risks duplication of the existing work. Therefore, on balance, I cannot agree to the principles of the bill at stage 1.


Marie McNair (Clydebank and Milngavie) (SNP)

In the interests of time, I do not plan to take any interventions. I have a lot to say.

I speak as a member of the Social Justice and Social Security Committee, in line with our report on the bill. I thank the committee clerks for their assistance with the production of our report. The evidence that we received from many experts, including trade unions, was invaluable in getting an illustration of how the current scheme has excluded so many and ignored the experiences of people who have been injured in the workplace, especially women. It is astonishing that that has been allowed to go on for so long.

I thank Mark Griffin for introducing the bill. I understand that his intentions are genuine and that he has done a lot of work on the bill. The effort that he has put in and the evidence that he has gathered have shone a considerable light on the significant failings of the UK-wide industrial injuries disablement scheme. It is a scheme that, despite its antiquity, has been left largely unreformed. It has been unresponsive and lacking in acknowledgement of the realities and experience of the emerging working environment over many years.

We now know that the scheme’s warehouse is full of paper files. That is no way to run a modern social security system that has dignity, fairness and justice at its heart. I am therefore supportive of any change that takes us on the right path to justice for the many who have been denied access to support. That is how I approached our evidence sessions on the bill.

As the MSP whose constituency covers Clydebank, an area plagued by the tragic legacy of asbestos-related health conditions, and as someone who has spent considerable time working with the Clydebank Asbestos Group, I have a particular interest in industrial injuries benefits and the need to ensure that the new benefit meets the values of fairness, dignity and respect. Every worker deserves to return home from work free of harm or injury. Speaking from the Clydebank perspective, I can say that that has unfortunately not been the case for many, as the historical use of asbestos in shipbuilding and in the built environment has led to asbestos-related health conditions, such as mesothelioma. I look forward to the introduction of the Scottish Government’s replacement benefit, employment injury assistance, to be administered by Social Security Scotland on our behalf.

The committee kept an open mind about the bill. It was difficult to weigh all the arguments that were presented to us. One main concern about the bill is whether the timing is appropriate, given the approach that the Scottish Government is currently taking to the delivery of new benefits.

Importantly, the Scottish Government needs to ensure the safe and secure transfer of benefits. That involves the use of a DWP agency agreement, which enables the DWP to continue to deliver the benefit in Scotland. As the Scottish Government pointed out, even once it introduces the Scottish version of a benefit, it does so with minimal change until the transfer of a case is complete, because the Scottish Government does not want to introduce inequality to the people who are transferred.

There are concerns, given the limited research budget, about whether there is sufficient expertise to sustain a statutory advisory council, because we heard that recruitment is an issue for the UK Industrial Injuries Advisory Council and the Scottish Commission on Social Security.

When recommending whether to establish a new statutory body, with all the costs that have been discussed, the committee has to be sure that the body can meet its aims. It is clear to me and members of the committee that major reform of the industrial injuries benefit is needed, but we are not convinced that the bill would secure that, because the scope to deliver the scale of the change that is required is years away. Although the committee fully considered the evidence and arguments for and against, the timing is, unfortunately, a major concern. At this point, the timing is wrong, so I cannot support the bill, because there is doubt that it will achieve its aims, particularly in times of fiscal constraint.

The evidence emphasises the need for expertise in guiding the way forward, and I welcome the commitment from the cabinet secretary that a stakeholder group will be set up. It is clear that expertise has not been listened to for so long. In summing up, will the cabinet secretary guarantee that groups such as Clydebank Asbestos Group will be included in the stakeholder group? The expertise and knowledge of such experienced people has long been ignored, and I am sure that that is part of the reason why we are inheriting this unjust and neglectful policy from Westminster.

On balance, the committee is not able to support the general principles of the bill. However, I note that the bill has helped to fully expose the lack of interest that the Westminster Parliament has shown in the issue. The fact that the legislation has been in place since 1948 yet remains mostly unreformed is a significant injustice. The UK Parliament has been asleep at the wheel, at best, and a denier of support to many people who, at the end of the day, were just doing their job. Workers need a safer environment and compensation and support when needed. How can the issue have been ignored for so long by Westminster Governments of all persuasions? However, the committee recommends to the Parliament that the general principles of the bill cannot be agreed to as it stands.


Richard Leonard (Central Scotland) (Lab)

I remind members of my trade union affiliations, which I have recorded as voluntary entries in the register of members’ interests.

Let me begin with that, because the Scottish Trades Union Congress has been convening in Dundee just this week. As recently as yesterday morning, it reaffirmed its backing for this bill, which this Government is planning to oppose this afternoon. The Professional Footballers Association Scotland and the Injury Time campaign are deeply troubled about neurodegenerative diseases among former professional footballers. The FBU is intensely alarmed about the carcinogenic exposure of firefighters. Union after union is gravely concerned about long Covid. As a result, the entire trades union movement in Scotland is united in demanding urgent action from this Government to tackle the deep and blatant inequalities of the present system of industrial injuries disablement benefit.

All the unions—all of them—see this bill as the decisive first step, and they are not alone. The Government’s own disability and carers benefits expert advisory group—established in 2017 to advise ministers on benefits, including employment injury assistance—also recommended that a Scottish employment injuries advisory council be set up, but that recommendation has never been implemented and the Government has wound up the expert advisory group.

Then there is the evidence to this Parliament from experts and practitioners, such as Dr Mark Simpson, interim co-chair of the Scottish Commission on Social Security, who told us that

“expertise in social security and expertise in industrial injuries are two quite distinct things.”

Dr Simpson was absolutely clear in his evidence that,

“if a body were to be set up on a statutory footing, with a formal requirement for it to be consulted, it would be harder for such expertise to be ignored.”—[Official Report, Social Justice and Social Security Committee, 9 November 2023; c 29, 38.]

What is this cabinet secretary’s response? It is a mixture of improper appeals, false pretences and moral evasions. The Government says that it intends to carry out a more wide-ranging public consultation of its own. Well, where is it? We have been promised a wide-ranging public consultation on employment injury assistance every year for the past five years, then we are told, “We don’t need legislation to get things done,” when the whole point is that nothing is being done.

We are then informed that there is now a plan to set up “a stakeholder group”, but such a group, if it ever sees the light of day, will be non-statutory, so it could be ditched at any time, just like the stakeholder group on disability and carers benefits was ditched.

Then, best of all, we are expected to believe that it is all too complicated, because here is a benefit that is not digitised but run from a paper system that is stored

“in a number of warehouses”.

We should remember that that is from a Government whose party’s very founding purpose is to create and then run, in a matter of weeks, an entire separate Scottish state. That must go down in the 90-year history of the SNP as the most risible excuse for inaction ever.

As for the “safe and secure transition” being a cause of further delay, as Anna Ritchie Allan of Close the Gap—which supports the bill—explained to Parliament, a “safe and secure transition” is code for, in her words,

“business as usual ... replicating a system that disadvantages women and increases the inequality ... they face”.—[Official Report, Social Justice and Social Security Committee, 23 November 2023; c 39.]

Questions have also been raised about the cost—the cost to the state and the cost to the Scottish Government of modernising the industrial injuries benefit system—but what about the cost to the individual worker? What about the cost to their families? What about the cost to them?

As for costs, the simple advisory body that the bill creates will help to prevent occupational injury and disease and so will help the national health service, will help local government social services and will help the welfare of workers, whose only aim is to be able to live a decent, dignified life.

This bill rests, literally, on the principle that an injury to one is an injury to all, which leads me to my final point. Anyone who looks at the incidence of ill health by occupation or of mortality by age must understand that we live in a class-based society, so what the Scottish Government is doing today is reinforcing all of those old inequalities, defending that old class system and turning its back on all of those injured, disabled working people in Scotland struggling in adversity—those who are denied justice by the present system.

That is what the Scottish Government is doing, and that is what all those SNP and Green MSPs will be doing tonight if they vote with the party whip and with the Tories to kill this bill at its very first stage. They will be letting down, they will be voting against and they will be betraying an entire class, and for that they should hang their heads in shame.


Maggie Chapman (North East Scotland) (Green)

I remind colleagues of my trade union membership, as recorded in my entry in the register of members’ interests.

I begin by paying tribute to Mark Griffin for all the work that he has put into his bill and the wider issues of support and compensation for people who are made unwell, injured or disabled at or by their work. I also thank the Social Justice and Social Security Committee for its detailed scrutiny of the bill’s proposals and for the report that it published earlier this year. I am sorry not to be a member of that committee, which is why I did not play a full part in that scrutiny, but I tried to follow the evidence sessions as best I could.

I also pay tribute to the many trade unions, other organisations and individuals who not only contributed to the committee’s scrutiny of the bill but, as Mark Griffin has outlined, have campaigned for years to have the issues that he outlined earlier properly recognised and addressed.

Scottish Greens believe that no one should suffer as a consequence of their work or because of an injury, illness or disability that happens in, or develops because of, their workplace. I think that that is something on which we can all agree. In our view, the extension of that belief is that people who do, unfortunately, suffer an industrial injury or develop an occupational disease should be appropriately supported and compensated.

I agree that we must reform and modernise the industrial benefits scheme that we have had in place for more than 70 years. We need to see significant improvements, some of which we have heard about already today, and I will highlight just a couple of them.

Members will be aware of the on-going DECON campaign by the Fire Brigades Union. Firefighting is now recognised by the World Health Organization as a carcinogenic profession. It is clear that we should recognise that and act not only to provide the best possible protections for firefighters as they do their important and life-saving jobs but to ensure that, if they are diagnosed with diseases that are a consequence of their work, they are appropriately supported and compensated. I ask the cabinet secretary to confirm, in her closing statement, a commitment to work with her colleagues in justice, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and the FBU to ensure that the future employment injury assistance system is available to firefighters.

I also ask the cabinet secretary to assure members that the following issues will be clearly addressed in the work that is to be undertaken in the coming months. The committee heard that current approaches to workplace health and safety often ignore women-specific occupational illnesses and injuries, so the employment injury assistance benefit must not be gender blind. The STUC and Close the Gap have clearly highlighted the fact that women are vastly underrepresented in the current industrial injuries disablement benefit system, accounting for only 16 per cent of those who claim IIDB. Occupational injuries and illnesses that are associated with women-dominated work such as social care and retail are often ignored, underdiagnosed, underresearched and undercompensated. Scotland’s EIA must not replicate that inequality and injustice.

As others have said, we want the system that we design for Scotland to be inclusive, supportive and effective. I do not envy those who have the task of digitising all the paper records that we have heard about, but I wish them well. I also hope that the conversations that must happen to ensure that the EIA system that we develop is fit for purpose can start and continue apace, so that we do not leave people waiting any longer than is absolutely necessary for the support that they deserve.

I again thank Mark Griffin for making us all more aware of the weaknesses in the current system of support for those with industrial injuries or occupational diseases and for the conversations that we have had about those issues in the past couple of years. He has ensured that the system that we end up developing in Scotland will be better than it might otherwise have been, and I thank him for that. I look forward to working with him, the cabinet secretary and others as work on the issue continues in the coming months.


Graham Simpson (Central Scotland) (Con)

I also congratulate Mark Griffin on getting his bill to this stage, because getting a member’s bill through the system is no easy matter. It is time-consuming and can be frustrating, so he has done really well. He must have been full of hope that his proposal might become law, until he read the committee’s report. A negative committee report has not always been the death knell for a member’s bill. I have certainly seen a couple that managed to get over that hurdle. There is an element of luck involved and certainly a lot of politics. There is always the risk that other parties will just reject a proposal because the member is not one of them—that should not happen, but it does.

Having listened to what has been said so far, I think that Mr Griffin is out of luck. He probably knows that. It is a pity, because at this stage of the proceedings we decide whether we agree with the general principles of the bill. The aim is to legislate

“to create a Scottish Employment Injuries Advisory Council, to provide for its functions in relation to employment-injury assistance, and for connected purposes.”

I will be honest. I did not ask to speak in this debate. I knew nothing about the bill until my name appeared on my party whips’ list, but I thought that, if they were going to get me to speak in a debate about something that has not troubled me previously, I would do Mr Griffin the courtesy of not falling back on the lazy way out by just asking what our position is.

After reading the bill, I therefore turned to the committee report, which was useful. It tells us that

“The Bill would create an independent Scottish Employment Injuries Advisory Council ... with three functions”,

namely to

“scrutinise regulations on Employment Injury Assistance ... report on any matter relevant to EIA”


“carry out, commission or support research into any matter relevant to EIA.”

It adds:

“The Bill also mandates the membership and membership balance of the Advisory Council, including the representation of workers on the Council.”

So far, so good. However, if we skip to the end of the report, we find the committee full of praise for Mr Griffin and his good intentions, but saying that it

“is not able to support the general principles of the Bill.”

Paul O’Kane, who is not in the chamber at the moment, dissented from that, although his Labour colleague on the committee, Katy Clark, appears not to have done so. I do not know why that was the case, but the question is how the committee, with the honourable exception of Mr O’Kane, arrived at such a conclusion and whether I agree with it.

My starting point is the benefit that Mr Griffin wishes his bill to deal with—EIA. It does not currently exist because, although the Scottish Government could have set it up, it has not done so, preferring instead to have its good friends in the DWP continue to administer industrial injuries benefits under an agreement that will run until at least the end of March 2026.

It is good to see Mr O’Kane back in the chamber. Perhaps someone will tell him how I was praising him earlier. The UK Government has its advisers—

Paul O’Kane

I am always grateful to hear that I have been praised when I have been momentarily absent from the chamber. However, I understand that he also referred to my colleague Katy Clark. I believe that she was absent on the day when we voted on the committee report. I mention that for clarity and for the record.

Graham Simpson

That is a useful explanation. It is a shame that she is also absent today, unless she is online. It would have been good to hear what she thinks.

Mr Griffin suggests that the Scottish Government has some of its own advisers if and when it gets round to setting up its own benefit in the area, or indeed in advance of that, in order to advise on how the benefit should operate here. The difficulty with all of this is that the Scottish Government is showing no urgency in wanting to do that. It seems content for the DWP—

[Made a request to intervene.]

Graham Simpson

I see that another intervention has been requested, but I am afraid that I would not get any extra time. If the Presiding Officer were to be generous, I would be happy to take the intervention, but I see that she is shaking her head. I say to Mr Griffin that I am really sorry.

The reality is that, if this was easy, the Scottish Government would have done it already. It would be shouting from the rooftops about its latest game-changer benefit. That is where the problem lies. My issue is not with Mr Griffin or his bill. It is just that the reality of the situation is that we could create a body that had nothing to do. Perish the thought. My guess is—

[Made a request to intervene.]

Graham Simpson

We will have to tell Katy Clark, if she is listening, that I cannot take her intervention. I do not have time.

My guess is that the cabinet secretary has no intention whatsoever of creating a new benefit any time soon. She will ask the DWP to carry on beyond March 2026. She will continue to promise to consult on how advice could be provided on industrial injuries and it will not lead anywhere.

We are a little over two years away from the next Scottish Parliament elections. Mr Griffin must know that nothing is going to happen between now and then. After that, who knows? Perhaps he will be in a position to change things. Sadly, for me, his well-meaning proposal will fall because it relies on a Scottish Government—

You must conclude, Mr Simpson.

—that is dysfunctional and dithering.

Bob Doris is the final speaker in the open debate.


Bob Doris (Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn) (SNP)

As deputy convener of our Parliament’s Social Justice and Social Security Committee, I had direct involvement in the scrutiny of the legislation that we are asked to consider at stage 1 this afternoon. In the first instance, I thank the member in charge of the bill and the team of dedicated people who will, no doubt, have supported Mark Griffin in the bill’s development, as well as everyone who gave evidence to the committee, in written and oral form. The Scottish Government must draw on the learning that we got during that evidence and from Mr Griffin, and use it when it introduces its own legislation.

There was much agreement in the committee that there is a real opportunity to reform and modernise the system of industrial benefits in Scotland. Not least, we heard powerful evidence that the current pan-UK system is widely considered to be highly genderised. There was clear agreement on the need to collect better quality data at a more granular workplace level and for there to be a far greater role for workers and their representatives.

Indeed, I wish that the committee could have looked in greater detail at how current structures operate. I would have liked to explore the role of the Health and Safety Executive within existing structures. I was therefore deeply disappointed that it refused to give oral evidence to our committee, although, eventually, it provided some written evidence—that situation was not entirely ideal, but I offer my thanks that it did so. However, I look forward to the Parliament’s having the power to compel organisations to attend. The Health and Safety Executive has a seat on the UK Industrial Injuries Advisory Council, so members will understand why I would want the HSE to appear at a Scottish Parliament committee. The situation was not acceptable.

One ambition for the employment injury advisory council that Mr Griffin has sought to establish that should be considered by the Scottish Government is the proactive and preventative agenda, which, in Mr Griffin’s bill, is dealt with mainly through research. More generally, there is a wider need for that, and more can be done in that area. We would all much rather prevent injury in the first place than have someone need to claim employment injury assistance. Any new system of data collection on workplace injuries, and any analysis and exploration of trends and recommendations that may emerge from that to address workplace and worker safety, must ensure key partnerships between employers and trade unions. Occupational health has a key role to play, as does the Health and Safety Executive—despite my comments—and many others.

At decision time, I will not vote the way that the STUC would like me to vote. I acknowledge that. However, I also acknowledge that the STUC would like the devolution to this Parliament of health and safety law and, as it has said just recently, employment law. That would give us all the tools that we need in this Parliament to deliver for workers in Scotland.

Much of the evidence that the committee heard revolved around how any Scottish system could evaluate and add a range of existing or new conditions for industrial injury—from long Covid to football-related dementia, and from Scotland’s health and care sector to our fire service. Maggie Chapman spoke eloquently about that. However, we need to be clear that Mark Griffin’s bill will not change who qualifies for any new employment injury assistance. Indeed, clearly and self-evidently, the benefit does not exist yet. I do not think that that was always clear when evidence was being heard at committee.

We also need to be clear that, even if the bill sought to widen the qualifying criteria for employment injury assistance, to do so would not be possible until we had the full and safe transfer of up to 150,000 paper files from the DWP, to be digitised and sent over to Social Security Scotland.

Much has been made of the timing of the introduction of a new Scottish benefit. On that front, I agree in part with Mr Griffin. We need certainty on case transfers and whether we will have a full, stand-alone Scottish benefit, when it will be operational and what it will look like. That is why I was pleased to hear that consultation on that is imminent. I think that the cabinet secretary would say more but did not want to disrespect the process around the bill.

There also appears to have been a chicken-and-egg quandary around the whole conversation. Do we set up a new employment injury assistance and then decide on the nature of any advisory council? Do we set up an advisory council and introduce a new benefit?

Mark Griffin

A number of speakers have opposed the introduction of the bill on the basis that it comes before the introduction of the benefit. Will Mr Doris reflect on the fact that we were both on the Social Security Committee in the previous session, and that we introduced the Scottish Commission on Social Security to do that exact job, even though no benefits had been introduced by the Scottish Government at that point? There is no chicken-and-egg situation here. There is a precedent, which everyone in the previous session of Parliament supported.

Bob Doris

It is a wee bit different, because SCoSS now exists and the Government has to decide whether to use SCoSS or a new advisory council. We will therefore have to disagree on that one, although I get the point that Mr Griffin is trying to make.

The Scottish Government does not see it as a chicken-and-egg scenario. It wants to deliver both in tandem. I agree. I am pleased that the consultation will commence shortly. I put to the cabinet secretary that the Scottish Government should liaise closely with Mr Griffin, although he may be disappointed in relation to this afternoon. It should also give consideration to the membership for the statutory advisory council that Mr Griffin is seeking to set up in order to inform its advisory group that will advise on the formation of the new benefit. I am also clear that, for a new benefit, a statutory advisory council may need a different skills mix from the advisory group that sets up the benefit in the first place.

Although I will not support the general principles of this bill today, I hope that Scottish Government legislation will be introduced very shortly. That process will be much stronger because of the excellent efforts of Mr Griffin and his colleagues to bring us to this point.


Claire Baker (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)

I declare an interest as a member of Unite the union. I am pleased to close the debate on behalf of Scottish Labour and to recognise the work of my colleague Mark Griffin in progressing the bill to this stage. I recognise the coalition of trade unions that are supporting the bill, as well as organisations such as Asbestos Action, Scottish Hazards and the Fair Work Convention.

The Labour Party has a long and proud history of fighting to improve the rights of workers, and this bill is part of our on-going work to make Scotland and the UK a better and safer place to work. The proposed role for trade unions in the advisory council would be to make sure that the voices of workers are at the core of a fairer social security system, and I urge members to support that.

The current scheme of industrial injuries disablement benefits is outdated in the types of employment that it covers. It is rooted in the male-dominated heavy industries of the 1960s and 1970s and is not reflective of modern workplaces. It fails to serve a raft of workers and the related risks of their employment, including shift workers, care workers and firefighters.

There is a clear gender dimension to the proposals, which I welcome. That issue was also raised by Richard Leonard and Maggie Chapman when they talked about the evidence that Close the Gap gave to the committee. Women’s health and safety at work has been ignored for too long. Just 7 per cent of claims for industrial injuries benefits are made by women. The current scheme was designed for male-dominated workplaces, and it systematically ignores women with injuries from, or who are made ill at, work. Mark Griffin also proposes that the advisory council be gender balanced, which I welcome.

Although the Scottish Government will introduce employment injury assistance, it will not be able to seek advice from the UK Industrial Injuries Advisory Council. The gap that that leaves provides an opportunity to set up a council that will help to design and deliver the new employment industry benefit instead of replicating an outdated and failing system. Such a council would advise the Scottish Government on the occupations and conditions that the benefit should cover and would ensure that the voice of workers was at its core.

The council should not be part of a jigsaw but should be core to advising the Government on designing and putting together the new benefit. It would draw on those with lived experience of employment injuries and illnesses, alongside medical expertise, workers, employees and representatives. It would give workers a voice in the process. That is forward thinking, inclusive and in line with fair work principles.

As members will be aware, international workers memorial day will take place at the end of April. It is always an important reminder to us of the need to do more to protect workers and to ensure that families who have lost loved ones at work are able to secure justice. It has also recognised the impact of life-limiting industrial diseases.

In the year to March 2023, 26 people in Scotland died in workplace accidents. Each of them went to their place of work and never came home again, leaving behind a family in distress. Members might know that, in the previous parliamentary session, I sought support for a bill to change the law on workplace deaths by introducing accountability for companies that have been responsible for them. The Culpable Homicide (Scotland) Bill was debated at stage 1 in January 2021 but fell at that hurdle. In the three years since then, lives have continued to be lost in workplace accidents. Although I could not convince the Parliament of the competence of my bill, I believe that we should do more to understand the causes of fatalities and injuries at work. That is where Mark Griffin’s bill has relevance.

We know from HSE statistics that the rate of fatal injuries in Scotland is consistently higher than the rate in Great Britain. One possible explanation is that a greater proportion of workers in Scotland are employed in higher-risk industrial sectors or occupations. However, even if the figures are adjusted to take account of that, the rate for Scotland remains significantly higher. An advisory council on social security support could provide valuable information on workplace risk and safety, and it could help us to understand why we have a poor record in those areas. I appreciate that the HSE operates under the UK Government’s governance and has responsibility for workplace safety, but that does not prohibit the Scottish Government from working with high-risk sectors or from responding to the concerns of bereaved families or those who live with long-term health conditions. The inability to progress my bill on culpable homicide was a disappointment, but the absence of any progress in addressing the issues at its core, which are shared with the bill that we are now debating, is a far greater frustration.

The Scottish Government’s response to Mark Griffin’s bill is similarly frustrating in its failure not only to support a bill that seeks to help key workers and improve an outdated injury benefit system but to progress any alternative route in a timely manner. The Scottish Government has had the power to deliver employment injuries legislation since 2016, but we have made little progress. It says that it opposes Mark Griffin’s bill and that it intends to conduct a wider-ranging consultation on replacing the UK-wide scheme, only after which it will decide what a Scottish body would look like. Despite three years of promises, though, the consultation has yet to materialise. The cabinet secretary has said that it is imminent, but we have already waited a while and we need to see faster progress.

Part of the question that has been put today is whether having an advisory council is the right approach. I think that it is. There are particular challenges in Scotland. Although the bill would introduce a council that would be similar to the UK one, it sets out crucial differences that would modernise and reform the benefit. The Government’s reluctance to support the bill is about process and timing. Although the planned establishment of a stakeholder advisory group might be a step in the right direction—perhaps the cabinet secretary could say more about that in her closing remarks—without its being set up in statute, it would not be independent and it could easily be disbanded before any recommendations were advanced.

The Government must provide direction on how the new benefit in Scotland will be shaped. Although the cabinet secretary is clear that the Government will not support the bill today, how will her proposals address the inequality issues and the outdated nature of benefits so that the system will be able to meet the needs of women and respond to the impacts of the modern workplace on the health of workers, including in the cases of firefighters, teachers and footballers, which we have heard about today?


Miles Briggs (Lothian) (Con)

Mark Griffin will probably be feeling nauseous by now, but I start by paying tribute to him and his office for the power of work that he has put into the bill. I also thank everyone who has provided input to the deliberations and work of the Social Justice and Social Security Committee on his proposal.

As we have heard, there is consensus on the urgent need for progress to be made on what the benefit will look like in Scotland and the advice on it that will be developed. I continue to have a lot of sympathy for Mark Griffin’s proposal. In the previous parliamentary session, I worked with the Government on Frank’s law, the aim of which was to extend the provision of free personal care to people under 65. There was a lot of cross-party work in Parliament to reform our welfare system and, for example, to remove time limits for payments to people with a terminal illness. Just recently, I launched a consultation on delivering a right to palliative care. I hope that, across the Parliament, we can make progress on many of those issues.

It is important that today’s debate and the work done by Mark Griffin have helped to put pressure on the Scottish Government, which has achieved something. We will now—finally—have a consultation, and it seems that the Scottish Government will introduce a version of Mark Griffin’s proposals and will help to shape an employment injury assistance benefit in Scotland. We know that such cases will be some of the most complex, not only because of the number of case transfers but because of how those cases will be embedded in Social Security Scotland. We need to focus on that, too.

However, we cannot ignore the committee’s report, which was produced after cross-party examination of the bill. It is clear from the report’s conclusions that the committee continues to have significant concerns, which were not resolved during its scrutiny of the bill. The report notes that,

“Before it could recommend establishing a new statutory body, with its associated costs, the Committee would need to be certain that that”

would be able to

“deliver on its aims.”

As others have said, the fact that we do not have a benefit in place now means that the bill would put the cart before the horse in terms of our ability to deliver the benefit and advice.

Many members have touched on the fact that a benefit from an older industrial age will be dealing with a complex future, especially post-Covid. We will need to consider which cases will be eligible—for example, complex cases involving work-related long Covid for professionals in the national health service, in care homes and in teaching. Work is only just starting on that. We need proper scrutiny of whether such cases will be accepted and whether such people will be able to access the benefit in the future, and we all need to ensure that that scrutiny takes place. I hope that the work that the Government is now proposing will take place.

In its helpful briefing, the Royal College of Nursing Scotland states:

“With less than two years until the agency agreement with the Department for Work and Pensions ... is due to end, the Scottish Government need to publish its consultation setting out its proposals for the new EIA.”

We have heard today about a consultation. I hope that the cabinet secretary understands that there is a lot of cross-party interest in that work and that progress urgently needs to be made.

That should include details of the expert advisory group that will support the establishment of the new Scottish benefit and which health groups will be involved. In making my intervention earlier, I was interested in hearing which medical groups would be included in the expert group. I hope that the Government provides that information as soon as it can and that those of us who are interested and who want to input to the group will be included.

It is also important that we consider the organisations that are calling for action. I have met many of the organisations that have been highlighted, from Injury Time to Asbestos Action. A range of organisations have highlighted higher rates of cancer in many workforces, including among our firefighters and Scotland’s industrial communities. It is important, therefore, that those organisations are also at the table. I completely accept the work that Mark Griffin has done with unions to make sure that their voices are heard—that is incredibly important.

As many members on all sides of the chamber have said, it feels as though the bill has come too early, but it has also made the Government act. Mark Griffin should be pleased that he has made sure that the Government has listened.

It is clear from the debate that urgent action is needed. I hope that the cabinet secretary will update Parliament at the earliest opportunity. Given the result of the committee’s deliberations, Scottish Conservatives will not support the bill at stage 1. However, we certainly want work on delivering the advice that Scotland needs to establish the principles of the benefit to move forward at an urgent pace, and we will work across Parliament to achieve that.


Shirley-Anne Somerville

I thank all the members who have contributed to the debate. Again, I thank Mark Griffin for introducing the bill. We do not agree on the specifics, but the bill has undoubtedly shone a light on the issues that are inherent in the UK Government’s industrial injuries scheme. It has also helped to strengthen the voices of the stakeholders and those with experience of the current scheme. That context is vital as the Scottish Government undertakes its work on employment injury assistance, and I look forward to my continued work with the stakeholders and Mark Griffin.

In saying all that, however, I note that the bill, if it was passed, would tie our hands at an early stage of policy development by wedding us to replicating a fundamental part of the UK scheme. The committee has heard extensive criticisms of the UK Industrial Injuries Advisory Council and how it operates, including its lack of research capacity and the length of time that it took for recommendations to be implemented. I want to be clear that simply replicating that system in Scotland with the same criteria and within the same benefit framework would not improve the outcomes for the people who rely on the scheme or those who are currently excluded. It would not change eligibility, and it would not bring anyone who is not currently eligible any closer to receiving a payment. The point that Collette Stevenson made earlier is very important: the bill raises false expectations.

I have been clear that I do not oppose what is behind the idea of a Scottish advisory council, but defining its membership and functions in primary legislation before we have decided how to proceed with employment injury assistance does not make sense. We cannot decide on the kind of scrutiny, advice and oversight there should be for a benefit that is still at an early stage of development. The bill is about developing an advisory council for a benefit that does not yet exist. It can be used for developing the design of a benefit but, as I said earlier on, we do not need that to be done on a statutory footing. We can do that and we have done it in the past for all other benefits without such a requirement.

I am looking forward to launching in the coming weeks our consultation to outline our immediate intentions for the delivery of employment injury assistance. As I said to Jeremy Balfour, I chose to wait to see what happened in this debate because, if Parliament chose to move forward with the bill to stages 2 and 3, that would have a material impact on what is in the consultation. If Parliament decides to vote against the general principles of the bill, the consultation will arrive in short order.

Many members have asked about the new advisory group that I have mentioned. I will be clear about what we intend to do. There will be invitations to a range of people with lived experience, including trade union representatives in particular, to ensure that the voice of workers is very much at the core of the design. There will be invitations to disabled people’s organisations, welfare advisory groups and occupational health experts. Members, including Miles Briggs, have suggested some other avenues of membership that we might wish to explore. I am more than happy, through correspondence or in meetings, to discuss members’ thoughts on who should be in the group. The group can be undertaken in short order, once we have the consultation under way and completed. I reassure members that Clydebank Asbestos Group will—I hope—be part of it. It is certainly my intention to extend an invitation to it to join the group. Maggie Chapman and others mentioned firefighters. I absolutely commit to encouraging the voice of firefighters to be heard through the consultation and, indeed, the next steps. That is a very important part of the work that we need to move on.

We will, of course, return to what will be included in the benefit. However, it is important to clarify that, even if the advisory council was set up, it would not help to prevent workplace disease, because employment law and the Health and Safety Executive are matters that are reserved to the UK Government. Many people wish the bill to achieve things that, quite frankly, will not and cannot happen within the current set-up and with the powers that we have. However, we will continue, of course, to work on our consultation. Again, I give the reassurance that we will do so in short order.

Each of us in the chamber shares the ambition of improving the lives of disabled people in Scotland. That, of course, includes the people who are currently in receipt of industrial injuries scheme benefits and those who will, I hope, be able to apply for their replacement. I again thank Mark Griffin for his work on the bill. We do not agree with its general principles, but I reiterate my offer to work with him in the coming months as we work to deliver a better system for the people of Scotland.


Mark Griffin

I thank members from across the chamber for their contributions to the debate. I began my opening remarks by asking members not to turn their backs on the nurses, social care workers, teachers, shop workers, footballers and firefighters who are ill simply because of the job that they do. Members should know that our time is limited—we have less than a year to get this right. I ask again: if not now, when?

I will address some of the issues that colleagues have raised. In particular, I thank my colleagues on the Social Justice and Social Security Committee for their consideration of the bill and their extensive evidence gathering, and I thank those who responded to the calls for views.

I welcome the committee’s acknowledgement that

“the current system fails to deliver for women and workers from ethnic minorities or to take account of modern occupations and diseases”.

On the one hand, the committee concludes that the

“case has been made for giving an effective voice to workers, trades unions, employers and lived experience, including the lived experience of disabled people in the design and delivery of this new benefit.”

However, the final conclusion of the committee’s report seems to be at odds with that.

We have heard a range of objections as to why members cannot support the bill as it stands. The primary objection seems to be about timing: the argument that we somehow cannot introduce an advisory council in advance of a benefit being introduced. However, those who were members in the previous session of Parliament will know that, during the passage of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018, we introduced the Scottish Commission on Social Security to do that very job: to advise, scrutinise regulations and make recommendations to Government and Parliament on the new benefits that the Government was introducing. Parliament had no problem with setting up that commission in advance of any benefits being introduced.

We have heard specifically from the interim chair of the Scottish Commission on Social Security that it does not have the expertise in workplace illness and injury to do that job for the new benefit that will be introduced. It is clear, therefore, that there is a gaping hole in the legislative, scrutiny and advice landscape that the council would fill. It is not putting the cart before the horse—it is about getting people with lived experience, workers and their representatives, who know best about the illnesses and injuries that are happening right now in modern workplaces, around the table on a statutory footing, which cannot be easily dismissed by Government, to make recommendations on what the new benefit should look like. That is not out of place in the Parliament. As I said, we unanimously committed explicitly to that in the previous session of Parliament when we debated and passed the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018.

I am glad to hear that the Government is now providing a more definitive timetable for the consultation, and I look forward to seeing it. The cabinet secretary said that the reason why that had not happened so far was because of the Scottish child payment and Covid. However, I have here a timeline that shows the number of times that we have been promised that we would get a consultation. We were promised a consultation in June 2019—that was after the Scottish child payment was first proposed, in March 2018. There was an announcement on the acceleration of the Scottish child payment timetable in September 2019, but in April 2020 the Government still committed to a full consultation on EIA, seemingly having no issue with the impact of the work programme for the Scottish child payment.

Again, for the past two years, we have had repeated promises of a consultation on what a full package of proposals for an employment injury assistance system would look like. I am glad that we are finally getting to that point, but it has taken a member’s bill to get us here, and the Government has been promising us a consultation almost every year for the past five years.

Similarly, I welcome the announcement of an advisory group, as it is a tiny step in the right direction. However, as my Labour colleagues Paul O’Kane, Richard Leonard and Claire Baker have pointed out, advisory groups have come and gone. It is ironic that, while the disability and carers benefits expert advisory group, which was set up by Government, actually recommended that an employment injuries advisory council was set up, that group was disbanded before the recommendation ever saw the light of day. I am not filled with hope that an advisory group that can be disbanded at the whim of Government if it does not like the group’s recommendations will be able to fulfil the role of a statutory advisory council.

Shirley-Anne Somerville

I appreciate where Mark Griffin is coming from, but I will push back on that aspect, because he made a serious accusation when he said that we disbanded DACBEAG because we did not agree with its recommendations. It fulfilled its purpose in that it advised on disability and carers benefits. Its work was concluded, it moved on and we thanked it very much for its work. Mark Griffin’s assertion is very damaging and, quite frankly, an insult to everyone who was on DACBEAG for all those years.

Mark Griffin

If the cabinet secretary reflects and looks back at the record, she will see that, at no point did I say that that advisory group was disbanded because the Government did not agree with its recommendations. I simply made the point that advisory groups can be disbanded if the Government does not agree with their recommendations. Again, I make the point that that advisory group recommended that an advisory council was created, yet the group was disbanded before its recommendation was made good. That is a statement of fact not my opinion, and nor is it an assertion or a reflection on the work of that group, which clearly agreed with me on that point. The record will reflect that.

As I said in my opening remarks, the Scottish Government’s agency agreement with the Department for Work and Pensions states that we must have a full business case in place for how the Government will deliver the new employment injury assistance by March 2025, which is less than a year away. It seems to me to be clear that it is the right time to be talking about the introduction of an advisory council to support the work of the Government. It clearly needs that, since it has taken five years to get to the point of introducing a consultation on employment injury assistance. Rather than reinvent the wheel at a later date, it would make sense for the Government to accept the proposals that are contained in the recommendation.

Since I have until 5 o’clock, I will outline why I thought that the bill was important in the first place. I started thinking about the bill when we were in the grip of the pandemic. I was thinking about key workers: those who caught Covid during the pandemic and who had to go to work while we were able to stay safe at home. Some of those workers caught Covid in the course of their employment. Some developed long Covid and are still off work, while some have been dismissed and still cannot go back to the jobs that they love. We were on our doorsteps banging pots and pans and applauding those workers, but now we cannot give them a place at the table to advise on the benefit system that would give them the recognition for the conditions, illnesses and injuries from which they are still suffering because they bravely went out to work while we stayed safe at home.

The more that I looked at the shortcomings of the current employment injuries benefit system, the more it became apparent that the need for reform goes beyond simply recognising those who have long Covid. Men are 10 times more likely to be able to claim the existing benefit, despite women being far more likely to be working in the care-giving roles that can lead to musculoskeletal injuries. The entitlement absolutely fails half of the population. The only way that I can see to make it fairer is to have a modern, gender-balanced and representative advisory council that would take account of the workplace as it is now, rather than how it was in the last century.

I have a real fear that we are devolving an industrial injuries disablement benefit system that reflects the male-dominated workplaces of the past century, and that, as those workers and their representatives—predominantly men—who fought hard for recognition of the illnesses and injuries that affected them sadly die, the entitlement to the benefit, if unreformed, will die with them. I have a fear that we will see the entitlement being removed from the social security landscape unless we update the entitlement and eligibility criteria now. That goes to the heart of why I introduced the bill.

To update those criteria, we must have the voices of lived experience—of workers and their representatives—around the table to design the system and make recommendations to the Government on eligibility, prescription and a range of other issues. The bill represents an opportunity to put the voices and lived experience of workers at the centre of the design and delivery of the benefit. They should be entitled to it, and I will not give up until those voices are heard and acted on.

Marie McNair

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Just before I spoke in the debate, I failed to mention that I am a member of the trade union Unison. I would be grateful if the Official Report could be amended to reflect that.

Thank you, Ms McNair. Your comments will have been recorded.

That concludes the debate on the Scottish Employment Injuries Advisory Council Bill at stage 1.