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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Meeting of the Parliament 28 April 2020

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Covid-19 Legislation, Health (Covid-19), Transport (Covid-19), Topical Question Time, First Minister’s Question Time, Business Motions, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, Point of Order


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon, colleagues. Before we start, I remind members of the social distancing rules that are in place in the chamber and throughout the campus. Although I am sure that you are all aware of them by now, please be careful to keep your 2m distance, particularly when you are leaving and entering the chamber.

The first item of business is, as it always is on a Tuesday, time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader today is Mr Iain Stewart, executive director of the Edinburgh Interfaith Association. Mr Stewart is joining us via a live audio link.

I happily join you today during these turbulent times, which are also, for our Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Baha’i, Pagan and Hindu friends, a happy holy season, which brings hope of positive change to come.

People are asking when things will return to normal. I do not want us to return to the way that things were before. Being in lockdown has brought us closer together as a society and as communities. The pandemic has shown just how fragile human life is, and how much we need one another. It has broken down preconceived barriers and brought together people of all different backgrounds and beliefs in solidarity.

It has made us stop and pause in our busy lives and reflect on what really matters. That is not material things but our relationships with our neighbours, friends and loved ones. As we clapped our appreciation for our national health service staff, we also exchanged greetings and support with our neighbours. “Sunshine on Leith” was also heard recently ringing from the open windows, uniting communities in Leith. I was heartened to see many Edinburgh interfaith community members join friends across Europe at our Covid-19 prayer vigil, which brought many much-needed comfort and support.

Faith communities have been doing their part alongside others in the battle against Covid-19—from local Muslim-owned shops in Falkirk and Edinburgh giving out free Covid-19 survival kits to the elderly, to churches, mosques, temples, gurdwaras, and synagogues doing their part by distributing vital food supplies. We are seeing an ocean of support and kindness spreading throughout the world, exemplified by 99-year-old war veteran Tom Moore raising more than £27 million for the NHS by completing 100 laps in his garden. Even in the townships of South Africa, gangs have called a truce and are now bringing food to struggling households in lockdown. In Jerusalem, we hear the story of the Muslim and Jewish paramedics who paused to pray together just after attending an emergency call-out.

The Pope, in his Easter address, said:

“Let us silence the cries of death, no more wars! Since we need bread, not guns.”

My prayer is that coronavirus teaches us that we are one human race, and that caring for one another, for the most vulnerable, the poor, the elderly, the sick, and our fragile world, from this holy season onwards, becomes the number 1 priority and part of the positive change.

Thank you very much, Mr Stewart, for joining us remotely this afternoon.