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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 23 February 2021

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Point of Order, Business Motion, Covid-19, Point of Order, Business Motion, Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3, Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill, Decision Time, Scotland’s Railways


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Good afternoon, colleagues. As we do every Tuesday, we begin our business with time for reflection. I am delighted to say that our time for reflection leader today is the Right Rev Dr Martin Fair, who is the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Good afternoon, Moderator.

The Right Rev Martin Fair (Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland)

Thank you, Presiding Officer. I extend the warmest greetings of the general assembly to everyone who is gathering in the chamber and online.

Three weeks ago yesterday, I listened with particular interest to the First Minister’s daily briefing and to the Covid statistics that she announced. My wife’s dad had died on the Saturday, in a care home, having contracted the virus. I guess that I just wanted to hear the numbers and to think that Mickey was included in them. What I would really have liked would have been for the First Minister to actually mention him by name—if she had given the total number of those who had died and then said, “And, of course, that number includes Mickey Wiley.”

Of course, that is a daft notion. I understand that. Yet how vital it is—not just important, but vital—that we never forget that behind every number is a name, and that every statistic is a somebody. I cannot put into words how devastated my wife was to lose her dad in those circumstances, without having been able to visit him. I guess that the same is true in all the other similar cases.

If that is true for Covid deaths, it is also true for all the other times when we announce numbers as part of our national record keeping. “Just another” drug death is someone’s precious son or daughter—someone who started primary school with all the potential in the world, who could have thrived and who had a name. Our hospital waiting lists name the people who are waiting for referral to a cancer specialist or a mental health service. Every line on every list is a life. We have statistics relating to children living in poverty and documenting the number of families using food banks. Behind every statistic is someone special.

Everyone matters. Names matter. When we meet someone for the first time, we tell each other our names. We get annoyed with ourselves when we can picture a person but cannot remember their name.

In the book of the prophet Isaiah, we read this:

“The Lord says, ‘I have called you by your name and you are mine. Do not be afraid for you are precious in my sight.’”

We all matter in the sight of God. Even the least of us is precious to him. Let it be that Scotland is a country in which everyone matters and in which we remember that behind every number, there is a name.

The Presiding Officer

Thank you for joining us, Moderator. Please accept our apologies for not being able to have you join us in person today.

The next item of business will be consideration of business motion S5M-24213, in the name of Graeme Dey, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, which sets out a revision to business.