FOLLOWING a week’s recess, the parliament got right back to business by launching the British Sign Language (BSL) National Plan and passing the Scottish Government’s ban on fracking in Scotland on Tuesday.

The BSL National Plan, announced by Minister for Childcare and Early Years Mark McDonald MSP, aims to integrate the use of BSL into every element of daily and public life and is one of the first initiatives of its kind in the UK. 

The strategy hopes that overcoming the language barrier will lead to more inclusion for deaf people, especially in education, and further shows the SNP government’s commitment to making Scotland the best country to grow up, work and live in.

Mr McDonald’s announcement was followed by the chamber debate on fracking in Scotland which saw a united parliament pass the ban – except for the Tories who have effectively criticised the SNP for listening to the opinions of the Scottish population. 

They will deny this of course, but considering the government’s decision is evidence-led by research and public opinion as 99 per cent of Scots indicating that they oppose fracking in a recent consultation, the Tories are ultimately ignoring the people of Scotland’s views.

More so than this, they’re clearly willing to place the apparent economic benefits of fracking before the feelings of Scots, never mind disregarding the environmental impact it would have on the planet and Scotland’s communities. I’m pleased then that the remaining parties joined with the SNP and, most importantly, the people of Scotland to support the move to ban fracking on Scottish soil.

During portfolio questions on Wednesday, I asked the Minister for Local Government and Housing Kevin Stewart MSP, whether talks between the Scottish Government and NUS Scotland regarding protecting students from exploitative private rental agreements have occurred. 

At conference I highlighted this cruel and harmful practice and a resolution was passed calling on the Scottish Government to introduce primary legislation making it an offence to obtain ‘Sex for Rent’. 

I will continue to highlight this appalling situation that some people are finding themselves in.

During my evenings I also hosted two events in parliament this week. The first celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus programme, pictured, which has seen more than nine million people benefit from the opportunities it offers. 

Secondly we recognised the work of nurture groups in schools supporting children with social, emotional and behavioural needs across Scotland. 

Both events enabled me to raise awareness, celebrate and learn more about these programmes.