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Scottish Parliament backs 'period poverty' bill

Monica Lennon, image credit: Holyrood Magazine

Scottish Parliament backs 'period poverty' bill

The Scottish Parliament has emphatically backed the general principles of Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon’s Period Products Bill, with 112 votes for and one abstention.

The bill, which proposes to provide free period products in Scotland on a universal basis, will now move to stage two, where it will be subject to proposed amendments.

Initially, Scottish Government ministers had opposed the bill, due to concerns around cost and deliverability. However, last week the government u-turned, with Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government Aileen Campbell declaring her support for the legislation.

Local Government and Communities Committee convener James Dornan abstained from voting, after the committee had previously raised concerns over financing.

During a debate on the bill in the parliament on Tuesday, Campbell raised issues around the costings, saying there was too much of a disparity between Lennon’s annual costing of £9.7m and the Scottish Government’s estimate of £24.1m.

However, Campbell also told parliament it needed “to pull out all the stops and work hard, collectively, collaboratively... to enable our country to come through this and set an example that the world wants to follow, so that we can secure a legacy for generations to come”.

Scottish Greens health and sport spokesperson Alison Johnstone said: “This is a social justice issue, it's an equalities issue, it's a right issue. It's estimated a woman over her lifetime will spend approximately £5,000 on period products, being financially penalised for a natural bodily function is not equitable or just.”

Johnstone called for the principle of access to be embedded in the legislation and said it must include access for all people who menstruate, including “older women, trans and non-binary, disabled women, women for whom English isn't their first language, and refugee women”.

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