Mark has urged the UK government to act urgently to enable a prisoner transfer to take place to allow Mohammad Asghar to return to Scotland who was recently shot and badly injured in prison - by a policeman.
Mr Asghar is a 70 year old man from Edinburgh, with a history of mental illness, who has been sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy.
“Mohammed Asghar is seriously ill and there are now real fears for his safety after he was shot by a policeman recently while in prison.
“The Scottish Government has now said it is prepared to agree to a prisoner transfer agreement and a petition calling for his release has been signed by 68,000 people. This is a potential way forward which would allow him to be brought back to Scotland.
“I hope that the UK government will respond positively to this suggestion, and approach the Pakistan authorities to make this possible.”
At Business Questions today in the House of Commons Mark raised the issue with William Hague, now Leader of the House but previously Foreign Secretary.
Mark's question and William Hague's answer were as follows:
Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab/Co-op): The right hon. Gentleman will be aware from his previous role of the case of Mohammad Asghar, a 70-year-old man from Edinburgh who was sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy. Recently, Mr Asghar was severely injured in prison after being shot by a policeman. The Scottish Government have now indicated that they might be prepared to agree to a prisoner transfer, which could be a way forward. Will the Government listen sympathetically to that proposal and arrange for a Minister to issue an oral or a written statement to give us an update on the case?
Mr Hague: I do recall that very disturbing case, and the hon. Gentleman is quite right to raise it in the House and draw our attention to it again. I will have to refer his question to my right hon. and hon. Friends at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and ask them to respond to him and to look at the idea that he has just promoted.
Mark has previously raised Mohamed Asghar’s case a number of times in Parliament and with the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary as well as the Governor of the Punjab where Mr Asghar is being held.
Mark has urged the UK government to act urgently to enable a prisoner transfer to take place to allow Mohammad Asghar to return to Scotland who was recently shot and...
Speaking in a debate at Westminster on the proposals for further devolution of all the three main UK-wide parties, Mark highlighted the need for them to command the support of as wide a spectrum of opinion as possible in order to reunite Scotland after the referendum.
Mark said: “Further devolution to the Scottish Parliament must now go ahead: the referendum saw division and in order to achieve a lasting settlement as further powers are devolved we should seek as wide a consensus as possible.
“It also engaged people in politics as the turnout testified and we must build on that as consultation begins with the Scottish people, Parliament and civil society organisations here in Scotland.
“We also need a constitutional convention for the whole of the UK: yes, to address issues like the role of MPs representing English constituencies but also others like reform of the House of Lords and address the alienation from the political process that so many people feel.”
You can find Mark’s speech in full here and the debate as a whole here.
The proposals of all of the main political parties represented in the Scottish Parliament were published on Friday (10th October) by the independent Commission chaired by Lord Smith. You can see them here.
The proposals of the three main UK-wide parties were set out again in a UK Government Command Paper on Monday which you can find here. The timetable for the process of further devolution can be found here.
In addition to the debate yesterday there will also be an Adjournment debate on Thursday this week led by Gordon Brown.
Speaking in a debate at Westminster on the proposals for further devolution of all the three main UK-wide parties, Mark highlighted the need for them to command the support of...
Mark has backed a call by Scottish Labour MPs, MSPs and the rail union, the RMT, for the retendering of the ScotRail and Caledonian sleeper franchises to be postponed in the light of the timetable for the devolution of new powers to the Scottish Parliament which has now been published.
Gordon Brown has proposed that the new devolved powers should include further devolution of powers over rail transport.
The Government is to publish the proposals of each of the 3 main UK parties by 30th October and the Scottish people, civil society in Scotland and the Scottish Parliament will then be consulted on them.
The full timetable can be found at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmagenda/fb141013.htm
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But, a decision on the company to operate the Scotrail franchise is due to be announced this month with the franchise to start in April 2015 and to run for the next 10 years.
“The proposals for further devolution include new powers covering rail transport and in the light of that I am calling on the Scottish Government to postpone the retendering of the ScotRail and Caledonian sleeper franchises.
“That would mean that once the powers are devolved the Scottish Government will be free to decide whether it wishes to run rail services in the public sector rather than continuing with privatisation.
“The new powers should enable the Scottish people to make a real choice about the kind of society we are and, on rail as on other issues, the Scottish Government should not make that decision for us before we are able to.”
Mark has backed a call by Scottish Labour MPs, MSPs and the rail union, the RMT, for the retendering of the ScotRail and Caledonian sleeper franchises to be postponed in...