Patrick Harvie speaking at the Scottish Green Party conference

Scotland is set to introduce free bus travel for asylum seekers, the Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie has said. Harvie – the Scottish Government minister for zero carbon buildings, active travel and tenants’ rights – announced the policy at the Scottish Green Party taking place in Dunfermline this weekend.

Speaking to the conference, Harvie said: “Some of the most vulnerable people in Scotland are those who are seeking asylum. And there has been an effective and widely-supported campaign to highlight just how difficult it is for those members of our communities to access transport.”

He went on to say: “So I am really delighted to be able to announce today that we have agreed that the next Scottish budget will provide £2m to allow asylum seekers resident in Scotland to access free bus travel.”

Harvie then said: “Making this a reality will take time. And it also means carefully considering any potential negative consequences for people that we are trying to support, in light of the hostility we know they face from the UK Government. 

“But we now have a firm commitment to work through the necessary changes to achieve that end.”

Harvie also used his speech to criticise the Tory government in Westminster’s policy on asylum and migration. He told the conference: “We’ll need to step up pressure as well on the UK Government – whether the current one or the next one, to do the right thing – to stop obsessing about cramming people who are seeking asylum on barges and instead help them freely travel on buses.”

The Scottish Government has already introduced free bus travel to young people under the age of 22, an imitative the Scottish Greens secured as part of entering government with the SNP. Harvie called the policy “truly transformative” in his speech to the Scottish Greens conference.

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