The Ure Elder Fund for Indigent Widow Ladies
Since the Scottish Parliament started business in 1999 it has passed ten private Acts. The Parliament has a special private bill procedure. As each private bill is introduced to further the private interests of the bill's promoter objections are permissible and it is for Parliament to arbitrate between promoters and objectors.
Most of these private Acts have related to transport developments, including the Airdrie-Bathgate Railway and Linked Improvements Act 2007, Edinburgh Airport Rail Link Act 2007, Edinburgh Tram (Line One) Act 2006, Edinburgh Tram (Line Two) Act 2006, Glasgow Airport Rail Link Act 2007, Stirling – Alloa – Kincardine Railway and Linked Improvements Act 2004, and Waverley Railway (Scotland) Act 2006. A couple relate to development issues (Robin Rigg Offshore Wind Farm (Navigation and Fishing) (Scotland) Act 2003 and the National Galleries of Scotland Act 2003) and the last relates to the transfer of assets from a statutory charitable trust, the Baird Trust Reorganisation Act 2005.
The Scottish parliament is currently considering the Ure Elder Fund Transfer and Dissolution Bill. This relates to the Ure Elder Fund for Indigent Widow Ladies, which was established in 1906. The fund was established on the death of Isabella Elder – a philanthropist who laid out a public park (Elder Park) for the people of Govan and established a School for Domestic Economy and built and financed the Elder Cottage Hospital and Elder Free Library in the area. Mrs Elder had been an advocate of women's education gifting North Park House to Queen Margaret College – the first college to provide higher education to women in Scotland. In 1890 she agreed to finance courses of study at the college's new School of Medicine. The QMC subsequently merged with Glasgow University, and in 1894 its medical school produced Scotland's first women graduates in Medicine.
The fund allowed for an annual grant of £25 to impoverished widows resident in Govan or elsewhere in Glasgow and while this would be worth £2,300 in modern prices the restriction remains in place today and therefore to enable the trustees to carry out the aim of providing assistance and relieving poverty today the trustees are promoting a bill to lift the payment cap and widen eligibility to receive help.
This is the first private bill of the third session of the Scottish Parliament.