The first week back at Westminster saw some alarming developments for all who care for the Refugee Convention and the refugees it protects. It seems the government is using the arrival of increased (but still, in the broader scheme of things, infinitesimally small) numbers of small boats across the channel as an excuse to undermine domestic legislation protecting refugees. I don't believe for a minute it the mooted "fairer borders bill" will be anything of the sort. Rather, based on what was said this week it will be about empowering the government to kick out more refugees before they have the chance to properly make a claim.
As the UK Parliament returns today, as well as Coronavirus and the economy on the agenda, Brexit will once again also be a huge concern. Over the summer the negotiations between the UK and EU on future trade and co-operation seem to have stalled – meaning we risk having no agreements in place with the EU when the Brexit transition period runs out at the end of December. A “no deal” or even a basic deal would cause massive problems for jobs and security.
In the meantime, the UK government continues to push through Brexit legislation which many believe risks undermining food standards and grabs powers for Westminster which should be with the Scottish Parliament.
I will, of course, continue to oppose any dilution of food standards and any ‘power grab’ on the Scottish Parliament.
For many people across Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East, the last four or five months will have been among the most challenging and even heart-breaking you have ever faced. My sincere condolences go out to every single family who has lost someone because of coronavirus, or who has suffered ill health.
Many more will be struggling financially because of lockdown. While very helpful support measures have been put in place, such as furlough and the self-employed income support scheme, I know many more have fallen between gaps – the excluded – and have been left with little or no income. Others will have lost income by having to isolate; and others still will have lost their job outright.
Much of our work in recent weeks has involved supporting constituents trying to access support, and we will continue to do as much as we can to help. We also continue to make the case for further support to be offered by the chancellor, and to ensure that existing support schemes are not switched off too soon. We need to be bold in supporting an economic recovery – but ensuring we build back towards a fairer and greener economy. So far proposals from the UK government have, in my view, fallen way short.
I'm backing my @theSNP colleague @EmmaHarperMSP's proposals for a Members' Bill to tackle incidents of dogs attacking livestock, a serious issue which affects farmers in my constituency and right across Scotland. Learn more here: www.emmaharpermsp.scot/livestock-worrying/
A massive well done to the Cumbernauld Colts who are donating a total of £4000 to Glasgow City Mission, Simon Community and Hope for Glasgow. The Club raised the money by doing their #ColtsSleepout event just before Christmas.
The cheques will be handed over tomorrow night, Tuesday 26 February 2019, 7.30pm at Broadwood.
For more information please visit: http://www.cumbernauld-colts.com
I was gifted this hand-crafted green heart from my young constituent, Finlay, who is a member of the Eco-Group at Milton of Campsie Parish Church. They are taking part in The Climate Coalition's#ShowTheLove campaign to highlight the impact of climate change on the people, places and things that they love.
I support a net zero future where we stop contributing to climate change as soon as possible.
Visit www.theclimatecoaltion.org/show-the-love for more information.
Many from the ME community have voiced concerns about health assessors displaying an insufficient understanding of ME and not properly applying the assessment criteria. These factors, combined with tests which often leave a patient exhausted for weeks afterwards, mean that we would like to see assessments become much more accessible and accurate for those with ME.
If you are a constituent and have had such an experience please do let me know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. These cases will be raised with the Minister.
It would be helpful if you used the subject heading “DWP Concerns for people with ME”.
It's time for a better deal for Scotland and its farmers. As part of the Immigration Bill Committee, I heard a range of organisations give their views on the current and future UK immigration system, and the proposal to end free movement. The National Farmer's Union Scotland was one of many organisations championing free movement of people and the benefits it brings, and opposing the Tories' future immigration system, stating that it will not work for farmers in Scotland.
This the case for a range of businesses and industries in Scotland, yet the Scottish Secretary will not argue for a better system for Scotland.
Each local authority in Scotland is obliged to publish a local development plan, setting out their local planning policy and how they earmark certain areas for use in the coming years. North Lanarkshire have published their modified plan and it is now open for consultation and I would encourage people from across Cumbernauld and Kilsyth to take part to let the Council know what they think. The consultation is open until 5th April. Details can be found at the following link:
Very many constituents and millions of people across the UK have been badly hit in the pocket by the UK government's three year freeze to many social security payments - and that was on top of 3 years where increases were restricted to 1%.
Ending the freeze THIS YEAR, instead of next, would see many get a desperately needed boost to their inomes. The UK government has already saved more from the freeze than expected - so it has no excuse for continuing to punish the least well off.