Hello and welcome to my January Parliamentary report, which offers some snapshots of my activities over the past month as your MP for Gordon.
This month I've raised important issues in Westminster, such as the need for improved electricity and telecoms network resilience, as well as the need to review the current hurdles when it comes to asking for support from the armed forces. I also spoke on the SNP Censure Motion regarding the Prime Minister, which took place before news broke of the 'partygate' scandal in Downing Street.
If my team or I can assist you in any way, please call 020 3545 2236 or email [email protected] to get in touch.
As we look forward to 2022, I hope you and your family had a very merry Christmas and my best wishes for the New Year. I look forward to continuing to work hard as your voice in Westminster over 2022
1st December: Storm Arwen
On 1st December during a debate at Westminster on Storm Arwen, I took the opportunity to praise the fortitude of all those who had been without power, and called on the UK Government to address how power & telecoms providers can be made to improve infrastructure resilience. Listen to my Times Radio interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woVfMvpq0G4
Storm Arwen: Scottish & Southern Energy Networks will reimburse customers for any additional food and accommodation which had to be paid for as a result of the storm. If this affects you, please submit your claim and receipts to [email protected]
Compensation paid will reflect the time customers spent without power. The worst affected customers are being prioritised with cheques being issued as quickly as possible
6th December: Military Aid to Civilian Authorities (MACA)
I asked UK Minister Greg Hands' whether he would review the criteria which currently must be met before the UK Government allows military support to be given to civilian authorities. Despite his worse than useless answer, this must be revisited so that during future incidents like Storm Arwen, the military can be deployed earlier on when it is clear they can have the greatest impact helping civilian authorities. Watch more: https://www.facebook.com/RichardThomsonMP/videos/4420498841390489/
3oth November: Censure Motion on the PM
I spoke during a censure motion tabled by the SNP in relation to the conduct in office of the Prime Minister. Those in power should be held properly accountable for their actions. In the short time available to me, I took the chance to highlight just a small number of examples of the Prime Minister's behaviour which render him unfit for the office and responsibilities he holds:
I said: “This Government clearly think the rules do not apply to them; it is one rule for the Government and another rule for everybody else. It comes from the top, led by a Prime Minister who clearly does not think that there are any rules at all or that if there are, they should not apply to him.” Watch more: https://twitter.com/RThomsonMP/status/1399288165614108673
15th December: Question to the Secretary of State for Scotland
The UK Government's sidelining of the Acorn Carbon Capture project in Peterhead and the 15,000 jobs it would have brought to the North East is, frankly, shameful. I asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether Professor Stuart Haszeldine was wrong to tell a Scottish Parliament committee that Acorn's 'reserve bidder' status brought no advantages, as it only meant “a lot of meetings” and a requirement to “run on the spot with very little or no funding”.
Unsurprisingly, the Secretary of State wouldn't say... Watch here: https://twitter.com/RThomsonMP/status/1471174393355288588
Good Morning Ulster: The PM's Christmas parties
I said: “In order to lead through this crisis, we need people with trust, competence and integrity. The Prime Minister has shown himself to be bereft of all these things.” Here more: https://mobile.twitter.com/RThomsonMP/status/1469239566846631936
16th December: Transport and Logistics: Labour Shortages
Question to the Secretary of State for Transport: What recent discussions he has had with the Home Secretary on tackling labour shortages in the transport and logistics sectors? Read his response: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2021-12-16/debates/E4D8457A-E672-4F4A-85F3-5FA6D172AEF2/details#contribution-6A4ADA7A-CFB8-43DF-9124-43C2D033B54A
Blue Badge Scheme
Asked 13th December: Question for Department for Transport
"To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent progress has been made in negotiations with EU countries that have not yet confirmed recognition of the UK Blue Badge Scheme in their jurisdiction; and what estimate he has made of the timescale for the conclusion of those negotiations."
Seed potatoes: Scotland
Asked 13th December: Question for Scotland Office
"To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, pursuant to the Answer of 18 November 2021 to Question 73993 on Seed Potatoes: Scotland, what new markets his Department has identified for Scottish seed potato exports which were not previously available."
Across the Constituency
Meeting with Hilton Aberdeen TECA
I met with Mark Leyland, General Manager of Hilton Aberdeen TECA to discuss current hospitality issues and enjoyed a tour of their fantastic hotel, which is next door to the P&J Live arena and Aberdeen Airport.
December 3rd: Overton and Berefold
On December 3rd I visited Overton and Berefold - an area that only had electricity restored the night before. It was good to hear residents' experiences face to face before engaging in discussions with representatives of the Local Resilience Partnership later that day.
In the News…
MP and MSP raise concerns with bank bosses over Ellon branch closure – Grampian Online December 13th 2021 - https://www.grampianonline.co.uk/news/mp-and-msp-raise-concerns-with-bank-bosses-over-ellon-branch-260031/
MP welcomes a step forward for maintaining access to cash in communities – Grampian Online December 20th 2021 - https://www.grampianonline.co.uk/news/north-east-mp-welcomes-a-step-forward-for-maintaining-access-260656/
MP: ‘Europe needs our Scottish seed potatoes’ – Potato News Today December 17th 2021 - https://www.potatonewstoday.com/2021/12/17/mp-europe-needs-our-scottish-seed-potatoes/
This time last year we hoped that the sacrifices made over the previous 12 months would allow us a less restrictive 2021. While in many ways that’s just what happened, the price of that freedom is constant vigilance, particularly against new variants of Covid-19.
The decision to bring back some restrictions this December wasn't easy but has been aided by a £100m package for business from the Scottish Government. Frustratingly, the Scottish Government depends on the UK government increasing spending for England before Scotland can access additional financial resources.
Another focal point of this year was COP26. If anyone thought climate change doesn't affect the North East, then Storm Arwen has shown us evidence to the contrary. COP26 itself was a mixed bag, but real progress can be made provided governments keep their promises. Scotland was one of the first nations to declare a climate emergency and has ambitious net-zero future goals, which can build on our already meeting 97% of electricity requirements from renewable sources.
Watch my end of year review here: https://fb.watch/aiMDxm25w0/
Richard Thomson MP
Email – [email protected]
Website – www.richardthomsonmp.com
Call – 020 3545 2236
Address - Unit F6 Enterprise Centre, Aberdeen Energy Park, Exploration Drive, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen, AB23 8GX