Hello and welcome to my February Parliamentary report, which showcases a range of my activities throughout January as your MP for Gordon.
Rising energy prices are causing concern for us all, as is the general rise in the cost of living. Meanwhile, the 'Partygate' scandal continues to dog the UK Government, while the farming community looks set to find itself on the end of a frankly daft rule change about the use of 'red diesel' at the hands of the Chancellor.
With the recent storms, I also want to take this opportunity to express my thanks to the services and the volunteers that supported our communities.
If my team or I can assist you in any way, please call 020 3545 2236 or email [email protected] to get in touch.
11th January: Downing Street Parties
The UK Government continues to be paralysed by 'Partygate' and the evident rule-breaking that was taking place amongst the Prime Minister and some of his closest aides. People made enormous sacrifices during the pandemic to keep others safe and to play by the rules, so to find that the Prime Minister didn't is galling. Honesty and integrity matter in politics - that's why I'm clear that the Prime Minister must resign.
Watch my speech here: https://www.facebook.com/RichardThomsonMP/videos/2287017071440262
Listen to my radio interview here: https://www.facebook.com/RichardThomsonMP/videos/251455530461824
"I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if there was more information to come... There will almost certainly be more to come and none of it good" - Richard Thomson MP
31st January: Sue Gray Report ‘Update’
My postbag and inbox have been filled with correspondence from constituents expressing their fury at the Prime Minister's behaviour. In response, the Prime Minister has promised changes to the way that Number 10 bureaucracy works. However, it's not a new 'Office of the Prime Minister' that we need - it's a new Prime Minister in office.
“The Prime Minister said in his statement, “sorry for the things we…did not get right” and, “sorry for the way this…has been handled”, which is a generic non-apology that will mean absolutely nothing to anyone who heard it. What I and millions of others want to hear is: apart from getting caught out in all of this, what is the Prime Minister personally sorry and genuinely regretful for in his own conduct?”
20th January: Lawfare and UK Court Systems
I took part last month in a cross-party debate on 'lawfare' - a term which describes the misuse of the legal system in order to keep information which might be damaging to the reputation of companies and/or powerful individuals out of the public sphere. This happens by means of vexatious legal actions or even the threat of legal action against journalists, elected representatives and members of the public, so as to intimidate and silence, as well as swamp individuals with unaffordable legal costs.
“The best courts are the ones that serve the population best in terms of accessibility, fairness of process, transparency, consistency and the justice of the outcome. That is the sort of legal system we should be looking to have, rather than simply having the best legal system that money can buy... It is important that that power, influence and passage of wealth should be scrutinised and held to account.”
The Finance Bill: Committee Stages
In my role as the SNP's Shadow Financial Secretary, I took part in detailed scrutiny in committee of the Finance Bill. Read my full contributions here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2022-01-11/debates/d4e0c919-f62c-4db9-a538-ae08ed7096bf/details
05/01/22 Third Sitting
05/01/22 Fourth Sitting
11/01/22 Fifth Sitting
Early Day Motion: ANM Group Ltd
ANM Group 150th anniversary – EDM 814 tabled 5 January 2022
"That this House notes that 2022 sees the 150th anniversary of the foundation of what is now the ANM Group Limited co-operative; recognises that North-east Scotland has been an area where, for centuries, livestock rearing and marketing has been a source of pride, prestige and considerable financial investment; acknowledges Aberdeen and Northern Marts generated a hive of activity where farmers, dealers, agricultural workers and families came together to do business and socialise; and congratulates ANM Group for the development of modern auction centres, the pioneering of electronic and video auctions, diversification into non-agricultural auctions and the move into the high-quality catering and hospitality market which are examples of the innovative approach which has made ANM Group a highly-successful farmer-owned business."
Seed Potatoes Scotland
Asked 4th January: Question for Scotland Office
“Scotland grows 75% of the UKs seed potatoes - a crop which our farmers have traditionally been able to export to lucrative European markets. However, post-Brexit, farmers have been virtually unable to export their crop to the EU and Northern Ireland. I asked the Scottish Secretary what assessment his department has made of the impact of trade barriers between Northern Ireland and GB which now exist as a result of Brexit.”
EDMs I signed this month
Read more of my contributions here: https://members.parliament.uk/member/4796/contact
Across the Constituency
Rising energy prices causing utility bill increases
I have received many letters and emails from constituents this month, deeply concerned by utility bill increases following the energy price cap changes and the next increase in April. This cost of living crisis falls directly at the door of the the UK Government. Although the Scottish Government can help mitigate these costs where it can, only the UK Government has the economic powers to properly get a grip on it. I’ve written to the UK Energy Minister and the Chancellor to highlight concerns and demand action to alleviate the impact of these price increases for those who are struggling financially.
Farmers set to receive payments from LFASS
I welcome the Scottish Government restoring the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme payments to 100%. Farmers and producers have faced increased fuel and fertiliser costs this past year, while Brexit has also hit the community hard. This support will benefit more than 9,000 farmers.
Post Office Developments in Gordon
Dyce Post Office
Good news came this month when a proposal to relocate the Post Office in Dyce to the former Clydesdale Bank building was approved. The move will see an increase in the operating hours with the services being offered as part of a local convenience store.
Inverurie Post Office
It was announced last month that the Inverurie Post Office branch on West High Street would be closing from January 31, following the resignation of the postmaster.
Even though there is a second Post Office branch on Highclere Way, this does not offer a full range of services. I have been in close contact with the Post Office to impress upon them the importance of having a town centre service. I hope to be able to report positive news soon.
Red diesel use changes threaten charity tractor events
I wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking the Government to reconsider planned rule changes by HMRC that would outlaw the use of 'red' diesel for ploughing matches and charity tractor runs in favour of higher taxed 'white' diesel. Read more: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2022-01-27/debates/9C5F27CB-F106-4F8A-92C5-D27900A5098D/BusinessOfTheHouse#contribution-1047DF80-0D7E-4462-834F-B32631151DF4
I spoke on STV News about this ill-conceived move by the Government. I also raised the matter on the floor of the House of Commons to call for a full debate to be held on this matter. Read more: https://www.grampianonline.co.uk/news/mp-raises-concerns-with-chancellor-about-move-which-threaten-263890/
Commitment to WASPI Women
All-Party WASPI submission to Ombudsman
have welcomed the formal submission by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on State Pension Inequality for Women to the Parliamentary Health and Service Ombudsman. It is my hope this submission to the second stage of the Ombudsman investigation will highlight the significant hardship this long-standing injustice has caused those women affected. Read more: https://www.grampianonline.co.uk/news/gordon-mp-welcomes-all-party-waspi-submission-to-ombudsman-264319/
Timeline of events in the last year:
In the News…
Common humanity should be a focus for the year ahead – Grampian Online 6/1/22 – https://www.grampianonline.co.uk/news/politics-common-humanity-should-be-a-focus-for-the-year-ahe-261821/
Scots MPs call for seed potatoes to be freed from Brexit red tape – The Scottish Farmer 20/1/22 – https://www.thescottishfarmer.co.uk/news/19859887.scots-mps-call-seed-potatoes-freed-brexit-red-tape/
North-east schools encouraged to get involved with space project – Grampian Online 19/1/22 - https://www.grampianonline.co.uk/news/watch-north-east-schools-encouraged-to-get-involved-with-sp-263404/
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