Richard Thomson MP
Gordon Parliamentary Newsletter
A message from Richard Thomson MP
Hello and welcome to my June Parliamentary report, which showcases a range of my activities as your local MP throughout May.
This month saw the publication of the long-anticipated Sue Gray report into the 'Partygate' scandal. The UK Government has also announced plans to tear up the 'protocol' it signed over Northern Ireland, which risks breaking international law and making trade with the EU even more difficult than it now already is. Meanwhile, closer to home, I have taken the opportunities presented by the short recess to continue my engagement with local communities and organisations.
If my team or I can assist you in any way, please call 020 3545 2236 or email r[email protected] to get in touch.
Richard Thomson MP
18th May : Prime Minister's Questions
A recent story from the Press and Journal revealed that the UK Government gave the go-ahead to a flight from Inverness to Moscow just hours after flights to Russia were banned. I asked the Prime Minister for an explanation - he agreed to inform MPs about who was on this flight and why UK authorities appeared to make no attempt to prevent it from taking off in apparent breach of UK sanctions.
“On 26 February, a private charter flight to Moscow was allowed to take off from Inverness airport, in an apparent breach of a UK ban on flights of that nature that had come into effect from midnight the day before. Air traffic control transcripts published this week in the Press and Journal newspaper have revealed that, despite being informed of the intended flight, no attempt was made by the UK Government or their agencies to prevent the plane from taking off. Will the Prime Minister commit to informing the House at the earliest opportunity who was travelling on that flight?”
Watch video here.
25th May: Sue Gray Report
Sue Gray's long-awaited report was released on 25th May. To no-one's surprise, it confirmed Boris Johnson had attended parties that he'd earlier told Parliament he knew nothing about. While the public stayed at home and followed Government advice to keep loved ones safe, those in Downing Street flagrantly ignored their own rules. It's clear the Prime Minister is no longer capable of leading with integrity. He must - in my view - now resign.
“We now know that while the Prime Minister was happy to 'let the bodies pile high' outside Downing Street, he was also happy to let the bottles pile up high inside Downing Street. We also know that he has come to that Despatch Box and denied point blank that events took place - events we now know did take place - that turned Downing Street into the most notorious party flat in central London.”
"The Prime Minister has diminished and demeaned his office. He speaks of leadership, but any leader should know when it is time to go. Why will the Prime Minister not go, so that the country can move on as it needs to, without him in office?"
Watch video here.
Northern Ireland Protocol
Volume 714: debated on Tuesday 17 May 2022
This month, the UK Government announced plans to legislate unilaterally to change the Northern Ireland Protocol. I highlighted to the Foreign Secretary that doing so without securing any agreement with the EU risks breaking international law, while making importing and exporting goods even more difficult than it already is post-Brexit. Scotland and Northern Ireland both voted against Brexit, but it was Boris Johnson's version of a 'Hard Brexit' taking us out of the EU Single Market and Customs Union that made the Protocol necessary in the first place. I am clear that any change must be negotiated properly and work for all parts of the UK, including Scotland.
“Restoring devolved government in Northern Ireland and resolving the self-inflicted wounds of Brexit will require good will, trust and a negotiated settlement. I am sorry to say that the threats of unilateral legislative action by this Government to override their own deal are unlikely to be taken seriously in Belfast and will not be taken seriously in Brussels; there is absolutely no reason why they should be taken seriously in this place either.”
Carbon Capture and Storage
Asked 17 May 2022 - Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
"To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress his Department has made on providing clarity and certainty on the Phase-2 carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) sequencing timeline for the (a) Scottish and (b) other clusters to support the UK’s ambition to deliver its target of four CCUS clusters within the 2030s."
Funeral Plan Industry
On Thursday 26 May, I spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on the Funeral Plan industry, in response to concerns following the collapse of the 'Safe Hands' funeral plan provider.
“Safe Hands had 47,000 customers and was supposedly operating a ringfenced trust fund in order to protect customer investments and guarantee that paid funeral whenever the time came. Instead, it has seen funds misappropriated.
I can only begin to imagine the distress that the collapse of this company has caused, not only to those who had invested their money in this plan and expected their family to have those end-of-life burdens eased, but also to those who had invested in similar, more reputable schemes.”
Read my full contribution here.
Early Day Motion - Huntly's 'Networks of Wellbeing'
EDM 109: tabled on 26 May 2022
I tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament to congratulate Huntly-based charity 'Networks of Wellbeing' on being awarded the prestigious Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Silver Award for 2022. This Scheme recognises those who demonstrate or advocate support to the Armed Forces community and align their values with the Armed Forces Covenant. The full text of the motion can be read below:
Read the EDM here.
Early Day Motions I have signed
EDM 34 - The Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh
EDM 101 - Effect of standing charges on vulnerable consumers
EDM 98 - Storage of US nuclear weapons in the UK
EDM 106 - UN adopts World Seagrass Day
Read more about my contributions in Parliament, the EDMs I have signed and my voting record here.
12th May: 'Perspective' Magazine debate on the Union
Earlier this month, I was one of the panellists at a midweek discussion in London on the future of the Union, which was organised by the 'Perspective' current affairs magazine. Journalist Gavin Esler chaired the cross-party panel debate and the audience discussion which followed.
23rd May: British-Irish Committee meeting at Holyrood
I joined colleagues from the Environment and Social Committee of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly in Edinburgh, where we took evidence on the importance of and support for languages in Scotland, including Gaelic, Scots and Doric.
Across the Constituency
2nd May: Huntly Development Trust
I was delighted to meet representatives of the Huntly Development Trust this month. One of the sustainable initiatives that they promote in Huntly is the use of e-bikes, which are easy to use, affordable and a really enjoyable way for people to travel around the town and the surrounding area.
The Huntly Development Trust is making great progress renovating one of the largest buildings in the square for the use of the community. It was really good to get an overview of the Trust's work and I look forward to seeing further updates on their projects in future.
Fuel Duty Cut Wiped Out
This month I highlighted new research from RAC’s UK fuel price tracker which shows the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s five pence cut in fuel duty has been wiped out due to the rising cost of fuel at the petrol pumps.
RAC’s UK fuel price tracker on day of Chancellors announcement
Unleaded petrol – 167.30p Diesel – 179.72p
Latest figures show that after an initial reduction, unleaded petrol has increased by nearly 4p a litre and diesel has increased by 5p a litre. The RAC also predicts that prices will rise further, putting even more pressure on household budgets.
I will continue to call for the Chancellor to wake up to the realities of the cost-of-living crisis and provide real help for people across all parts of Scotland.
Read more here.
7th May: Garioch District Heat - public meeting
I was pleased to attend a public meeting held in Inverurie to discuss opportunities for a district heat system in Garioch. Community heat initiatives have been very successful elsewhere in helping to reduce local energy bills and CO2 emissions, with the money from reduced bills and any surpluses staying in the community where its most needed.
Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) update
Having received many complaints from constituents with problems arising from the long delays they have experienced with the DVLA, I wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport in February to point out the unacceptable delays in new licences and renewals and to challenge him to resolve the situation.
Read here. (February 2022)
DVLA's processing delays are having a disproportionate impact on the North East because we have many rural areas where communities are particularly reliant on road-based transport. Whether it be first time drivers, renewing a licence or the logistics sector, these delays from DVLA have been affecting many people.
I have welcomed the renewed commitment from DVLA to improve their service to the public. DVLA management is working to expand staffing and taking on new premises to help with this. These are long-overdue but positive measures to address these delays. I will continue to monitor DVLA's performance.
Read more here. (May 2022)
In the news...
Gordon MP Richard Thomson calls on UK Government to start compensation preparations for WASPI women (25 May, Read here).
MP Richard Thomson welcomes EU Settlement Scheme support in north-east Scotland (5 May, Read here).
SNP calls for Johnson to explain why private jet allowed to leave UK for Russia despite flight ban (18 May, Read here).