Richard Thomson MP
Gordon Parliamentary Newsletter
A message from Richard Thomson MP
Hello and welcome to my October Parliamentary report. Here you will find details on the activities I’ve been involved in over the last month as your MP.
Political and Parliamentary activity paused in September during the mourning period which followed the passing of Her Majesty the Queen.
On September 23rd, the then Chancellor rose to present a disastrous mini-budget. Despite the main measures of that budget now having been reversed by a new Chancellor - the UK's fourth in four months - the turmoil which resulted in the markets and the UK will be felt in all of our pockets for a long time to come.
If I can assist you in any way, please email richard[email protected] or call 020 3545 2236 to get in touch.
Richard Thomson MP
8 September - Coastal Communities Debate
I participated in a recent debate in Westminster Hall on Coastal Communities, in which I put the spotlight on the opportunities and challenges around the North East Coast.
"Scotland’s current peak energy demand is around 5 GW. ScotWind is set to allow for a capacity of nearly 25 GW. Certainly, our coastal communities are at the forefront of that energy revolution.
...It is incredibly frustrating, at a time when we are experiencing some of the highest energy prices in Europe, for people to be able to look out their windows and see the infrastructure but not be able to reap the benefit of that infrastructure on bills due to the way we choose to structure our energy markets."
"On funding for our coastal communities, Aberdeenshire benefited hugely from structural funding from the EU. Between 2007 and 2012, it received more than £23 million of European funding, leveraging in total £60 million from varying European funds. In contrast, the Aberdeenshire Council allocation from the Shared Prosperity Fund for the next period is only £8 million. There is a great deal of catching up to do."
23 September - The UK Government's Disastrous "Mini" Budget
The new Prime Minister's first major act in office was to unleash a supposedly 'radical' plan to fund tax cuts for the highest earners, all to be funded by increased borrowing. In an act of supreme hubris, the Prime Minister chose to label those who opposed the fairness and clear economic risks presented by these plans as being part of an 'anti-growth coalition.'
Over the course of that day, the value of the pound versus the dollar plummeted to its lowest value since 1985. Later that afternoon, the Chancellor went on to attend a champagne reception with hedge fund managers, all while pension funds teetered on the verge of collapse. By the following Monday, 40% of mortgage products had been withdrawn from the market due to the financial uncertainty which had resulted.
The plan was as much the Prime Minister's as it was the Chancellor's. He has since been relieved of his duties and the budget largely dismantled, but in terms of the higher interest rates and borrowing costs that it has triggered, the damage is done.
22 September - Support for Electric Vehicle Infrastructure
I recently met motoring journalist Quentin Wilson to discuss the 'Faircharge' campaign to make owning an electric vehicle more practical and affordable.
Electric vehicles have an important role in decarbonising transport, so it is important that the infrastructure needed to support them is accessible, reliable and taxed fairly.
You can find out more about the FairCharge campaign here.
Early Day Motion - Scottish Emergency Rescue Association and humanitarian efforts
I tabled the following Early Day Motion in Westminster to recognise the humanitarian work of the Scottish Emergency Rescue Association:
EDM 389: tabled on 21 September 2022
"That this House recognises the humanitarian efforts of the Scottish Emergency Rescue Association (SERA) in delivering over 70 fully equipped fire appliances and ambulances to countries including Ukraine, Moldova, Romania and Burundi over the past 14 years; notes SERA has trained hundreds of local firefighters in each of the host countries in order that they may safely use and maintain the equipment and vehicles provided; understands that SERA recycles and refurbishes second-hand emergency equipment, allowing it to be put to good use overseas; and commends the volunteers who work so hard arranging this and personally driving the equipment to its new home."
ACORN - Carbon Capture in NE Scotland
In July 2022, along with 5 other MPs representing Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, and Moray, I signed a cross-party letter to the then Chancellor of the Exchequer requesting that he meet with the representatives of the Scottish Cluster - the Acorn CCS Project. This was passed to then Junior Treasury Minister Alan Mak who responded saying he 'was not in the position to offer a meeting'. I found his response deeply troubling and commented:
“Collectively, North-east MPs put politics aside to ask the Chancellor for a discussion about the strategic importance of Acorn. To end up with a reply from a junior minister claiming they are ‘not in a position’ to offer a meeting, is a thoroughly dismal and inadequate outcome.
"After so many let-downs by the UK Government over carbon capture in the North-east, this apparent lack of willingness by UK Ministers to engage with MPs – even apparently those from their own party – is deeply concerning.
“There’s no transition to Net Zero without the North-east, and the Acorn project is a crucial piece in that jigsaw.
“I hope that the new Minister will reverse this snub at the earliest opportunity. The North-east can’t afford to be let down again by a UK Government which only seems interested in our economy when it needs our resources to balance its books.”
Across the Constituency
Scotland must be able to take its own decisions
I contributed an article to a special North East edition of 'The National' newspaper, published as a joint project with the Aberdeen Independence Movement.
"We’ll only get the best outcomes for Scotland if we can elect our own governments which reflect our own choices and our values, and which are able to match the totality of our vast resources to the scale and nature of the problems we face, without having to worry about whether politicians in Westminster have approved it first." - Richard Thomson MP
You can read my article in full here.
Inverurie Station Accessibility
I fully back Transport Scotland’s proposals to improve accessibility at Inverurie Station. Given the importance of the station to Inverurie and the wider area it serves, it is essential to make rail services easier to use for everyone with accessibility needs. To this end, I have written a letter of support to get behind the funding bid.
You can read more about my backing the proposal of here.
Pension Awareness Day
I took the opportunity to highlight Pension Awareness Day, which was originally scheduled for September but has been moved to the end of October.
This will be an excellent opportunity for people to get 'pension savvy'. Sessions will cover pensions, as well as more general advice on managing money and financial well-being.
This event now takes on a particular importance in light of the current financial situation and should be of help in assisting people to make informed choices about how best to ensure the future security of their personal finances.
You can find out more about Pension Awareness Day here.
22 September - Stoneywood Paper Mill
The news of 301 redundancies at the Stoneywood Paper Mill has been absolutely devastating for all those affected.
Together with local MSP Jackie Dunbar, I attended an urgent meeting with the administrators to see what else could be done to help those who have lost their jobs. We are also liaising with the Scottish Business Minister to see if all that can be done is.
On 10 October, PACE and Aberdeen City Council hosted a jobs fair for ex-Mill workers at the Beech Ballroom. The event included employers from a wide range of sectors, some of whom were able to offer attendees interviews on the day.
I would urge anyone who needs assistance following this very concerning news to get in touch with my office. My constituency office team and I can assist with a wide range of issues and can signpost to relevant organisations offering support.
My office can be contacted by email at [email protected], by phoning 020 3545 2236, or through my website at richardthomsonmp.com/contact
21 September - Business and Growth Scheme
I welcomed the news of a fresh fund to support new businesses in Aberdeen. The Business Recovery and Growth Scheme (BRAGS) which is funded by the Scottish Government's Local Economic and Covid Recovery Fund (LACER) will support businesses which have been trading in Aberdeen for at least 6 months. It offers grants of £2,500, £5,000 and £10,000, based on a 75% grant contribution to the total project costs. It is designed to aid recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and will encourage and enable businesses to maintain income streams, promote economic recovery, sustain and enhance existing jobs, and create new employment schemes, among many more.
Read more about the scheme and the eligibility criteria here.
30 September - Youth Hub Event
I attended the recent Youth Hub Networking Event at the North East Scotland College to hear about the terrific work they are doing alongside the Department for Work and Pensions. Together, they are working to support young people to provide valuable careers advice and job opportunities.
In the News
MP highlights coastal challenges in north-east during debate (21 September, Read here)
Tory government ‘snubs’ north-east carbon capture backers (2 September, Read here)
Gordon MP Richard Thomson has called for the UK Government to end ‘unfair’ Scottish energy charges (9 September, Read here)
Aberdeenshire MP Richard Thomson welcomes Scottish Government support for local businesses (21 September, Read here)
MP Richard Thomson welcomes UK Government's second thoughts on privatisation of Channel 4 (24 September, Read here)
Concern over lack of assistance for rural homes in energy plans (25 September, Read here)
Thank you for reading,
Richard Thomson MP
Email – [email protected]
Website – www.richardthomsonmp.com
Telephone – 020 3545 2236
Address - Unit F6, Enterprise Centre, Exploration Drive, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen, AB23 8GX