January Newsletter Text Only Version
Richard Thomson MP
Gordon Parliamentary Newsletter
A message from Richard Thomson MP
Hello and welcome to my January Parliamentary report. Here you will find details on the activities I’ve been involved in over the previous month as your MP.
As we face a new year, it's hard not to reflect on the tumult at 10 Downing Street during 2022, particularly the self-inflicted shock to the UK economy of the Liz Truss Premiership. I am deeply frustrated that many Gordon constituents will continue to feel the impact of the resulting weaker economy into the New Year and beyond.
Security, in the economy and in global politics will continue to dominate politics this year. It's a theme that I expect to cover extensively in my new responsibilities on the SNP Front Bench speaking on International Trade.
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
30 November: Committee Stages of the Finance Bill
The Finance Bill is in my view a poor set of measures which fails to adequately address the economic issues facing the UK.
The UK Government's continued refusal to take basic steps that could generate large amounts of tax income, such as ending the so-called 'non-dom' tax status (a loophole with its origins in Britain's colonial period that allows the ultra-wealthy to legally avoid tax), is as bizarre as it is unjust.
Australia & New Zealand Trade Deal
The UK Government has signed a trade deal with Australia and New Zealand which will be of great benefit to those countries, but of very little benefit to any part of the UK economy. But don’t just take my word for it - even former Tory Minister George Eustice has described it as "not actually a very good deal for the UK", remarking that: "The UK gave away far too much for far too little in return”.
“Trying to help Ministers understand the difference [between 'good' and 'bad' trade deals] at times feels a little like Father Ted trying to explain to Father Dougal the difference between cows that are ‘small’, and cows that are in fact ‘far away’. I would observe that the benefits of this deal are very far away indeed…”
Watch my full contribution here.
At Trade Questions, I challenged Ministers over the terms of the UK/AUS-NZ trade deal, which once implemented could have a disastrous impact on NE farmers and food producers. Despite - or perhaps because - the answering Minister also represents a rural constituency, he dodged the question with some vacuous flag-waving 'boosterism' that will come as cold comfort to rural Scotland.
EDM - 160th anniversary of Laings of Inverurie
"That this House pays tribute to the continuing success and growth of Laings of Inverurie, established as an independent family business in 1862, who have recently celebrated their 160th anniversary as one of the largest independent retailers of kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms in the UK; acknowledges the vital importance of independent businesses like Laings to the retail sector and the importance of such business to the long-term economic prospects of our local economies; further commends the owners, management and staff of Laings for their commitment to excellent service to the many thousands of loyal customers in Aberdeenshire and beyond; and wishes the company continued success into the future."
EDM (Early Day Motion)713: tabled on 15 December 2022
I was pleased to lodge an Early Day Motion celebrating the continued success of Laings of Inverurie.
I congratulate them on the remarkable achievement of their 160th anniversary, made possible by a great many loyal customers and the dedication of the owners, management and staff.
Letter to Iranian Embassy
This month I declared myself a sponsor to individuals unfairly detained and under threat of execution during the current protests in Iran. I have followed up with a letter to the Head of Judiciary at the Iranian Embassy.
In the letter, I expressed my concerns at the deplorable actions of Iranian authorities in seeking the death penalty following grossly unfair trials.
I highlighted that these actions violate individual rights to freedom of expression; association and peaceful assembly. I urged the Head of Judiciary to allow detainees access to their families and lawyers of their choosing; to ensure their protection against torture and ill-treatment; and to grant independent observers access to the trials.
Winter Heating Payments - Update for Off-Grid Households
After months of delays and repeated refusals to answer basic questions from myself and other MPs over when and how support will be made available to meet the energy costs of those who use domestic oil, the UK Government has at last provided information on how householders may apply for these payments.
An application process should now open in January, with payments beginning soon after this point.
I will continue to monitor this issue closely. My office and I will be happy to assist constituents with the application process.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if there is anything that either I or my team can do to assist you with any energy issue you may have.
Office Contact Details
020 3545 2236
Across the Constituency
2nd December - Visit to Tesco Danestone
I had the opportunity to visit Tesco's Danestone store to meet with volunteers who were collecting for the Aberdeen North food bank. Donations are required to meet what is sadly a growing demand for help right now. Find out how you can help or how you can access help here.
2nd December - Dyce Academy
I was very pleased to be invited by the Modern Studies department at Dyce Academy to speak with S4, 5 & 6 students about the work of an MP and to hold a Q&A session afterwards.
The students had a range of great questions for me and I wish them every success with their studies in future.
9th December - Briefing with "Opportunity North East"
It was great to get a briefing, with other North East MPs and MSPs, from Opportunity North East - the body which seeks to diversify and enhance North East Scotland's economy. This was followed by the chance to see around the ONE Tech Hub and meet some of the great businesses growing in the North East!
Police Scotland Domestic Abuse Campaign
Police Scotland has launched a domestic abuse campaign which targets young men aged 18-24. This is a welcome initiative at a time when there is sadly, an increase in domestic abuse. No one should feel unsafe in their own homes. The campaign advert can be viewed here.
This campaign calls on men to take action against domestic abuse by reflecting on their own and others' behaviour, and to take action and stop abusive behaviour before it starts.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, you can find help here.
Support for the FareShare Campaign
I was a signatory to a cross-party letter which was submitted to Downing Street in support of the FareShare campaign. This campaign helps farmers and factories to redistribute any surplus produce to foodbanks at zero extra cost.
This provides much-needed assistance to foodbanks during a time of intense pressure on households. It also ensures that perfectly good food which would otherwise go to waste instead goes to where it is needed rather than to landfill, reducing food waste and food miles.
Read the letter in full here.
Guidance on Preparing for Winter
The winter months can throw us many things in Aberdeenshire; be it snow, ice, high winds, power disruption or flooding. That's why it’s vital to Be Winter Ready.
Check your car - Make sure you have topped up your fuel, oil, screen wash and coolant, and you have checked your electrics and tyres. Ensure that you have an emergency kit of supplies in your car.
Be safe on the roads - Drivers must ensure they are driving to the road conditions, remembering that these conditions can change without warning and stopping distances will be affected by the weather. When the roads are icy, drive at a slow speed, ensuring that you accelerate and brake gently.
Think about your elderly neighbours - Scotland’s population is ageing, with 16.8% of the population being those aged 65 and over. Some 1 in 5 people now live alone in Scotland. That's why - in winter more than ever - - it is important to check up on your elderly neighbours. This can include offering to collect supplies from your local shop; checking in on your elderly neighbours to see if they are OK, or perhaps spreading grit or clearing a driveway when it snows. If you have spare time, you could volunteer for Age UK's Friendship line which provides companionship to those 50 and over. Find out more here.
Be prepared for severe weather - Sign up for flood alerts and severe weather warnings here. Be prepared for power outages; know where to locate your fuse box, gas box, or mains water supply.
Cost of Living - People across the North-East of Scotland are being affected by tough economic times. The effects of this means that families have to make hard choices with their finances. You can find what help the Scottish Government is offering here.
Look after your mental well-being - With temperatures dropping and shorter days, we might find ourselves feeling a bit more 'down' than usual. It's important to make the most out of the daylight, move our bodies and keep in contact with our loved ones.
Domestic Abuse at Christmas - Regrettably, over the Christmas period, the rate of domestic abuse rises. This may be due to heightened stress, financial struggles, and more time spent at home. If you're being harmed by your partner, there are many organisations that can help you. Find out more information here. If you are in immediate danger, call the police on 999, if you cannot speak, dial 55 when prompted or let them know you're there by tapping the phone or making a noise.
Emergency services: 999 or 112
Non-Emergency police support: 101
NHS 24: 111
SSEN Power Cut line: 105
Floodline Scotland: 0345 988 1188
Gas emergencies: 0800 111 999
Scottish Water: 0800 077 8778
Emergency Council Housing Repairs: 03456 09 12 03
Emergency Social Care: 03456 08 12 0
Scottish Women's Aid: 0800 027 1234
In the news...
Richard Thomson criticises UK Government over continuing delays on support for off-grid energy consumers (2 December, read here)
International Trade Role for Gordon MP (11 December, read here)
UK Government Must Fix Unfair Pegging of Renewables to Soaring Gas Prices (15 December, read here)
DWP have clawed back £13,000 in benefits from Gordon Constituency learns MP Richard Thomson (1 December, read here)
North-east MP urges pensioners not to miss out on £324 cost-of-living grant (8 December, read here)
Lottery funding for Gordon community groups welcomed (2 December, 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