March Newsletter - Text Only Version
Richard Thomson MP
Gordon Parliamentary Newsletter
A message from Richard Thomson MP
Hello and welcome to my March Parliamentary report. Here you will find details on the activities I’ve been involved in over the previous month as your MP.
Energy bills and low temperatures continue to exacerbate the Cost-of-Living crisis. The Chancellor's Spring Statement this month gives him the chance to extend support for energy users and lower his Energy Cap to all who are struggling with their bills right now. I will press the Chancellor to give support directly to those who need it.
Meanwhile, my constituency work on your behalf continues, if my team or I can assist you in any way, please email [email protected] or call 020 3545 2236 to get in touch.
Richard Thomson MP
February 9th: Brexit’s disastrous impact on trade
HMRC Data shows that between July and September last year, exports from Scotland to the European Union fell by 5%. It's hard to separate these figures from the increased trade frictions being inflicted on Scottish businesses by Brexit, with the Institute for Fiscal Studies describing the UK's departure from the EU as an 'economic own goal'; and even a former UK Government Brexit Secretary saying that there has been 'no economic benefit' from Brexit.
I challenged Trade Ministers about this in the House of Commons. Unsurprisingly, they steadfastly refuse to accept that their own Government's policies might have had anything to do with this slump.
27th February: Northern Ireland Protocol deal
The UK Government has agreed the 'Windsor Framework' with the EU, designed to address issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol. It's a step forward for Northern Ireland but contains nothing the UK Government could not have secured at any point over the past six years. The UK Government still can't explain why having free access to the single market can simultaneously be good for Northern Ireland yet bad for everyone else!
I spoke with Laura Maxwell on BBC Radio Scotland's 'Good Morning Scotland' to discuss the new Brexit Deal as SNP Spokesperson on Northern Ireland.
I also spoke on the 'Nine' on BBC Scotland on 27 February about the proposed Northern Ireland Brexit Deal.
Holyrood Daily Interview
I was interviewed by Holyrood Magazine for their regular 'Political Spin' column, which asks politicians about their favourite music. I ended up discussing everything from my 'go to' karaoke song to the time I played the infamous ceilidh tent at 'T in the Park', ending up on the same festival poster as David Bowie!
Click here to read the whole interview.
Times Radio Interview
In some further light relief, I joined presenter Matt Chorley on Times Radio and had a great time talking about my love for music and fiddle playing. I played Matt a jig, and even gave him a quick lesson on how to play the fiddle himself.
February’s written questions
Across February, I submitted various written questions to Government departments. Here are just a few:
10th February: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 27 January 2023 to Question 127917 on Canada: Social Security Benefits, if he will hold discussions with his Canadian counterpart on the frozen pensions policy. See the Minister's answer here.
24th February: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, when he plans to announce the outcome of the Hydrogen Business Model and Net Zero Hydrogen Fund: Electrolytic Allocation Round 2022. See the Minister's answer here.
24th February: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether his Department plans to commence a withdrawal from the Energy Charter Treaty in the event that the modernisation package negotiated in 2022 is not approved; and if he will make a statement. See the Minister's answer here.
28th February: To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, whether she has had discussions with (a) colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions and (b) negotiators on the UK-Canada Free Trade Deal on any clauses that would end the freeze on State Pension payments to UK pensioners residing in Canada. See the Minister's answer here.
Across the Constituency
10th February - Cost of Living Surgery
On the 10th of February I hosted special 'Cost of Living Advice' event in Inverurie Town Hall. This event allowed constituents to access help and advice on bills, the cost of living, and more from a range of organisations, including:
I am grateful to the organisations that responded positively to my approach and to their staff and volunteers who gave freely of their time to be part of the event. I know from feedback from many of those who visited the event looking for advice and information that they found it very useful.
10th February – Cost of Living Surgery (cont)
For anyone who was unable to attend, I and my staff team are available to assist or provide signposting to organisations who can provide appropriate help.
I can be contacted on [email protected], or call on 020 3545 2236.
You can find out more about the event in this short video.
19th February – Burns Supper
It was great to be able to attend the Aberdeenshire East SNP Burns Supper in Inverurie along with other SNP MPs and party members.
I was honoured to chair the evening with great speakers at the top table led by the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP, giving the Immortal Memory.
Epilepsy Scotland has launched the first-ever national survey to understand the affect #epilepsy can have on mental health.
If you are one of the estimated 58,000 people in Scotland living with epilepsy please take part in the survey by Monday 13 March.
The survey can be accessed here.
Local Electricity Bill
I have backed a proposed new law - the Local Electricity Bill - which aims to enable local communities to power their homes and businesses with locally generated renewable energy, keeping money from energy bills in the local economy.
Community energy - which is renewable energy generated by community owned and run projects - accounts for less than 0.5% of total UK electricity generation capacity. According to the Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee, the sector could grow 12-20 times by 2030 with the right Government support, powering 2.2 million homes and saving 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions every year.
Community energy will bring direct benefits, including new skilled jobs, reduced energy bills, and more money for local projects.
Cancer Research Drop-in Event
This month I received invitations from constituents to attend a special Cancer Research UK event at Westminster. I met with researchers to discuss the life-saving work occurring in labs across the UK, along with the charity's volunteer ambassadors who shared their experiences of cancer. We've come a long way in the fight against cancer, but there's so much further to go.
In The News
MP co-signs letter to UK Government urging assistance for UK refugees (24 February, read here)
Online Event will provide advice on applying for lottery funding (3 February, read here)
Politics: Investment in Acorn Project should be priority for UK Government (16 February, read here)
Local MP comments on AAIB report into Balmedie helicopter incident (10 February, read here)
MP highlights funding opportunity for sustainable community projects in Aberdeenshire (27 February, read here)
New flood forecast service from SEPA is welcomed (16 February, 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