April Newsletter Text Only Version
Richard Thomson MP
Gordon Parliamentary Newsletter
A message from Richard Thomson MP
Hello and welcome to my April Parliamentary report. Here you will find details on the activities I’ve been involved in over the last month as your MP.
The last month saw a Spring Budget from the Conservative UK Chancellor which reduced support for people's energy bills, even though we're still paying through the nose for heating and power. That's not a situation which an energy-rich country like Scotland should ever be in.
On International Women's Day, I was delighted to meet the WASPI campaigners and asked the Prime Minister how he planned to address the 'Gender Pension Gap'.
If my team or I can assist you in any way, please call 020 3545 2236 or email [email protected] to get in touch.
Richard Thomson MP
March 8th: International Women's Day
On International Women's Day, I challenged the Prime Minister on the issue of the pensions gender gap.
Recent analysis from pensions company Scottish Widows shows that a woman retiring today would have to work to the age of 81 to achieve a pension fund parity with a male counterpart.
A 25 year-old woman who is working today can expect to retire with a pension fund worth, on average, £100,000 less than a male counterpart.
March 8th: WASPI Rally
Also on International Woman's Day, I attended a rally and drop-in event hosted by the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign, meeting with campaigners who had travelled from all parts of Scotland to hold a demonstration against State Pension inequality outside the UK Parliament.
I commend the hard work of these campaigners who continue to keep this issue in the public eye. The next stage in the Ombudsman's investigation into their case will be crucial, and I expect the UK Government will no longer be able to obfuscate and delay taking action anymore.
Northern Ireland and the 'Windsor Framework'
The 'Windsor Framework' makes key changes to how goods can move between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and points a way to how an Independent Scotland in the EU might manage the much less complex border it would have with the UK.
A recent estimate from Jonathan Haskel, an external member of the Bank of England, states that Brexit has resulted in a loss of approximately £29bn in business investment to the UK as a whole.
I asked the Northern Ireland Minister if he thought the Windsor Framework would help mitigate this damage in Northern Ireland, and if so, why his government still wishes to deny every other part of the UK similar access to the EU single market.
March 15th: Comments on the Spring Budget
I was invited to join members from each of the main parties at Westminster on the BBC Radio 5 Live weekly MP's Panel with presenter Nicky Campbell, previewing the Chancellors' Spring Budget.
Topics of discussion included current governance issues at the BBC, childcare provision, and predictions ahead of the Spring Budget.
On the BBC's Politics Scotland, reviewing the Spring Budget, I highlighted how the Chancellor had yet again completely failed to listen to calls from the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce to match the Scottish Government's £500 million energy transition fund for the North East.
March 31st: Acorn Project delays are like 'deja vu'
Following the Budget, I asked Ministers to clarify timelines for developing the Acorn carbon capture project at Peterhead.
The UK Government promised the project in 2008, then again ahead of the referendum in 2014. Once again, the UK Government is making vague statements regarding support for the wider Scottish Cluster, without giving any serious indication of timelines for critical projects.
March's written questions
Across March, I submitted various written questions to Government departments. Here are just a few:
14th March: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment his Department has made of the potential impact of the time taken to implement the Track-2 process of carbon capture, utilisation and storage on carbon dioxide capture targets. You can read the Ministers response here.
21st March: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of the proposed Windsor Framework on the level of impact on businesses of the regulatory compliance required for the movement of (a) agricultural and (b) other goods from (i) Northern Ireland to Great Britain and (ii) Great Britain to Northern Ireland. You can read the response here.
21st March: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to help reduce tax avoidance. You can read The Financial Secretary to the Treasury response here.
22nd March: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether she is taking steps with the Scottish Government to help ensure that illicit and unsafe goods from the EU are not able to enter the UK through Cairnryan. You can read the response here.
Across the Constituency
March 31st - Forvie NNR
On the 31st March I visited Forvie National Nature Reserve. I met with staff and discussed how we can take measures to fully protect the reserve and its extensive wildlife, while allowing everyone to enjoy what is there. We also discussed the impact that a small minority of visitors with dogs that are out-of-control can have on the wildlife there.
This was great opportunity to meet with the staff and discuss their day-to-day work and the positive impact it has on Aberdeenshire and the environment.
You can find out more about visiting the Nature Reserve and responsible access on their website.
March 17th - Visit to Augean site
I visited the Blackdog site of waste management company Augean, one of the 6 sites in the North and North East where they separate and treat specialist wastes from offshore operations for safe consignment. It was interesting to learn more about their important support for North Sea operations.
I learned about the integrated operations across their 3 sites around Aberdeen and was encouraged by their determination to reduce waste and recycle materials for re-use wherever that is possible.
10th March: Community Groups Funding
On the 10th March I hosted a funding workshop in association with the People's Postcode Lottery. This was attended by over 50 individuals and organisations from around Gordon and the wider North East. I was informed that it was one of the most well-attended events of this type they have held.
I know that it has been difficult over the last few years for charities and community groups in Gordon to secure essential funding in the face of huge demands. I hope that those attending will able to use the workshop to advance their objectives.
Illegal Migration Bill
My office has received many emails from constituents concerned about the UK Government's immigration policies, which demonstrate an unjust approach to immigration that has brought misery to desperate refugees and asylum seekers.
The Illegal Migration Bill is the latest step in a line of concerning immigration policies. I agree with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees that there is no such thing as an illegal asylum seeker. The UK Government must stop using such inflammatory and dishonest language.
They must also work to set up safe routes for refugees to come to the UK and have applications properly assessed in a timely period. The Tories have rushed this Bill through parliament with a chilling lack of scrutiny and debate. SNP MPs will continue to challenge the Bill as it continues its passage.
UK Gov. Cost of Living Response
According to new research commissioned by 38 Degrees, nearly one-third of households in Gordon couldn't afford to turn on their heating in the past month, whilst 16% have already missed a rent payment.
The Chancellor should scrap any notion of reducing state support for energy bills and should increase funding to prevent households from freezing. The Prime Minister, his Chancellor and the whole UK Government must urgently get a grip on the situation, recognise the pressing need felt by people and get support where it is badly needed.
The Tories' economic incompetence has worsened this disaster - and the people of the Northeast deserve better.
In the news...
UK Govt. pension age rises set to force people in the North-east to work longer (16 March, read here)
Gordon MP backs WASPI women at Westminster meeting (21 March, read here)
UK Budget Must Reverse Tory Cost of Living Crisis (14 March, read here)
Inverurie company receives Parliamentary Motion marking its 160th anniversary (3 March, read here)
Warning of increased financial pressure on north-east households as bills soar (29 March, read here)
Gordon MP Welcomes Funding Announcement for Hydrogen Project (30 March, 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