Hello and welcome to my May Parliamentary report. Here you will find details on the activities I’ve been involved in over the last month as your MP.
During Easter Recess, I had the opportunity to make a number of visits to local businesses, as well as to volunteer-led groups across Gordon which have supported people daily through the cost of living crisis.
Although often rich in people resources, many volunteer groups still need help securing funding. Following a People's Postcode Lottery funding event I hosted in March, I have been pleased to endorse many funding applications from local groups to this important source of cash.
Meanwhile, 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.
17 April - The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is a low standards trade agreement which will lower UK food standards; threatens the UK agrifood industry, and has potential to harm the environment.
I put these conclusions from a whole raft of expert organisations - that this is a bad deal - to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. She did not provide any substantive rebuttal - to myself or other MPs who made similar criticisms, instead choosing to make personal attacks on those who had the audacity to disagree with her.
20 April - International Trade and Geopolitics Debate
Following on from this, a few days later I spoke of my concerns about CPTPP and raised several issues, including the UK Government's failure to publish a trade strategy document similar to that produced by the Scottish Government.
I quoted the UK Government Net Zero tsar who highlighted the missed opportunity by the UK Government to invest in environmental goods and services - an area in which Scotland could be a global leader if the right conditions are fostered.
Watch my full speech here.
25 April - Tackling Health Inequalities
Health policy is devolved, but the decisions relating to the overall resource available to Scotland to spend on health is not. On 25 April, I asked Maria Caulfield MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care:
“Last year the Scottish Government announced £2 million of funding and help for health boards to deliver health checks for all people with learning disabilities, so that any health issues can be identified and treated as quickly as possible.
What plans do the UK Government have to do similar across England?”
April's Written Questions
Across April, I submitted various written questions to Government departments. Here are just a few:
24th April: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what steps he is taking to support the development of green hydrogen in Scotland. See the Minister's answer here.
24th April: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what steps he is taking to support the application of green hydrogen in Scotland. See the Minister's answer here.
24th April: To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what recent discussions she has had with the Federation of Small Business about the role of small firms in increasing exports. See the Minister's answer here.
24th April: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will review the Single Trade Window to ensure its implementation is small business friendly; and if he will make a statement. See the Financial Secretary's answer here.
Across the Constituency
21 April - Garioch Community Kitchen visit
On the 21st of April, I had the pleasure of visiting Garioch Community Kitchen, where I met with Sarah Bell and Nom Wright.
It was inspiring to learn about the work that Garioch Community Kitchen does in bringing the community together to tackle poverty.
They run hands-on sessions for adults and children to learn skills and develop the confidence to make nutritious and affordable meals from readily available fresh ingredients, and work tirelessly to promote healthy living.
Find out more about their services and classes here.
21 April - South Harbour Visit
I visited the Aberdeen South Harbour expansion project again in April to see the progress on what is the largest marine infrastructure project currently underway anywhere in the UK, and met with Port CEO Bob Sanguinetti for an update.
The expansion at South Harbour expansion is an infrastructure project of enormous significance for the North East. The Port will handle a fleet of larger vessels and will support Scotland's economic, trade and green ambitions. My visit came just a few days before the port welcomed its first cruise ship, carrying the first of the 31,000 cruise visitors expected to arrive in Aberdeen this year.
The city skyline has recently been dominated by the vessel, Nobel Innovator, berthed in the South Harbour. The CEO told me that rig would have previously gone to Denmark but can now berth in Aberdeen for a refit where upwards of 40 local people work on it daily. That is a further example of the versatility of the South Harbour, and the great economic opportunities it will offer.
Warm This Winter Coalition
On April 1st, I met with campaigners at the end of their march across Aberdeen in support of the 'Warm This Winter' MP pledge.
We discussed efforts to tackle the spiralling cost of energy and their campaign, and the need for the UK Government to tackle the spiralling cost of living alongside the climate emergency.
Seed Potato Exports
I was delighted this month, after much pressing of Ministers on behalf of the Seed Potato sector in the North East, to receive a reply from the responsible Minister at DEFRA confirming Scottish seed potatoes can move back into the Northern Ireland market as soon as autumn this year. This breakthrough was long overdue.
However, Scottish exporters will be eager to resume exports to their former EU and Irish markets. The UK Government has to step up its trade efforts before these markets are lost forever.
Scottish farmers have been deprived of the opportunity to sell seed potatoes into Northern Ireland for 2 years. That failure sits with the UK's Conservative government. They should remember that neither Scotland nor Northern Ireland voted for the disarray of Brexit in the first place.
Dementia Action Week 2023
Dementia Action Week is an awareness-raising campaign. Each year, charities work with individuals and organisations across the UK to encourage people to 'act on dementia'.
The McCarthy Stone Foundation, a charitable organisation focused on improving the quality of life for older people, has announced that applications for Dementia Action Week 2023 will open on 1 May 2023.
Grants will be available to support intergenerational activities that bring a sense of purpose and energy to older people and those living with dementia while helping reduce loneliness and depression.
I encourage local charities, schools, or community groups looking to do something to support engagement for older people to apply.
Further details can be found here.
Carbon Capture - The Acorn Project
I spoke on That'sTV about the carbon capture Acorn Project which continues to be delayed by the UK Government.
I reiterated the call for clarity on the status and schedule for this long-promised project to lead our Net Zero journey.
In The News
7 April 2023, Grampian Online - MP concerned by UK Government minister's comments on impact of Brexit
14 April 2023, Grampian Online – Bus travel figures welcomed by warning issued over cuts to services in Aberdeenshire
19 April 2023 - MP Highlights Funding for Dementia Action Week 2023
25 April 2023, Grampian Online - Minister tells Gordon MP seed potato exports to Northern Ireland to resume in autumn
27 April 2023, Grampian Online - First Minister’s support of Scotch whisky industry welcomed by MP
29 April 2023, Grampian Online – Garioch Community Kitchen serves up some useful courses