Hello and welcome to my June Parliamentary report. Here you will find details on the activities I’ve been involved in over the last month as your MP.
I have had the opportunity to call Ministers to account several times this month on cost of living, energy transition and trade matters that are all very pertinent to Gordon constituents and the future prosperity of the North East.
On May the 8th, I joined the 'Big Help Out' in Pitmedden which showcased just some of volunteer groups who help our communities and offer great experiences for volunteers able to donate some of their time. These groups make a huge contribution to the wellbeing of our society in the North East.
If I or my team can assist you in any way in the next month, please call 020 3545 2236 or email r[email protected] to get in touch.
Soaring Food Costs Fuelled by ‘Greenflation’
As in the UK, countries across mainland Europe face soaring food prices. However, unlike in the UK, many countries across Europe are taking significant government action to tackle the risk of corporate 'greedflation'.
I highlighted examples of positive action taken by governments in Ireland, France and Italy for Nigel Huddleston MP, a Minister in the Department for Business and Trade. If these countries can see they need to challenge retailers on rises to essential products, I asked him whether the UK Government accepted that action was needed to also tackle greed-driven price increases.
Support for Energy Transition in the North East
On 23 May, I asked ministers in the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, what their department was actually puttnig on the table in terms of hard cash to support energy transition projects in Scotland.
“[The UK Government] is certainly not putting any money on the table up front as the Scottish Government have through their £500 million energy transition fund for the north-east of Scotland. When will the UK Government finally put their money where their mouth is and support the energy transition that Scotland desperately needs?”
Northern Ireland Questions – Seed Potato Exports
The 'Windsor Framework' is a small but significant gain for Scottish seed potato growers, as it once again opens up the market for 'business to business trade'. Following up on this, I asked the Minister of State for Northern Ireland what was now being done to allow domestic Northern Irish consumers to access high quality seed potato exports from Scotland, as well as seeking assurance that work will continue to let Scottish producers regain access to the far more lucrative EU market.
Is the Scotland Office the World’s Most Expensive Press Office?
The UK Government's Scotland Office costs over £13m eachyear to run. However, if the department's website is any guide, its main purpose is to churn out press statements at a dizzying rate of almost two each week, mostly extolling the virtues of other UK government departments rather than anything useful that Scotland Office ministers might have done on the public's behalf.
On 25 May I asked the Leader of the House for a debate on what exactly the point of the office of the Secretary of State for Scotland is; what his department does all day; and why it costs us all so much...
Digital Markets, Competition, and Consumers Bill
On 17 May I welcomed the aims and objectives of the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, which broadly fit with the enhanced consumer protections which the SNP have long called for.
While much is good with the bill, there remains a number of areas in which it could go further. I hope the Committee stage allows for improvements in areas such as the tackling of fake reviews and the misleading practice of 'drip pricing'.
Northern Ireland (Interim Arrangements) Bill
It is regrettable that the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Executive are still not up and running. My party supported the Northern Ireland (Interim Arrangements) Bill, but we remain firmly of the belief that Northern Ireland is best governed when it is governed locally.
I urged the Secretary of State and his ministerial team to continue to do everything they can to help the return of the Assembly and Executive.
Support for Electoral Reform
I have long been an advocate of Proportional Representation in all elections, as that is the best way to ensure that everyone's vote can count equally in deciding how decisions are made.
I was very pleased to meet earlier this month with Peter, a constituent from Inverurie, while he was at Westminster to support the 'Make Votes Matter' campaign as part of a wider lobby of MPs.
The UK and The Erasmus Scheme
It is disappointing for our students and wider academic community that the UK Government continues to refuse to seek re-association with the Erasmus and Erasmus Plus programmes.
I put it to Leo Docherty MP, a FCDO Minister, that if he truly believes we are 'better together' in the UK, then he must surely see that our academic and scientific communities would be even 'better together still' if we were back exactly where we belong: at the heart of those hugely beneficial European programmes.
Across the Constituency
1st May – May Day event
I travelled outside the constituency to visit the Turriff 'May Day' events, where I spoke with Kate from Autism & Neurodiversity - North Scotland. We discussed the fantastic work they do and the vital support they offer to families across Aberdeenshire.
8th May – The Big Help Out
On the 8th of May, I attended ‘The Big Help Out’ event at the Medan Centre in Pitmedden. There were so many incredible examples of community work represented at this event. I encourage those with the time to volunteer, to support one of the many great organisations in the constituency.
I also spoke to That's TV about my visit, which you can listen to here.
12th May – Visit to Huntly
On the 12th of May I visited Huntly, and visited the Gordon Rural Action office to be updated on a number of local projects, like these highlighted below.
met with Stuart Pow, a volunteer mechanic at The Bikery based on Gordon Street. The Bikery provides low-cost, repurposed cycling equipment to the community, helping to make sure that cycling is accesible to everyone. I was very impressed by the whole operation, and the benefits from the project in terms of helping to promote wellbeing, social inclusion and local opportunities are very much to be welcomed.
I also arranged a public 'drop-in' information event on the support for families and carers of seriously-ill or disabled children available from Family Fund. I met with Salena Begley, Engagement Manager for Family Fund, to discuss the grants and support that their organisation provides. In particular, the 'Take a Break Scotland' fund provides financial support to carers of disabled children, young people and their families that they can use for a short holiday, leisure activities, sports equipment, days out and more. I'm grateful to Salena for coming to Huntly and to Gordon Rural Action for hosting this great event!
12th May: Visit to Huntly
While in Huntly, my office held a street surgery, where I local Councillor Gwyneth Petrie and I met constituents to discuss issues such as traffic at peak times and access to the Recycling Centre. I also met with Vicky Keith to discuss after-school care places in Huntly following the closure of childcare in the area.
Food Bank Charity Support
The Trussell Trust's 'Guarantee Our Essentials' campaign calls for the Universal Credit payments to be set at a rate which is sufficient to afford the essentials we all need, such as food, energy and basic household goods.
I met Shona Singer from Aberdeenshire North Foodbank to discuss the campaign during Parliament's Whitsun Recess, and was very happy to give the campaign my full support.
In the News…
Grampian Online, 22 May 2023 Gordon MP criticizes George Eustice Antipodean trade comments
Press Release 31 May 2023, Immigration Minister Agrees to Meet Gordon MP on Seasonal Workers
Press Release 11 May 2023, Local MP Urges Claim Pension Credit by May to Get Extra £301 Payment
Grampian Online 16 May 2023, Gordon MP hails Family Fund advice event success in Huntly
Grampian Online, 16 May 2023, Huntly Bikery aims to recycle old bikes
Press Release, 18 May 2023, MP Comments on Ready2Go Demand-Responsive Buses Evaluation