“Summer” Comes to an End
Parliament’s summer recess has just finished. I’ve really appreciated the chance to spend some serious time in the constituency. I've had meetings or visits to 28 local businesses and community groups of all sizes as well as getting out and about on my surgery tour. This year as well as using places like village halls and community centres I held a number of drop-in surgeries in local cafes. I’m very grateful to all the local businesses that have hosted me.
“Fitness to Work” Assessments
This summer I’ve seen a big increase in the number of complaints about assessments on people applying for “Personal Independence Payments”, the replacement for Disability Living Allowance. I’m following up a number of cases where the assessors, who work for private profit making companies, seem to have ignored evidence supplied by doctors who have known the claimant for years. This can have serious consequences, for example some people have faced the loss of their Motability car as a result. Responsibility for some aspects of the benefits system is transferring to the Scottish government who have said there will be no place for private profit when these assessments are done.
Lest We Forget
Sunday 9 September is the fiftieth anniversary of the fire that claimed the lives of nine men at the Michael Colliery in East Wemyss. I'll be laying a wreath at a special service of remembrance. I'm also hoping to get cross party support for an "Early Day Motion" in parliament in honour of the victims and in tribute to the courage shown by a great many miners on that dreadful day. I know that many people across Fife will take a few moments to remember the price paid by miners and their families in nearly every mining community in the country.
Westminster's Great Power Grab
This week the government's EU Withdrawal Bill starts its progress through parliament. The Tories claim to be "restoring the sovereignty of parliament" (something that doesn't exist in Scotland where the people, not parliament, are sovereign). In fact the so-called "great repeal bill" seeks to do the opposite. It would give Tory ministers the power to change laws without bothering to take legislation through parliament. It would even allow them to remove powers from the devolved national parliaments of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland without needing a vote. The SNP, and the Labour government in Wales, will seek to defeat the bill if this isn't changed.
An extra big shout out to my constituency team. Even during the parliamentary session when I have to spend a lot of each week in London they're still here dealing with your queries. A lot of their work needs to remain confidential but recently they've achieved truly life changing successes for several very needy people.