A VOICE FROM WESTMINSTER
Updated: Sep 30
Westminster returned this week after its summer recess. In line with public health advice I’m still working from home and using video calls to dial into parliament if I get drawn to speak. I added my name to an SNP amendment to the Fisheries Bill calling for the Bill to be defeated because it fails to provide a sustainable future for our fishing industry. It’s likely that the Government will use their majority to vote the Bill through.
A major issue during this session will be the UK Government’s so-called “Internal Market”. This is supposed to be about promoting free trade, but it contains a very real threat to the rights of the Scottish Parliament and the devolved Assemblies of Wales and Northern Ireland. Basically, it would allow a UK Government Minister in London to overturn pretty much any decision of the Scottish Parliament – including decisions that our NHS is not for sale.
After visiting parts of the constituency that were worst affected by the serious flooding a few weeks ago, I wrote to Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance asking her to release emergency financial support for the people whose homes and possessions had been severely damaged. I’ve also asked for a review of the legislation around flood prevention to clarify who is responsible for making sure people’s homes are not continually put at risk. I was pleased to see that the Scottish Government took early action to implement the “Bellwin Scheme” that could provide additional funds to Fife Council to deal with the latest emergency, but we also need to provide more support direct to householders who suffered losses of tens of thousands of pounds after being refused cover by the big insurance companies.
The last week or so has seen a significant easing of lockdown restrictions with gyms, sports facilities, bingo halls and many more activities being allowed to reopen. These will all be subject to strict social distancing and hygiene rules, and it’s essential that customers obey these and follow the instructions of staff. I’ve spoken to the operators of some of our local gyms and I know how keen they and their customers have been to get started back. And if you feel you’ve earned a reward after pumping some iron remember that in this part of Fife, we’re blessed with some fantastic locally owned cafes who will be delighted to see you!
While it’s great to see so many businesses being able to reopen there are still people whose places of employment can’t yet open safely or are working short time or with reduced staffing. All of this hits people in the pocket and I’m supporting calls for the UK Government to extend their “furlough” scheme beyond its planned end date. I’m also continuing to call for proper support to millions of people who were deliberately left out of the UK Government’s various schemes.