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Doubledykes Debate reaches Westminster

I secured a short debate in Parliament about the closure of the Right of Way at Doubledykes Crossing. Although most of Network Rail’s operational matters are devolved to the Scottish Parliament they’re still legally a company that’s effectively owned by the UK Secretary of State for Transport. I explained how ancient the Right of Way is and how well used it was right up until Network Rail closed it. I also described some of the very poor communication we’ve had from Network Rail with different explanations being given at different times and the views of Community Councils being dismissed. The Minister who responded to the debate was very sympathetic and has already been in touch to offer a meeting to discuss this further. Before the debate I wrote to the new Transport Minister in the Scottish Government and I’m hoping I’ll get a constructive response from him too. When the UK Government can find over £2 billion for a single railway station in London it must surely be possible to come up with the money needed to provide a safe crossing on this ancient public footpath.

We had a busy final week in Parliament before last week’s short recess. First, we had a series of votes on amendments to the Government’s anti-strike legislation. It’s too late to stop the Bill from becoming law but the House of Lords had recommended several changes to make it less damaging. The first of these would have meant the law only applied in England. Scotland’s MPs voted 47 to 6 in favour of protecting Scotland’s workers (41 SNP, 3 Lib Dems, 1 each from Labour, Independent and Alba against 6 Tories) but were overruled by Tory MPs from England and Wales. We’re having yet another law foisted on us to take away basic civil rights. It’s worth remembering that when the SNP called for Employment Law such as this to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament Labour refused to support us.

It was the same story later in the week when we voted on Lords amendments to the Retained EU Law Bill. The Government had done a U-turn under pressure from the SNP and others and partially abandoned their ludicrous plan to scrap thousands of laws without even knowing what they were. Another amendment would have stopped them from changing the law on devolved matters without the consent of the relevant national parliament. Once again Scotland’s MPs voted overwhelmingly to protect devolution but we were outvoted by Tories from elsewhere.

This means a Tory government we didn’t elect will be allowed to overrule our Parliament and bring in laws to weaken standards on things like environmental protection and food safety. This is what being part of the United Kingdom means in practice. It means other people can legally remove workers’ rights, lower our environmental and public health safeguards, and much more besides. That’s what Labour, Lib Dems and Tories all believe we voted to accept when we voted no in 2014.

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