PARLIAMENTARY AND CONSTITUENCY UPDATES
This update was first published on 13th February.
I’m still getting a lot of emails from constituents who are struggling to meet their household bills. The UK Government want us to believe the crisis has past but it could be about to get worse. Government support for energy bills is due to be significantly reduced from 31 March although there’s no sign of the energy companies rushing to lower their bills. Even with the remaining government support most people will be paying more than twice as much as they paid two years ago. Meanwhile the energy companies are raking it in. Shell made a profit of £32 Billion last year, BP made £23 Billion, both celebrating their highest ever profits. They make more every minute than most of my constituents get paid in a year.
The Government’s anti strike Bill completed its passage through the house of commons. We were allowed just under three and a half hours to give “detailed line by line scrutiny” of 121 amendments – that’s less than 2 minutes per amendment – and as usual in the UK Parliament we weren’t even allowed a vote on most of them. As the Bill will make big changes to the right to strike for over half a million people working for devolved authorities in Scotland the SNP argued that the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Senedd should be asked if they agreed with the Bill. Our amendment got no votes from Labour or from any Scots Lib Dem or Tory MPs.
I’m supporting the campaign to retain the centuries old pedestrian access at Doubledykes near Coaltown of Balgonie. This is in danger of being blocked by the Levenmouth Rail Link. I’ve had contradictory explanation from Network Rail as to why the need for a pedestrian bridge or underpass wasn’t identified and I’ve now had a very disappointing response from Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Government minister responsible. I’ve no doubt that if Doubledykes had been identified as an issue at an earlier stage the crossing would have been included in the budget. Rather than looking for someone to blame for a simple oversight I hope common sense will prevail and this historic link between the communities of Balgonie, Wemyss and Thornton will be preserved.
The Prime Minister was finally forced to sack his party chairman Nadhim Zahawi over his failure to come clean about an investigation into his tax returns. Rishi Sunak is still however giving his full backing to the Deputy Prime Minister despite a growing list of senior officials accusing him of bullying. Meanwhile there are more and more questions about whether the chairman of the BBC helped arrange an £800,000 loan for Boris Johnson shortly before Mr Johnson appointed him to the job. Leaving aside the question of how someone on a prime minister’s salary could have needed to borrow so much, these incidents and others continue to raise serious questions about the culture or cronyism at the heart of the establishment.