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Small Business Saturday and the Mismanagement of PPE

Away from the glare of publicity I’ve been part of a small group of MPs looking in detail at the “Retained EU Law (Revocation & Reform)” Bill. It sounds pretty boring but it includes some of the most damaging legislation presented to the current UK parliament. If it’s passed it will mean nearly 4,000 pieces of legislation will automatically be abolished in just over a year’s time even if nobody has had time to work out how best to replace them. The Government have admitted it will mean scrapping some laws that their top civil servants haven’t even found yet. The Bill will also allow Tory ministers to unilaterally overturn decisions not only of the UK Parliament but of the devolved parliaments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There appears to be no way Scotland’s MPs can stop this crazy Bill from becoming law everywhere in the UK; the only way we can avoid it is to stop being part of the UK.

In the run up to last weekend’s “Small Business Saturday” I had the pleasure of visiting some of the superb independent businesses in my constituency. First stop was the Village Store in Coaltown of Wemyss where in between serving a steady stream of customers owners Wendy and Pete spoke about the challenges and rewards of running such an important local service. Then it was along the coast to visit Affordable Art, a relatively recent and very welcome addition to Methil High Street. We had time for a much needed refuelling stop at the excellent Cook’s café across the road before our final visit to The Munro craft and gift shop in Markinch. Small locally owned business like these are a vital part of our economy and will often provide the kind of personalised service the big online retailers can’t match.

I took part in an Urgent Question in parliament about covid contracts awarded to a company called PPE Medpro. I’ve previously asked questions at the Public Accounts Committee into how they were able to win contracts worth hundreds of millions when they had only been in existence for a couple of weeks. They made a profit of £76 million, the Government now says most of the stuff they supplied was not fit to be used, and several newspapers have reported that £29 million of their profit has gone to a Tory member of the house of lords – the same person who nominated them for the infamous “VIP lane” for government covid contracts. We need a full public inquiry into how people were able to make obscene fortunes out of the covid crisis.

Opponents of Independence hailed the Supreme Court decision as a conclusive victory but they’re now realising that it gives them a huge problem. They can’t keep dodging the question of what it would take for them to recognise that the people of Scotland have the right to choose our own future. They should realise that part of the Scots character is that one way to make sure we do something is for someone else to say we can’t.

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