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UPDATES FROM PARLIAMENT



The Government was once more embroiled in a sleaze scandal that has led to yet another senior Tory losing one of their jobs. Nadhim Zahawi accepted the job of Chancellor of the Exchequer, in charge of all our taxes, even though he was in a dispute with HMRC over his own tax affairs. It later emerged that he had to pay a substantial penalty as well as all the tax he owed. Zahawi and prime minister Rishi Sunak claimed it was all just an innocent mistake but when we questioned the top civil servant at HMRC during a Public Accounts Committee meeting last Thursday he cast serious doubt on these claims. He wasn’t allowed to say anything about Mr Zahawi’s individual case but he did say very clearly that you HMRC don’t slap a 30% penalty charge on someone just because of an innocent mistake. It wasn’t just the arrogance of a senior member of the government thinking they were above the rules the rest of us have to follow. He put highly respected civil servants in an impossible position by saying things that weren’t true and knowing that they weren’t allowed to record straight.

Last week Parliament held a number of events to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. The date itself is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz – Birkenau, the biggest and most notorious of the Nazi death camps. On Holocaust Memorial Day we honour the six million Jews who were murdered just because they were Jewish, as well as millions of other victims of genocides around the world. We should never forget that the Holocaust was made possible by a long gradual process of building up hostility towards one group of people and blaming them for problems that they hadn’t caused. This means we can’t afford to be silent when we see the same kind of hostility beginning to be directed at other groups of people.

I’ve had a lot of emails from constituents about the “Retained EU Law” Bill. I share their concerns that the Bill will lead to thousands of pieces of legislation being wiped out when the Government sometimes doesn’t even know they exist. Retained EU Law covers vital things like workers’ rights, animal welfare and environmental protection. It’s bad enough if the Government wants to weaken these but to do it in this underhand way is unacceptable. The Bill also gives UK ministers sweeping powers to abolish acts of the Scottish Parliament (even ones the Tories in Holyrood supported). I continued to oppose the Bill when it came back to the Commons recently but it was voted through.

The SNP are being joined by politicians from the Greens, Lib Dems and many Labour MSPs to stop the UK Government from blocking an Act that got overwhelming support in Holyrood. I accept there are strongly held views on the whole question of Gender Recognition but the Act was under consideration for six years before it was passed. The UK Government are shamelessly spreading misinformation about what the Act means so they can use it as an excuse to mount an all-out assault on Scotland’s national Parliament. We can’t let them win.


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