PARLIAMENTARY AND CONSTITUENCY UPDATES
I co-hosted a meeting last week with victims of what looks like Britain’s latest disastrous failure to regulate its financial services industry. A number of regional building societies persuaded thousands of their elderly and vulnerable customers to take advantage of a “free” will writing service from a company imaginatively called The Will Writing Company Ltd. They were then persuaded, often wrongly, that they should transfer all their money and property into a trust to save inheritance tax. The trusts ended up under the management of The Philips Trust Corporation which went bust last year leaving thousands of people with no idea where their money has gone. Not for the first time there are serious questions about why regulators such as the Financial Conduct Authority did nothing until it was too late. If you or an elderly relative have been pressured by either of these companies to hand your money over to a “family trust” or something similar please let me know.
This week Parliament was due to debate the UK Government’s latest attack on the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. Last week we got a taste of what’s to come when the Home Secretary answered questions about the Bill. I find it genuinely frightening to see so many MPs on the government benches willing to read out statements given to them by the government but which just a few years ago would have been too much even for the National Front. The Home Secretary and the Prime Minister have both seriously misled Parliament by claiming the United Nations has said there are 100 million asylum seekers coming to the UK. This is a complete fabrication but the Government hope if they hurl enough abuse at anyone who disagrees with them we’ll eventually believe it. The witch-hunt they launched against England football legend Gary Lineker is just one example of this.
The Chancellor’s budget is due to be unveiled this week. The SNP have published our key demands for the budget to start undoing the damage caused by years of Westminster failure.
Restoring support with fuel bills to save every household £1,400 this year
Providing the funding for public sector workers to get pay rises that keep pace with inflation
Scrapping the latest increase in retirement age and guaranteeing that pensions will keep up with inflation
Rejoining the European Single Market to take down the barriers between Scotland’s exporters and their biggest markets
Improving investment in green growth
Very little of this would be controversial in Scotland and it would all be perfectly affordable with Independence; in fact it’s affordable now but the Tories would rather spend the money on tax breaks for their pals.
I had the great pleasure of visiting the Methilhill Community Garden to help them celebrate their tenth birthday. It’s been inspirational to see how the original idea has developed and how valuable the Garden has become to children and parents from Methilhill and the surrounding area. A big Well Done to everyone whose hard work and dedication have contributed to this success.