Monday (4th January 2016)
Tuesday (5th January 2016)
With the Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations over for another year (some would say far too quickly!) it was back to Westminster for Marion and the rest of the SNP Westminster Group this week with Parliament returning from recess on Tuesday. There was to be no relaxed return to London with Marion undertaking a busy day of whip duties, meetings and preparations for Scottish Questions the following day.
Wednesday (6th January 2016)
Prior to Scottish Questions on Wednesday Marion, as a member of the Parliament’s Education Select Committee, was present at the Committee’s morning meeting with the Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield OBE.
A fair model of block grant adjustment would ensure that Scotland is no worse off financially as a result of the transfer of new powers. Does the Secretary of State agree with the cross-party view, and that of Anton Muscatelli, Jim Cuthbert and the Scottish Trades Union Congress, that only the model of indexed deduction per capita would adequately deliver the principle of no detriment?
Mr Mundell’s response was non-committal:
As I said, we are involved in an ongoing negotiation, which Mr Swinney is conducting. I have tremendous respect for his ability to reach a fair settlement for Scotland, and for the Chief Secretary’s ability to reach a fair settlement for the rest of the United Kingdom. On the basis of the discussions that took place between the First Minister and the Prime Minister, my own discussions with the Deputy First Minister and the meeting that is due to take place on Friday, I am confident that we will be able to achieve a fair settlement.
Following Scottish Questions, Marion remained in the chamber for Prime Minister’s Questions. The rest of the afternoon was spent attending the latest meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Steel and Metal Related Industry, with Marion continuing to further the cause of a steel industry with such strong roots in the Motherwell and Wishaw constituency.
Thursday (8th January 2016)
During Thursday‘s Energy and Climate Change questions, Marion highlighted the link between fuel poverty and inequality following her opening question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps she is taking to reduce the level of fuel poverty.
Amber Rudd answered:
A reformed domestic supplier obligation—ECO, or energy company obligation—from April 2017, which will run for five years, will upgrade the energy efficiency of more than 200,000 homes per year, tackling the root cause of fuel poverty. Our extension of the warm home discount to 2020-21 at current levels of £320 million per annum will also help vulnerable households with their energy bills. We intend to focus our efforts through ECO and the warm home discount more effectively on the fuel poor, and will be consulting on our future approach this spring.
Marion took the opportunity to question Ms Rudd on inequality:
I thank the Minister for her answer. Fuel poverty is a sign of inequality. New research by the national charity Turn2us has found that one in two low-income households are struggling to afford their energy costs, despite being in work. Many of these households rely on in-work social assistance. Has she or her Cabinet colleagues made an assessment of the effect of welfare reform on low-income households judged to be in fuel poverty?
To which the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change replied:
I thank the Hon. Lady for her question. My Department works closely with the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure that the support we give goes to the most vulnerable. Energy costs are always at the centre of our minds in this Government, in order to make sure we put as little pressure as possible on hard-pushed households, and that will remain so.
Later in the day, Marion was a teller in the debate on the effect of the equalisation of the state pension age on women. It was a debate that largely seemed lost on the few Conservative MPs who actually attended but which boasted some excellent contributions from across the Chamber, in particular from Mhairi Black MP who had secured the debate.
On a busy day for the Motherwell and Wishaw MP, Marion was also keen to back support for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau ahead of the double whammy of Tory austerity and budget cuts at North Lanarkshire Council.
Friday (9th January 2016)
Over the course of Friday, Marion held final interviews for the position of Intern within her constituency office as well as holding this month’s Orbiston Neighbourhood Centre drop-in surgery, providing constituents with the opportunity to raise concerns and seek advice on local issues.
Saturday (10th January 2016)
Saturday saw Marion and a group of volunteers out and about in the constituency speaking to local people and answering a number of questions and concerns.