As soon as the Westminster Parliament returned after the New Year I questioned Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, about the high cost of energy for households and businesses. The Westminster government’s austerity agenda is forcing families to choose between heating and eating. Energy companies are making huge profits and wholesale energy prices are tumbling but there is no will from this Tory government to force companies to drop prices. Manufacturing companies which use energy intensively are paying much more in the UK than their EU competitors. This affects competition here and exports.
Discussions are still ongoing on between the Scottish and UK governments to agree a fiscal framework to ensure that the new tax raising powers being transferred to Scotland are done fairly. I asked David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, if he agreed with the STUC and leading economists that any agreement should be based on a formula which calculates funding per head of population. It turned out that this would be difficult for Mr Mundell to comment on as he is not party to these ongoing talks! We have a Scotland Office costing millions of pounds every year and yet the Scottish Secretary is not involved in this vital decision making process.
On Monday I have secured an Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons to ask the City Minister for answers on the alleged misselling of pensions to workers at the Anderson Mining Group. There has been an ongoing dispute over the last 14 years between pensioners and the Financial Ombudsman Service.
I was delighted to meet with staff and students from the University of the West of Scotland to hear of the courses they are running which many people from Motherwell and Wishaw attend. I added my name to support the Disability Lobby which highlighted the real suffering caused by Conservative Benefit cuts.
I met with constituent Bernadette Murphy from Cleland who received almost 120,000 hits on her Facebook page when she appealed for help for the parents of young children who find themselves in difficulties. Local food banks don’t always receive suitable food and supplies like nappies for babies. Although it seems unbelievable a Health Visitor highlighted the case of a baby who was sleeping in a drawer. As ever the generous folk of Motherwell and Wishaw rallied round. It shouldn’t be necessary in the 21st century but when help is needed I am very proud to represent such a caring community.
I continue to have regular surgeries in Motherwell, Wishaw and Bellshill. Please phone my Parliamentary Office on 01698 337191 if you need help.