23rd – 29th May 2016
On Tuesday, Marion had a busy day of meetings, briefings and All Party Parliamentary Groups at Westminster.
On Wednesday, Marion attended Prime Minister’s Questions before speaking on education in the Queen’s Speech Debate later in the day. As a former lecturer, education is a subject very close to Marion’s heart and she often takes the opportunity to speak on the matter with genuine passion.
In Scotland, we do not charge fees. We still pay the education maintenance allowance. We actively encourage students to move forward in higher education. We do not simply ask universities to publish information on the types of students from deprived backgrounds who are accessing their services; we have actually legislated that universities must show that they are improving access for our most disadvantaged students. That is an absolute must, and I encourage the Government to look at what Scotland has done. It is important that they not only ask, but tell universities to encourage people from BMEbackgrounds, disabled people and those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.
One reason why many disadvantaged students do not go to university is the cost. In Scotland, we believe that students should access university based on ability, not the ability to pay. My right hon. Friend Alex Salmond has had that sentiment carved into a rock in Edinburgh at Heriot-Watt University—my alma mater. It is a subject with which the majority of people in Scotland totally agree.
Thursday saw Sajid Javid MP, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, give a business statement on the steel industry. Despite the steel works in Scotland having already been saved, Marion attended the Chamber in order to raise the issue of pensions:
In Scotland, the Tata plant in my constituency, Dalzell works, has already been sold on, but current and former steelworkers in Motherwell and Wishaw will rightly be concerned about their pensions, now frozen in the Tata scheme. Will the Secretary of State provide assurances as quickly as possible to my constituents that their future pensions are secure?
Mr Javid failed to provide any assurances, stating:
It is important that the hon. Lady knows that no pensions are frozen. The scheme is working as it should. The reason this consultation has come about is that, as I have said, the scheme trustees believe that this may lead to a better outcome for all members, including her constituents.
Thursday was also a sombre day back in the constituency as Anna and Conor, Marion’s two Interns, spent their last day working in Marion’s office! Both have been fantastic assets to Marion’s team and both the MP and her staff are sad to see them go but, of course, wish them all the very best in the future!
On Friday, Marion was back home in Motherwell and Wishaw meeting local people and organisations, discussing constituency issues, and working from her office in the Dalziel Building.