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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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WHITEFORD BACKS 'OIL FUND' FOR SCOTLAND

Friday, 31 July 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has backed proposals from Finance Secretary John Swinney for an 'Oil Fund' for Scotland, similar to that which operates in Norway.

The SNP candidate gave her backing to the proposal as Mr Swinney undertook a round of engagements in Peterhead yesterday (Thursday).

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"Successive Conservative and Labour Governments have squandered the opportunity to ensure that Scotland benefits from the offshore resources on our doorstep.

"The Norwegians recognised what oil could mean for their country if handled correctly, and that is why today Norway's oil fund is worth over £200 billion. But then, Norway is an independent country with control of its own affairs, unlike Scotland."

An oil fund would secure billions of pounds of benefits for people in Scotland now and in the future, John Swinney said.

The Scottish Government has this week published a new discussion paper - a strand of the National Conversation - which sets out options for a Scottish oil fund which would invest a share of present oil revenues to leave a lasting legacy for future generations.

Adjusted for inflation, £230 billion of tax revenue has come directly from Scottish waters over the past 30 years. The paper presents a range of models on how annual or one-off investments could provide a sustainable income to support the economy and seeks views on the best model for Scotland.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said:

"Scotland has immense natural energy resources. Alongside our burgeoning renewables industry, estimates suggest there are 25 billion barrels of oil and gas in the North Sea, worth hundreds of billions of pounds, still to be recovered.

"I believe there are clear merits in establishing an oil fund to provide permanent wealth long after our oil and gas reserves are gone.

"Investing a portion of revenues in an oil fund could provide greater stability, protect the economy and support the transition to a low carbon economy. Without any burden on the oil and gas industry, that means benefits for Scots today and crucially, it means Scots in the future will reap the benefits of a finite resource.

"Norway's oil fund is worth over £200 billion and Alaska uses a proportion of its oil fund to pay an annual dividend to its citizens, worth an average of over £1,000 each year in the past decade. The UK is practically alone among major oil and gas producers in not having an oil fund, despite an oil fund enjoying the support of previous UK Energy Ministers. The UK Government has without doubt wasted billions of pounds of Scottish North Sea revenue.

"Devolving control of North Sea taxation and production to the Scottish Parliament would allow us to enhance and maximise the competitive advantage of the oil and gas industry, increase even further its worldwide reach and ensure oil and gas resources provide a sustainable and lasting benefit for this country.

"An oil fund is strongly in Scotland's long-term economic interest and the UK Government can no longer oppose the people of Scotland enjoying the oil legacy they are entitled to."

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WHITEFORD LAMBASTS UK GOVERNMENT OVER PENSIONER POVERTY

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has lambasted the UK Government following the publication of European statistics showing that the number of pensioners living in poverty in the UK is among the highest in Europe with the over-65s in poorer countries, including Romania and Poland faring better.

The SNP candidate said the figures, which show pensioner poverty in the UK is more than a third higher than the European average, were an appalling legacy after twelve years of a Labour government.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"These figures are an appalling legacy after twelve years of Labour Government and show that Labour has singularly failed to close the gap between rich and poor created during the Conservative years.

"Gordon Brown should hang his head in shame as banking bosses get multi-million pound rewards while pensioners live below the bread-line.

"No issue underlines more why Scotland must have full responsibility for all tax, spending and social welfare issues so that we can tackle the scourge of poverty.

"The Scottish Government is doing everything it can with the powers that are available to it. Practical steps, like freezing the Council Tax, ending food preparation charges, and extending action to end fuel poverty, are delivering - and we will do more.

"There is enormous political goodwill towards fighting poverty, and yet the UK Government has failed to match its talk with action. Scotland has the will to eradicate poverty but we are being held back by a tax and benefits system that is failing thousands of people.”

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FARM INSPECTIONS REDUCTION ACHIEVED SIX MONTHS EARLY

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the first year's results from SEARS (Scotland's Environmental and Rural Services) which show that Scotland's farmers are saving time and money through the partnership working which has cut the bureaucracy associated with the agricultural sector.

With agriculture forming a major part of the Banff & Buchan economy the SNP candidate is delighted with these early results in cutting red tape and improving information sharing. One of the big complaints from farmers had been the previous inspection regime which could often see a farm being inspected by different agencies one after the other. So far the initial target of 2,000 fewer inspections have been achieved six months ahead of target.

There is also a continuing drive to see rural agencies such as the Forestry Commission, Scottish Government Staff and SNH working much more closely and in a more joined up way.

The achievements of SEARS to end March 2009 have been highlighted in the partnership's first annual review include:

  • More than 2,000 fewer inspections or visits to land managers, achieved six months ahead of target
  • £150,000 saving to sheep farming industry through the removal of groundwater licence charges
  • A 24/7 contact centre and SEARS web portal up and running
  • The opportunity for land managers to change personal information with up to nine organisations through one single contact
Speaking during a visit to New Deer Show at the weekend, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"These early results are excellent for the North-east, with its important agricultural sector. When I speak to farmers around Banff & Buchan one of the biggest concerns has been bureaucracy and the first year's operation of SEARS has made some great progress in that.

"This was always going to be a challenging task, with a cultural change needed in our public bodies, as well new working methods, staff training and better information sharing.

"However, I am delighted to see from its first annual review that the SEARS partnership is working very well and that the bodies involved are rising to the challenges and the staff in these organisations should be recognised for the hard work they have put in to achieving these results.

"This time last year my colleague Richard Lochhead committed to a 2,000 reduction in inspections by October 2009. I am very pleased to see that the reduction was achieved six months ahead of schedule.”

SNP Westminster candidate for Gordon, Richard Thomson, who also attended New Deer Show added:

"In these difficult economic times, the reduction of around £150,000 in costs to the sheep farming industry through SEPA waiving its groundwater charges was a welcome boost. This was made possible by SEPA's participation in SEARS and I welcome the commitment to repeat the waiver this year.

"This week's publication of the SEARS biosecurity protocol is another important landmark as it is vital that everyone involved in farm visits is up to speed with biosecurity measures.

"SEARS is an important development for Scotland's rural land managers and we can expect even more improvements in the years ahead as the bodies continue to simplify bureaucracy and reduce process delays."

Note:

SEARS is a partnership comprising nine bodies which deal directly with Scotland's land managers:
  • Animal Health
  • Cairngorms National Park Authority
  • Crofters' Commission
  • Deer Commission Scotland
  • Forestry Commission Scotland
  • Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority
  • Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate
  • Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency

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FORDYCE OPEN DAY SUCCESS HAILED BY GRAY & WHITEFORD

Monday, 20 July 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford and Banff & District councillor Ian Gray have hailed Sunday’s Annual Open Day at Fordyce as a tremendous success.

Eilidh Whiteford and Ian Gray joined the many hundreds of people who took the opportunity to tour the village and the beautiful gardens which were opened up to the public.

Commenting afterwards, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“Fordyce really scored yesterday with the weather which allowed the gardens to be shown off at their best.

“I am really pleased that the organisers and the gardeners were rewarded with some excellent weather on the day.”

Councillor Ian Gray added:

“It was an excellent event and congratulations must go to everyone in this beautiful Banffshire village who pulled together to make it a really excellent afternoon while at the same time raising funds for local good causes.”

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WHITEFORD CONGRATULATES SNP MEP ON AGRICULTURE AWARD

Friday, 3 July 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has congratulated her MEP colleague Alyn Smith on winning a prestigious award for Outstanding Contribution to Scottish Agriculture, as well as the Scottish Farmer "Champion of Champions" award chosen by the judges from amongst other agricultural award winners.

The SNP MEP was also presented with a silver salver from the National Sheep Association for outstanding service to the sheep industry.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“I am delighted for Alyn Smith, who has been a staunch defender of Scottish agriculture throughout his time as a member of the European Parliament.

“Along with Ian Hudghton, we are very fortunate in having two excellent representatives in Ian and Alyn working for Scottish interests at the heart of the EU, where more and more important decisions are made.

“Alyn’s award is richly deserved and I look forward to congratulating him personally on his next visit to Banff & Buchan.”

Speaking after the awards were announced Alyn Smith said:

"I'm just delighted by these awards, for a politician to be nominated at all was unusual, but to actually win, and then win the Champion of Champions as well was totally unexpected!

"As I said accepting the award, politics is a team game and I am proud to have such a good team working with me and the SNP government in Scotland as well as the great team in Scottish Agriculture to represent. Scotland has a lot going for us, and I'm firmly of the view that Scottish Agriculture has nothing to lose and everything to gain from engaging with the EU on every level.

"We certainly have a lot to do, with Common Agricultural Policy reform rocketing up the agenda in Brussels, as well as LFA reform, potential new rules on animal transport, animal by products, and a host of other issues to keep an eye on. I'll need all the support I can get in fighting Scotland's corner but I'm sure Scotland's representatives will have all the support we need."

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EURO-MP & CANDIDATE TOUR SMITH EMBANKMENT DEVELOPMENT

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford and Member of the European Parliament Ian Hudghton visited Peterhead Port Authority on Monday and met with Chief Executive John Wallace.

After a tour of the facilities, including a trip on the pilot boat to see close up the construction work going on in the bay, the SNP representatives had a meeting with Mr Wallace to discuss current issues and were updated on developments in the port.

Speaking after the visit, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“Having been brought up in a fishing community I know how important to the local economy the prosperity of its harbour is.

“I am delighted to see the progress being made with the Smith Embankment development, which has been made possible with the support of the Scottish Government.

“It is clear that Peterhead Port Authority has a strong management team driving things forward and securing the port’s future and I wish John and his team continued success.”

Commenting, Ian Hudghton MEP said:

"I am very impressed by the ambition and determination of the Port Authority to invest wisely in the development of facilities at Peterhead, and pleased to see the EU funding contribution being put to such good use.

“I am determined to do all that I can to help with forthcoming challenges and opportunities, such as radical reform of the CFP, so that Peterhead can continue to build up its excellent range of services around the harbour."

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WHITEFORD WELCOMES RETREAT ON ROYAL MAIL PRIVATISATION PLAN

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has described Lord Mandelson's admission that the UK Government will not progress legislation to part-privatise Royal Mail as a 'humiliating climb down' but sounded a warning that, if similar plans are introduced in the next Parliament, they would be disastrous for the postal service.

The SNP candidate has been vocal in her defence of Royal Mail and postal services.

Scottish National Party MPs have led opposition to the proposals at Westminster and kept up pressure on the London Labour Government to justify the proposals.

Commenting on the UK Government's decision to postpone their proposals, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"The Labour Government is quite simply wrong on this issue. The proposals to privatise bits of Royal Mail are both unworkable and unpopular. This is plain for all to see with the massive opposition it has stirred up.

"This climb down will be welcomed by both Royal Mail employees and the many service users all across the North-east.

"Privatisation would spell the beginning of the end for Royal Mail, and open the door to job losses, service cuts and a deterioration in the working conditions of postal workers.

"The proposal may be in the long-grass but it is still lurking around. The UK Government should dump this unwanted privatisation completely and concentrate on a positive agenda for our postal services."

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