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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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LIB DEMS DITCH SATURDAY POSTAL SERVICE

Thursday, 23 September 2010

SNP MP VOWS TO FIGHT FOR DELIVERIES

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has expressed concern over the future of the universal service obligation after it was revealed Business Secretary Vince Cable is considering scrapping Saturday deliveries and switching to five day a week delivery – the absolute minimum allowed under European regulations. The proposals will be put forward in a forthcoming bill at Westminster.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“It is deeply ironic that, on the same day as Vince Cable was attacking capitalism, that he was himself acting like an unrestrained capitalist with plans to privatise Royal Mail.

“This is an outrageous stab in the back to rural communities across Scotland. Earlier in the week Tavish Scott claimed the universal service obligation was safe, but now we find out that, all along, Vince Cable was planning to ditch Saturday services.

“This is a major reduction in the universal service obligation that people in rural areas, and crucially businesses, rely upon. At a time of economic turbulence it is absolutely crucial that businesses in rural areas have access to high quality mail services.

“Royal Mail cannot be viewed as just another company. It provides an essential public service, especially to smaller communities and small businesses who do not have access to alternative carriers.

“While Lib Dem MPs may have swapped concern for local business for ministerial limousines, the SNP remain committed to fighting for local services.”

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PQ REVEALS HOW MURPHY TOOK TAXPAYERS FOR A RIDE

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Commenting on the publication of a parliamentary question which reveals the amount of public money spent on taxi's by the Scotland Office almost doubled in the final year of the Labour government,

SNP Member of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:

"Just as Jim Murphy was telling people in Scotland to tighten their belts, it appears that he and his advisers were buckling up in the back of a taxi, and leaving the public pick up the tab. With this extravagance, it's no wonder Labour left the public finances in such a mess.

"Jim Murphy and his advisers may now have to pay for their own cabs, but he should still explain just how his department's taxi bill nearly doubled in the last year. Where on earth were all these taxis going?"

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THE NEWBY TEAS TIFFIN CUP 2010

B RAJ TANDOORI REPRESENTED AT LONDON LAUNCH

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford and Fraserburgh's B Raj Tandoori Restaurant attended the launch of the Newby Teas Tiffin Cup 2010.  This year a record 74 MPs nominated a restaurant from their constituency to find Britain's Best South Asian restaurant.  

The launch was held at The Red Fort Restaurant in Central London on Tuesday.  All restaurants that were nominated for this prestigious accolade were invited to attend and  were briefed on the next stages of the competition. 

Mr Baldev Soni, owner of the B Raj, travelled to London for the event. Participating restaurants were be able to celebrate their success as regional finalists whilst meeting other nominees who they will compete against for a place in the Grand Final of the Newby Teas Tiffin Cup 2010 which is to take place on Tuesday 9 November 2010 in the House of Commons. 

This year's competition will be the in aid of World Vision which works globally to speak out for children affected by injustice and poverty. 

Commenting, Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford  said: 

"The launch of the Newby Teas Tiffin Cup begins an exciting period for the B Raj Tandoori.  I am sure that it will be a close fought contest, but am confident that with the support and enthusiasm of everyone in Fraserburgh, the B Raj will be chosen to participate in the Grand Final." 

Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Tiffin Club said:

"The UK's love affair with curry has come a very long way since we started the Tiffin Club in 2005.  I am delighted the launch will be at the Red Fort Restaurant in Central London, one of the first to tickle the British taste buds. This will be a first of many events to find MPs' Best South Asian restaurant in the country and it's all for an excellent cause" 

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LIB/DEMS CONVERT TO CONSERVATIVES ON BENEFITS

Saturday, 18 September 2010

The SNP has warned the Liberal Democrats over their new zeal for Conservative plans to dramatically slash welfare benefits after Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander revealed that planned cuts to the welfare budget could be far greater than the £4 billion in extra savings suggested by the Chancellor last week.

Mr Alexander’s enthusiasm for Tory cuts in an interview in today’s Scotsman comes as the Scottish Local Government Forum Against Poverty revealed research showing that changes to Disability Living Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Housing Benefit, Child Benefit and public sector pensions will take as much as £614million from the economy directly jeopardising 14,000 jobs.

Commenting, SNP spokesperson on work and pensions Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said;

"Having jumped into bed with the Tories, the Liberal Democrats clearly have the zeal of the convert. The next thing, Danny Alexander will be saying there is no such thing as society – real Lib Dems will be horrified.

“Danny Alexander’s assumption appears to be that everybody on benefits is somehow cheating the system or work-shy.

“Of course welfare reform is necessary and of course we must deal with welfare cheats, but reforms must be based on the medical circumstances of individuals, not some random figure which will compound the poverty and social exclusion experienced by disabled people.

“The Scottish Local Government Forum Against Poverty report shows the changes already announced will have a serious impact on Scotland’s economy attacking the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

“We have the same old Tories, now helped by the Liberal Democrats, cutting too far and too fast and leaving the poorest households to bear the brunt of tax rises, benefit cuts and the loss of public services and jobs.

“We simply must not have cuts for the sake of cuts. Not only would that risk forcing the truly vulnerable in society into a perilous position, it also takes vital capital out of the economy without consideration of the impact.”

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SNP COMMENT ON STUC PLEA TO LIB DEMS

Friday, 17 September 2010

The SNP joined the STUC today in urging the Lib Dems to ensure people do not lose essential help and support through the coalition’s welfare reform plans.

SNP MP and Work and Pensions spokeswoman Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“The STUC are right to raise concerns over Tory and Lib Dem plans to reform the benefits system.

“No one wants to see cheats benefitting from the welfare system but there are plenty of people who have paid their contributions and earned the support and safety net that benefits provide, particularly during a recession.

“Reform of the welfare system must be done carefully, not in the way the Tories and Lib Dems seem to be going about it. The right incentives and support for work must be put in place alongside proper safeguards to ensure those who need support are able to get it.

“There will be many Scots deeply disappointed with the stance being taken by the Lib Dems that could deprive them of their hard earned and paid for rights and of essential help when it is needed.

“With independent assessments showing the Tory Lib Dem budget will hit the poorest hardest I and the SNP will be working hard to hold the UK Government to account, to make sure these changes do not push more people into poverty and that those ordinary Scots who should have access to public support continue to get it.”

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WARNINGS OVER IMPACT OF COALITION WELFARE CUTS ON ECONOMY

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson, Eilidh Whiteford MP, has seized on a report produced by the Scottish Local Government Forum Against Poverty (SLGFAP) and Rights Advice Scotland (RAS) which reveals the economic impact of the UK Government’s rushed welfare reforms.

The report, “People, Councils, the Economy”, published today (Wednesday) reveals that Con Dem Coalition’s decision to change Disability Living Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Housing Benefit, freeze Child Benefit and increase other benefits, allowances and public sector pensions by the Consumer Price Index instead of the Retail Price Index would take between £514million and £614million from the Scottish economy every year - directly jeopardising 14,000 jobs.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“This report demonstrates the wider impact on the economy of the Con/Dem coalitions rushed benefit reforms which look increasingly look like an attack on the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

“While reform is necessary, it must be done carefully and decisions on entitlements based on medical need.

“We simply must not have cuts for the sake of cuts. Not only would that risk forcing the truly vulnerable in society into a perilous position, it also takes vital capital out of the economy without consideration of the impact.”

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EQUITABLE POLICY-HOLDERS LET DOWN FOR FAR TOO LONG - MP

Speaking up for Banff & Buchan’s Equitable Life policy holders local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford, along with SNP colleagues, is calling for the Government to stop prevaricating and pay up.

During a debate on the Equitable Life (Payment) Bill the SNP has called for a clear deadline for the delivery of a fair compensation scheme for policyholders.

Commenting Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“After over a decade of delay and uncertainty, it is time for the government to stop prevaricating and pay up. While progress on the Bill is a welcome step forward, the government have still given no real detail, and we need a clear timeline for the delivery of the compensation scheme.

“The Parliamentary Ombudsman has been highly critical of the Government’s serious failure to properly regulate Equitable Life and, consequently, the Government are required to compensate policy holders.

“Ministers must end the delay and uncertainty. It is disgraceful that the last Labour government left policyholders waiting for justice for so long, indeed, thousands have died since this process began.

“UK Ministers must bring forward a scheme to compensate all those who have suffered through the UK Government’s regulatory failures. They have had the summer recess to draw up a timescale for delivery of compensation but have failed to do so.

“We need a speedy and fair resolution to this saga from the new Government. Policy Holders have been let down for far too long.”

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APPROACH BENEFIT REFORM ‘WITH CARE’ – SNP MP

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Commenting on reports that Chancellor George Osborne is planning to reduce the annual welfare bill by a further £4bn, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson, Dr Eilidh Whiteford, warned that benefit reforms must be based on genuine medical evidence.

Dr Whiteford said:

“The benefits system badly needs reform but it must be undertaken with care.

“While supporting benefit reform, genuinely vulnerable individuals must not become an easy target for Conservative and Liberal cuts.

“There are already huge questions over the assessment process with people undergoing chemotherapy, in some cases terminally ill people, being ordered to attend back-to-work interviews.

“Return-to-work initiatives can benefit both the economy and the individual, but people should only return to the workplace when they are genuinely able and when correct support measures are available.

“Existing safeguards are not working and, with major reforms in the pipeline, we need real guarantees to ensure that that people living with genuine incapacity and ill health are spared added stress and uncertainty.”

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LOCAL MP TO START FIRST-EVER PETERHEAD HALF-MARATHON

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford will officially start Peterhead's first-ever half-marathon on Sunday 12 September at 11.00am at The Pavilion, Catto Park, Peterhead.

Peterhead JogScotland has organised the event as part of Buchan's Larder Food Festival and all proceeds are being donated to the Scottish Spina Bifida Association. Chairman of Peterhead JogScotland Stephen Bruce invited Dr Whiteford to officiate and the MP will be assisted in this duty by two local spina bifida sufferers.

Previewing the event, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

"Stephen Bruce and his dedicated team at Peterhead JogScotland have really put Peterhead on the jogging map with what they have achieved here.

"I'm delighted to be invited to be part of this extremely worthwhile event and I hope that the weather is kind to the many entrants who I know will be coming from all over the North of Scotland and beyond to take part and raise funds for the Scottish Spina Bifida Association."


For further information or to register please visit www.peterheadjogscotland.com/events.php

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LOCAL MP WARNS OVER HMRC ERROR FRAUDSTERS

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Banff & Buchan SNP MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has warned that local taxpayers could be targeted by fraudsters after errors made by HM Revenue and Customs left up to six million people across the UK facing an unexpected tax bill.

The SNP has led demands in the House of Commons for action, and received an assurance from the Treasury that HMRC will only contact individuals affected by the tax code errors by letter and never by e-mail. Dr Whiteford is warning constituents that there could be an upsurge of scam e-mails seeking to take advantage of the errors.

It is understood that that 4.3 million taxpayers have paid too much, but 1.4 million have underpaid and will receive demands for the money before Christmas. The average amount of tax owed is £1,428.

Speaking from Westminster, Dr Whiteford said:

“As though these unexpected tax demands are not bad enough there are, regrettably, some very unscrupulous fraudsters out there who will try to cash-in.

“Local residents need to be alert to scam emails purporting to come from HMRC that offer ‘tax rebates’ in exchange for bank details.

“When the SNP raised this in Parliament the Treasury Minister confirmed that HMRC will not contact taxpayers affected by the blunder via e-mail or telephone, nor will they ask for bank details. Any local residents who are affected should be aware of this, and if anyone has any concerns I stand ready to pursue matters with the authorities on their behalf.

“This tax fiasco will cause real hardship for a great many households, through absolutely no fault of their own, and the Treasury must now make every effort to ensure that people are not exploited by fraudsters.”


The SNP were first to call for an emergency statement in the House of Commons over concerns about the general situation and demands for assurances over the scale of the error and repayments faced by millions of taxpayers.

SNP Westminster Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP said:

“Millions of taxpayers face the prospect of an unexpected tax bill through no fault of their own, and yet we have not had answers to the most basic of questions.

“We do yet have absolute certainty on how many people are affected or precisely how much money is involved. We must have clarity on the full extent of these errors, and assurances that taxpayers who face demands, particularly those whose financial circumstances have deteriorated, will not be hounded or face hardship through no fault of their own.

“We need to get the bottom of how and when this problem occurred, when Ministers knew about it, and what action they are taking. It is essential that taxpayers can have confidence in the PAYE system, and Ministers must now get a grip.

“It does seem that this was another mess made under the last Labour government, and it is yet another example of the financial disarray left by Gordon Brown’s administration.

“This whole debacle further underlines the need for Scotland to have control over taxation.”

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LOCAL MP COMPLETES MARATHON 50-VILLAGE SURGERY TOUR

Monday, 6 September 2010

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has completed her marathon tour across the constituency, holding over 50 surgeries across a five day period in her mobile office.

The SNP MP has now held over 60 surgeries since her election just four months ago. It fulfils a pledge made by Dr Whiteford that she would make herself accessible to constituents in their own communities.

55 towns, villages and scattered communities in Banff & Buchan have now had at least one surgery from their MP, ranging from the main towns of Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Banff, Macduff and Turriff to small communities like Lonmay, Fisherford and King Edward.

Commenting on the tour, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"This was a very good way of getting out and about and finding out about the issues in each community and seeing some of the problems constituents were seeking help with at first hand. 

"It's been a marathon tour and quite a logistical undertaking to schedule it all and arrange posters and adverts to publicise it to people but the turnout suggests that the message was well-received that the local MP would be visiting. 

"While the individual cases which constituents raised with me must obviously remain confidential, there was a wide range of issues raised, some of them of a general nature and some of them people looking for information on a particular Government or SNP policy.   And some people simply saw I was in the area and dropped by to say hello, which was very nice of them. 

"The surgeries have generated in excess of 100 letters and I hope that some input from me can help progress some of the issues which were raised by my constituents." 

Further surgeries are planned for the near future and details will be advertised in the local press.

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BROCH RESTAURANT HEADS FOR WESTMINSTER ONCE AGAIN

Sunday, 5 September 2010

B RAJ TANDOORI WINS PLACE IN SCOTTISH FINAL OF TIFFIN CUP 2010

Fraserburgh's B Raj Tandoori Restaurant has won a place in the Scottish final after being selected to represent Banff & Buchan by local MP Eilidh Whiteford in the prestigious Newby Teas Tiffin Cup 2010 competition.

The UK-wide competition is held each year to find the best South Asian restaurant and attracts stiff competition. The B Raj is no stranger to success in the Tiffin Cup having emerged Best in Scotland and overall Third Best in the UK in the 2006/07 competition, which raises funds for the Roko Cancer Appeal, which also fights tuberculosis in the UK and India.

This year, 73 restaurants from across the UK are competing. The B Raj Tandoori, having won a place in the Scottish final will battle with other restaurants from Scotland to become one of the UK finalists in the Newby Teas Tiffin Cup 2010 Grand Final, to be held at the House of Commons.

Speaking in Fraserburgh during a visit to the B Raj Tandoori to congratulate owners Mr and Mrs Baldev Soni, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

"I am delighted that my nomination for the B Raj Tandoori has won through. The restaurant will now be visited by a 'mystery diner' and I hope that it will be selected to represent Scotland in the Grand Final of such a prestigious award.

"I am sure that everyone in Banff & Buchan will be supporting the B Raj as it flies the flag for the North-east."


Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Tiffin Club, added:

"We are delighted with the nomination of the B Raj Tandoori. It will really put Banff & Buchan on the culinary map."

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MP WELCOMES OFGEM INVESTIGATION INTO ENERGY MIS-SELLING

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Banff & Buchan SNP MP Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the announcement that Ofgem is to investigate energy providers over claims that they are misleading customers being persuaded to switch supplier on their doorstep or over the phone.

The MP believes the move is a step in the right direction to supporting consumers in the complex energy market but says more is needed to tackle the underlying problem of excessive fuel prices, especially in the heating oil market which has seen huge inflation in recent years.

Welcoming the investigation Dr Whiteford said:

“This is not a new problem, and any steps to end mis-selling are welcome. A great deal of effort has gone into persuading people to switch suppliers but in many cases they have actually ended up with a worse deal.

“The energy market is complex with a multitude of supplier each with a range of energy tariffs. That complexity has clearly been used by less scrupulous sellers over the phone and on the doorstep to persuade customers to switch suppliers.

“Consumers must be afforded greater protection and better options to address complaints and concerns when energy contracts go wrong.

“This action, however, does nothing to tackle the real problem of fuel prices which leave many people in Banff & Buchan facing great difficulty in heating their homes. This situation will only get worse as the Coalition Government target winter fuel and benefit payments for cuts.

“Rather than tinkering around the edges Ofgem should be looking at how to reduce prices for vulnerable households, especially in areas like the rural North of Scotland which suffer very cold winters putting excessive pressure on household budgets.”

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