Tuesday, 15 November 2011
Speaking during a fisheries debate in the House of Commons today (Tuesday) SNP Westminster Fisheries spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford urged the UK Government to learn from the abject failure of the CFP and prioritise an approach that puts regional management at its heart.
Dr Whiteford also highlighted the success of the Scottish Government’s catch quote scheme which could help deliver a discard-free fishery.
Dr Whiteford, the MP for Banff and Buchan, said:
“This is a crucial time for Scottish fishing and the UK Government must learn from the abject failure of the CFP in its current form. It has failed the fishing industry, it has failed as a conservation strategy, and it’s failed our coastal communities.
“The real challenges we face now have to be seen in the context of a Common Fisheries Policy that for over 30 years has been systematically damaging our marine ecosystems, eroding the livelihoods of fishermen, and is inconsistently applied across the European Union.
“The CFP must be replaced with a workable model of fisheries management, and there is a growing consensus in the industry, among fishing leaders, scientists, and environmental NGOs that a Regionalised approach offers a better way forward than the one-size-fits-nobody approach we have at the moment.
“We need to get clarity from the European Commission on how they intend to deliver a regionalised approach. Until we get effective involvement in fisheries management from key stakeholders, the people on whom the decisions impact, we will not be able to move forward in any way. At this stage w e are still some distance from a policy that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable for our communities.
“Scotland has been at the forefront of pushing alternatives to the culture of discards imposed by Europe's flawed fisheries policy that forces fishermen to dump good quality fish back overboard, dead into the sea. This is a waste of a valuable food and economic resource. Nobody gains from discards.
“The Scottish Government has set a priority for the upcoming EU negotiations to extend the successful catch quota scheme. I urge the UK Government to work with Scottish Ministers as well as international partners, including the Norwegians and the Commission, to drive that measure forward so that we can actually expand the catch quota system and make its success something that we can build on right across the European Union.”
Monday, 14 November 2011
Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has hit out at the hypocrisy of calls by the Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary for the UK Government to "crack on" with a carbon capture and storage project at Peterhead - the SNP MP pointed out that the last Labour Government, in which Caroline Flint was a Minister, had sabotaged the original project in 2007 by refusing to provide certainty over the policy framework required or financial support.
Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:
"Caroline Flint has a lot of brass neck and not much irony given that it was the last Labour Government who sabotaged the original project in 2007 by refusing to provide certainty over the policy framework required or financial support.
"That project would have been the world's first pre-combustion carbon capture plant, but because of Labour's Downing Street dithering the project went to Abu Dhabi instead.
"We now need to ensure that the last government's mistakes are not repeated and the project goes ahead on track.
"Scottish and Southern Energy are to be commended for their continuing commitment to carbon capture and this project has huge environmental potential, and must be embraced by the government.
"This project will put Peterhead at the cutting-edge of carbon capture technology. The UK Government must now recognise the very strong case which exists for this project going ahead and the investment it will bring to Peterhead.
"The Scottish Government is doing everything it can to make Scotland the clean, green powerhouse of Europe - but the UK government has a record of holding Scotland back from achieving our full green energy potential in all areas.
"Instead of Westminster's bungling, the Scottish Parliament needs to gain responsibility for all energy issues in Scotland."
Sunday, 13 November 2011
Figures from GERS (Government Expenditure & Revenue in Scotland) show how an independent Scotland is better placed to fund pensions and welfare compared to the UK.
The analysis of the figures from GERS show that the size of Scotland’s social/welfare protection expenditure and state pension bill as a share of government revenue (with revenue being the money Scotland raises in tax for the very purpose of paying for public services) shows that in Scotland between 2005 and 2010 Scotland’s pension expenditure was 15.1% of Scottish revenues, less than the 15.7% for the UK.
And in terms of social/welfare protection expenditure it was 41.9% of Scottish revenues, less than the 43.2% for the UK.
These figures contrast with attempts by Michael Moore this week to compare Scottish welfare and pension spending solely with oil revenues – an exercise that if it applied to the UK as whole would result in a trillion pound deficit for the Whitehall Treasury.
Commenting SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:
“This week’s trillion pound blunder by Michael Moore to try and scaremonger pensioners only looks all the more ridiculous when compared to the whole picture.
“On the basis of taxes raised in Scotland, and once our welfare protection expenditure and state pensions are paid, Scotland actually has a relative surplus compared to the UK.
“In short Scotland is more able to afford our pension and welfare bill than the UK.
“Taking all spending in Scotland into account and all of our revenues, Scotland has run a current budget surplus in four of the five years to 2009/10 – while the UK was in current budget deficit in each of these years, and hasn’t run a current budget surplus since 2001/02.
“Michael Moore’s parroting of Tory arguments to talk Scotland down and use spurious comparisons to scaremonger pensioners shows how little confidence they have in their case.”
|UK social/welfare protection expenditure as % of total UK government revenues||Scottish social/welfare protection expenditure as % of total Scottish revenues|
|Social Spend||£961,195||Social Spend||£88,124|
|UK Govt. Revenue||£2,601,007||Scottish Revenue||£252,781|
|Social Spend as Revenue %||36.95%||Social Spend as Revenue %||34.90%|
|Scotland’s Social/welfare protection advantage in revenues|
|UK Pensions as % of total government revenues||Pensions in Scotland as % of total Scottish revenues|
|Pensions Spend||£353,472||Pensions Spend||£31,459|
|UK Govt. Revenue||£2,601,007||Scottish Revenue||£252,781|
|Pensions as % of Revenue||13.59%||Pensions as % of Revenue||12.45%|
|Scotland’s state pension advantage in revenues|
|Source: Figures for social spend and pensions from the official Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) report for 2009/10 [figures are millions]|
Friday, 11 November 2011
Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford will lay a wreath at Cruden Parish War Memorial, Cruden Parish Church, Cruden Bay on Sunday 13 November following the Service of Remembrance which commences at 10.30am.
Wednesday, 9 November 2011
Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford today (Wednesday) hailed the announcement of a new joint development agreement between Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Shell UK Limited for the development of the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project at SSE's gas-fired power station in Peterhead.
Questioning the Secretary of State for Scotland in parliament, Dr Whiteford demanded assurances that the UK Government will commit to the project, highlighting the failure of the previous Labour Government to support earlier an earlier project – and the more recent decision of the current Coalition Government to torpedo development of a Carbon Capture and Storage plant at Longannet.
Dr Whiteford said:
“This is great news for Peterhead and excellent news for Scotland’s renewable sector given we have some of Europe’s largest carbon storage reserves in our North Sea oil and gas fields combined with the expertise on how to access them.
“SSE are to be commended for their continuing commitment to carbon capture at Peterhead, and this project has huge environmental potential of international significance, and must be embraced by the government. This has been a key campaign for the SNP, and Alex Salmond, as First Minister and as the former local MP, battled to bring the development of carbon capture to the area.
“This project would put Peterhead at the cutting-edge of carbon capture technology. The UK Government must now recognise the very strong case which exists for this project going ahead and the investment it will bring to Peterhead.
“People have not forgotten that Peterhead could already have been three years ahead of where it is now had the last Labour Government not decided to pull back from its support for the previous carbon capture project.”
Commenting on the news that Argus Care Homes, who operate Glenesk House Care Home in Turriff, have gone into administration, local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:
“I can appreciate that with this news, people with relatives and loved ones in Glenesk House in Turriff will be very concerned.
“I have been in contact with the administrators, PKF, regarding the situation and they stressed that there is absolutely no risk of closure of Glenesk House. I have been reassured that operators are in place to ensure that the care homes will be running as usual, while a new owner for the business is sought.
“I am also pleased to hear that the administrators are positive about finding a buyer for the business. I stand ready to assist should any help be required in bringing the situation to a positive resolution and have offered that assistance to the administrators this morning.”
Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has congratulated Turriff Heritage Society after it secured funding from the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Welcoming the news, Eilidh Whiteford said:
“This is absolutely wonderful news for Turriff Heritage Society and I am delighted for the hard-working volunteers.
“I know that the Heritage Society have put in an immense amount of work since they received news that their funding was to be cut, and I was pleased to be able to support their event at Delgatie Castle recently.
“This funding award is richly-deserved and I congratulate the Society for their efforts.”
Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has urged the UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon to “push CFP negotiations as far as possible”. Dr Whiteford was speaking during a debate on fisheries in the House of Commons European Committee.
Speaking in the Committee, the SNP MP said:
“When discussing CFP reform, it is important that we put it in the context of the past 10 years. The communities that I represent have watched their fleets halve over that time, and I have seen the devastation that that has brought to some of those coastal towns and villages. One lesson that we have learned from the past is that the previous reforms caused a great deal of pain in those communities as boats were decommissioned. Unfortunately, our fishermen are now being asked to take more of the same. I appreciate the Minister saying that none of us would want to start from where we are now, which is right, but at the same time the people who have already made sacrifices are now being asked to make more. My concern with the proposals that I have seen so far is that they go nowhere near far enough to address the underlying social, economic and environmental problems that the CFP has caused in our fishing waters.
“The people whom I represent have done more than any other fishermen anywhere in the EU to make their fishery sustainable. They have taken huge steps towards innovative measures such as trying to use selective gears and all kinds of new approaches. They have developed many ways forward, so that 80% of fish landed now comes from managed stocks. They are also working towards Marine Conservation Society certification in so many of the key stocks. That is huge progress. They have made more progress on discards than anywhere else in Europe, and it is important that they see a reward for the steps that they have taken and for how far they have come.
“The challenges that, in particular, the whitefish and prawn fleets face are symptomatic of the failures that we have seen. We need to remember, that there is a knock-on effect and that not only fishermen, but whole communities suffer. In my constituency, the processing sector, which provides at least as many jobs—if not more—than those that are directly involved in fishing, also suffers.
“The catch quota system has already been alluded to by the Minister as something that has been very successful, and I must agree, but it is a small pilot scheme. In Scotland, only some 26 vessels are involved. The problem is that there are simply not enough quotas around for that to be expanded. However, that seems to be a more economically and environmentally viable way forward than some of the other proposals on the table. I urge the Minister to work with the Norwegians and the Commission to push that measure forward so that we can actually expand the catch quota system and make its success something that we can build on right across the European Union.
“I am still not convinced that internationally transferable quotas offer as viable a way forward as the claims would suggest, and that comes from the fact that, in Scotland, a lot of the fleet is locally owned. I know that that is not the case in other parts of the UK, but I am concerned that if we open the door to quotas being traded internationally, we will lose the knock-on economic benefits of having a locally owned and managed fisheries sector. I want to see the legal evidence that any safeguards that we put in place around ITQs will not be open to legal challenge. We need the detail of that before we can really see it as a way forward.
“Finally, as I remarked earlier, regionalisation is key. Unless we get effective regionalisation we will not be able to move this forward in any way. We are still quite a long way from a policy that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable for our communities. I urge the Minister to push the CFP negotiations as far as possible because we still need to go an awful lot further.”
Tuesday, 8 November 2011
The withdrawal of incapacity benefit must be based on medical need the SNP said today (Tuesday) as a report by Sheffield Hallam University warned that the UK Government’s welfare reforms would leave “countless” households facing “untold distress” as the entitlement to incapacity benefits is cut by 115,000 by 2014.
SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:
“Withdrawal of incapacity benefit must be based on individual medical need not some arbitrary target set by Ministers in Whitehall.
“It is difficult to believe that 115,000 people could all have been wrongly been assessed in their current entitlement, particularly when there are already serious questions over the reassessment 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.
“The SNP back a move to a benefit regime that uses resources efficiently but provides support where it is needed. Genuinely sick or disabled individuals must not become an easy target for Conservative and Liberal cuts.”
Friday, 4 November 2011
Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford and Peterhead South & Cruden SNP councillors Stephen Smith and Stuart Pratt have hailed Friday night’s street performance in Peterhead of ‘’Leviathan’ as ‘absolutely fantastic’.
Around 600 young people took part in the colourful parade which was watched by a crowd of several thousand people as it wound its way around Peterhead town centre. Dr Whiteford and Councillors Smith and Pratt were among the crowd to see the parade start off from Peterhead Community Centre.
Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:
“This was a wonderful spectacle to witness. A huge amount of work had obviously been put in by the young people to their costumes, the floats and the music.
“The efforts of the performers were clearly appreciated by those who turned out to see the parade.”
Councillor Stephen Smith commented:
“This was a very colourful display and also highly reflective of Peterhead’s whaling heritage.
“I’m delighted for the young people involved that they received such strong support from the townspeople of the Peterhead for their efforts.”
Councillor Stuart Pratt added:
“The turnout tonight was an absolutely fantastic achievement and all those involved in making this event such a success deserve our congratulations.”
Thursday, 3 November 2011
Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford will present several Banffshire Schools and playgroups with computer equipment donated by Tesco as part of the Computers for Schools scheme.
Dr Whiteford will be met by Store Manager Andy Tennant at the Tesco Store, Carmelite Street, Banff on Friday 4 November (tomorrow) at 11.00am.
Schools and playgroups being presented with equipment are:
- Banff Primary
- Macduff primary
- Banff Academy
- Hopscotch Playgroup
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Commenting on the UK Government’s revised proposals for public sector pensions, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford MP urged the Treasury to re-consider its policy on increasing contribution rates in the manner proposed at a time when members of the public face real financial pressures.
Dr Whiteford said:
“The Treasury must think again over its policy on increasing contribution rates at a time when people face real financial pressures.
“My concern is that we will see workers withdraw from pension plans because they cannot afford the increase in contributions, and in the longer term leave many wondering if they can even afford retirement.
“Most recipients of pensions are receiving only a few thousand pounds per year, not the sort of gold-plated pensions highlighted in the media, and it is women who will be hardest hit by these changes.
“The issue of pension reform requires consent to be built but, with the UK Government making clear they will slash the Scottish Budget if the Scottish Government does not implement the short term increase in pension contributions, that consent is not being achieved.
“Public sector workers, are rightly concerned about the impact of changes to their pensions by the UK Government – and the UK Government must think again.”
Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has received an assurance from Post Office bosses that a temporary service will be provided to customers in Mintlaw tomorrow (Thursday).
The MP contacted Royal Mail after the Post Office branch was closed pending an investigation into alleged irregularities. The move has left the largest village in Buchan without a Post Office for several days now.
Speaking after her discussions with Royal Mail, Dr Whiteford said:
“I have spoken to Royal Mail this morning to ask what steps they are taking to provide a temporary Post Office service while they continue their investigations.
“Royal Mail have given me an assurance that temporary arrangements have been put in place that will allow the Mintlaw Post Office to open on Thursday morning between 9.00am and 1.00pm.
“Should their investigations continue into next week, arrangements have also been made for a morning service on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday next week. However, Royal Mail hope to resume normal service as soon as possible.
“I welcome the steps taken by Royal Mail to minimise disruption to customers while their investigations continue, and hope the temporary arrangements will help mitigate the inconvenience to members of the community. Mintlaw is an important crossroads in the Buchan area and I hope a full, normal service will be restored as soon as possible.”