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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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SNP Comment on Latest FSA Report

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

"PLACES QUESTION MARK OVER DARLING'S CREDIBILITY AS LEADER OF 'NO'"

Commenting on the news that the Swiss Bank UBS have been fined £940 million for attempting to manipulate the Libor inter-bank lending rate, from their City of London office SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford said :

"The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has described this report as 'not pretty reading' for the City of London. That this breathtaking misconduct was happening in the UK and during the period of the last Labour government is indeed shocking. It follows the recent fines and resignations at Barclays Bank and could be a prelude to future action against other banks here.

"It raises the issue of what were the Chancellors of the Exchequer at the time, including Alistair Darling, doing to ensure that the good order of the financial sector was maintained.

"And it certainly places a big question mark over Mr Darling's credibility as head of the No campaign that this happened under the Westminster system of government, and it happened under his watch.

"The FSA has said today that the misconduct was extensive and widespread and involved dozens of individuals. It is extraordinary to read that it may have been so common that every single Libor submission during the period examined between 2005 and 2010 may have been tainted. It is a terrible legacy of the Labour years, and underlines the failures of Westminster government."

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"Scrooge" Swinson Cuts Redundancy Notice Period in Half

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Commenting on the announcement from the UK government that it will cut the consultation period for large scale redundancies by half from 90 days to 45 from April, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:

“At a time when families across Scotland will be looking anxiously to next year for greater economic certainty and growth, the idea that it will become easier to make people redundant will shock many.

“The 90 day period is designed to ensure that all possible alternatives to redundancy can be properly explored - reducing that period by half will restrict abilities to redeploy people or look at other employment opportunities.

“This is a strong illustration of how the UK government is imposing bad policies that the people of Scotland do not want, and that we can do things differently, fairer and better with the powers of independence.

“In Scotland, the SNP Government offers a number of programmes designed to help employees caught up in large-scale redundancies, such as the Partnership for Continuing Employment. These need time to work, and by slashing the time in half in this way, people in Scotland could be losing out on vital support.

“The bizarre claim from Jo Swinson that this measure is aimed at helping workers epitomises the ‘scrooge’ attitude at the heart of the Westminster Government."

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MP Officially Opens New Peterhead Business

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford officially opened Peterhead’s newest business at the weekend when she cut the ribbon on the Mace Convenience Store at Berryden Road Shopping Centre along with Peterhead FC Manager Jim McInally.

Shop owner Ahsan Mustafa invited the duo to perform the opening ceremony to mark the investment in the new store and to highlight the day’s events which included a visit from Santa in his Grotto, a buffet for customers, a celebration cake cut by Jim McInally, and numerous special offers.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“I’m honoured to be asked by Ahsan to assist at the opening ceremony and delighted that the Dales Park area has a convenience store serving the neighbourhood once again.

“Ahsan has ensured that his new store has a very wide range of products which I’m sure will prove a hit with local people.

“The last shop in Peterhead I opened has already expanded due to its popularity and I’m sure that Ahsan and his team at Berryden Road will be equally successful and I wish them every success in their new venture.”

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Local MP & Cabinet Secretary to Visit Storm-Damaged Buchan Ports

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead will tomorrow (Monday) visit Buchan ports affected by the extreme weather in the past few days.  Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford will accompany Mr Lochhead.  At Fraserburgh, local councillors Brian Topping and Charles Buchan will attend, while Peterhead South & Cruden councillor Stephen Smith will attend at Peterhead.


A highly unusual combination of south easterly gales, low pressure and high tides impacted on the north and east coasts over the weekend. Some harbour damage has resulted and Mr Lochhead will visit Fraserburgh and Peterhead harbours on Monday.

As a result of the storms the Scottish Government Resilience Room (SGoRR) has been activated and met on both Saturday and Sunday so that Ministers could be fully appraised of the developing situation.

Mr Lochhead will be available for photos and interview as he meets with the harbour authorities and local council representatives at each of the three ports, to be shown the damage and discuss measures being taken as a result.

Details:

Date: Monday, December 17, 2012
11.30: Fraserburgh Harbour
13.15: Peterhead Harbour

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Whiteford Urges Minister to Ensure Future for Pig Industry

Monday, 10 December 2012

Banff & Buchan MP and SNP Westminster spokesperson on Agriculture Dr Eilidh Whiteford has urged DEFRA to ensure a future for the pig industry.


The MP raised the matter of the supply chain, and recent announcements by Vion, during DEFRA Question Time in the House of Commons on Thursday.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“The pressures facing our farmers and producers are a concern, particularly in the pig sector.  With the recent announcement by Vion that they are putting their Scottish and UK operations up for sale, this has added to the uncertainty.

“However, I do believe that the pig sector can have a bright future.  It produces a quality product using the highest animal welfare standards which are well above most of our European competitors and this is increasingly being recognised by the consumer.”

Transcript of the exchange between Eilidh Whiteford MP and the Minister of State at DEFRA last Thursday:

Dr Eilidh Whiteford (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): The supply chain practices affecting our dairy industry affect other livestock producers, perhaps none more so than our pig producers, which are close to the Minister’s heart. Pigs are being sold well below the cost of production. Given VION’s announcements last week, what will the Minister do to ensure a future for the pig industry?

David Heath (Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs): The hon. Lady is absolutely right to say that I am interested in the pig sector, having bred pigs myself. She will know that we cannot disguise the cyclical nature of the pig industry. Having said that, I am concerned about the current position, but there are signs of progress. Some supermarkets are now prepared to share risk in the pigmeat sector, which I want to encourage.

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Whiteford Delivers Christmas Encouragement to Royal Mail Posties at Banff Delivery Office

Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP has visited Royal Mail’s Banff delivery office to pass on Christmas wishes and encouragement to the postmen and women at their busiest time of year.

Dr Whiteford was shown round the office by local Delivery Office Manager Ian Jackson and was introduced to all the postmen and women who are working hard doing their bit to sort and deliver all the cards and parcels in the Banff area in the run-up to Christmas.

Dr Whiteford said:

“It was great to meet the hard-working Royal Mail postmen and women at Banff delivery office and to see at first hand just how much effort they put into delivering for people at this time of year. 

“Postmen and women do such an important job at this time of year. I’d like to thank them for their efforts and wish them all the best over the busy festive period.”

Ian Jackson, Royal Mail Delivery Office Manager at Banff said:

“Christmas is the busiest time of year for Royal Mail. Our people really do pull out all the stops throughout the year to ensure mail is delivered quickly, but even more so over the busy festive period. We are grateful that Dr Whiteford MP came along to see the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.

“Our people do a fantastic job at this time of year to ensure that friends and families stay in touch through their Christmas greetings and gifts.  And as usual, we’d like to remind our customers to post early so that friends and family have longer to enjoy their Christmas greetings!”

The recommended last posting dates for mail are:
  • Thursday 20 December for 1st Class items
  • Tuesday 18 December for 2nd Class items
  • Saturday 22 December for Special Delivery items
The last recommended posting dates for international mail are:
  • Wednesday 5 December for airmail to Asia, Far East, Australia and New Zealand
  • Friday 7 December for airmail to South & Central America, the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East
  • Monday 10 December for airmail to Eastern Europe, the USA, Canada and Japan
  • Wednesday 12 December for airmail items to Western Europe
Customers can help Royal Mail ensure that all their letters, cards and parcels are delivered as quickly and efficiently as possible by taking a few easy steps:
  • Use a 1st Class stamp! – Post 1st Class for just 60p and have your Christmas card delivered the next day – anywhere in the UK.
  • Post early! – Avoid disappointment by posting your cards and parcels early. The last posting dates this Christmas are: December 18 for 2nd Class mail; December 20 for 1st Class mail; December 22 for Special Delivery.
  • Use a postcode! – A clearly addressed card or parcel, with a postcode, and return address on the back of the envelope, will ensure quick and efficient delivery.
  • Use Special Delivery!– For valuable packages and parcels guarantee delivery with Royal Mail’s Special Delivery, which means your gift is tracked, traced and insured against loss.
  • For more information about Christmas with Royal Mail visit: www.royalmail.com or call 08457 740740.

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UK Government Bows to Pressure on Groceries Code Adjudicator

Thursday, 6 December 2012

SNP Westminster Agriculture spokesperson and MP for Banff & Buchan Dr Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the concession from the UK Government that it has bowed to pressure and granted the Groceries Code Adjudicator the power to impose fines from day one.


Speaking from Westminster, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“I’m really glad common sense has prevailed and the UK Government has given in to pressure from MPs across the party spectrum to give real teeth to the Groceries Code Adjudicator.

“During the summer we saw dairy farmers flex their muscles over the supply chain practices of the major retailers, and win some important concessions on price, but it’s important that we build on that momentum to secure a fairer deal for all farmers.

“Agricultural producers need to receive a fair price for the food they supply that reflects the cost of production.  That issue will only become more acute this year because of the soaring price of animal feed and a difficult harvest.  The Groceries Code Adjudicator is an important step in the right direction, but large retailers also need to reform their supply chain models so that the costs and risks of production are shared more equitably.”

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MP Plants Boddam's Royal Oak to Mark Jubilee

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford officiated at Boddam Community Council’s tree planting day held recently by planning a Royal Oak to commemorate the Queen’s jubilee year.

The SNP MP was invited to plant the sapling, which was grown on the Royal Estate at Balmoral, by the Community Council as part of their efforts to plant several hundred trees around the local recreation park.

Local councillors Stuart Pratt, Stephen Smith and Tom Malone also attended to show support for the event, which saw a large number of volunteers turn out to help.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“It was a great honour to be asked by the Community Council to plant their Royal Oak and I hope the sapling survives the onset of the Buchan winter.

“I’m sure the organisers must have been gratified by the number of people who turned out on the day to lend a hand with the planting of various kinds of tree around the recreation park.  Councillor Stuart Pratt was a particularly enthusiastic helper who had planted a dozen trees before I arrived.

“It’s good that Boddam has a go-ahead Community Council and I commend it and the volunteers who turned out for their community spirit and putting something back into the community.”

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Whiteford Speaks Up for Workers' Pension Rights in Commons

LABOUR BETRAY PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS WHILE TORY PENSIONS BILL SAILS THROUGH PARLIAMENT

SNP Work & Pensions spokesperson and local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has slammed the Labour Party for allowing the Tory led government’s Public Sector Pension plans to sail through the House of Commons during its final reading.

With the UK Government threatening to reduce the Scottish budget, Labour needs to explain to Scotland’s public sector workers why they have not opposed these plans. Only last week in the Scottish Parliament, Labour claimed to have deep concerns over changes to public sector pensions but their masters south of the border have been found wanting.

Commenting tonight after the vote on the Public Service Pensions Bill, Dr Whiteford has condemned the coalition’s plans for public sector pensions without proper consultation, causing great uncertainty and insecurity amongst Scotland’s public sector.

Speaking after the vote, Dr Whiteford said:

“These punitive reforms are all about the UK Government's deficit reduction plans, and have nothing to do with securing sustainable pensions. The need for affordable, sustainable and fair public sector pensions is of critical importance to everyone, which is why the short term cash grab by the UK Government is so concerning.

“Pensions reform in Scotland should be taken forward in partnership with public sector workers rather than being imposed by the London Treasury. This bill places new and significant constraints on the Scottish Government’s ability to deliver a fair agreement which reflects Scottish circumstances."

Dr Whiteford went on to say:

"The Bill appears to leave no flexibility for Scottish public servants’ principal concern which is around scheme Normal Pension Ages being equalised with the State Pension Age, or age 60 for police officers and fire-fighters. The UK Government continues to have the power to meddle and influence issues which are central to Scotland’s public sector workers and which should be for the Scottish Government to decide.

“Instead of uniting against these punitive reforms, Labour should be ashamed of themselves for sitting idle and letting the Tories off the hook whilst betraying public sector workers. The SNP will continue to ensure that the voice of ordinary public sector workers is heard in the UK Parliament."

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Work Program Failing the Long-Term Unemployed

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


BOOSTING ECONOMIC GROWTH ONLY SOLUTION TO UNEMPLOYMENT

Boosting economic growth is the only real solution to solving long-term unemployment, the SNP has said, after it was revealed that the UK Government’s flagship Work Programme was failing to improve the job prospects of the long-term unemployed.

Figures published today show that just 3.53% of people had found a job for six months or more – well below the 5.5% target.

Ingeus and Working Links were given the contracts for the Work Programme despite having no record of job creation in Scotland, while Scottish social enterprises with a proven record - such as the Wise Group, which got 5,300 people into work in 2010 – were shut out of the process.

Commenting on today’s figures, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“It's clear already that many of the people who have been moved on to the Work Programme from Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance are simply not well enough to do the kind of work that is available.

“People with long term health conditions, disabled people, and those in areas of high unemployment face huge hurdles accessing the labour market.

“The Work Capability Assessment is not fit for purpose and is causing distress to people who are manifestly in need of support but have been told they are fit for work.

“The only real solution to long-term unemployment is to create jobs and boost long-term economic growth – something which today’s OECD report shows that George Osborne has categorically failed to do.

“Instead of blaming people who can't find work for their own poverty, the Government should be investing in jobs and 'shovel ready projects' to kick start the economy, and investing in skills; that's the best way to help people furthest from the labour market.

“This report is yet another nail in the coffin for the Tory Government – and yet another example of how it would be far better if Scotland took its own decisions about how to get people back into work."

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Local MP Drops in to Support Books Abroad Event

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford dropped in at an awareness-raising event for Scottish international development charities in Banff at the weekend being hosted by North-east charity Books Abroad.


Facilitated by NIDOS, the Network of International Development Organisations in Scotland, the exhibition provides a glimpse into some of the amazing work done by 34 of the 91 NIDOS member organisations.  By highlighting the stories of people who have benefited from the work of the organisations, the exhibition aims to raise awareness of the importance of the Scottish voluntary sector’s contribution to tackling global poverty.  The exhibition was formally launched in Edinburgh in September and has since been travelling around Scottish communities hosted by NIDOS member organisations, of which Books Abroad is a member.

Commenting, Eilidh said:

“I was very pleased to attend and show my support for the work done by Books Abroad and the other international development organisations taking part in the exhibition.

“The Scotland v Poverty exhibition celebrates Scotland’s strong tradition of working for global justice.  Thanks to the organisations and individuals who have dedicated time and resources to fighting the global issues that keep people in poverty, Scotland has helped make a difference to people in 142 countries around the world.

“This collection of images and stories from 34 Scottish international development charities highlights the voices of people who lifted themselves out of poverty with our support, and demonstrates why it is so important to continue.”

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MP Calls for Immdeiate Statement on CCS Speculation

Friday, 23 November 2012

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has called for an emergency statement following press speculation that the UK will not receive any funding for the first round of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects under the EU’s NER 300 funding scheme.

Failure by the Tory-led Westminster Government to provide full financial details in their application for funding has resulted in no UK projects being given funding for the first stage of the scheme.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford, said:

"These rumours are deeply worrying and, if true, would signal a clear lack of vision and commitment to CCS and renewable projects in Scotland.

"The UK Government needs to clarify whether these rumours are true as a matter of urgency.  If they have no substance then the government needs to say so. Until it does, its silence on the issue only deepens concerns about its commitment to the industry, causing uncertainty for investors and putting thousands of future jobs at risk.

"Even if these rumours are false, the lack of communication by the Tories and their Lib-Dem allies on CCS investment gives out mixed messages to those interested in investing in major projects in Scotland.  This is a huge concern, but it is stands in stark contrast to the clear message of the Scottish Government on CCS, as it does its record on renewable research and investment.

"This really is a tale of two governments. While the London Government dithers, the Scottish Government is fully committed to fulfilling Scotland’s potential to be a world leader in CCS technology.

"We have already seen the benefit of this can do attitude in the renewable sector, and, only this week we have had the creation of a further 750 jobs. London needs to clarify its position now, and fully commit itself to properly support the CCS industry in Scotland."

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Whiteford Raises Vion Pull-Out in Commons Debate Tonight

Monday, 19 November 2012

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has raised the Vion pull-out of the UK in a Commons debate earlier this evening.

The SNP Westminster Agriculture spokesperson was speaking during a debate on the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill.  She said:

“The disturbing and disappointing news breaking this evening that Vion is pulling out of the UK illustrates all too keenly the fragile nature of our food supply chains and the pressure our food producers and processors face in the current economic climate. Some 13,000 people across the UK work for Vion, including more than 130 in my constituency at Strath of Brydock. I know Members across the House will share my concern about the uncertainty facing the employees of Vion, and I ask the Minister to give us an assurance this evening that everything possible will be done to ensure continuity in those Vion plants across the UK, and that the Government will be working very hard to find buyers for the businesses.

“The problems in the supply chain are one of the factors that give rise to the problems food processors face, and addressing them is one of the objectives of the Bill. This evening’s news about Vion is very unfortunate, but it should serve to concentrate our minds on why we so desperately need an effective groceries code adjudicator. This is not a debate about an abstract topic; real people’s jobs and livelihoods are at stake.”

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Local MP Welcomes Post Office Contract Award

Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Department of Transport has awarded the Post Office an important framework contract to provide services on behalf of the DVLA.  It has also been named by the Department for Work and Pensions as a provider for its new framework contract to offer identity assurance services.


The decision to award theses contracts come on the back of a huge public campaign to retain the DVLA contract with the Post Office.

Commenting on the decision, Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford, said:

“These announcements are fantastic news for our local communities and will go some way to securing the future viability of the Post Office.  Many of the Post Office key services have been stripped back over recent years and this has been deeply worrying to those of us in rural communities, who count on the Post Office to deliver an appropriate level of service.

“Both of these announcements highlight the ability of the Post Office to compete with other providers, but they are also testament to the strength of public feeling to retain and build on these key services.  The SNP has continually highlighted that the Post Office – as well as being a viable business – is often the focal point in our communities, providing rural folk with the resources and services they require.

“I have received hundreds of campaign cards from across Banff & Buchan by folk worried that further loss to Post Office services would be the death knell of our local offices, as well as the communities which serve them. I am very happy that this shadow has now been lifted and that, for once, sense has prevailed.”

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MP Backs Pig Farmers at Parliamentary Event

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Banff & Buchan MP and Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Pig & Poultry Group, Dr Eilidh Whiteford, has highlighted the high welfare standards to which Scottish pig producers are operating.

The MP was speaking following today’s meeting in the Houses of Parliament of BPEX (British Pig Executive) to present the annual David Black Award, given for a significant and sustained contribution to the pig industry. At the meeting, MPs were also briefed on current pressures facing pig producers.

Commenting following the event in Parliament, Dr Whiteford said:

“Feed prices have increased dramatically pushing pig producers into a loss of around £10 for every pig raised. In Scotland, our pig producers have been at the forefront of introducing new animal welfare measures well ahead of a deadline imposed by the EU.

“Worryingly, aside from our friends in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the only other EU countries who currently comply with the welfare requirements which come into force on 1 January 2013 are Sweden and Luxembourg. While most other EU countries are working towards compliance, there are 9 countries, including France, which it is clear will not meet the 2013 deadline.

“In those circumstances, consumers should be aware that in selecting Scottish pork products, they are helping to support the highest standards of animal welfare in the production of their food as well as backing Scottish farmers and reducing food miles.”

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SNP Condemn Westminster's Child Benefit Crackdown

The SNP has condemned Westminster’s child benefit crackdown after a news report today revealed the misery of the wife of a Scots war hero who lost the vital income without any warning.

The Daily Record article raises fears that the Tory-LibDem UK government’s attack on benefits could see thousands of forces families losing the cash.

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“This distressing story highlights the damaging impact of the Tory-LibDem government’s savage cuts.

“It is deeply worrying that this family were not told they would not be getting the benefit – and that nobody has explained why.

“How many other families have been affected in this way?

“It is shameful that the UK government is pulling child benefit without warning people beforehand.

“David Cameron’s campaign claimed he would do everything he could to strengthen and support families, but this proves the opposite is true.

“With his LibDem cronies, Mr Cameron has condemned thousands of families into poverty with his savage cuts to child benefits.

“Labour must explain to people, just like the family in this story, why it believes we are ‘Better Together’ with a Tory Westminster government and their attacks on the welfare of children, families, young people and pensioners.

“In contrast, the SNP is committed to a progressive welfare system that reflects our nation’s values and ensures fair and decent support for all of our people."

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Whiteford Highlights Cost of Air Passenger Duty to Local Economy

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Last week’s House of Common debate on Air Passenger Duty highlighted the disadvantages Scotland faces compared to other European Countries. Commenting following the debate, Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford, said:

“Last week’s debate on Air Passenger Duty underlines the disadvantage that Scottish airports face in comparison to other European destinations. APD is significantly higher than in other European countries and, ultimately, this means travelling to Scotland, either for business or for pleasure, is increasingly – and unfairly - more expensive, and it is an issue on which I receive regular correspondence on from constituents.

“According to a recent report by Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Glasgow airports, this disproportionate tax is costing the Scottish economy an estimated £210 million each year. It prevents our airports extend flight routes to and from Scotland and does nothing to attract new airlines, or new businesses, from setting up in Scotland.

“The North-east economy is founded on our excellent business and tourism reputation and it's essential that we make our economy as competitive as possible. Not only does this high APD prevent competitiveness, it prevents Scotland from bouncing back from recession. The Westminster Government needs to listen to the advice of Scotland’s airports and devolve APD to the Scottish Government. Only then will we be able to compete with other destinations, and realise the potential we all know is here.”

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MP Makes Case Against 'Beer Duty Escalator' in Support of Local Hotels

Speaking during a debate in the House of Commons prompted by a public petition on beer duty, Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford made the case for local hotels and community pubs.


Despite a 42 per cent increase in beer duty since 2008, HM Treasury forecasts that have shown that there will be no additional revenue generated from beer duty despite planned increases over the next two years.

MPs debated the impact of the ‘beer duty escalator’ on valued community pubs and the continued affordability of beer in pubs and urged the Government to support the beer and pub sector by conducting a thorough review of the economic and social impact of the beer duty escalator to report back before the 2013 Budget.

Commenting following the debate in the House of Commons, Dr Whiteford said:

“The beer duty escalator, which sees the tax on beer increase by 3% each year, puts local hotels and community pubs, as well as brewers, at a real disadvantage when trying to compete against the big supermarkets.  With the price of a pint rising all the time, people are increasingly buying their alcohol from supermarkets at a knock down price, and this results in several interlinked problems.

“Not only does it mean last orders for the community pub, buying alcohol for consumption at home also leads to a range of safety concerns.  The local pub is often a source of community spirit, but it is also a controlled environment.  The trend towards drinking at home has made cheap alcohol more widely available and fuelled excessive consumption that contribute to a range of health and social problems.

“The Scottish Government has introduced a bill on the minimum pricing of alcohol and this will go some way to alleviate the damage cheap alcohol causes in our communities.  However, the London Government’s disproportionate tax on beer in pubs is not the answer and doesn’t act as a deterrent to drinking; it merely forces drinking behind closed doors.  It doesn’t reduce drinking, it increases it while simultaneously jeopardising thousands of jobs.”

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Peterhead Project Through to Carbon Capture Shortlist

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Two Scottish projects have made it through to the shortlist of CCS projects which will now be considered for financial support.

The UK Government today announced that carbon capture projects in Peterhead and Grangemouth had both made it onto a four project shortlist that will be considered for financial support in the New Year.

It was also announced that Peterhead would be considered a reserve project when applying for European funding through the NER300 scheme, while the Sound of Islay Tidal project has been put forward as a full candidate project for NER300 funding.

Commenting, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“It is positive news that Peterhead is one of two Scottish projects to make it onto the final shortlist for funding for carbon capture.

“I firmly believe that Peterhead has an extremely strong case to make and I would certainly hope that the UK Government will fully recognise that when it makes its decisions in the New Year.

“Westminster has a sorry track record when it comes to supporting innovative carbon capture projects in the past, with jobs and investment allowed to slip away before at Peterhead and Longannet.

“People in Peterhead remember all too well that they have been let down before by dithering at Westminster, so what is most important is that history is not allowed to repeat itself.”

Local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford added:

“This is a very important step along the road for the Peterhead project so I welcome today’s announcement from the Secretary of State for Energy. 

"In Scotland we are working to deliver a diverse and balanced energy portfolio to provide us with secure and affordable heat and electricity for decades to come, and CCS technology could have an important role to play in that.

“Scotland is also ideally placed to develop this technology, with massive geological stores, high-value technological expertise and vast experience of working in deep waters offshore.”

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Whiteford Speaks Against Botched Pensions Plans

Commenting on tonight’s debate in the House of Commons on the Public Service Pensions Bill, Banff & Buchan MP and SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford has condemned the Tory/Liberal coalition’s plans for public sector pensions without proper consultation, causing great uncertainty and insecurity amongst Scotland’s public sector.

Speaking after the vote, Dr Whiteford said:

“These punitive reforms are all about the UK Government's deficit reduction plans, and have nothing to do with securing sustainable pensions. The need for affordable, sustainable and fair public sector pensions is of critical importance to everyone, which is why the short term cash grab by the UK Government is so concerning.

“This bill places new and significant constraints on the Scottish Government’s ability to deliver a fair agreement which reflects Scottish circumstances.

"It appears to leave no flexibility for Scottish public servants’ principal concern which is around scheme Normal Pension Ages being equalised with the State Pension Age, or age 60 for police officers and fire-fighters. The UK Government continues to have the power to meddle and influence issues which are central to the future of Scotland and which should be for the Scottish Government to decide.

“Instead of uniting against these punitive reforms, it is incredible that Labour have chosen to let the Tories off the hook and let public sector workers down by sitting on their hands. The SNP will continue to ensure that the voice of ordinary public sector workers is heard in parliament.”

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Local MP Backs Calls for Full Welfare Devolution

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the call from the SNP’s Conference in Perth for the Scottish Parliament to have full responsibility for benefits and welfare so it can tailor its kinship support to the individual needs of Scotland.

The SNP’s Dr Whiteford also welcomed the overwhelming support for a resolution calling on the Scottish Government to develop a new Kinship Care Order, enshrining in law the rights of carers.

Commenting Eilidh said:

“We need the UK Government to pass responsibility for benefits and welfare to the Scottish Parliament so that we can better support children and families involved in kinship care.

“The SNP in Government has done more than any previous administration to support kinship carers and our upcoming Children and Young People Bill will recognise the rights and responsibilities of kinship carers for the first time by putting a new order on statute to support their role.

“This will provide a clear route to a permanent home for many vulnerable children, reflecting the close family bonds between the child and the carer and the different expectations and circumstances compared with other forms of care.

“It will also provide the basis for carers to access any wider support already available to parents to help them stay in, or find work and access appropriate benefit entitlements.

“No other administration has gone as far to support kinship carers as the SNP have – the Labour-led executive between 1999 and 2007 failed to take any action.

“The UK Government’s failure to act on this issue demonstrates how vital it is that decisions on benefits that affect the people in Scotland should be taken here in Scotland.”

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MP Welcomes Sporting International to Fraserburgh

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the staging of the World Indoor Bowls Council’s (WIBC) World Under 25 Championships to Fraserburgh.  The SNP MP attended today’s opening ceremony at Fraserburgh Leisure Centre as a guest of the host club, Fraserburgh Indoor Bowling Club.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“This is a really important event for Fraserburgh.  The sport of bowls has a huge following among both young and old in the North-east and this is the first time that a major championship has been held in the North of Scotland.

“I am very pleased for the event organisers who have put in a tremendous amount of work to make this happen.  Today’s opening ceremony reflected very well on the town and I hope that local people will take the opportunity to catch some of the action this week featuring some of the most talented young bowlers currently involved in the sport.  It promises to be an exciting week.” 

Fraserburgh SNP councillor Brian Topping, who was also a guest at the opening ceremony added:

“I’m delighted that this event has come to the Broch and I congratulate the committee at Fraserburgh Indoor Bowling Club and the Fraserburgh Leisure Centre for bringing this event to the town.

“It shows once again just what an excellent facility the Leisure Centre is and has helped put the Broch on the map in terms of sporting achievement.”

Read more...

MP visits Community Pharmacy in Peterhead

Friday, 5 October 2012

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford will visit Buchanhaven Pharmacy, Skelton Street, Buchanhaven, Peterhead on Friday 5 October (today) at 1.00pm.


The visit has been arranged by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Scotland to demonstrate how the pharmacy service works and why Scotland’s pharmacists are world-leaders.

Commenting ahead of the visit, Eilidh said:

“Pharmacists are frequently the first point of contact with the NHS for people who are unwell.  Pharmacy also lies at the heart of how the NHS will evolve to meet the changing patient needs in Scotland.

“Whilst health is devolved to the Scottish Parliament there are a number of important issues that are still controlled by Westminster, such as preventing medicines shortages and making sure medicines are dispensed safely.

“But perhaps the most important aspect of health policy in relation to pharmacies has been the removal of prescription charges by the Scottish Government, benefitting over 8000 people in Banff & Buchan on low incomes.”

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Quiet Man Forced to Eat His Words on Welfare

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

WELFARE SUPPORT MORE AFFORDABLE IN INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND

The SNP has dismissed scaremongering from Tory Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith over Scotland’s ability to sustain welfare support.

Highlighting figures from GERS (Government Expenditure & Revenue in Scotland) for 2010-11, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford pointed out that an independent Scotland is financially better placed to fund pensions and welfare compared to the UK as a whole.

The analysis of the figures from GERS for social protection - which includes state pensions and welfare payments - show that the size of Scotland's expenditure stands at 40% of Scottish revenues, less than the 42% for the UK.

Dr Whiteford said:

"Iain Duncan Smith styled himself as the quiet man and, after his ridiculous claims on welfare, I suspect the No campaign he will be hoping he keeps quiet in future.

"The official GERS figures show that spending on social protection as a percentage of total revenues in Scotland is consistently lower than it is in the UK - which means that welfare spending will be more affordable in an independent Scotland. And with Scotland contributing 9.6% of UK revenue in return for 9.3% of spending, the fact is that Scotland more than pays our way in the UK.

"Just like Mr Duncan Smith refuses to accept the facts about his damaging tax credit changes, the facts show that he completely wrong on Scotland's welfare spend in comparison to the UK.

"Looking at both sides of the balance sheet, over the five-year period from 2006/7 to 2010/11, Scotland was in a stronger financial position relative to the UK as a whole by a total of £8.6 billion- over £1,600 for every man, woman and child in Scotland, or over £3,600 per household. This underlines the opportunities of independence and financial responsibility.

"With unpopular NHS reforms south of the border and the Tory Chancellor eyeing a further £10bn of cuts from the welfare budget according to this morning’s papers, the Westminster government are determined to dismantle the welfare state.

“It is clear Scotland needs independence so that we can deliver a fair and effective welfare system - rather than be on the receiving end of unfair Tory policies - and the figures show that welfare spending in an independent Scotland will be more affordable because it is a smaller share of our tax revenue than is the case for the UK as a whole."

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Welfare Link to Cost of Living Must not be Lost

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Commenting on reports that the coalition are considering freezing working-age benefits for two years and ending the link with inflation, the SNP said the Tories have their priorities all wrong and should stop cutting from the poorest and start investing for jobs and growth.

Reports suggest the Department for Work and Pensions wants to find a further £10 billion in cuts to the welfare budget, which is already facing cuts of £18billion. Breaking the link between inflation and benefit increases is reportedly being considered.

SNP Work and Pensions Spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“The Tory-led government have a sorry history of making the poorest pay for their own economic mismanagement – but cutting the link between welfare and the cost of living strikes at the heart of the welfare safety net.

“It is a sad fact that welfare support is most needed in the midst a recession – so it’s staggering that the Westminster government continues to push their damaging austerity agenda.

“The out-of-touch Westminster government has no idea of the reality of life on a low income. They have their priorities all wrong, giving tax breaks to millionaires while making the poorest pay the heaviest burden for a financial crisis which is not of their making.

“Ending the link between welfare and the cost of living would not end the Coalition’s economic woes, but would make life even tougher for vulnerable people, creating greater financial stress and increasing the risks of getting into debt.

“Welfare reforms are undoubtedly necessary to create a simpler, fairer and more effective system. But the Westminster reforms are not fit for purpose. When plans for Universal Credit were first announced, it was claimed these reforms would make work pay. But so far it has just been the poor who have been made to pay.

“Decisions over the welfare system should not be left to Westminster Tories but should be made in Scotland, by a Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament, 100 % elected by the people of Scotland and committed to building a fairer society.”

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SNP Speaks up for Dairy Farmers in Westminster Debate

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has condemned the predatory tactics of the major supermarkets and milk processors in their dealings with dairy farmers.


The SNP’s Westminster Agriculture spokesperson was speaking in a debate at the House of Commons on Wednesday.  Dr Whiteford took the opportunity of this first outing for the new UK Agriculture Minister David Heath to urge the Minister to “seize that opportunity to bring transparency and fairness to the dairy pricing regime and take action to ensure fair prices for all our food producers caught in over-concentrated and uncompetitive supply chains”.

Speaking during the debate, Dr Whiteford said:

Farmers are angry, and it is heartbreaking for people who get up at 4.30 every morning to milk their cows to be working for nothing. They are seeing their livelihood and way of life destroyed, so that supermarkets can post multi-billion pound annual profits.

“The dairy farmers in Banff and Buchan have little choice about where to send their milk for processing—most of it goes to Wiseman because there is no other large processor locally. That lack of competition compounds the inherent imbalance in the relationship between suppliers, processors and retailers. The suppliers are in an invidious position: they simply do not have enough negotiating muscle.

“Whatever steps we take to mitigate the worst excesses of irresponsible corporate behaviour, we also need to address the underlying problems. A window of opportunity has been created by the actions of dairy farmers and the high profile that they have generated this summer, allowing Ministers to grasp the nettle of supply chains. I hope that the new Minister will seize that opportunity to bring transparency and fairness to the dairy pricing regime and take action to ensure fair prices for all our food producers caught in over-concentrated and uncompetitive supply chains.”

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MP Attends Pitsligo Castle Trust Doors Open Day

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford was in Rosehearty on Saturday at the invitation of the Friends of Pitsligo Castle Trust as part of their events for Doors Open Day.


The Trust, which aims to consolidate Pitsligo Castle and to create the Peathill Jacobite and Heraldic Centre at the historic Peathill Kirk, staged a lecture in the kirk by local historian Charles Burnett as part of the day’s events.

Commenting after visiting the historic kirk, Eilidh said:

“Doors Open Day is now a well-established event throughout Europe and I’m delighted that local bodies and institutions are carrying this forward.

“Peathill Kirk is, of course, well-known for the tremendous carved wooden “Laird’s Loft” within it which is one of the finest examples of its kind in the country.

“The Trust itself is an enthusiastic body with ambitious plans and I wish them continued success as they continue with their work to secure the castle and the kirk as places of interest for future generations.!

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Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP Gets First Class Experience as She Turns Postman for the Day

Friday, 14 September 2012

Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP got to see just what’s involved in delivering the post when she joined local postman Gregg Butcher on his delivery round in Peterhead this morning.

Eilidh Whiteford is one of the first of a number of Scottish MPs and MSPs being invited to go out with postmen and women across Scotland to see the lengths Royal Mail goes to, to deliver the post. 

Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP with
Peterhead postman Gregg Butcher
The purpose of the visits over the summer is to give each MP or MSP a unique insight into the challenges of delivering mail to every house and business in their constituency, six days a week.

Royal Mail Sector and Delivery Manager Bill Tulloch who briefed Dr Whiteford before she set off on his walk said: 

“We’re delighted that Eilidh Whiteford is taking the time to experience the every day challenges faced by our delivery postmen and women.

“The visit gave us the opportunity to show Dr Whiteford how we are modernising the organisation. We are investing £59 million in Scotland across three years for new sorting and delivery equipment as we respond to the changing nature of the modern postbag. We are delivering more parcels and fewer letters than ever before and the tools for the job need to reflect that.”

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“Postmen and women perform an incredibly important function in our communities, not just delivering communication, but being one of the institutions in society that binds us together for the common good.

“I wanted to get a real understanding of the work that goes into delivering the mail on a daily basis.  There can be no better way of getting that insight than actually going out and doing the job alongside a delivery postman.  I am very grateful to local postman Gregg Butcher who delivers to customers in Peterhead for letting me join him on his round in the Town Centre today.

“Gregg was very tolerant of the intrusion into his job and it was a pleasure to work alongside him on part of his daily route.”

Royal Mail is currently reviewing and modernising its operation, which means every part of the process from collecting, transporting, sorting and delivering the mail is being improved to increase efficiency.

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Whiteford Meets with Epilepsy Scotland at Peterhead Roadshow

Local MP Eilidh Whiteford met with representatives from Epilepsy Scotland in Peterhead today as part of the organisation’s roadshow.


Pamela Spence of Epilepsy Scotland
with Eilidh Whiteford MP
The event, which took place in the Arbuthnot Library in Peterhead, was aimed at raising awareness of epilepsy amongst the general public.  Trained staff were on hand to listen to questions and talk about services such as the freephone confidential helpline and Epilspsy Scotland website packed with epilepsy information.  Free Epilepsy Scotland guides were also available.

Speaking after the Peterhead event, Eilidh said:

“This was a very worthwhile event and I hope that people will take the opportunity to find out more about epilepsy, which has the capacity to affect a loved one, a work colleague or any one of us at any time.

“The key message going out to those who have epilepsy or have just been diagnosed with epilepsy from today’s event is that you are not alone and there is help and support available to you.”

Epilepsy Scotland provides training in understanding and managing epilepsy.  It helps raise awareness of epilepsy by giving talks to schools and community groups.  It also campaigns for better healthcare and is lobbying health boards, including Grampian, to increase the number of specialist nurses in Scotland.

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Whiteford Warns That CAP 'Greening' Proposals Could Damage Jobs and the Environment

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

SNP Agriculture and Fisheries spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford MP warned that the EU’s ‘greening’ proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), in their current form, could have a counterproductive and damaging impact on jobs and the environment in the north of Scotland.

A recent study by NFU Scotland and Cairngorm National Park Authority examined the effects of the proposals relating to cropping, grassland and ecological focus areas. It found almost three-quarters of surveyed farmers thought the greening proposals would have an adverse environmental impact, and half felt it would have a negative effect on biodiversity.

All of the farmers reported that it would have a financial impact, with 9% believing they could be forced out of business altogether.

Dr Whiteford raised the concerns during Scottish questions today (Wednesday). Dr Whiteford said:

“While we all agree that measures are needed to tackle climate change and protect biodiversity there is real concern among Scotland’s farming communities that the EU ‘greening’ proposals of the common agricultural policy could be counter-productive.

“Farmers are not just worried about its impact on their businesses, but the vast majority believe it will also be detrimental to biodiversity in the Scottish Highlands. Three quarters think it will actually be damaging to the environment, and half that biodiversity will be reduced.

“The unique physical, environmental and economic challenges for farming in the Scottish Highlands are ill-fit to implement the currently proposed ‘greening’ measures. A rethink is required and the concerns of the NFU must be raised as a matter of urgency by the UK Government. Viable alternative proposals must be developed to protect both jobs and the environment.

“The Scottish Government is working hard to represent the concerns of rural communities about the reforms to the common agricultural policy, but with independence we would have a place at the top table when these negotiations are underway.

“The UK government cannot be trusted to be a strong voice for Scotland in Europe. An independent Scottish Government , 100% elected by the people of Scotland, would be better placed to represent all of Scotland’s communities at the top table in Europe.”


More information on the NFU Scotland study is available here: NFU Study on EU Greening

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Whiteford Announces Details of Surgery Tour

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford will be embarking on her third surgery tour next week. The SNP MP is aiming to cover communities stretching from Rothienorman in the far south-west to Inverallochy in the north-east and almost 30 other communities in between.

The local MP has been busy preparing for the tour and is looking forward to getting out and about into some of the smaller communities which she represents.

Looking ahead to the marathon tour, Eilidh commented:

"I'm keen to get around as many communities in Banff & Buchan as possible during the Parliamentary recess and this is an excellent way to do it.

"Many people choose to use e-mail or websites to contact me these days, but I’ve found during the last two years that it is important for people to be able to have access to their local MP in their own community.

"There's no appointment necessary unlike the 'static' surgeries which I hold and constituents are welcome to raise issues with me, discuss aspects of policy, or just simply drop by for a chat. I'm looking forward to meeting as many people as possible during the tour."


Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford will be available for consultation in her Mobile Office at the following locations:

Tuesday 28 August
New Deer 10.00am – 10.20am Hall car park
Maud 10.30am – 10.50am Station car park
Stuartfield 11.05am – 11.20am The Square
Auchnagatt 11.30am – 11.40am Hall car park
Methlick 12.10pm – 12.30pm Main Road car park
Fyvie 1.50pm – 2.10pm Car park opp. Co-op
Rothienorman 2.25pm – 2.40pm Hall car park
Cuminestown 3.05pm – 3.25pm The Square, opp. Shop



Thursday 30 August
Inverallochy 10.00am – 10.20am adj. Post Office
St Combs 10.30am – 10.50am Hall car park
Crimond 11.00am – 11.20am Kirk car Park
St Fergus 11.30am – 11 45am Kirktown
Boddam 12.00pm – 12.15pm Russell Street
Cruden Bay 12.30pm – 12.50pm Main Street
Longside 2.00pm – 2.15pm Main Street car park
Mintlaw 2.25pm – 2.45pm Newlands Road
Fetterangus 2.55pm – 3.10pm Hall car park
Strichen 3.25pm – 3.45pm North Street
New Pitsligo 3.55pm – 4.15pm The Square



Friday 31 August
Sandhaven 10.15am – 10.35am St Magnus Road opp. park
Rosehearty 10.45am – 11.00am The Square
Gardenstown 11.30am – 11.45am adj. Petrol Station
Macduff 12.00pm– 12.30pm Knowes Hotel car park
Whitehills 1.40 pm – 1.55pm Seafield Street
Portsoy 2.10pm – 2.30pm Church Street
Fordyce 2.45pm – 3.00pm adj. Castle
Aberchirder 3.20pm – 3.40pm The Square
Forglen 3.05pm – 4.05pm Bogton Row

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Consultation Questions as Farmers Hit by Pipeline Closure

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

SNP Westminster Agriculture spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford MP has demanded greater consultation by the UK Government with the agricultural industry over a decision to close a pipeline connecting one of the country’s major gas terminals for three weeks which leaves Scottish farmers out of pocket.

Dr Whiteford has written to the UK Energy & Climate Change Secretary asking whether input was sought from the farming industry in the decision to shut down the pipeline between St Fergus Gas Terminal and Fife for three weeks from 25 August. Alternative supplies during this period only available from refineries in England at an extra cost of between 2.5 and 5 pence per litre.

The Banff and Buchan MP met with farmers at Turriff Show in her constituency this week where concern was voiced that the closure will coincide with grain-drying operations when peak-demand from farmers will be reached, adding extra costs to what is already likely to be a more expensive process due to the wet summer.

Dr Whiteford said:

“I’ve been in communication with senior management at St Fergus and the distributors, Avanti Gas. It seems that the date for this shutdown, which is for essential work to be carried out and only the third total shutdown in the plant’s history, was agreed with DECC in January 2011.

“The question which must be asked now is, did DECC seek the views of the Scottish farming industry in reaching a decision on this date?

“While summer may be an obvious time to shutdown as it means a low demand from domestic gas users, shifting the closed period by only a few weeks would have made a big difference to Scottish farmers, who are now facing increased costs as a result.

“I’ll be raising the issue with the UK Energy Secretary to ensure that the agriculture industry is consulted on any such future plans.”

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Famers Raise LPG Concerns with Whiteford

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

MP TO SEEK CLARIFICATION ON WHETHER INDUSTRY WAS CONSULTED ON TIMING OF PLANT SHUTDOWN

SNP Westminster Agriculture spokesperson and Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford is seeking clarification from the UK Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) whether input was sought from the Scottish farming industry in the decision to shut down one of the country’s major gas terminals for 3 weeks during the summer.

St Fergus Gas Terminal will shut the pipeline to Fife for three weeks from 25 August 2012 with alternative supplies during this period only available from refineries in England at an extra cost of between 2.5 and 5ppl. 

The MP met with farmers at Turriff Show in her constituency this week where concern was voiced that this will coincide with grain-drying operations when peak-demand from farmers will be reached, adding extra costs to what is already likely to be a more expensive process due to the wet summer.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

I’ve been in communication with senior management at St Fergus and the distributors, Avanti Gas.  It seems that the date for this shutdown, which is for essential work to be carried out and only the third total shutdown in the plant’s history, was agreed with DECC in January 2011.

“The question which must be asked now is, did DECC seek the views of the Scottish farming industry in reaching a decision on this date?

“While summer may be an obvious time to shutdown as it means a low demand from domestic gas users, shifting the closed period by only a few weeks would have made a big difference to Scottish farmers, who are now facing increased costs as a result.

“I’ll be raising the issue with the UK Energy Minister to ensure that the agriculture industry is consulted on any such future plans.”

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Whiteford Raises ATOS Contract Concerns with Duncan-Smith

Sunday, 5 August 2012

An SNP MP has written to the UK Work and Pensions Secretary expressing concern at the decision to award ATOS Healthcare a new five year contract to run assessments for ‘personal independence payments’, the replacement for disability living allowance (DLA).

ATOS already have a £100 million a year contract to run the widely-criticised computer-based work capability assessments (WCAs) for Employment Support Allowance claims, which removed lifeline benefits from thousands of sick and disabled people deemed ‘fit to work’. Problems with WCAs were widely acknowledged and highlighted both by disability organisations and by medical professionals including the BMA. Forty per cent of appeals of decisions are successful, rising significantly when legal representation is sought.

A third independent review of the Work Capability Assessments is still underway, led by Professor Malcolm Harrington.

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“It is astonishing that the UK Government have awarded ATOS Healthcare these contracts given the widespread concerns around the operation of the work capability assessments and before the independent review has even been completed.

“While the UK Government have properly promised a moratorium over future G4S contracts after the Olympic security shambles, a similar robust approach should be taken with other private partners who have failed to deliver on multi-million pound public contracts.

“These inadequate tick-box tests removed lifeline support from thousands of sick and disabled people. The UK Government have questions to answer over this decision – which has been taken before the review looking at the problems with the WCA has even been completed. By awarding ATOS with this new contract, it suggests the Tories are either not listening to the harrowing experiences people have faced, or they simply don’t care.

“Other organisations have had to deal with the impact of this failure. Citizens Advice Bureaux have seen a huge increase in numbers of people turning to them for help with Employment Support Allowance. So much so they are now dealing with an average 100 new ESA cases every working day. CAB also help with WCA appeals and win nearly 70% of them, showing the inherent flaws in the original system. We do not want to see this replicated for thousands of disabled people who currently rely on DLA to help them with increased costs of being disabled.

“It is deeply concerning that the same company have been awarded the new contract – and does not bode well for the welfare reforms the UK Government are putting in place.

“The UK Government must give clarity over what measures are being put in place to ensure the new assessments are safe and rigorous, protecting sick and disabled people instead of putting them at risk of harm.

“With decisions like these, it’s no wonder the Tories are known as the nasty party of UK politics.”

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MP lends Support to Buchan Farmers at Supermarket Protest

Friday, 27 July 2012

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford lent her support to local farmers in Peterhead yesterday during an NFU day of activity to convince retailers and processors of the need for dairy farmers to receive a fair milk price. 

The Peterhead protest, which took place at the town’s Farmfoods and Iceland stores follows up dairy farmer action in Dumfries and Inverness where farmers have met with consumers outside Asda, Morrisons, Iceland, Farm Foods and Lidl stores.   
Banff and Buchan MP, Eilidh Whiteford, who visited the farmers outside Iceland, said:

“Dairy farmers are under immense pressure. I attended the NFU rally on this issue in London recently. NFUS President Nigel Miller spoke at the event and said ‘the tyranny of discretionary pricing must end’ - and I agree with him. Retailers and processors need to radically change the way they work with their suppliers.

“When you factor in food, shelter, vets’ bills, and administration costs to look after the cows, it is not cheap to produce milk.  Costs are being pushed down the supply chain, and farmers are being forced to sell their milk below the cost of production.  The situation we have at the moment is not sustainable, that is why I feel it is important to be supporting the farmers today.”

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Whiteford Elected as Vice-Chair of All-Party Farming Group

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has been elected as Vice-Chairperson of the newly-formed All Party Parliamentary Group on Pigs and Poultry at its inaugural meeting in the House of Commons.

The SNP MP is also her party’s spokesperson on agriculture in the Westminster Parliament and led a campaign last year to persuade the major supermarkets to stock only products made with eggs which comply with EU welfare directives so that local egg producers compete on a level playing field with foreign imports.

The formation of the new all-party group means that the pig and poultry sectors are set to have their profiles raised in the UK Parliament.  Tiverton & Honiton MP Neil Parish was elected as Chairperson.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“Given the importance of both of these sectors to the farming industry in Banff & Buchan and indeed across the North-east, I am very pleased to have been elected as one of the All Party Group’s new officer-bearers.

“Both sectors have their issues at the moment and I hope that the formation of this group can act as a ‘fast-track’ to get views and concerns across to London-based Ministers who, in spite of devolution, still have the lead for the time being in dealing with Europe.

“With the summer show season upon us, I look forward to getting around the local shows meeting farmers to discuss the issues.”

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Welsh Labour Government Backs Votes at 16


BUT WHERE DO SCOTTISH LABOUR STAND?

Scottish Labour have been challenged to say whether they support votes for 16 and 17 year-olds in the referendum over Scotland’s constitutional future – after the Welsh Labour government confirmed that it is in favour of lowering the voting age to 16 in all elections and referendums.

Although the Welsh Assembly has no powers to change the law, Labour Finance Minister Jane Hutt AM told the Senedd: “16 and 17-year-olds are deemed old enough to pay taxes, leave school, marry and join the armed forces, alongside a wide range of other responsibilities. Therefore, the Welsh Government supports the lowering of the voting age to 16.” (ref: http://www.assemblywales.org/" - 4th July 2012 4pm)

In Scotland, Labour MSPs and MPs, including Shadow Scotland Secretary Margaret Curran, have given their support to the Votes at 16 campaign, but the party have been silent on the franchise for the Autumn 2014 independence referendum.

Calling for clarity, SNP Westminster equality spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“With the only Labour politicians actually in government in the UK arguing for votes at 16, Johann Lamont needs to end the uncertainty around her position, and say whether Labour supports votes for 16 and 17 years-olds in the independence referendum.

“The SNP supports votes at 16 in all elections and where we have the power over Health Board Elections and even elections to the Crofting Commission we have ensured that young people have a say. 16 and 17-year-olds in Scotland must be able to have their say over Scotland’s constitutional future.

“With organisations representing thousands of young people calling for a vote in this referendum the anti-independence parties must reconsider their position.

“Labour MPs like their deputy leader Anas Sarwar backed votes at 16 in the AV referendum but want to withhold that right from young Scots in the independence referendum. Labour must explain why they are determined to stand in the way of young scots rights to a say over their future.

“Young people of this age are already on the electoral roll and they play a part in our society. It is only fair that they have their say.”

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MP Hears of Concerns for Local Jobs Over New UK Gaming Tax

Friday, 20 July 2012

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford heard at first hand today local concerns over the UK Government’s planned new gaming tax.

The MP met with Robert Syme, Manager of Gala Bingo in Peterhead to discuss the potential effect of the UK Government’s planned introduction of Machine Games Duty on the viability of local bingo halls.  Whilst there, Dr Whiteford took up the offer to call one of that afternoon's bingo games.

Speaking in Peterhead, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“I was pleased for the opportunity to meet with the manager of the Gala Bingo in Peterhead to discuss the UK Government’s plans to introduce a tax on gaming machines.

“I have been left in no doubt at the enormous impact that this hefty tax will have on the viability of bingo halls and betting shops the length and breadth of the country.

“With the UK Government planning to set the inaugural rate of this tax at 20%, the profit margins of these high street shops will be squeezed to breaking point.  These facilities create jobs in the local area, ensure economic activity in vibrant town centres and in some cases, are important social networks for the community.  It is quite clear that this new tax will threaten the future of these stores.

“In tough economic times, the UK Government ought to be supporting businesses to create jobs and growth, rather than threatening their survival.”

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Crown Estate Lease Puts Peterhead CCS Project Ahead

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

UK GOVERNMENT MUST ‘PUT ITS MONEY WHERE ITS MOUTH IS’


Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed confirmation from the Crown Estate today (Wednesday) that the UK's first agreement for lease (AfL) for the permanent geological storage of carbon dioxide has been signed with the Peterhead CCS Project at the offshore depleted Goldeneye gas field.

The decision paves the way for plans to capture carbon dioxide from the Peterhead power plant in Dr Whiteford’s constituency. The SNP MP is now urging the UK Government to press on and make an early funding decision on the Peterhead project which has faced uncertainty as a result of Treasury delays in two previous CCS competitions.

Dr Whiteford said:

“This is good news from the Crown Estate which again puts the Peterhead project out in front – we now need the UK Government to put its money where its mouth is and deliver the funding to make this happen.

“After two previous competitions which came to nothing and Treasury confusion on the availability of the fund it essential that the UK Government seize the moment. We need a clear guarantee and timetable from the UK Ministers.

“Previous delays mean that other countries are powering ahead with their projects, leaving us in their wake rather than leading the race.

“The UK Government must now recognise the very strong case which exists for the Peterhead Project going ahead.

“Scotland has 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. And carbon capture investment can also be a key driver of economic recovery in Scotland. For the sake of both the environment and the economy, we need progress now.”

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