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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Tories Challenged Over Pensioner Tax Grab

Sunday, 25 March 2012

TREASURY MUST ABANDON UNFAIR TAX PLAN

The SNP has issued a challenge to the Scottish Tories over the Chancellor’s tax grab on pensioners urging the party to speak out for pensioners in Scotland who have been hit by the raid to fund a tax-cut for millionaires.

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP questioned whether the Prime Minister’s Scottish adviser, Andrew Dunlop, who helped usher in the poll tax, had been involved in the development of this tax policy.

Dr Whiteford said:

“Just as Labour was forced to apologise over the 10p tax fiasco, the Tories must now say sorry and abandon their plans for this unfair tax hit on older people.

“There are more pensioners in Scotland affected by this pensioners poll tax than voters who supported the Tories at the last election.

“The Chancellor’s proposals will hit people with modest pensions and savings for their retirement and it is disgraceful that they are being targeted by the Treasury while millionaires and the richest earners like the Prime Minister are set to benefit from a tax cut. The Tories have their priorities all wrong.

“The Tories have a record on unfair taxes, and people will wonder if the Prime Minister’s latest adviser, who ushered in the poll tax, was also involved in development of this tax raid on pensioners.

“Last week’s Budget truly fails the fairness test when pensioners are penalised while millionaires get a tax cut from the Tories.

“The Chancellor should admit he got it wrong and reverse this unfair tax raid.”

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Budget Blow For Pensioners

Thursday, 22 March 2012

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford MP has warned that the Chancellors decision to freeze personal tax allowances for the over-65s will hit pensioners hard.  Dr Whiteford contrasted the Coalition Government’s treatment of pensioners with tax cut given to the highest earners.

Higher personal tax allowances granted to those over the age of 65 – £10,500 for those aged 65 to 74 and £10,660 for those aged 75 plus (2012-13) – will be frozen until they come into line with the basic personal tax allowance.

Dr Whiteford said:

“The Budget truly fails the fairness test when millions of pensioners are penalised while millionaires get a tax cut from the Tories.

“While, as expected, the Chancellor increased personal tax allowances, his decision to freeze the higher age allowances granted to those aged over 65 will hit pensioners hard.

“The devil is always in the detail with Treasury announcements, and the Chancellor must now say whether any assessment was made of the impact that this decision on pensioner households.”

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CCS Competition Must Have A Prize Winner

Monday, 12 March 2012

The SNP has welcomed the announcement of a new £20 million competition for the development of innovations in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology by the UK Energy Secretary this evening, but said the new competition must have a prize winner – unlike two previous UK competitions.

In 2008, the previous Labour Government torpedoed the Peterhead CCS project – which would have been the world's first pre-combustion carbon capture plant. Instead the project went to Abu Dhabi.

Last year, the Coalition Government pulled the rug from under another CCS project at Longannet, and created uncertainty over the future of the £1billion Treasury fund.

SNP Westminster Energy spokesperson Mike Weir said:

“The UK Government keep announcing competitions, but there never seem to be any prize winners. If Ministers are serious about creating a CCS industry then we need to see real investment to get a project operational.

“The last Labour Government torpedoed the Peterhead CCS project - which would have been the world's first pre-combustion carbon capture plant – which then went to Abu Dhabi instead of Scotland.

“And last year the present Coalition Government pulled the rug from under the Longannet coal CCS project.

“Given the abysmal record of the UK Government on CCS, we now need a clear guarantee and timetable from the government for this latest competition. We need a competition with closing date and, more importantly, a prize that will guarantee real progress on this important industry.”

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


Banff and Buchan SNP MP, Dr Eilidh Whiteford, who represents Peterhead – where a 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 is being developed – added:

“While I welcome the governments announcement, there must be no more delays to the competition process.

“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.

“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 the North-east of Scotland.

“People have not forgotten that Peterhead could already have been four 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.

“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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Fair Fuel Rally Underlines Urgent Need For Fuel Duty Regulator

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has used the occasion of the mass lobby of the House of Commons by Fair Fuel campaigners today to reiterate her call for the UK Government to introduce a fuel duty regulator.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, had previously supported such a measure and made a pre-election pledge to introduce a fuel duty regulator in the Budget.

The SNP have consistently called for the introduction of a regulator which would cut fuel duty when prices spike unexpectedly, freezing the price at the pump.
Speaking from Westminster, Eilidh said:

“The size of this lobby underlines the scale of concern at soaring fuel prices. The country is crying out for action to bring down fuel prices, and the Chancellor should use the up-coming Budget to honour his pre-election pledge and establish a fuel duty regulator.

 “It’s a national scandal that, in an oil rich country like Scotland, we are paying the highest fuel prices in Europe. With the bulk of the pump price made up of tax, the Treasury must stop this highway robbery because soaring fuel prices are hindering economic recovery.

 “In July 2008, George Osborne launched plans for a ‘Fair Fuel Stabiliser’, describing it as a ‘common sense plan’. As well as being common sense, it is unanswerable and fair for Scotland, given that we pay among the highest fuel prices in Europe even as Scottish oil revenues surge into the UK Exchequer. The problem with the Tories plan is that they launched a dangerous smash and grab raid on the North Sea to pay for it – which was the wrong thing to do.

“With record North Sea oil and gas revenues flowing to the Treasury, we need to see some of that money used to bring fuel prices down – and to keep them stable – through a fuel duty regulator.

 
“The SNP have consistently called for the introduction of a fuel duty regulator, in contrast the only measure Labour introduced was the fuel price escalator that increased the misery for motorists.

 “The Tories and LibDems promised action before the election. They have the money – Scotland’s oil money – and the powers to deliver.

 “If Westminster will not act, the powers should be passed to the Scottish Parliament so that it can. If Scotland had control of fuel duty, the SNP government would introduce a fuel duty regulator to lower prices now.”



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Whiteford Presses UK Government On Peterhead Carbon Capture Project

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has pressed Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change Ed Davey in the House of Commons yesterday (Monday) on progress on support for the world-leading carbon capture project planned for Peterhead.

Dr Whiteford was speaking during a debate on Jobs and the Low Carbon Economy.  She said:

“I am glad that carbon capture and storage has been mentioned as I have a constituency interest in gas carbon capture and storage at Peterhead, which provides a classic example of an opportunity missed in recent years.

“Will the Secretary of State take the opportunity today to set out a clear timetable for that technology?  Personally, I believe that gas is a really flexible technology that will help balance the intermittency, so when can we expect an announcement?”

In response, the Secretary of State said the UK Government would make an announcement “soon”.

Commenting afterwards, Dr Whiteford said:

"We now need to ensure that the last government's mistakes are not repeated and this 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."

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