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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Call for Clarification Over DEFRA Minister 'Downgrading' George Eustice in Peterhead

Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Scottish National Party has called for clarification from George Eustice MP over the apparent downgrading of his position in DEFRA as he visits Peterhead harbour today [Thursday] with new Scottish Secretary of State, Alistair Carmichael.Eustice was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Natural Environment, Water and Rural Affairs in David Cameron’s recent government reshuffle, however Eustice’s predecessor was a Minister of State. The UK government website claims the titles are currently under review.

Commenting, Banff and Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:

“It would be helpful if George Eustice would provide some clarification on his new job title and tell us if, in fact, his position has been downgraded following the reshuffle.

“DEFRA represents Scotland in important EU negotiations on Common Fisheries Policy and so it is worrying if the ministerial position has been downgraded. Scotland is a fishing nation, and we need to be adequately represented. Former DEFRA Minster Sir James Paice has raised concerns that the role appears to have been downgraded.

“The new Scottish Secretary of State should also shed some light because already Scotland is being short-changed – we are not represented in the European Commission and at present, Scotland’s Fisheries Minister requires a permit from Westminster to attend EU meetings. 

“Rather than going via a UK government which doesn’t share Scotland’s priorities when it comes to the fishing industry, independence would allow Scottish interests to be better heard in Europe."

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Whiteford Brands Bedroom Tax 'Unjust and Unworkable'

Monday, 21 October 2013

Local MP and SNP spokesperson on Work & Pensions at Westminster Dr Eilidh Whiteford branded the Westminster Government's Bedroom Tax 'unjust and unworkable', speaking at the SNP Annual Conference in Perth.

The discriminatory tax affects around 80,000 households in Scotland, 80 per cent of which are the home of a disabled adult, and 16,000 of which are the home of families with children.

Following on from the SNP's spring conference where all SNP council's committed to a no evictions policy as a result of the tax, delegates have once again appealed to Labour, LibDem and Tory controlled councils to follow in the SNP's lead.

Commenting, Eilidh said:

"The message from SNP conference delegates in response to this damaging tax is clear - it is unjust and unworkable and has no place in a modern-day country.

“The token review of the Bedroom Tax that Westminster is engaging in is not enough – it must be scrapped entirely before it causes any more damage to people’s lives.

"The UK Government has showed a reckless lack of care and attention to the consequences of its introduction for low-income households.

"In contrast the SNP Government is doing all it can to help mitigate the impact of this divisive policy and Nicola Sturgeon pledged that our funding for Discretionary Housing Payments will continue next year with another £20 million to help victims of Westminster’s Bedroom Tax.

"One of the most significant gains of independence is that Scotland will have full control over its welfare system. That means only with a Yes vote will we finally be able to get ride of the unjust bedroom tax and have a welfare state that reflects the views and votes of the people of Scotland."

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MP Completes Surgery Tour

Monday, 14 October 2013

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has completed her annual surgery tour. The SNP MP was busy getting out and about in some of the constituency’s smaller communities with her mobile office during the recent Parliamentary recess.

Commenting, Eilidh said:

“Most of the casework I receive from constituents these days comes in via e-mail, post or by phone, but I think it’s still very important to be available for face-to-face discussions in people’s own communities and the Surgery Tour serves that purpose very well.

“People brought a range of issues to me, which I am progressing with the relevant authorities, but there was also great interest in the Independence Referendum with a number of people coming along simply to express their support or to ask questions.

“I’ll be holding more surgeries of the conventional type across the larger towns in the coming months but in the meantime, any constituent wishing to contact me can do so in a range of ways; by phone, e-mail, post, calling in at my Constituency Office or online via my website, www.eilidhwhiteford.info, which also has full details of how to get in touch.”

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Whiteford Welcomes 2013 Harvest Recovery

Banff & Buchan MP and SNP Westminster Agriculture spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the latest estimates from Scotland’s Chief Statistician which show that the cereal harvest is expected to make a partial recovery in 2013 after poor weather last year caused the largest fall in yields for more than two decades.

Eilidh Whiteford MP with
Ian Partridge of Boghead Farm, Memsie
In total, close to three million tonnes of cereals are expected this year, an increase of a quarter of a million tonnes on 2012. Despite the setback in productivity caused by last year’s weather, the longer term trend of improving yields continues, with the average cereal yield for the last 10 years seven per cent higher than in the previous decade.

Scotland’s Chief Statistician has released the latest estimates of the Scottish cereal and oilseed rape harvest. The figures show that the latest increase is due to an anticipated 11 per cent improvement in overall cereal yields. This follows a 15 per cent fall in yields last year. The total area of land sown has remained largely unchanged, though oats have replaced wheat and oilseed rape in some areas.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“After a difficult start to the year, growing conditions improved and allowed a relatively straight-forward harvest, although the high degree of variability across the country introduces additional uncertainty around current estimates.

“The statistics show Spring barley is estimated to increase by 15 per cent to 1.7 million tonnes and winter barley by 6 per cent to 294,000 tonnes. With both higher yields and areas, production of oats is estimated to rise by around 80 per cent to 195,000 tonnes. This is in part due to the replacement of wheat and oilseed rape which experienced a poor start in some places. Production is expected to fall by 6 per cent for wheat, to 630,000 tonnes, and 2 per cent for oilseed rape, to 104,000 tonnes.

“Scottish cereals are still being harvested and these figures are very much provisional estimates. Final harvest estimates from the Cereal Production Survey will be announced by Scotland’s Chief Statistician in December. Final estimates of overall cereal production are typically within five percent of the early estimates.”

These early statistics were agreed by a panel of experts from the Scottish cereal industry and professional statisticians at the annual Crop Report Meeting. They are used to assess the economic well-being of the cereal sector and in determining impacts on the market, and are required by law by the Statistical Office of the European Communities.

The figures released were produced by independent statistical staff free from any political interference, in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

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Importance of Potato Sector Highlighted at Westminster

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Banff & Buchan MP and SNP Westminster spokesperson on Agriculture Dr Eilidh Whiteford has given her support to the constituency’s potato sector, after taking part in events at the House of Commons to mark ‘Potato Week’.

Dr Whiteford met with representatives of the Potato Council in Westminster to discuss the contribution the humble tattie makes to the region’s farming industry, as well as meeting industry representatives.

Speaking after the event, Dr Whiteford said that the potato remains a crucial staple crop not only for the North-east, but for the country as a whole.

She said:

“It was a pleasure to meet with industry representatives, and to give my support to this initiative which highlights just how important the potato crop remains. Potatoes constitute a tasty and nutritious dietary supplement, low in fat and surprisingly rich in vitamin C.

“Every year, Scotland sells thousands of tonnes of potatoes abroad, constituting a significant national export. The Scottish Government recognises the importance of this crop, and in August announced that it would contribute £627,000 to research into improving yields and reducing production costs.

“As a vegetable which is adaptable to a variety of soil types and climates, potato cultivation continues to constitute a major element of Banff & Buchan’s agricultural output, and I am pleased to join in promoting Potato Week.”

Potato Week runs between October 7 and 13, with consumers encouraged to be adventurous with their potatoes. Potato Council is a division of the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board, and is committed to supporting the potato industry. For recipes, potato facts and more visit www.lovepotatoes.co.uk

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Westminster Ignores Scottish MPs - Again

Commenting on the vote last night on the next stage of the controversial Lobbying Bill in the House of Commons, when the vast majority of Scottish MPs were opposed to it – but failed to stop it proceeding, Dr Eilidh Whiteford SNP MP said:

“The Lobbying Bill more commonly known as the Gagging Bill – even with its amendments - is opposed by the vast majority of Scottish MPs and yet this dog’s breakfast of rushed and ill thought out legislation is being pushed through. 82% of Scottish MPS voted against the Bill last night but once again Scotland’s democratic wishes have been ignored. Groups across the third sector have expressed huge concern about the impact on charities and that their absolutely legitimate campaigning activity could be hit by this Bill. That has been reflected by Scottish MPs but ignored at Westminster.”

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Whiteford Gives Backing to Turriff "Relay for Life" Launch

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has given her backing to the launch of Turriff’s Cancer Research Relay for Life. The launch was held on Friday evening in Turriff Academy.

Eilidh Whiteford MP at closing of
Turriff 'Relay for Life'
Cancer Research fundraising event
The local MP attended the launch of the previous event in 2010 and spoke at the closing ceremony in The Haughs, where a huge crowd of participants, supporters and family members gathered to cheer on those taking part.

Commenting, Eilidh said:

"The fact that so many people of all ages, and from across the community, turned out for the launch reminds us that most of us have had our lives touched by cancer, directly or indirectly.

"Relay for Life is a great reminder that treatment is improving all the time and many people are recovering from cancer nowadays. Taking part is a great way to remember those we've lost, and through fundraising, provide hope for the future. Above all, events like Relay for Life let those currently undergoing treatment know that they have the support of the whole community behind them.

"I'm delighted to support the Relay for Life and wish Lynne Cruickshank and her team every success in organising the event, which I’m sure will be a great success, just as the last one proved to be.”

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MP's Backing for Maud Railway Museum

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford visited Maud Railway Museum at the weekend as part of its programme of opening over the summer.

Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP with
Nigel Sawford, Chair of the Friends
of Maud Railway Museum
The Friends of Maud Railway Museum are a group of volunteers who staff the station building and promote the Museum and its projects. The Museum is still owned by Aberdeenshire Council while run by the volunteers, who have opened it up to the public on seven weekends over the summer months.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“The museum was closed by Aberdeenshire Council several years ago but thanks to the Friends of Maud Railway Museum, it has been opened up to the public regularly since then and on seven weekends during the summer this year.

“It really is a fascinating little museum and the volunteers are on hand to explain the exhibits and, in the case of one gentleman who worked on the railway at Maud, share first-hand experiences of what it was like in the heyday of the railways in Buchan.

“The volunteers deserve our gratitude for keeping up this important aspect of our local history and I’m sure that as heritage tourism becomes more and more popular these days, Maud will be a first-class stop for tourists again next summer.”

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MP Drops in on MacMillan Fundraiser

Local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford dropped in on the Macmillan Cancer Relief fundraiser being held in Mintlaw at the weekend.

Eilidh Whiteford MP with
Buchan Indoor Bowling Club
The MP took time out of her schedule to drop-in and support the event which was held in the Buchan Indoor Bowling Club.

Commenting, Eilidh said:

“I was pleased to be able to take time out to drop by and support this very worthwhile event

“I was delighted to see that it was so well-supported by members of the public."

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Whiteford Tours Central Buchan Community Project

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford toured the new community centre in Mintlaw yesterday (Saturday). The building, which is currently under construction, is part of the Mintlaw & Central Buchan Initiative, known as MACBI.

MACBI, which holds charitable status, was set up by local people in the area in 2005. They aim to improve facilities and offer a place for people to meet, a centre for cultural events, a centre for health and sports activities and most importantly a centre to foster community spirit.

The building will be centrally located in Mintlaw, adjacent to Mintlaw Academy, Pitfour Primary School, Mintlaw Health Centre, the Library and the all-weather pitch.

Eilidh Whiteford MP with MACBI Director
John Pascoe (l) and Chair Norman Smith (r)
The Banff & Buchan MP toured the building with local residents and Directors of the MACBI Project and viewed the plans detailing the development, including floor plans which illustrating multi-purpose hall, multi-gym, soft play area, meeting rooms, changing rooms, lounge/viewing area and a café.

Commenting after her visit, Eilidh said:

“The new community centre is really starting to take shape now and it’s clear it will be a facility of which the communities of Central Buchan can be proud.

“It’s taken a lot of hard work by a dedicated team of local people to get to this point and it is a very exciting time for the community as we move towards the February completion date.

“I’m confident this will be a vital asset for Mintlaw and the surrounding villages which will be well-used for years to come.”

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