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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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"NEW DEER PLEDGE" TO FARMERS ENTERS NEXT PHASE

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

APPEALS REVIEW PROGRESS GETS NFUS WELCOME

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the recommendations of the independent review into agriculture subsidy appeals which has called for has called for an abolition of the current three-tier mechanism and its replacement with an independent Appeals Agency.

The independent review is a direct result of a commitment given by local MP Alex Salmond at a meeting with local farmers at the 2006 New Deer Show that if the SNP won the 2007 election he would reform the appeals system which had been a cause of great concern among the farming community. The SNP's election manifesto contained the following commitment:

"…we will introduce a truly independent appeals panel in response to the existing system's shortcomings. SEERAD officials should not sit in judgement on decisions made by colleagues".

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

"I am delighted by the progress made and particularly pleased that John Kinnaird, with his depth of knowledge of the system and its shortcomings, agreed to head-up the review.

"This is yet another example of the fresh approach of the new SNP Government and one which I am sure will be welcomed by North-east farmers."

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford added:

"Nearly 700 Single Farm Payment claimants in 2005 and 2006 had penalties totalling over £1¼ million applied to their claims due to errors found within the completed forms.

"In the context of overall number of claimants, this is not a large number but it is still far too high and I believe more could be done to address this at an earlier stage in the process. The review is therefore absolutely right to have focussed in on the relationship between farmers and the department, with officials unfortunately being viewed as enforcers of rules rather than being there to offer help and advice.

"The positive relationship which once existed can and indeed must be rebuilt and positive assistance offered to claimants where necessary."

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ROYAL MAIL PRIVATISATION WOULD SPELL DISASTER SAYS SNP CANDIDATE

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has expressed deep concern that the UK Government is considering the privatisation of Royal Mail, following reports that the Labour Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson was considering this.

Lord Mandelson has this week appeared before a House of Commons committee and very noticeably did not explicitly deny his support for privatisation when questioned by MPs.

Local SNP Parliamentarians have been a long-time supporters of postal services. Most recently campaigning to keep the Post Office Card Account under Post Office control and supporting the Universal Service Obligation that underpins Royal Mail's services.

Commenting on the suggestion of privatisation Eilidh Whiteford said:

"We have just witnessed a massive bail out of banks. New finance for business has all but dried up yet Lord Mandelson appears to be considering the privatisation of Royal Mail. This is complete lunacy.

"Royal Mail is not just a business but has a huge social role, including the universal service obligation which is so important to many areas of Scotland including the rural North-east. Privatisation of Royal Mail would be a complete disaster, as it would almost certainly lead to a downgrading of the universal service obligation.

"While Lord Mandelson appears to be looking at privatisation communities across Banff & Buchan have just suffered a round of closures and downgrades despite very strong local opposition. The whole process is deeply flawed.

"Worse may be around the corner with reports that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) may give the contract for the Post Office Card Account (POCA) to another provider. In Banff & Buchan alone more than 2,500 people completed postcards in support of the Card Account.

"The DWP caused the present crisis by transferring payments from the Post Office cutting a massive amount of business overnight. It would be the ultimate betrayal if they now twist the knife further by taking away the POCA which has proved very popular."

"The Government should be developing a positive policy and agenda for Postal Services rather than constantly undermining them."

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WHITEFORD CONCERNED BY RISK TO PENSIONER BENEFITS

Thursday, 21 August 2008

The SNP's Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has expressed deep concern at the coming move by the London Government to prevent hard up pensioners from claiming the benefits to which they are entitled after a three month window.

Currently benefits can be backdated to up to a year, ensuring that pensioners do not lose out on claiming their money. However, in an effort to save money, the Treasury has ruled that from October 6th claims for Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Pension Credit will only be backdated by three months.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"Rising fuel prices and food costs are already hitting every household, but pensioners are amongst those struggling the most to cope with them. As such, I simply do not understand why the Treasury has targeted such a vulnerable section of society in order to save itself some money.

"Westminster should be doing more to encourage the take up of benefits to which pensioners are entitled, not preventing them from claiming the money they are entitled to."

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson added:

"Pensioners in Banff & Buchan and across Scotland could lose hundreds of pounds because of this move, so I strongly encourage people who are entitled to these benefits to submit their claim before the 6th of October in order to receive the full twelve months of backdated benefits that they are due."

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WESTMINSTER'S REFUSAL TO ACKNOWLEDGE OIL WINDFALL CONDEMNED

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson and SNP Westminster candidate Eilidh Whiteford have criticised the bizarre claim of Scotland Office Minister David Cairns, made during Scottish Questions at Westminster, that an extra £6 billion pounds of taxation pouring into the UK treasury from Scotland's oil industry does not represent a windfall.

With the revelation by Oil and Gas UK that the industry's tax contributions have reached £21 billion thanks to higher oil prices, there has never been a better time to establish a Norwegian style oil-fund for Scotland, to ensure that future generations benefit from Scotland's resources

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

"In anybody's book, an unexpected £6 billion of money raised can only be called a windfall. For David Cairns to attempt to claim otherwise is simply beyond comprehension.

"What is clear is that Scotland's black gold is pouring into the black hole at the heart of the treasury, never to be seen again. With the news that perhaps as much as 25 billion barrels of oil remain in the North Sea, there is still time for us to follow Norway's example and establish an oil fund that will see us benefit from this natural resource in perpetuity."

SNP Westminster candidate Eilidh Whiteford added:

"At the very least, under the current constitutional arrangements, the UK treasury should return a pro-rata share of this windfall to Scotland. Why should the extra billions being taken in by the treasury be used to make up the shortfall in the rest of the UK's taxes when none of this extra money benefits Scotland?

"The refusal of the Scotland Office and the Treasury to even discuss the issue merely serves to underline the contempt in which Scotland is held in Whitehall."

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FISHERMEN'S FEDERATION & HAULIERS BACK FUEL DUTY REGULATOR

Monday, 30 June 2008

SUPPORT GROWING FOR SNP AMENDMENT TO FINANCE BILL

Banff & Buchan SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed growing support for the SNP's proposal to cut fuel prices through a Fuel Duty Regulator. Organisations representing both hauliers & fishermen, two of the North-east's major industries, have thrown their weight behind SNP proposals for the introduction of a Fuel Duty Regulator, which would provide relief for motorists and industry from soaring fuel prices.

The local MSP says that the Chancellor is under growing pressure to take urgent action and an SNP amendment to the Finance Bill being considered by the House of Commons next week, provides an ideal opportunity.

The SNP's proposal has secured the backing of the Road Haulage Association and the Scottish Fishermen's Federation.

In a letter to the SNP's Westminster Treasury spokesperson, Stewart Hosie MP, SFF chief executive, Bertie Armstrong, said:

"Fuel prices at the quayside have increased by 40% since January – perhaps 25% of the industry is now in financial jeopardy. Fishermen do not pay duty on fuel but the industry is unable to pass on increases in anything like real time – fish is sold at auction we are price takers, not price makers. The SNP's fuel duty regulator would provide some relief to hard pressed fishermen and I commend it fully."

These concerns have been echoed by many involved in local industries including hauliers, fishermen and farmers, as well as many individuals who are finding the necessity of owning a car in rural Banff & Buchan eating up more and more of their budgets.

Welcoming the growing support for the SNP's proposals, Westminster candidate Eilidh Whiteford said:

"I am delighted that the SFF & the Road Haulage Association have added their voice to the growing chorus of support for the introduction of a fuel duty regulator. Jointly they representative a significant number of businesses in Banff & Buchan and across Scotland.

"Backing for a regulator is mounting outside Parliament, and next week we must secure support in parliament.

"Whilst the UK Government rakes in an additional £6 billion in revenue from rising prices, Banff & Buchan's hard-pressed motorists and key industries like fishing, farming and hauliers face real pain at the pumps.

"UK Ministers cannot just wring their hands while fuel costs cripple the Scottish economy and lifeline services.

"It is ridiculous that in an oil rich country key sectors are struggling to fill their tanks."

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Thanks for your offer!

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Thank you for completing our form. We shall be in touch within a few days.

Meantime keep spreading the word!

Thanks again.

Eilidh Whiteford


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