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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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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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Whiteford Supports Robust Arms Trade Treaty

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford is supporting an international campaign calling for a robust and human rights-based arms trade treaty to be negotiated this July at the United Nations in New York.

Dr Whiteford took part in a photo action event in the House of Commons, which saw MPs having their photo taken whilst holding a sign stating their support for a bulletproof arms trade treaty. The Control Arms Coalition (including Amnesty International, Oxfam and Saferworld), which organised the event, has been calling on MPs to demonstrate their support and urging David Cameron to publicly commit to a bulletproof arms trade treaty.

Every day, 1,500 people die as a result of armed violence and conflict. The current poor regulations on arms trades allow these weapons to fall into the wrong hands, where they can be used to fuel conflict, poverty and human rights violations. Amnesty is calling for a treaty based on a simple principle: no transfers of weapons likely to be used for violations of international law.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“This July, we have a once in a lifetime chance to create this historic treaty that could help save thousands of lives every year. Eight-five per cent of all killings documented by Amnesty involve the use of guns, and an effective treaty would reduce this figure significantly, by keeping arms out of hands that would use them to violate human rights.

“We simply cannot let this opportunity pass us by. The support of MPs in pressuring Cameron for a public commitment to a bulletproof treaty is absolutely essential.”


Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“There are so many issues in the world today, and it is appalling how many are facilitated or even caused by an unregulated arms trade – unlawful killings, poverty, sexual violence, - and the list goes on.

“This is an issue that we should all be concerned about, and I will be following up at the earliest opportunity.”

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Social Care Bill - Only Independence Will Fully Protect Scotland

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

As the UK Government publishes its White Paper on social care, Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford said she ‘thanked heaven’ that Westminster no longer made decisions on Scotland’s health policy but warned that only independence would allow Scotland to protect its progressive health and social policies from regressive Westminster decisions.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:


“Looking at the UK Government’s proposals on social care in England I thank heaven that Westminster no longer make the decisions that affect Scotland’s elderly on health and social issues like these.

“Quality, compassionate care for older people that protects their dignity and independence, is one of the most sacred duties of any civilised society. Westminster may not value services like free personal and nursing care but the SNP do and so do the people of Scotland.

“As we have seen with the budget the Tory-led Westminster government keep making the wrong choices. Scotland has made a conscious decision to provide certain core universal services, rights or benefits, some of which are no longer prioritised by political leaders elsewhere in the UK – such as free university tuition, abolishing prescription charges, and free personal and nursing care for the elderly.

“With the UK Government slashing benefits to old and young it is important we protect the policies and values Scotland holds dear and that includes services like free personal and nursing care.

“The Scottish Government is using the independence that we already have on health policy to protect the elderly and vulnerable. However as the Tory-led government’s plans for the health service in England to get money from private patients show, future Westminster governments will use that as an excuse to freeze or reduce public funding for health overall which will have a direct effect on Scotland's Budget.

“The independence we have allows us to protect the principles of Scotland’s health system. But if we want to make sure that Tory health policies can't damage Scotland’s health and social care policies in any way, then we need independence. Only independence can fully guarantee we protect Scotland’s progressive policies for pensioners.”

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Local MP Comments on Farepak Settlement

Local MP Eilidh Whiteford has commented on the news that customers and agents of Farepak, the Christmas savings firm, will ultimately receive half of the money they lost when the company collapsed – after liquidators BDO said that final payments will be made to those who lost out at the end of August.

Numerous savers and agents in Banff & Buchan were affected by the Farepak collapse, losing hundreds and even thousands of pounds in some cases.

Since the firm collapsed in October 2006 owing £37m to more than 119,000 savers (20,000 customers in Scotland) over 200 people have died before the lengthy liquidation process proceeded.

Eilidh Whiteford MP says it is ‘utterly shameful’ that savers are to recover just half of their money back while the final bill for the administrators and their legal advisers has already exceeded £8 million.  It is understood that the UK Government will also meet the legal costs of the company directors - costs estimated as much as £6million.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“After a six year wait it is utterly shameful that customers and agents will only receive half their money back while administrators pocket millions and taxpayers pick up the tab for the company directors’ legal costs.

“The impact on families in Banff & Buchan and elsewhere, who had put their Christmas savings in the trust of Farepak was devastating, causing real distress for people who could not have the family celebration they had planned.

“When you have worked hard and put money away for children’s presents and then to lose it all because of other’s failures was incredibly hard.  Getting some of the money back is better than nothing but to only receive half and see much more going into the bank accounts of accountancy and legal firms is really galling.

“There is something seriously wrong when liquidations can take years to finalise and people are actually dying before the insolvency gravy train comes to a halt.  My colleague Mike Weir MP, as the SNP’s Trade & Industry Spokesperson has been leading calls for a major review of insolvency regulation, which has clearly failed in the case of Farepak and in many others that may not be so high profile.

“Self-regulation appears to be a major part of the problem. Insolvency work is handled by licensed practitioners, most of whom work for accountancy firms.  The practitioners are in turn regulated by accountancy and law professional bodies, which have no independence from the firms they regulate.

“What’s more, there is no independent complaints investigation procedure or ombudsman to adjudicate on malpractices – and there are no questions over fees or delays.

“The sorry saga of Farepak has put this industry firmly in the spotlight and action needs to happen sooner rather than later.”

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Whiteford Backs Dairy Farmers at Westminister Protest

SNP Westminster Agriculture spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford MP has called the UK Government to provide greater support for dairy farmers who face crisis in light of cuts to the cost of milk.

Speaking after meeting dairy farmers from across the UK at a protest at Westminster, Dr Whiteford said:

“The milk supply chain is not operating fairly and the UK Government must act to increase pressure on the major retailers and processors to provide producers with a return that properly rewards their commitment and reflects the cost of production.

“Scotland’s dairy farmers produce a high quality product for which they deserve a fair price. The cut of two pence per litre of milk due to be introduced in August will leave farmers at a loss, paying more to produce than sell. This is wholly unsustainable and threatens the future viability of the sector.

“While welcoming efforts encouraging the milk processors and producers to agree a voluntary code of practice to tackle current price imbalances I welcome the Scottish Government’s readiness, if they fail to act, to legislate.

"The summit today will give farming unions and their members the opportunity to voice legitimate concerns over the future of their industry. With livelihoods at stake I fully intend to join them in putting pressure on the Government to act in the interest of ordinary working people, both buyers and producers."

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SNP Respond to Remploy Statement

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The SNP has expressed its disappointment at the UK Government’s announcement to close the Remploy factory at Wishaw, but welcomed the acceptance of business plans for the Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Springburn sites to continue outside of Government control.

The UK Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller MP, announced the closure of 27 of the 36 Remploy factories across the UK which had been earmarked for closure in March.

Of the four sites under threat in Scotland, alternative bids were accepted for three, following concerted efforts by the Scottish Government working with Scottish Enterprise, social enterprise partners, trade unions and Remploy staff to support continued employment and help those who wish to develop proposals for the sites.

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“This is a devastating blow to the employees at Remploy in Wishaw and my thoughts are with all those affected. It is crucial that meaningful, specialist employment advice is available and a fair support package is put in place for those facing redundancy.

“Any efforts to assist disabled people into mainstream work are to be commended, but there is little in the UK Government’s plans to show how this will happen in practice.

“The Tory plans to no longer support Remploy factories were taken forward with undue rush, making it difficult for alternative proposals to be developed. The Scottish Government worked tooth and nail to help those who wished to develop alternative proposals and it is good news that three of the threatened factories have bids being taken forward.

“Remploy sites in Scotland are valuable enterprises which play an important role in the community, so I am pleased that bids are going forward for Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Springburn.“


Clare Adamson, SNP MSP for Central Scotland who has visited the Wishaw Remploy factory, said:

“The SNP is extremely disappointed with the UK Government’s blatant disregard for disabled workers employed at the Remploy site in Wishaw.

“This is a sad day for Remploy Wishaw. My concern is for the workers there who are now facing an uncertain future. What support will be made available to them from the UK Government?

“This simply demonstrates why decisions should be made in Scotland. Despite the hard work of the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and unions to find practical solutions the UK Government has crushed the hopes of workers employed at Remploy Wishaw."

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MP learns How to Spot Cancer Early

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has teamed up with cancer awareness nurses at Westminster as Cancer Research UK’s Cancer Awareness Roadshow made a special stop outside the Westminster Parliament.

The SNP MP climbed on board to learn more about the steps people can take to reduce their risk of cancer and the importance of spotting it early.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“When cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, treatment is often simpler and more likely to be effective. I wholeheartedly support Cancer Research UK’s call to spot cancer early and want to help share the message with my constituents that early diagnosis can save lives.”

Senior Cancer Awareness Roadshow nurse Ceri Eames said: 

“We were delighted to have Eilidh on board helping us to spread the word.  More people are surviving cancer than ever before, but thousands of cancer deaths could still be prevented each year if more cancers were diagnosed and treated at an early stage.”

“If you notice any unusual or persistent changes in your body, visit your GP without delay. If it is something serious then finding it early could make all the difference.”

Smoking is the most important preventable cause of cancer and is responsible for one in four deaths from the disease in the UK.

During her visit Eilidh found out about how Cancer Research UK’s new campaign – The answer is plain – aims to discourage young people from starting to smoke.

Research shows that striking logos and distinctive packet designs make cigarettes more appealing to children, so the charity is calling for cigarettes to be sold in plain packs which all look the same and are stripped of their attractive branding.

Sarah Woolnough, Director of Policy for Cancer Research, said:

“Around 157,000 11-15 year olds start smoking every year so we must do more to make cigarettes less appealing to children.

“Girls are attracted to brands which have long, slim cigarettes with sophisticated names and glamorous packaging, while boys tend to respond to designs with a rugged, macho image. In an age when any parent tries to teach their children about the dangers of this deadly addiction, cigarette packs are sending a very different message.

“Over 80% of adults in the UK believe that children shouldn’t be exposed to tobacco marketing* so we’re urging MPs and their constituents to help us end the packet racket and give millions of children one less reason to start smoking.”

People in Banff & Buchan are being urged to sign Cancer Research UK’s campaign petition at www.theanswerisplain.org before the Government closes its consultation on plain cigarette packaging on the 10th July.

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Polling Shows Extent of Scotland's Opposition to Tory Welfare Cuts

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

TORY CUTS MEAN INDEPENDENCE WILL PROTECT SCOTLAND’S PROGRESS

Analysis of the latest ICM polling on welfare cuts by the Tory-led Westminster government shows the level of pronounced opposition in Scotland to their welfare cuts agenda. The Scottish breakdown for the UK wide poll shows:
  • Clear opposition in Scotland to Tory plans to stop paying housing benefit to all under 25 year olds
  • Overwhelming opposition in Scotland to plans by the Tories to set benefit payments according to where recipients live with the Tory voting South East taking a completely opposite view.
  • A majority in Scotland are against ending the full entitlement of pensioners to payments of winter fuel allowance, free bus passes, and TV licences.
SNP MP and Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford said independence was now the only way to ensure a fair welfare system that meets Scotland’s needs instead of the uncertainty of years of future Tory governments following a cuts agenda that sees inequality in the UK growing.

Dr Whiteford also said that it left Labour having to answer why they are in a pact with the Tories to keep decisions for Scotland’s welfare and pensioners being made by a Tory-run Westminster government which was rejected by people in Scotland instead of a Scottish Parliament 100% elected directly elected by people in Scotland?

Commenting Dr Whiteford said:

“This poll underscores a previous Scottish poll where a majority favoured welfare policy being run by the Scottish Parliament and government instead of from Westminster. And no wonder. Cutting benefits simply because of where you live, or how old you are risks forcing the most vulnerable in society into a perilous position.

“However a Labour’s UK leaders at Westminster cannot be trusted to reverse these plans since their shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne has already stated Labour’s support for regional welfare caps.

“As for Scottish Labour, instead of standing up for the vulnerable, they are standing together with the Tories. It’s for them to explain how we can be ‘better together’ under the Tories than making decisions for ourselves in Scotland. They have to answer why they are in a pact with the Tories to keep decisions for Scotland’s welfare and pensioners being made by a Tory-run Westminster government which was rejected by people in Scotland instead of a Scottish Parliament 100% elected directly elected by people in Scotland.

“There is no doubt the welfare system needs reform but the deep and damaging cuts to benefits and services to fund their fiscal policy fundamentally undermine the system. The Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament are doing their best to mitigate the damage of Tory welfare reforms where it has the power to do so, but full powers are needed to build a better system.

“And 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. This compares to 42% for Scotland in 2009-10 and 43% for the UK as a whole.

“These latest welfare attacks show yet again the different stance Scotland would take if decisions on this issue could be made in Scotland. Independence is the only option that will allow Scotland to protect its progress in social welfare.”

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