HMRC Update

Jamie Hepburn MSP and I have called upon North Lanarkshire Council to carry out a Socio Economic Impact Assessment of the closure of the HMRC office in Cumbernauld. This assessment would provide a clearer picture of the impact of this closure on the local community and our economy which should be presented to the UK Government for consideration and a full response.

North Lanarkshire Council have now stated that they are considering carrying out such an assessment and will confirm their plans shortly. I will provide a further update once I know more.

Violence Against Women Bill

Huge congratulations to my colleague at Westminster, Eilidh Whiteford MP, as her bill aimed at tackling violence against women is about to reach the Queen and receive Royal Assent.

Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP will be the first ever SNP MP to have a private members bill enter the statute book and I’m sure this bill will play an important role in the lives of women and girls not just in this country but across the world.

Benefits Changes

I have contacted the Minister responsible for the Department of Work and Pensions, Penny Mordaunt MP, to urge her to reconsider the changes to benefits which will come into force later this week.

These changes could force thousands of children into poverty and will cause serious harm to some of the most vulnerable people in society – who are already struggling to make ends meet.

The UK Government have also failed to address the horrendous ‘rape clause’ which means that some women will have to relive their trauma and go through the humiliating experience of ‘proving’ they were raped in order to receive tax credits for a third child.

Theresa May promised the country in July that the UK Government would govern for everyone – not just the ‘privileged few’ but they have handed out a £2 billion per year tax cut to the richest in society while punishing those in desperate need of support.

I hope the Minister will listen to the serious concerns that have been raised and reverse these cruel and unnecessary changes to the benefits system.

Any constituents affected by these changes can get in touch with me by email:

HMRC Job Losses

I am extremely disappointed to hear today that HMRC have disengaged from a contract with Fujitsu – resulting in 59 job losses at Cumbernauld tax office.

This will be distressing news for the staff affected and I would call on HMRC to look at every opportunity to find alternative employment for those involved.

That this decision has been made while there are still on-going discussions on carrying out impact assessment on the effect that HMRC job losses will have on the town centre, is irresponsible to say the least.

The UK Government provided assurances last February that there would be no compulsory redundancies over the next year. It is hugely frustrating that a matter of weeks after that time-frame expired, 59 staff find themselves without a job.

Both myself and Jamie Hepburn MSP will continue to work with HMRC staff to fight further job losses and we will explore all possible options to ensure that the town centre site remains open.

March 2017 Newsletter

March 2017 will be remembered as a historic month in UK politics after the Prime Minister’s decision to trigger Article 50, the Scottish Parliament’s vote to request a second referendum and a historic election in Northern Ireland.

You can keep up to date with some of the work I have been carrying out as your local MP in my March newsletter by following the link below:

Medicinal Cannabis Use

Two years ago, a 33-year-old constituent, Caroline, was given just two months to live because of an untreatable brain tumour. Her continuing quality of life is attributed by many of those treating her to a reluctant decision to take a daily dose of cannabis oil.

I asked the Leader of the House of Commons if we could debate this issue and whether it can be right for those such as Caroline to be criminalised, hindering her treatment and discouraging others from making the same decision.


Article 50 Statement

29 March 2017 was a landmark day in Parliament after the Prime Minister triggered Article 50 – officially starting the process of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

After over 2 hours of bobbing in the Chamber I was the very last out of 113 MPs called by the speaker to ask Theresa May a question. By this point most ground had already been covered so I asked the Prime Minister how she would have reacted if Donald Tusk had told her “now is not the time”.

This is only the beginning of what will be a long, drawn out process and SNP MPs will be working hard over the next two years to ensure that Scotland’s voice is heard during the Brexit negotiations.

Jamie Hepburn MSP and I have responded to North Lanarkshire Council’s Local Development Plan by urging the council to include Cumbernauld and Kilsyth town centres as ‘regeneration sites’. This would benefit residents, attract more businesses to the area and create job opportunities for local people.

Our submission was informed by our regular communications with our constituents and highlighted the need for more affordable housing, better public transport links and the regeneration of Cumbernauld Town Centre and Kilsyth Main Street.

While we welcome the measures included in North Lanarkshire council’s plan for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth our submission also made it clear that more housing, particularly affordable housing, must be targeted strategically in the areas which need it most and have the amenities and services to support it.

We have expressed concerns about the proposals to build more houses in Banton and on the land next to the Village Primary School in Cumbernauld because we are not convinced that the existing services and infrastructure could accommodate the increased demand that would come with a boost in population.

I hope that North Lanarkshire Council will think carefully about this proposal and assess the full impact of the proposed housing development before reaching a decision on how to use this land

You can read more about our submission by following the link below.

Further closures of key branches by taxpayer-owned RBS are unaccpetable and terrible news for customers in Kilsyth. I have contacted RBS to express my opposition – and both Jamie Hepburn MSP and I will be meeting them soon to take this up.

Westinster Terror Attack

This morning I think we all feel drained and shocked at what happened yesterday. I know that everyone who works on the Parliamentary Estate is feeling acutely aware that PC Keith Palmer has lost his life in order to keep us safe. Our thoughts are with his family and friends – and indeed with all the victims, their family and friends – after yesterday’s terrible events.

Today Parliament is continuing with business. Violent extremists and terrorists want us to react and to stoke hostility. The best thing we can do to show these people that violence and terrorism will never work is to continue to support each other, respect each other and get on with our lives as before.