SNP WELCOME BEDROOM TAX COURT RULING

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TORIES MUST SCRAP THIS DISCRIMINATORY TAX ON DISADVANTAGED CITIZENS

The Scottish National Party has welcomed a Court of Appeal ruling last week that the Tory Government’s bedroom tax is discriminatory.    The SNP has argued against the bedroom tax since the UK government first proposed it, and the Scottish Government has committed £90million since 2013 to mitigating the impact of the tax on 72,000 households in Scotland – eighty per cent of which are the home of a disabled adult, and around 11,000 households of which have one more children.   Commenting Martin Docherty MP said,   “I welcome this ruling and call on the Tories to scrap this unfair and discriminatory tax on the poorest and most disadvantaged people in our society.   This is an ideological tax that deliberately hits disadvantaged people. It epitomises the uncaring, unthinking and ultimately self-defeating approach of this Tory government.   The SNP Scottish Government has committed £90million to mitigate the impact of the bedroom tax to ensure that the 72,000 households affected in Scotland avoid severe hardship, rent arrears and threats of eviction; but we shouldn’t have to do this.
As we have seen from this court case, the impact of this policy on UK communities has been particularly damaging for those facing domestic abuse, and families with disabled children. In light of this ruling, and the overwhelming evidence of how detrimental this policy has been, the UK government must now think again.”

UNELECTED & UNDEMOCRATIC: HOUSE OF LORDS MUST BE REFORMED

UPPER CHAMBER IS  “OUT OF TOUCH, BLOATED, AND FULL OF CRONIES”

The Scottish National Party has said the need to reform the House of Lords is becoming increasingly acute as the UK government continues to appoint more and more peers.

Commenting ahead of a SNP debate on the House of Lords in the House of Commons today, the party – which has a long-standing position not to take seats in the Lords –  has said the unelected chamber continues to be an affront to democracy.

Martin Docherty MP, who secured the debate, commented:

‘’The House of Lords is an absurd, anachronistic legislature. It is full of over 800 unelected cronies and donors who are not accountable to the electorate, and who are given a peerage for life. The electorate have a right to expect something better in terms of how legislation in this country is scrutinised. That is what our debate is about today.

“Only the National People’s congress in China is bigger, and David Cameron seems intent on increasing the House of Lords further still. No other legislature has members deciding the laws of the country due to inheritance. Even in the 21st century we have reserved seats for Bishops and Archbishops. Peers can still turn up for their £300 tax free daily allowance and contribute absolutely nothing to debates – they can just take the money and run.

“Despite their utter irrelevance – Lords now want to try to influence the democratic debate on Scotland’s future – proposing a  House of Lords ‘Act of Union’. Lectures on the future of democracy in Scotland from the House of Lords shows just how out of touch they are.

“Over the last 50 years there have been various attempts to reform the powers of the House of Lords, all of which have failed.  There have been attempts to democratise it – only to have been rejected. We are now at the stage when the only way forward is to abolish the whole ridiculous institution and ensure that everyone passing the laws of the land are elected.

“I do believe a democracy as varied and of the size of the UK should have a revising chamber but this must reflect democratic traditions. There are numerous models around the world on how this could be achieved – and it is clear that the House of Lords is simply no longer fit for purpose.’’

 

ENDS

 

Note for Editors:

Full text of Martin’s contributions during his debate is available here: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2016-01-14a.1065.0#g1065.1

 

You can view the whole debate at: https://martindocherty.scot/video.html

Mundell Dodges Questions on Fiscal Framework

UK GOVERNMENT MUST COMMIT TO FAIR DEAL FOR SCOTLAND

The Scottish National Party has called on David Mundell to commit to a fair deal for Scotland on the fiscal framework accompanying the Scotland Bill after the Secretary of State for Scotland repeatedly dodged MPs questions on the financial agreement at last week’s Scottish Questions.

Responding to a series of questions by SNP MPs, the Secretary of State was unable to say whether he supported the ‘no detriment’ principal agreed by the Smith Commission, what he thought a fair financial deal would look like, or why – given his role – he was not attending the negotiations between the Scottish and UK governments.

Commenting, Martin Docherty MP said,

“Leading economists and academics have warned that Scotland could be worse off by hundreds of millions of pounds without a fair agreement on the fiscal framework surrounding the Scotland Bill – so it is astounding that the Secretary of State for Scotland cannot provide proper answers to basic questions.

Even more concerning is that Mr Mundell has so far been unwilling to commit to the basic principal of ‘no detriment’ agreed by the Smith Commission; that Scotland should not be financially disadvantaged by the transfer of new powers.

The Tories’ only Scottish MP has been deemed so irrelevant to the negotiations on the fiscal framework that his own government haven’t even invited him to the negotiating table. Think about that for a second; the Government’s only Scottish MP has been excluded from discussions on the Scotland Bill’s financial implications. If any more evidence of the contempt in which the Unionists hold Scotland and the irrelevance of the Secretary of State for Scotland was needed this is it.

 

It is crucial that the financial context of transferred powers is fair for Scotland and my SNP colleagues and I will not let this matter rest.”

VETERANS AND FAMILIES AFFECTED BY MESOTHELIOMA

Martin Docherty MP has spoken out in support of veterans and their families who have been exposed to asbestos through their service in the armed forces.

 

During the debate on the Armed Forces Bill, Martin Docherty MP supported the following addition, numbered as ‘Clause 8’ to the Bill,

 

Within 12 months of the passing of this Act, the Secretary of State must commission a review of how former members of the armed forces who have contracted mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos in the course of their military service are compensated, and must lay the report of this review before both Houses of Parliament.

 

Speaking during the debate, Martin said,

“The constituency of West Dunbartonshire and Clydebank in particular has a clear, direct link with mesothelioma through shipbuilding. We see the daily impact of asbestos on the lives of communities, not just the people who were in contact with it in the shipyards—both men and women—but their families.

It is inexplicable to me that we might not wish to provide equal support for our armed forces personnel. I think particularly of naval personnel who have been involved in the lagging of ship hulls during tours of duty, but I think also of Army personnel who have been based in premises that were built with asbestos cement, and mechanics who have dealt with vehicles that were insulated with asbestos. They will have not only come into contact with blue or white asbestos dust during their working lives, but brought it into their home lives.

I hope that the Government will recognise [the clause’s] intentions, and will seek to ensure that at least some cross-party work is done to enable us to bring this to a conclusion. Enough is enough: asbestos-related conditions form a major part of my constituency work. I am grateful to Clydebank Asbestos Group, which for many years, and with the support of many of my predecessors, has continued to work with other asbestos-related groups.”

 

Note for Editors:

Link to Martin Docherty’s full contribution in Hansard: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2015-12-16a.1626.0&p=25275#g1628.1

TORIES MUST RE-THINK ‘WORLDS HIGHEST PENSION AGE’

PENSION AGE PLANS DON’T REFLECT SCOTTISH CIRCUMSTANCES

The SNP has today renewed its call for the UK Government to re-think its plan to increase the UK retirement age to 68 by 2048, as a new OECD report states that this would be the highest retirement age in the world equal only to the Czech Republic and Ireland.

The OECD report, ‘Pensions at a Glance 2015’, states: “In the future the highest male pension age given labour market entry at age 20 will equal 68 years in the Czech Republic, Ireland and the United Kingdom.”

The SNP supports a review of the UK Government’s plan to increase the State Pension age beyond 66 as this fails to take into account Scotland’s specific circumstances, including differences in life expectancy.

Commenting, Martin Docherty MP said:

“This new research confirms that the Tories current plans to increase the retirement age will mean pensioners in the UK waiting longer than people in almost any other country in the world to collect their State Pension.

While we welcome the long overdue increases in the State Pension rate that have been made in recent years, we must ensure that everyone who works hard for all of their life receives parity of support in later years.

While the Scottish Government and local Councils are doing everything they can to ensure that people in Scotland live longer and healthier lives, sadly the fact remains that healthy life expectancy in Scotland still lags behind the UK average. That’s why we support a review of the pension age increase to take into account specific Scottish circumstances.

This OECD report should be a wake-up call to Tory Ministers – they must review these unfair and flawed increases in the State Pension age.”

SNP WELCOMES ILO INVESTIGATION INTO TORY UNION PROPOSALS

Alyn Smith, SNP Member of the European Parliament welcomed an assurance he has received from the International Labour Office (ILO) that they are investigating whether the Conservative party’s proposed changes to the right to strike are compatible with ratified ILO conventions.

The Committee of Experts on the Application of Convention and Recommendations (CEACR) of the ILO is currently meeting to assess this and will publish a report of its findings early next year.

Alyn Smith MEP said:

“This is clearly welcome news. The Tory proposals to restrict the ability of the unions to legitimately strike are utterly unjust.

“Freedom of association and the right to strike go hand in hand. This investigation is a positive development and I look forward to seeing their findings. The very fact that the ILO is investigating illustrates how for far the Tory government has gone.

“The Conservatives’ desire to further erode the basic right to strike in Scotland is not acceptable and the SNP will continue to challenge it domestically, in Europe and in international law.”

Martin Docherty MP said:

“The Trade Union Bill infringes basic civil liberties and human rights on the right to strike, their picketing proposals and the removal of trade union subsidies being deducted from salary. At its heart the TU bill is designed to curtail trade union organisation in the workplace and I am delighted that the ILO are taking the issue very seriously.

West Dunbartonshire Council has already unanimously agreed to resist this Bill and the SNP at all levels of Government continue to oppose its introduction.”

 

West Dunbartonshire MP backs campaign for sight loss support

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Martin Docherty MP is backing a campaign by sight loss charity RNIB to ensure that everyone diagnosed with sight loss receives practical and emotional support to come to terms with their diagnosis.

 

Martin attended a parliamentary reception hosted by The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), and supported by Blind Veterans UK, for the launch of RNIB’s new report ‘See the need’. The report calls for every eye department in the UK to have access to a sight loss adviser, to support people when they’re told that they’re losing, or have permanently lost, their sight.

 

With eye departments currently at full capacity due to our ageing population, and demand for services set to increase, ophthalmologists lack the time they’d like to provide support.

 

Sight loss advisers can provide advice on everything from remaining in employment, to becoming more independent around the home, and reducing the risk of falls while out in the street environment. Research has also revealed that they can save significant amounts of money for health and social care budgets.

 

Failure to provide timely advice and support at the point of diagnosis can prevent people from leading fulfilling lives at home, at work, and in the community. Sight loss advisers can help people to develop the skills and confidence that they need to live independently. RNIB’s research found that 87 per cent of patients who had seen a sight loss adviser felt that they had been provided with the practical support needed to live with sight loss.

 

Martin Docherty MP said,

 

“It is vital that blind and partially sighted people receive quality, timely support when they’re diagnosed with sight loss.

 

Without the right support available, people can be left isolated, and unable to live independently.

 

The most recent figures show there are nearly 600 people in West Dunbartonshire registered as blind or partially sighted, and I’m happy to support RNIB’s campaign for every eye department to have access to a sight loss adviser.”

 

 

 

RNIB’s CEO, Lesley-Anne Alexander CBE said,

 

“It is crucial that every eye department in the UK has access to a qualified sight loss adviser.

 

Ophthalmologists and their teams are currently under enormous pressure; their clinics are at full capacity, and they are being asked to do more, without additional resources. Sight loss advisers can help to ease this pressure, providing vital support to patients and signposting them to key hospital and community services.

 

Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB, Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, said: “Blind Veterans UK is pleased to be working in collaboration with RNIB to raise awareness of the needs of vision impaired people. Blind Veterans UK currently supports over 4,000 blind veterans and their families, but we know that there are many more vision impaired veterans out there who could be benefitting from our support, but do not realise it.

 

Increased service provision for people with sight loss will result in better support and signposting to the charity for blind ex-Service men and women, who can then access our free, lifelong support.”

 

WEST DUNBARTONSHIRE MP HELPS CHARITY RAISE AWARENESS OF PUPPY SMUGGLING PLIGHT

Martin & Dogs Trust highlight issue of puppy smuggling at House of Commons

 

On Tuesday (1st December) Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity took the opportunity to highlight the UK’s growing puppy smuggling problem to a host of MPs at its annual House of Commons reception hosted by Sir Roger Gale MP and supported by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery. West Dunbartonshire MP, Martin Docherty, attended the event.

 

Following its initial report into puppy smuggling in November 2014, Dogs Trust this year conducted its second in-depth investigative report focused on the puppies travelling illegally into Britain under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). Dogs Trust found substantial evidence that underage puppies are still regularly entering the country on false documentation and are subsequently sold to unsuspecting consumers.

 

Despite recent changes to the PETS designed to strengthen the scheme, the report found evidence of;

 

  • Ineffective border controls and enforcement of PETS at British ports, with no requirement on enforcers to carry out even a basic sight check on the animal being imported
  • Dogs Trust managed to transport a stuffed toy with a pet passport three times without anyone noticing the dog was not alive
  • Breeders and dealers from Lithuania and Romania using the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) for the commercial importation of puppies to Great Britain, it is just for owned pets
  • Breeders and dealers from Lithuania and Romania supplying young puppies under 12 weeks of age – the legal age at which puppies can be vaccinated against rabies – with dates of birth simply being faked on pet passports
  • Vets in Lithuania and Romania falsifying data on pet passports for PETS
  • Puppies bred in horrendous conditions in Eastern Europe
  • Puppies from Eastern Europe advertised online with no reference to their countries of origin

 

To emphasise how easily unethical dealers are able to bring underage, sickly, or undocumented puppies into Great Britain, MPs were invited to take part in a photo opportunity which saw them standing in front of a giant fake pet passport. They were surrounded by toy puppies that Dogs Trust smuggled through Britain’s ports as part of their investigation, to illustrate the ineffectiveness of patrols at the ports.

 

Martin Docherty MP said,

 

“I am delighted to support Dogs Trust in raising awareness of the issue of illegal puppy smuggling. Not only is this issue affecting unwitting members of the public who are buying puppies without knowing where in the world they have come from, but it also brings with it a risk of disease to humans and dogs.

 

As a dog owner myself, I am particularly concerned that there are also huge welfare concerns for puppies being transported such long distances at such a young age. It’s evident that greater measures need to be put in place to deter people from smuggling puppies into this country illegally.”

 

Adrian Burder, Dogs Trust CEO says,

 

“Dogs Trust’s famous slogan A dog is for life, not just for Christmas is 37 years old but it is still, sadly, as relevant as ever with puppies available to buy at the click of a button online. As we approach the festive period, I would like to remind anyone thinking of getting a dog to do their research and ensure they know where their dog is coming from before making the decision to bring a four legged friend into their home. Dog lovers could inadvertently be lining the pockets of unscrupulous breeders and fuelling the illegal puppy smuggling trade.

 

Dogs Trust would like to see far more being done to ensure that proper checks at ports are enforced, that on the spot fines are handed out to those individuals smuggling puppies illegally to act as a deterrent and that a nationwide multi-agency strategy is put in place to deal with this issue once and for all.”

 

Jo Bucci, Managing Director of People’s Postcode Lottery added,

“I am delighted that the funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery has helped to ensure Dogs Trust is able to carry out important work like this. I hope this event helps to raise further awareness of this issue and bring about some effective change for the welfare of dogs.”