Hinkley Power Plant

It is vital that we ensure a sustainable, safe, and secure energy network but I am profoundly concerned about the UK Government’s plans for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. The disastrous Hinkley Point C project exemplifies the failure of the UK Government’s energy strategy and lack of a long-term plan that could cost billions to taxpayers.

The UK Government’s obsession with nuclear energy will do nothing to lower energy bills and will only burden future generations with great financial and environmental risk. Even the board of EDF, the French energy company involved in the project, have been re-evaluating their involvement in the project in recent months.

That the UK Government have seemed happy to write a blank cheque for nuclear power at a time when they have made deep cuts to the renewable energy sector beggars belief. In particular, the closure of the carbon capture and storage scheme risks damaging our place as a world-leader in renewable technology.

In contrast, the SNP Scottish Government is developing an ambitious and long term Scottish Energy Strategy which aims to make electricity cleaner, more affordable and more secure for all consumers. The strategy will take a “whole system view” and encompass demand reduction, energy efficiency, a balanced energy generation mix, a role for storage, and the requirement for a low carbon transition in transport and heat use. It is this approach that has seen Scotland achieve a 38.4% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and been praised by the UN as taking an exemplary approach to tackling climate change.

The UK Government were due to sign the deal to build this new power station on Friday 29th July 2016, but it has been announced that the final decision will now be delayed until the autumn of the year to allow a review of the project to be undertaken by the department of for business, energy and industrial strategy.

Pressure from the SNP has no doubt contributed to forcing this review and my SNP colleagues and I will continue to robustly pursue the UK Government on the risks of the Hinkley Point C project.

Civil Service Performance Management Systems

I am grateful to the trade union PCS for bringing this issue to the attention of the public and MPs. My SNP colleague Chris Stephens MP has tabled an Early Day Motion on this issue, and I too am concerned that performance management systems operating in UK Government departments are discriminatory and unfair. I am particularly concerned to read research from Keele University which indicates that there are statistically significant differences in performance outcomes based on gender, age, grade and working patterns and, particularly, in relation to disability and ethnicity.

I should point out at that this study focussed on the UK Civil Service and it is this service with which there is an identified issue. The UK Civil Service is distinct from the Civil Service which supports the Scottish Government.

I have added my signature to Chris Stephens’ EDM, which will appear online after the summer recess, and am pleased to join him in calling on the UK Government to ensure that performance is managed in the civil service in a way that is supportive of staff, and enables them to reach their full potential.

You can view the Early Day Motion here

You can read the PCS press release and find links to the research here

Closure of BHS

The closure of BHS on Saturday marks the end of an era and is without doubt a huge blow to the communities of West Dunbartonshire.

My colleagues and I have interrogated those responsible for the fall of BHS as well as seeking testimony from independent industry and economic experts. The fallout from this debacle is still being picked through by the Parliament and it will be some time before firm actionable recommendations are made, but one thing is clear; we must change the way business and pension funds are regulated and monitored.

Back home in the community, I have spent the past few months making sure that the store management and local organisations such as the Council, Scottish Enterprise and the DWP are working in concert to assist the staff who now find themselves seeking alternative employment.

Everyone is doing what we can to support the staff and my constituency team remains ready to assist any individuals having difficulties accessing the services they need.

I continue to be in touch with the relevant agencies by phone, however for information, you can see the latest written responses from West Dunbartonshire Council and Scottish Enterprise via the following links:

Click here for the Council Response
Click here for the Scottish Enterprise Response

Statement from Martin Docherty-Hughes MP on the Chilcot Report

Amidst the political heat, our thoughts must be with the families of the 179 UK armed services personnel who have perished in this war. Wednesday was an important and sombre day for them.

The Chilcot Report is a catalogue of Government failure and neglect of duty. It is critical of a Prime Minister who led our country into a tragic conflict that has proved devastating for stability in the Middle East. It is clear that those named as responsible must be held accountable for their mistakes and deceptions; what form that will take and what should be done to ensure it comes to fruition requires careful consideration.

The words ‘I will be with you whatever’ will live in infamy, and we now know conclusively that Tony Blair had in his own mind already decided to go to war, long before Parliament was given the opportunity to vote on the matter.

Tony Blair’s lack of commitment to collective decision-making is a critical failure of government, and resulted in a lack of rigorous analysis and challenged thought.

There was an extraordinary lack of political leadership and strategy shown by Tony Blair and the then Cabinet, which led to utter confusion as to which Departments were responsible for post-war planning. He failed the Iraqi people, failed Armed Services personnel and destabilised the Middle East.

It beggars belief that Tony Blair still maintains that he acted in good faith and even more worrying that he has confirmed that he would do exactly the same again. This is certainly not an act of contrition in any real sense.

This report was never meant to provide a legal verdict, but it does quite clearly and with compelling force identify Tony Blair as having obfuscated, pre-determined in favour of war and failed to plan for the long term consequences. Far from being the final word on the Iraq war, the Chilcot Report is the start of a process.

The report extends to 2.6 million words and only after careful analysis will the full implications become clear. My colleagues and I will be going through the report in detail over the coming weeks and months and it will be important to see how the Government and others react during this week’s special debate days. Ultimately our actions will be informed by our constituents and communities and in particular those families of service men and women who lost their lives.

I have received a letter from the Minister of State for the Armed Forces informing me that MOD Welfare Staff are working closely with the families of the 179 service men and women who lost their lives in the conflict. Anyone who needs my assistance getting in touch with the MOD Welfare team should contact my office.

You can watch SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson MP’s exchange with the Prime Mininster in the video below:

Statement on the EU Referendum Result

I firmly believe that Scotland and West Dunbartonshire are better off as partners with our European neighbours, and we have voted firmly and clearly to remain in the European Union.
As the Member of the UK Parliament for West Dunbartonshire I want to send a clear message to our community and to local businesses and investors that I am delighted with Scotland’s result which comes from a positive campaign for membership, though I hugely regret that the UK is in the position that it is.

Critically, my position remains that with such a clear pro-EU vote in Scotland in contrast to the UK wide result, our removal from the European Union against our will is democratically unacceptable to our sovereign people; the First Minister has made it clear that all options are now on the table to protect our European Union status, including a second independence referendum.

The Scottish Government will now introduce legislation in the Scottish Parliament to facilitate a second independence referendum, a move which will be welcomed by not only those who voted YES in West Dunbartonshire in 2014, but I believe also by many who voted NO on the promise that it was the only way to protect our EU membership.

I also want to send a particular message to European Union citizens living in West Dunbartonshire, who make a huge contribution to our community; working hard, paying taxes and contributing to our civic and cultural life. You are welcome here. We value the enormous contribution you make to our community and we will fight to make sure that this will not change as a result of this referendum.

The First Minister, with the support of all Parties in the Scottish Parliament, with the exception of the Conservatives, has taken immediate and decisive action to secure Scotland’s relationship with the European Union, including meeting with key European figures in Brussels.

Nicola Sturgeon has been clear; Independence is not the starting point and all options are on the table to protect Scotland’s relationship with the EU. An expert panel with a breadth of expertise and political views will be formed to advise the Government and Parliament on the best way forward to protect Scotland’s interests.

For more details click here

Statement from Martin Docherty MP on the Polaroid Closure Announcement

[UPDATES WILL FOLLOW AS WE HAVE THEM]

“I am gravely concerned to hear of the proposals being put to the workforce of Polaroid Eyewear by the parent company Safilo; I am in contact with West Dunbartonshire Council and the Scottish Government to ensure that our skilled local workforce are supported and that we can do everything possible to retain this wealth of experience within our community.

I will be meeting with workers and local Directors on Thursday to assure them of my support”

Refugee Crisis – Comment from Martin Docherty

“Sons and Daughters of the Rock and their neighbours throughout the communities of West Dunbartonshire are well known for their generosity. This gesture highlights the difference in the humanitarian approach to this crisis adopted by the people of Scotland in stark contrast to this Westminster Tory Government who would ignore their moral obligation, turning their backs yet again on vulnerable people in desperate need. If your Neighbour’s House is on Fire, you don’t haggle over the price of your garden hose.”

Underground Coal Gasification

The Scottish Government promised to make a decision on underground coal gasification (UCG) before 10 October. On 8 October, the Scottish Government confirmed that a ban will be in place on UCG.

In line with the cautious, evidence-based approach adopted by the Scottish Government, a separate ban on UCG will allow the necessary time for full and careful consideration of the potential impacts of this new technology. Ministers have been clear that fracking and UCG are two separate technologies, subject to different licensing regimes, and hence will be considered separately.

The Scottish Government has appointed Professor Campbell Gemmell, former CEO of SEPA, to lead an independent examination of the issues and evidence surrounding UCG. This will include working closely with communities and stakeholders to understand the issues of most concern to them.