Greenock Telegraph [30/06/2016]

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Dormant Betting Accounts

Next week, I will lead a parliamentary debate on the issue of dormant betting accounts and will call on the UK Government to finally make a decision on whether to utilise the money from dormant accounts to support those individuals and families affected by gambling related harm.

A report for the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) commissioned in December 2010 recommended that the government consult with high street betting operators to establish a voluntary scheme or – failing that – to enact legislation that would require operators to give funds from dormant accounts and unclaimed winnings to good causes.

I’ve led the campaign for greater action to be taken on the issue of gambling related harm and addiction. I raised the subject with the Prime Minister at question time and also met with a number of organisations in the betting and gaming industry such as bookmakers, the Responsible Gambling Trust, Senet Group, BACTA, the Association of British Bookmakers and RCA Trust.

I will use the opportunity of leading a Westminster Hall debate on dormant betting accounts to urge the UK Government to finally take real action on gambling related harm.

I’ve met with a number of industry bodies and charities to discuss the issues surrounding gambling related harm and the affect it has on individuals and families. I believe the UK Government can make a difference to those people’s lives which have been adversely affected by gambling through taking the money from dormant betting accounts and utilising it for good.

It’s now time for the UK Government to fulfil a duty of care and take the necessary action on dormant betting accounts to show they are serious on addressing gambling related harm

Written PQ – Gambling addiction [29th June 2016]

Question: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what plans he has to provide specialist local NHS services to treat gambling addiction. (40983)

Tabled on: 20 June 2016

This question was grouped with the following question(s) for answer:

  1. To ask the Secretary of State for Health, how many people are employed as specialists by the NHS to assist people with gambling addictions. (40984) Tabled on: 20 June 2016
  2. To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what funding his Department provides to the NHS to treat people with gambling addictions. (40985) Tabled on: 20 June 2016

Answer:Alistair Burt:

The Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust provides the only specialised national problem gambling clinic. However, specialised addiction services, which mainly deal with substance misuse, do tend to accept people with gambling problems referred to them. People can also access addiction services in primary care and secondary care, which may provide support for problem gambling.

People may also access psychological therapies through the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme. Although problem gambling is not listed amongst the provisional diagnosis categories that IAPT treats, IAPT practitioners would be able to treat common mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, which may be present in people with gambling addiction problems.

Data is not collected centrally on the number of specialist National Health Service professionals which provide support and treatment for gambling addiction.

Data is not collected on the funding of services to treat people with gambling problems. Funding to provide NHS mental health services is allocated to clinical commissioning groups which are best placed to commission local health services based on the needs of their local populations. Local authorities are responsible for commissioning local alcohol and drug treatment services which may also refer people to gambling support services where they identify people with gambling issues.

The answer was submitted on 29 Jun 2016 at 10:59.

State Pension Age Campaigners at Westminster Protest

Today (Wednesday) I joined women from across the country at a demonstration outside the Palace of Westminster in support of women hit by the acceleration of the equalisation of the State Pension Age, a change which began in 1995 and was compounded in 2011.

In Inverclyde, according to the independent House of Commons Library, around 3850 women are directly affected by the 2011 Pensions Act alone. 302 local residents signed the e-petition calling for transitional arrangements, which received almost 200,000 signatures nationwide.

The Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign works to lobby the Government to introduce transitional arrangements for those women affected, many of whom were not notified about the changes, and took early retirement, leaving them without any income.

We want to get the best outcome for these women, many of whom have worked hard for decades without taking a penny out of the system. I am therefore proud to join them at their demonstration in Westminster today.

I hope we will soon have the equitable outcome that the WASPI women deserve.

 

Written PQ – Gambling addiction [28th June 2016]

Question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, if he will hold discussions with gambling license holders to encourage those licensees to increase annual contributions for the research, prevention and treatment of gambling addiction. (40986)

Tabled on: 20 June 2016

Answer:
David Evennett:

It is a requirement on all gambling licence holders to make an annual financial contribution to one or more organisations that perform research, education and treatment (RET) for gambling-related harm. The vast majority choose to make that contribution to the Responsible Gambling Trust (RGT) which raised £6.5million in 2015.

The Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB), was set up to by the Gambling Commission to advise on priorities for research, education and training relating to responsible gambling. The RGSB is now working with the RGT to estimate the costs of the relevant activities that have been identified in the recently published National Responsible Gambling Strategy, 2016-19. This process will determine what RGT should expect to raise from all those businesses who profit from commercial gambling in Britain.

The answer was submitted on 28 Jun 2016 at 15:31.

 

Defence Topical Questions [27th June 2016]

 

Ronnie Cowan (Inverclyde) (SNP)

T1. If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities. [905498]

The Secretary of State for Defence (Michael Fallon)

My immediate priorities remain success in our operations against Daesh, and implementing our strategic defence and security review commitments. On Friday week, I will join the Prime Minister for the NATO summit in Warsaw, where we will review progress since the Wales summit, agree further reassurance to our eastern allies, and take further steps to demonstrate the alliance’s strength and unity.

Ronnie Cowan

Given the unfortunate success of the Brexit campaign and the subsequent downward spiral of the value of the pound, which now sits at a 31-year low, will the Minister tell me the additional cost of the Trident renewal programme on top of the current estimate of £205 billion?

Michael Fallon

In the strategic defence and security review, we published our most up-to-date assessment of the cost of the Trident replacement programme at £31 billion, plus a contingency of a further £10 billion.

 

Tele Column – 24th June 2016

As soon as I was elected I said that I wanted to work with anyone who wanted to work for Inverclyde. I have not changed my view one bit. The tragic slaying of Jo Cox has served to remind us of her statement that, “We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.” And yet the games continue. With council elections on the horizon, already the keyboard cowards are out in force. They bicker and complain, their negativity is designed to niggle and annoy, their motive is self not selfless, and it’s I, not we. I genuinely hope that the death of Jo Cox can result in cross party common ground but I seriously doubt it. Not while social media and gutter press fan the flames of outrage and indignation at every opportunity.

The P1 powerboats ‘Grand Prix of the Sea’ came to town last weekend. It was very well received and hopefully can become an annual fixture. The organisers were full of praise for the location and the Esplanade looked magnificent in the TV coverage. Inverclyde fared very well over the course of the two days.

I recently visited the Merino Care Home and Bellaire House as part of national care home day. Both locations provide a haven for the elderly and it was heart-warming to see such caring and compassion in our community. The entertainment was provided by the youngsters from Whinhill primary and the not so youngsters from the Cedar School of Excellence. It was great to hear young and old in perfect harmony while belting out “Ye canny shove yer grannie aff a bus”. Not politically correct but great fun.

Supporting fight to cure MND

Today I added my support to the fight against Motor Neurone Disease (MND)

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a rapidly progressing terminal neurological condition which affects the signals from your brain reaching muscles, causing muscle weakness and wasting. It can affect the ability to eat, sleep, walk, talk and breathe unaided. Average life expectancy from diagnosis is just 14 months and it is not yet known what causes it.  There is no effective treatment or cure.

Funding MND research is a key priority for MND Scotland who have announced an additional £450,000 in to research projects and are highlighting what could be achieved with more investment in to MND research.

MND has affected people across Inverclyde.  MND Scotland provides care and support to people affected by the illness alongside cutting edge research to try and find a cure. 

Scotland is fast becoming one of the go to places to conduct MND research and MND Scotland’s Awareness Week campaign aims to raise £15,000 to invest in to further research projects.

I am pleased to support MND Scotland and their Awareness Week goal of raising more money to invest in this critical research.