Greenock Telegraph [28/07/2016]

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Fix Britain’s Internet campaign

Today, TalkTalk, Sky, Vodafone and the Federation of Communication Services are launching #FixBritainsInternet, a national campaign to give frustrated consumers and businesses a voice on the future of Britain’s broadband

#FixBritainsInternet lets customers have their say by emailing Ofcom directly, urging them to do whatever is needed to give Britain world-class broadband infrastructure.

For more information please visit – www.fixbritainsinternet.co.uk and @fixbritinternet.

Scottish Welfare Fund

The Scottish Government has continued to support some of the most vulnerable people in society, through the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Inverclyde received £853,899 of help, through the Scottish Welfare Fund, as a total budget for 2015/16.

According to the statistics, provided by the Scottish Government, as of 31st March 2016 Inverclyde had underspent its allocation by £55,409.

With no respite in the UK Government’s austerity agenda and continued cuts to the welfare system, the Scottish Government has allocated around £97.9 million, through the Scottish Welfare Fund, to help people cope in desperate situations.

As I previously indicated, in February 2016, Inverclyde Council underspent the Scottish Welfare Fund by approximately £170k in 2013/14 and £125k in 2014/15.  I hope the current allocation provided to Inverclyde Council will be fully utilised to support people in the area.

Gambling Commission report

A Gambling Commission report indicated there were 20.19m active customer accounts in the remote sector, across remote casino, bingo and betting operators. Within the same period, there were 19.88m new account registrations. Within these customer gambling accounts, £508.42m worth of funds was held by remote operators (GB only)[1].

The Gambling Commission report highlights the sheer scale of the industry, 20.19m active customer accounts in Great Britain, and the number of new account registrations serves to demonstrate that gambling continues to grow in this country.

Added to this, the vast number of betting accounts showcases the potential for a number of those accounts to be dormant.  With this being the case, I continue to believe this money could be utilised to support individuals and families affected by gambling related harm.

With the rise in people betting, I believe, it’s vital the industry ensures all avenues are taken to promote responsible gambling and assist those with gambling related harm.”

[1] Customers gambling on betting exchanges tend to maintain a significant balance in their account as they need to have sufficient funds to cover the liabilities of their bets, rather than just have sufficient funds to cover the stake of the bets they intend to make.

Westminster diary w/b 18th July

Monday

Last week, before recess and the new Prime Minister has brought forward the vote on the replacement of the four vanguard submarines. There are statements about the tragic events in Nice and accordingly, the debate will be shortened. In truth it’s not a debate, they never are. Although the wording of the motion is about the successor submarines the vote is really a green light for Trident renewal. Those in favour make the case for jobs, deterrent and even, would you believe it, the moral high ground. Those against point out the under investment in conventional armed forces, the growing belief that they are not a deterrent, the way in which jobs can be created and maintained without them and the gross inhumanity of such weapons.

Tuesday

Very much a case of the morning after the night before. I had very little sleep, mainly due to summer arriving in London and bringing with it the sort of hot sticky humid nights that big cities do so well. To compound matters I had an early meeting. London was boiling but fortunately I was cooling down. It turned out to be a day of meetings. Interestingly more happens at these events than comes out of the talking on the green benches. My Select Committee has lost two Labour members to the shadow cabinet and one Conservative to the government, so with fewer members we get through business quicker. We shall be heavily involved in monitoring the Brexit process, after recess.

Wednesday

A day to tie up loose ends at Westminster before recess. I share my office with Gavin Newlands MP for Renfrewshire West, he is extremely untidy and uses all my stationary but we seem to have made it so far without coming to blows. So with my office tidy, my flat tidy, I’m in the chamber for finance debate and vote at 19:00. Unfortunately my flight is delayed and its 23:45 before I am home.

Thursday

A day spent in the constituency office to meet with constituents and Inverclyde Council. In the evening I attended the CVS event at Kip Marina. The event was designed to inform people about the LEADER programme, it’s a great way to get funding for local projects. It is always worth checking out the website www.fundingscotland.com to see what’s available.

Friday

First item on the agenda of a packed day is the Business Improvement District (BID) at the Beacon. It is about businesses working together and investing collectively in local improvements which contribute to the wider aspirations of the local residential community and grow the local economy. Then a visit to Argyll Training who provide training and education to support the needs of businesses and individuals. By lunchtime it’s a visit to Your Voice community care forum in Clyde square. Their role is to enable the voice of local people. The day continues with a visit to the Inverclyde Council on Disability with Councillor Jim MacLeod. Last appointment of the day is a chat with representatives of the Beacon to talk about a range of future projects.

Written PQ – Telecomms [22nd July 2016]

Question: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of making cold-calling a criminal offence. (43400)

Tabled on: 19 July 2016

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

  1. To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to tackle cold-callers. (43399) Tabled on: 19 July 2016

Answer: Matt Hancock:

We are determined to tackle the scourge of nuisance calls, however a balance needs to be struck between ensuring that consumers are adequately protected and also ensuring that the legitimate direct marketing industry can continue to operate. Our efforts are focused on taking action against companies that are deliberating break the rules, rather than penalising legitimate businesses who comply with the law.

The answer was submitted on 22 Jul 2016 at 14:32.

Tele column – 22nd July

On Monday the House of Commons voted to push ahead with the procurement of four successor submarines. This is the next step in renewing the Trident nuclear missile system.

It has been independently costed, using known government figures, at anywhere between £179 billion pounds and £205 billion pounds. With the falling pound, after the EU election result, those figures are already being revised, upwards. Somebody described it as an obscene amount of money. But it is not. That amount spent on generating jobs in other areas or being used to build schools and hospitals or paying pensions is not obscene. The obscenity is Trident. The two main arguments I hear for renewing Trident are that it creates jobs, however the same money invested differently would create far more and the timescale exists for those whose jobs may be threatened to retrain. Not just at HMNB Clyde but also at Aldermaston where the missiles are assembled. The second argument is that we need Trident as a deterrent. When a retired General who in his working life was in charge of the entire US strategic nuclear weapons system says that “nuclear weapons was and remains a slippery intellectual construct”, I think we should listen.

Last Monday, 58 out of 59 Scottish MPs voted against the renewal of Trident. This is in line with the policy of the SNP, the Labour Party in Scotland, the Green Party, Scottish TUC and is reflected in the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament. It is supported by the Church of Scotland and Roman Catholic Bishops of Scotland along with many other faith groups and swathes of civic society. On Monday a government the people of Scotland did not vote for, yet again, forced a policy on the people of Scotland that we don’t want.

Last May, I met Setsuko Thurlow. She survived Hiroshima. Her story is harrowing and brutal. When I asked what she thought of such weapons she replied “it is not a weapon, it’s a method to massacre indiscriminately. It’s immoral. Let’s live together, don’t spend and squander our resources on such things.” I am ashamed that on Monday the Westminster parliament let her down.

 

Tele column – 22nd July

On Monday the House of Commons voted to push ahead with the procurement of four successor submarines. This is the next step in renewing the Trident nuclear missile system.

It has been independently costed, using known government figures, at anywhere between £179 billion pounds and £205 billion pounds. With the falling pound, after the EU election result, those figures are already being revised, upwards. Somebody described it as an obscene amount of money. But it is not. That amount spent on generating jobs in other areas or being used to build schools and hospitals or paying pensions is not obscene. The obscenity is Trident. The two main arguments I hear for renewing Trident are that it creates jobs, however the same money invested differently would create far more and the timescale exists for those whose jobs may be threatened to retrain. Not just at HMNB Clyde but also at Aldermaston where the missiles are assembled. The second argument is that we need Trident as a deterrent. When a retired General who in his working life was in charge of the entire US strategic nuclear weapons system says that “nuclear weapons was and remains a slippery intellectual construct”, I think we should listen.

Last Monday, 58 out of 59 Scottish MPs voted against the renewal of Trident. This is in line with the policy of the SNP, the Labour Party in Scotland, the Green Party, Scottish TUC and is reflected in the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament. It is supported by the Church of Scotland and Roman Catholic Bishops of Scotland along with many other faith groups and swathes of civic society. On Monday a government the people of Scotland did not vote for, yet again, forced a policy on the people of Scotland that we don’t want.

Last May, I met Setsuko Thurlow. She survived Hiroshima. Her story is harrowing and brutal. When I asked what she thought of such weapons she replied “it is not a weapon, it’s a method to massacre indiscriminately. It’s immoral. Let’s live together, don’t spend and squander our resources on such things.” I am ashamed that on Monday the Westminster parliament let her down.