Jobcentre Closure

It’s deeply disappointing to receive the news that Port Glasgow jobcentre is to close and that services will transfer to Greenock.  This will put an added burden of travel on people in Kilmacolm and Port Glasgow who will be expected to travel greater distances to receive welfare support.

The SNP has been actively opposing this issue – and last week we led debates in both the House of Commons and the Scottish Parliament – but our attempts to get the Scottish Secretary to join us in calling on the DWP to halt these plans have fallen on deaf ears.

As I previously stated, the cuts by the Department of Work and Pensions to slash Jobcentres are morally outrageous and fly in the face of the Tory promise to “work for the many and not the privileged few.

I note the proposal is to relocate all 28 staff from Port Glasgow jobcentre and I hope the Department of Work and Pensions will follow through on this and ensure there are no compulsory redundancies.

Therefore, I will be meeting with the Minister for Employment, early next week, to find out more details about the UK Government’s plans and to press him on how these cuts will have a detrimental effect on individuals and their welfare needs.

 

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Written Question – Welfare [24/01/2017]

Question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the Government plans to close jobcentre offices in Inverclyde. (60701)

Tabled on: 18 January 2017

Answer:
Damian Hinds:

The department is in the process of reviewing all of its estates requirements as the current contract for most of the estate comes to an end on 31 March 2018.

Commercial negotiations are underway on the entirety of our estate at this time and it is not appropriate to comment further on individual sites while negotiations are in progress.

The answer was submitted on 24 Jan 2017 at 12:14.

 

UK Govt failure to plan for Brexit

It’s clear the UK Government has completely failed to plan for Brexit as the Supreme Court rules the Government must seek assent of parliament to trigger Article 50.

Parliament must be consulted before the Government triggers Article 50, the Supreme Court has ruled. 

Eight of the 11 Supreme Court justices broke in favour of the claimants, arguing that Article 50 and withdrawing from the EU treaties will materially affect laws and rights, and therefore must be authorised by Parliament.

The Supreme Court decision is an indictment on the UK Government’s failure to plan for Brexit and their ignorance towards parliamentary scrutiny.  The judgment rides roughshod over the Sewell convention.

The SNP Westminster group will table serious and substantive amendments to any Article 50 legislation – they will aim to protect Scotland’s place in the EU.

The UK Government think they can do anything to Scotland – including dragging us out of the EU and the Single Market – and that people in Scotland will just take it. We are determined that won’t happen.

 

MoD Capability Gap on Unexploded Ordnance

Last week, an unexploded 50kg World War Two bomb was found in the River Thames.  The operation by the Royal Navy and Metropolitan Police forced Waterloo Bridge, Westminster Bridge and Victoria Embankment in central London to shut. 

I originally highlighted the problem of UXO when an unexploded British-made seamine was found near an outdoor swimming pool in Gourock. Another World War Two era mine was later entangled in a trawler’s net near the Isle of Cumbrae. 

Following a meeting with UK Government ministers regarding the issue, I met with industry experts who have extensive experience of identifying and dealing with UXO.

Bernie Morrison of PanGeo Subsea and Calum MacMillan of Argyll Workboats Ltd indicated that the existing technology currently used by Royal Navy Minesweepers has difficulty in accurately detecting UXOs located beneath the seabed.

It is very concerning to learn of another unexploded ordnance being found in our waters, this time right on the doorstep of Parliament.

I’ve raised this issue on a number of occasions with the Ministry of Defence, although it’s quite evident they are not listening or taking heed of the warnings.

While other countries clear their shores, the UK Government continues to deny that we have a UXO problem.

It’s also disappointing that the MOD refused my meeting request to discuss how Scottish companies could be part of the solution in making our waters safer from UXOs.

I will continue to press the MoD on this issue as we cannot afford to wait until a serious incident occurs.

 

Basic Income Event

On Saturday I will attend and participate in an event organised by Citizens Basic Income Network Scotland (CBINS) which will discuss the issue of introducing a basic income in Scotland.  The event will take place on Kelty Community Centre.

A Basic Income (Citizen’s Income or Universal Grant) is an unconditional, non-withdrawable income for every individual as a right of citizenship. Similar to a. Child Benefit, it is for everyone, and is tax-exempt.

I’ve previously discussed the topic with representatives of Citizen’s Income Trust, RSA and Citizen’s Basic Income Network Scotland.  I also led a Westminster Hall debate on Wednesday 14th September and recently raised the matter with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

If you had a blank sheet of paper and were asked to design a welfare system nobody, but nobody, would come up with the system that we have now.

We are spending 28% of our total public expenditure on social security, but it’s still not clear whether our welfare system is helping or hindering the most vulnerable people in our society.

A universal basic income is an idea which has been considered in various forms for over two hundred years. Luminaries such as Abraham Lincoln and Dr Martin Luther King have supported the concept as a way of helping alleviate poverty and providing society with a safety net.

Finland has become the first country in Europe to pay a limited number of unemployed citizens an unconditional monthly sum and a child benefit  Other countries such as Canada, USA and the Netherlands are piloting schemes. I think it is vital that we assess its suitability for Scotland.

Citizen’s Basic Income Network Scotland website – https://cbin.scot

Citizen’s Basic Income Network Scotland (CBINS) event – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/basic-income-real-social-security-tickets-30078624977?aff=es2

Link to  my  parliamentary debate on Universal Basic Income – https://hansard.digiminster.com/Commons/2016-09-14/debates/1B16BDDC-5BB5-40AB-93E0-A78D0A39BF5B/UniversalBasicIncome