Written question – HM Treasury [30/04/2019]

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the UK complies with the Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive. (245860)

Tabled on: 18 April 2019

Mel Stride:

The UK supports the EU Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive, which requires all Member States to adopt minimum standard rules that restrict the ability of large multinationals to artificially lower their tax bills.

The UK already had effective and comprehensive anti-avoidance rules in place, which met or exceeded most of the minimum standards set out by the Directive.

Finance Act 2019 introduced several technical changes which help ensure our existing rules will be fully compliant with the approach taken by the Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive.

The answer was submitted on 30 Apr 2019 at 14:57

Westminster diary w/b 22nd April


I enjoyed a Monday holiday soaking up the good Inverclyde sunshine. I found some time to make promotional videos to encourage people to register to vote and use it in the proposed European Union elections on the 23rd May.


Early flight to London. Business is still sporadic at Westminster as the government works out how to utilise the Brexit extension. My main event was the Hydrogen showcase. I spoke with travel providers and learned the eye watering costs of hydrogen busses and filling stations. Large scale hydrogen conversion projects have the potential to significantly decrease carbon emissions but that potential requires serious funding if it is to come to fruition.


Prime Ministers Questions was the day of the second in commands as the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and Ian Blackford MP were all attending the funeral of the journalist L McKee who was murdered in Northern Ireland. PMQs was actually quite cordial for once, maybe because of the tragic circumstances around it. It was followed by a ten-minute rule bill that I had put my name to. The bill attempts to introduce a statutory levy on bookmakers to pay for gambling related harm. Currently a voluntary levy raises about 10 million pounds a year. A 1% levy would raise 140 million. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on gambling related harm took evidence from banks and software providers that are trying to make it easier for problematic gamblers to self-exclude. My last event of the evening was the All-Party Parliamentary Group on prostitution and the global sex trade. We heard from the Swedish ambassador how they had implemented the ’Nordic Model’ (decriminalise the selling of sex and prosecute the purchaser) and the effect it had on reducing prostitution and helping woman out of prostitution. The comparison to Germany where they have decriminalised both the purchasing and selling of sex could not be starker.


I spoke to the Urgent Question on Huawei in my capacity as SNP spokesperson on infrastructure. The prospect of the UK 5G telecommunications networks relying on Chinese technology from a company surrounded in espionage rumours and beholden to the Chinese state does not thrill me. I attended the Gambling Commissions report launch ‘National Strategy to reducing gambling related harm’. I was disappointed to hear the DCMS minister Mims Davis say that the Government still believes a voluntary levy is sufficient. I caught the 19:05 flight to Edinburgh as I am attending an inter-governmental forum at Holyrood on Friday.


I attended an Inter Parliamentary forum on Brexit along with members of committees from the Welsh and Scottish parliaments and on Saturday and Sunday I shall be at the SNP spring conference where I am moving a motion for the creation of a Scottish Statistics Agency and hosting a fringe event on developing drugs policy.


Tele column 26th April 2019

I am sure you are well aware that after nearly three years of attempting to negotiate the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, the U.K. Government has applied for and been granted an extension. Currently the outcome of that is, that unless a deal is agreed before May 23rd, we will be required to hold elections to the European Parliament. These elections are never the most popular and traditionally turnouts have been low. Yet, during the last three years the people of Scotland have recommitted our desire to remain in the European Union. Obviously, not everyone and I respect that but in every poll that has been taken the majority wish to remain in the European Union. I would hope given the opportunity to display that solidarity with the EU, we would take it. The EU elections are a platform for Scotland to express its opinion on Brexit. The candidates will be expressing their view on Scotland’s place in Europe and must be judged on that. Even though most folk seem to be scunnered by the situation we can’t let that lead to apathy or the turnout will be even lower. The right to vote has been fought for, many people have died to protect it, and while I understand the frustrations, now that we have been exposed to the arguments and possible outcomes of Brexit, it is imperative that you register your wishes at the ballot box. I can understand why those that voted ‘Leave’ may be frustrated at having to vote again but equally I would encourage them to do just that. Three years of discussion at Westminster have led us nowhere. It is now time for the wider electorate with a greater understanding of the issues to express their views. The last day to register is the 7th of May, please make sure you are registered to vote.


Written question – Consumers [24/04/2019]

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that consumers are protected from household appliances that are found to be faulty. (244165)

Tabled on: 11 April 2019

Kelly Tolhurst:

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) sets out the standards consumers can expect of the goods they obtain from traders and remedies if these rights are breached. Under the CRA goods sold by traders must be as described, of a satisfactory quality, and fit for a particular purpose if that purpose was made known to the trader by the consumer before the contract was made.

Consumers have a 30-day time period from delivery and/or installation when they can return sub-standard goods and get a full refund. After 30 days consumers are entitled to require the trader to repair or replace faulty goods within a reasonable time and without significant inconvenience to the consumer. If this cannot be met, the consumer would be entitled to a final right of rejection with full refund or the right to keep the goods and receive a partial refund.

Under the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016 where a product is found to be unsafe appropriate action must be taken by the manufacturer or importer to withdraw, recall or otherwise bring the equipment into conformity.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards commissioned a new British Standards Institution code of practice on recalls and corrective actions last year and is working with UK manufacturers and suppliers of white goods to ensure that their recall plans and processes are adequate as part of a new compliance review programme.

For free advice and information on their rights, consumers should contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 (www.citizensadvice.org.uk/). However, if the consumer resides in Scotland, they should contact Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 (www.consumeradvice.scot).

The answer was submitted on 24 Apr 2019 at 16:31.


UK Government delay disability back payments

While the Tory government continue to delay these repayments, each day thousands of the most vulnerable people in society are missing out on the money they need to live and the money they are entitled to.

The UK government must stop kicking this issue into the long grass and imminently reimburse the thousands of people who have missed out on vital disability payments.

This is the third back payment scandal the DWP has overseen in two years – it seems the Secretary of State has not learned any lessons and fails to deliver on the promises she has made.

The Tories committed to reimburse the 7,000 people who had missed out on vital payments in July 2018, who have now been told they may now have to wait up to six months until MPs vote in the summer of 2019. It is outrageous that thousands of disability claimants have to wait this long to receive what they are owed.

The DWP must follow up on its promise and make the repayments immediately – failing that, there should be a separate debate and vote on the issue next week to avoid any more delays.

Westminster diary w/b 9th April


Another historic week of votes stretches out in front of me. Or maybe not. The truth is the United Kingdom’s withdrawal process from the European Union has been so shambolic that with five days until the deadline we are no further forward than we were nearly three years ago. As a result, all business in the house of commons is subject to change at almost any given moment. As I set off with colleagues our latest update tells us we can expect a Friday sitting and possibly a Saturday one too. I am pleased to hear that Sir Mike Penning MP (Conservative and Unionist) has secured an urgent question on the supply of medical cannabis. This follows on from the disgraceful scenes at Southend airport over the weekend, when Teagan Appleby had her supply confiscated. Teagan’s parents had paid £4,600 for a three month supply that was prescribed by a paediatric neurologist at the Erasmus Hospital in Rotterdam. The Secretary of State, Matt Hancock, did his best to defend the indefensible and I have some sympathy for him as he has inherited a colossal mess from his predecessor. I bobbed for a question and was taken. We can’t continue to fight each one of these cases in the House of Commons. The law needs changed now.


Another session of bobbing resulted in me being taken during the presentation of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport white paper – Online Harms. I questioned how they could identify ‘designed addiction’ but still largely rely on the gambling industry to govern itself through the gambling commission. If we know the industry is designing in addiction then that must be stopped. The rest of the day was a mish mash of business thrown together as the Prime Minster was off campus trying secure a deal, obtain an extension and start meaningful talks with a Labour party that has multiple leaders and at the same time none. What could possibly go wrong?


I have a meeting with a renewable energy contact that is looking to acquire more contracts in Inverclyde. It continues to frustrate me that people from outside Inverclyde see the potential for renewables projects and yet when locally based businesses seek to operate in this market place they are faced with a barrage of red tape and scepticism. Prime Ministers Questions was noticeable for the many empty spaces on the government benches and the quietest public gallery I have ever seen. The public galleries I can understand as this was supposed to be recess so many tickets would not have been allocated but there is no excuse for the government benches to be so sparsely populated. I had a meeting Carolyn Harris MP (Labour) and the father of a young man that is recovering from a gambling addiction. He highlighted a number of areas that his son utilised to secure gambling funds from and we shall work with him to amend the law accordingly to help protect people with a gambling addiction. The debate ‘50th Anniversary of the continuous at sea deterrent’ that was cancelled last week took place today. It was led on behalf of the SNP by Stewart M McDonald who made an excellent speech and handled some very aggressive but ill-informed interventions from both Conservative and Unionists and Labour. It was interesting to hear the Labour spokesperson confirm that Scottish Labour MPs would toe the line of the UK party. I used my time on my feet to highlight the absurdity of the escalation of weapons of mass destruction as a rational way to create a more peaceful society. Escalation can’t bring peace it maintains agreed distrust and then escalates again.


Somewhere around 2am the news breaks that the United Kingdom has been given an extension until the 31st of October before leaving the European Union. A zombie government extended until Halloween, you couldn’t make this stuff up. I had a very informative meeting with a company that grow, package and distribute medical cannabis in the USA. Of course, they see a market place to make money from but we currently have people that could benefit from their products. Somebody within the UK government has to realise that as we seek a long term solution we should also be looking at quick fixes to cater for patients today. The Prime Minister made a statement which sounded remarkably like all her other previous statements and even included the line “we need to leave the European Union with a deal as soon as possible “. The immediate result being that Friday sitting was cancelled and next week becomes recess with parliament not returning until the 23rd of April. The greatest constitutional crisis the United Kingdom has faced in modern times and the government’s reaction is to re-instate an already cancelled recess.


A quick reshuffle of the diary (again), as I now find myself in recess and therefore not at Westminster, means that a lot of next week has changed, I shall be in Inverclyde and expect a great deal of the week shall entail surgeries and door knocking. I know people want to talk Brexit but it will be good to get an opportunity to engage with constituents with local issues once again. As always, my office is at your disposal and I may be coming to street near you.