The last couple of weeks have been extremely busy for me, both in the constituency and at Westminster.
Summer in the constituency seems to be kicking in with lots of events, festivals and gala days. Let’s hope the weather will hold up for a while so we can all enjoy these fantastic events.
It was a pleasure to see two very successful local businesses attended the Taste of Grampian event, Devenick Dairy and Banchory lodge are doing a fantastic job of showcasing the talent and resources that we have here. This year is the Scottish Government’s year of food and drink and it’s great that, that many of our local businesses are taking part with such enthusiasm. During the summer recess I hope to visit and give my support to as many of our local businesses as I can.
The Banchory River Festival was also a wonderful event, attracting locals and visitors alike to enjoy Deeside. I really enjoyed my day at the Westhill Gala and Feein Market in Stonehaven. It was a welcome change of scenery, people and pace.
The subject of 16 and 17 year olds has been a topical one this week in Westminster. I had the pleasure of joining Mackie Academy’s Modern Studies department recently for a Q&A session and I must say that I was extremely impressed with the knowledge of the pupils and their intelligent and articulate questions. Having 16 and 17 year olds involved and included in important decisions for Scotland is something that the SNP have always believed in and we will continue to argue for them to be allowed to participate in other elections including any future EU referendum.
Meanwhile, in Parliament, we’ve been debating the Scotland Bill. The Scottish National Party submitted a series of amendments to the Scotland Bill based upon the three-prong commitment in the SNP manifesto for the UK general election: first, delivering on the Smith agreement in full, second, devolving additional powers in priority areas such as job creation and welfare protection and third, enabling the Scottish Parliament to move to a position of full fiscal responsibility. This approach was backed in record numbers by voters in Scotland in May, giving the SNP a clear mandate for change.
It was very disappointing that key amendments were not supported by fellow Members of Parliament. We now find ourselves in a situation where the Scottish Parliament can be dissolved by Westminster! I hope that over the next stage of the Bill my fellow parliamentarians will have more consideration and respect for Scotland.
I am happy to report that an amendment has been made to the EU Referendum Bill which will ensure that the in /out vote on the UK’s membership of Europe will not be held on the same day as the next Scottish Parliament elections or the Scottish Local Government elections. This was a major climb down from the UK government and a success story of the pressure of our strong group of SNP MPs is having on the decision making process in Westminster.
Finally, I’m in the process of setting up my new office, which I hope will be up and running soon. If you have an issue that you’d like to get in touch with me about, please email me at email@example.com.