Welcome to my e-newsletter. Inside you'll find information about my work during February 2020
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Tommy Sheppard MP Newsletter
Since my last report we have now formally left the EU. You might not have noticed much of a change yet. We're still in a transition period and, in reality, we're likely to see a slow grinding down of our economy and standards rather than any overnight catastrophe. But the signs are there. The UK government's points-based immigration plan is just one example of how disastrous leaving the EU will be for Scotland.
As we left the EU, I joined hundreds of others outside the Scottish Parliament at a rally and vigil to commemorate our departure. There was a lot of media from across Europe too who understood Scotland did not want this.
At the start of the month, I went to vote with my SNP colleagues on the NHS Funding Bill. This Bill has big implications for Scotland - any funding changes in England have consequences here. But as we went to vote we were confronted by signs showing the Bill was for England only. The clerks therefore recorded our vote as "ineligible". It's time to scrap the undemocratic nonsense that is English Votes for English Laws (EVEL).
Demanding to know when EVEL will be scrapped is something I’ve asked about during my weekly exchanges with Jacob Rees-Mogg in my new role as SNP Shadow Leader of the House.
I’ve also used every one of these Thursday morning sessions to press the argument that the Tories do not have a mandate in Scotland and to demand that they recognise The Claim of Right for Scotland. You'll see ** here ([link removed])
and ** here ([link removed])
that Rees-Mogg has yet to give me an answer of whether people in Scotland have the right to determine how they are governed – relying on bluster along the lines of “you’ll have had your referendum”.
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The SNP used our opposition day debate to talk about Scotland's migration needs. This took place before the UK government announced its points-based system - something that only enhances Scotland's need for its own Visa system. The UK government's response to this idea is a prime example of them putting their head in the sand and ignoring the wishes of the people of Scotland. I spoke in the debate and you can watch my contribution by clicking on the video link above.
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Last week we had two summits on the drugs crisis. Many of you will know that last year I pushed for the Scottish Affairs Committee to hold an inquiry into problem drug use. It did and its conclusions were clear (if you missed it at the time, you can read the report ** here ([link removed])
). As the UK government's drugs summit took place in Glasgow, I asked the Leader of the House when we could expect a debate on the drugs crisis to allow us to consider changing the law to allow interventions that will save lives. Watch it above. And, of course, I asked again about the UK government's mandate in Scotland.
As you'll know, I spend a lot of time in London meeting different groups and charities to hear about their campaigns. This month was no different. One of the campaign groups I've been working with for some time is End Our Pain. They are campaigning to stop the UK government dragging its feet on medical cannabis. This month I met Emma and heard the difference treatment is making to her daughter's epilepsy. It's shocking that she still has to fork out thousands for the medicine.
It was good to meet with PCS Union members on strike at the Foreign Office. It's shocking that in this day and age the UK government refuse to recognise the workers' trade union.
I was delighted to support Battersea's campaign for five year sentences for animal cruelty bringing England and Wales into line with new Scottish government legislation.
Parliament seems to be settling down into its usual routine which meant that we had our week long February recess. This allowed me to not only have some much needed family time but to make a variety of constituency visits.
One of those visits was to the Scotch Whisky Association where I caught up with Karen and the team. We had a really useful discussion about a range of topics including Brexit and USA tariffs. I'm now a lot more aware of the work they do to protect our iconic brands around the world.
I had a very interesting discussion with Hannah and Craig from SAMH. We spoke about the real challenges people with mental health conditions face when claiming social security. There are particular problems around Universal Credit - people often just don’t get the support they need. I’ll continue to work with SAMH and others to help bring about much needed change. For more information on SAMH's campaigns, check out their website: ** [link removed] ([link removed])
I had the pleasure of visiting The Bayes Centre and meeting NASA robot Valkyrie. I gained a real insight into the range of work going on at Bayes and Ed Uni's School of Informatics - thanks to the team for taking the time to meet with me.
I visited the Health Opportunities Team in Craigmillar. It was great to meet the team and chat with MD Niki about the range of terrific work they all do with young people around sexual, mental & physical health. Get details about HOT’s current projects here: ** [link removed] ([link removed])
Earlier in the month I visited the new Council housing development at Craigmillar Town Centre, right next to where the new high school is being built. There are 194 new homes nearing completion - the first lot are on course to be available from March. They are looking good - spacious, nicely designed, quality homes fit for 21st century living. On top of that, the views are spectacular to Arthur's Seat, Craigmillar Castle, the Braids and the Pentlands. These come hot on the heels of 111 affordable homes built for Dunedin Canmore Housing Association right next door, with work still ongoing on more at Greendykes.
The pace of change in Craigmillar's regeneration has been fast even in the last few years since I've been representing the area as MP. While I think there is still work to do around the social infrastructure to bring the new community together, I think most folk can agree it's great to see Craigmillar on the up.
Our city is growing fast and there is growing need for good quality homes that ordinary people can afford. That's why I'm so proud to be a member of a party that is delivering for people in Edinburgh East through the actions of the Scottish Government and the SNP-led City of Edinburgh Council. The SNP has committed to building 20,000 new affordable homes here in the capital between 2017 and 2027 - and that plan is right on track.
It was really heartening to speak at a well attended community meeting in Niddrie in response to recent racist attacks in the area. The community won't stand for people being targeted in this way.
The outcome was hugely positive with agreement that a concerted community-led effort will be made to celebrate our diversity and to address the causes of young people getting mixed up in racist violence.
I also wrote my Evening News column this month on how we tackle racism in our communities. You can read it ** here ([link removed])
I dropped-by a very busy Restalrig/Lochend Hub before my regular constituency surgery this month. Really enjoyed catching-up with members of ** The Ripple ([link removed])
lunch club and spent some time browsing the bring'n'buy jumble sale. The Hub is a really valuable part of the community and they put on some great activities for folk of all ages. Check out their Facebook page for more information.
Thanks to the team at Mrs Unis Spicy Foods for such a warm welcome last week. And for sharing the story of their fantastic local business that has been creating traditional Indian recipes for the Scottish palate for over 30 years.
They've been taking part in Asda's ‘Supplier Development Academy’ to help grow the business. And I was even allowed to help out with making their naan bread and packing the pakora.
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Tommy Sheppard MP . 94 Portobello High Street . Edinburgh, EH15 1AN . United Kingdom
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