Irvine Office

Constituency Office:

29A Eglinton Street, IRVINE KA12 8AS

TELEPHONE NO: 01294 311976 

I will be holding constituency surgeries on the last Monday of each month in my office. Just telephone the office to arrange an appointment.

Prestwick in Space

Prestwick is quickly becoming the Scottish front runner for the development of the Spaceport as as Stornoway pulls out and Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd don’t intend to develop a plan for Campbelltown, I’ve submitted a motion supporting Prestwick.

Motion Text:

That the Parliament congratulates Glasgow Prestwick Airport on being one of the five places shortlisted for the UK Government’s Spaceport initiative; notes that one shortlisted airport, Stornoway, has already pulled out; considers that this initiative would be a game-changer not only for Prestwick but for the Ayrshire economy and would bring considerable economic benefit; believes that this would not only allow Prestwick access to space tourism but would allow Ayrshire to capitalise and play a key role in satellite launching and manufacturing and in the space science sector, which is currently earning £11.3 billion in revenues, and considers that Prestwick has all the attributes required, including runway length and weather reliability, with the UK Government’s consultation report suggesting that it has better transportation links than other shortlisted Scottish airports.

SNP vote with Tories to Deny vulnerable Scots dignity by Denying them Choice in Welfare.

The SNP have once again voted with the Tories to block Labour amendments to Stage 3 Debate on the Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill. 

As a result the SNP have denied vulnerable Scots dignity by denying them choice in the welfare system. Scottish Labour were putting forward amendments that were supported by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Poverty Alliance and the Child Poverty Action Group.

Scottish Labours amendments would have ensured councils had to take on board the views of the individual and either offer an award in cash or in kind, we also proposed to add a new category dealing with families under exceptional pressure as well as pushing for yearly reviews.

Labour MSP Margaret McDougall, said: “No doubt Margaret Burgess will tell me this is another non-story, but she has to face up to facts her Government has voted against openness and transparency, assisting families under exceptional pressure and denied them choice in the welfare system.”

“The same old arguments were used, they SNP preferred administrative convince over helping vulnerable people, denying choice to those most in need when they seek help by stating that it would cost too much.”

“I reaffirm the view that dignity and respect is about allowing them to exercise their right of choice of help either financially or in kind and this amendment ensured that the local authority listens to the applicant’s views and allows them to make a choice from the options that are available to them, it doesn’t have to cost more.”

“While these amendments were being lodged by Scottish Labour they were asked for by the third sector, including the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Poverty Alliance and the Child Poverty Action Group. If Margaret Burgess thinks this is a non-story then she needs to explain to the third sector why their views don’t matter to her. Furthermore if she thinks I’m confused as she stated in Scottish Parliament during the debate, then she must also think the third sector is confused.”

“The SNP might disagree with Scottish Labour but Margaret Burgess MSP, Minister for Housing and Welfare, must now apologise to the third sector for ignoring their views.”

Prestwick Airport down to last five in Spaceport bid

Labour MSP Margaret McDougall has welcomed the recent announcement that Prestwick Airport is still in the running for the UK government Spaceport initiative after the 8 earmarked sites were cut down to 5.

Margaret McDougall, MSP, said: “To get the Spaceport at Prestwick would be a major game changer, this wouldn’t just mean space tourism for the superrich, it would allow Ayrshire to capitalise and play a key role in satellite launching and manufacturing and in the space science sector, which is currently earning £11.3 billion in revenues – a figure which grew by 7.2 per cent between 2011 and 2013”

“Currently the UK has no satellite launch facilities of its own, so this would the first of its kind and would open up Prestwick to an untapped wealth of future potential, ideal for building Scotland’s infrastructure for the future! It would have a huge impact on the Scottish Economy through promotion of skilled jobs, training facilities opportunities for hi-tech supplies and services, and the boost for tourism.”

“Now that Prestwick has been selected as one of the last five in the running, I will be campaigning vigorously to ensure that the first Spaceport, due by 2018 is a Scottish one, based at Prestwick because it has all the attributes required.”

Prestwick Airport

In Yesterdays (24th Feb) Building Scotland’s Infrastructure for the Future debate I used my time to focus on the importance of Prestwick Airport, its critical that the Scottish Government get a business plan and strategy together for the Airport. I’m also keen that its in the running as a preferred bidder for the UK Government Spaceport initiative which would be a massive boost for the local economy and beyond.

You can watch my full speech in the YouTube video below.

1 in 3 Children in North Ayrshire are Obese

Commenting on the news 1 in 3 Children in North Ayrshire are Obese, Labour MSP, Margaret McDougall said;

“This is a shocking statistic, across Scotland 1 in 4 Children are obese, but in North Ayrshire its 1 in 3, and it’s getting worse under the SNP lead council and SNP controlled Scottish Government.”

“Obesity Scotland in Scotland could cost up to £4.6bn and could be costing the NHS as much as £600m a year, according to the Scottish Parliament Information Centre  yet after almost two full terms in Parliament and almost 3 years in control of North Ayrshire council the SNP have completely failed to tackle it  and pervious progress that was made is now slipping away.”

“If a generation of youngsters are setting out on a path of poor diets it’s going to be very difficult to change those habits in adulthood. We need to act now, and we need a review in to why the North Ayrshire figures are higher than the national picture”

“The current approach simply isn’t good enough, it’s a ticking time bomb and the SNP need to get their act together and deal with it.”

I have submitted the following Parliamentary Questions:

To ask the Scottish Government what percentage of (a) primary school children receives at least two hours and (b) pupils in S1 to S4 receives 100 minutes of PE each week, broken down by local authority area.

To ask the Scottish Government how much it is spending on initiatives to tackle childhood obesity and what these initiatives are.

To ask the Scottish Government what (a) male, (b) female and (c) child obesity rates it recorded in each year from 2007 to 2014.

To ask the Scottish Government what (a) information and (b) guidelines it provides to NHS boards on (i) identifying and (ii) dealing with obesity in (A) adults and (B) children.

To ask the Scottish Government how much funding it makes available to (a) NHS boards and (b) local authorities for tackling obesity.

PARENTS IN SCOTLAND DESERVE BETTER

Parents in Scotland deserve to know when the SNP will finally make good on their childcare promises, Scottish Labour said today.

A report published by the Family and Childcare Trust showed:

– The number of councils reporting sufficient childcare provision is higher in England (43%) and Wales (18%) than in Scotland (15%)

– The number of councils reporting sufficient childcare provision in Scotland has dropped in the last year – from 23% to 15%

Speaking on Childcare, Margaret McDougall MSP said:

“On the SNP’s watch childcare provision in Scotland isn’t meeting the needs of parents.

“Today’s report exposes the fact that working parents aren’t getting the support they need from the SNP Government. The fact that mums and dads in Scotland are having to leave their jobs because they can’t afford childcare is a disgrace.

“The SNP Government must order a full audit of childcare provision across Scotland. Lagging behind England and Wales just isn’t good enough. Parents in Scotland deserve better from the SNP Government.

“Working parents in Scotland are tired of lots of nice words from the First Minister. They just want to know when the SNP will make good on their childcare promises.”

SNP vote with Tories against 50p tax-rate to improve education for poorest

The SNP Government has today voted with the Tories to defeat a Scottish Labour amendment proposing the introduction of a 50p top rate of tax to pay for improving the education of Scotland’s worst-off pupils.

Labour voted to support the Government’s proposals, but argued that these could be built on with an additional £125 million over a five-year parliament.

The investment would be used to drive the agenda of closing the attainment gap between the worst and best-performing students, including by doubling the number of teaching assistants in around 100 primary schools, establishing a National Centre of Excellence of Education, and reintroducing the Chartered Teachers Scheme scrapped by the SNP.

The money would come from the implementation of a 50p top tax rate when the power is devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

Labour, MSP Margaret McDougall said: “Never has the phrase Tartan Tories been more true, just weeks after taking lead from Housing Minister and Local MSP Margaret Burgess to vote down Labour amendments to the Welfare Bill the SNP are at it again voting with the Tories to block the  introduction of a 50p rate of tax.”

“Labour party has set out a £125 million plan over and above the SNP’s spending and we would pay for it with a 50p top rate of tax.”

“It’s a progressive policy based on redistributing from the wealthiest in our society to benefit the poorest – the SNP need to explain why they joined the Tories in voting it down. Based on previous records the SNP have yet to introduce a single redistributive policy in the Scottish Parliament.”

Response to Claims made by Margaret Burgess in the Irvine Herald

Responding to claims made by  Margaret  Burgess in the Irvine Herald (12/02/2015) that the SNP, in conjunction with the Tories  voting down  a Scottish Welfare Funds amendment to ensure “dignity, respect and choice” was a non-story, Margaret McDougall MSP said;

“This is an outrageous response from Housing Minister and Local SNP MSP Margaret Burgess, it might be a non-story to her but it’s certainly not a non-story for the third sector such as the SCVO, that asked for choice to be part of the welfare bill and urged the committee to vote for my amendment. Nor is it a non-story for applicants to the welfare fund who at times, are  supplied with goods that are completely unsuitable for their homes, which is in itself a waste of local authority resources. “

“Once again the SNP are denying choice to those most in need when they seek help by stating that they would cost too much. I reaffirm the view that dignity and respect is about allowing them to exercise their right of choice of help either financially or in kind and this amendment ensured that the local authority listens to the applicant’s views and allows them to make a choice from the options that are available to them, it doesn’t have to cost more.

“Though I can see why Margaret Burgess MSP might be concerned about additional financial burdens on local authorities, given the policies of her Government have led to local authorities becoming increasingly cash strapped to the point they are now having to cut services, charge for those that used to be free and cut staff numbers ”

“It seems that local MSP Margaret Burgess has defaulted to the standard SNP response, if you don’t agree with us you are wrong or “confused”.  But make no mistake this is a political decision being made by the SNP to deny those most in need a choice and if she thinks this is a non-story then she is the one that’s missed the point and perhaps she should have her officials explain to her what the Bill is about.”

Scottish Labour Triple-Lock Guarantee on Fracking

Scottish Labour has announced it would introduce a triple-lock system to halt any onshore fracking taking place in Scotland until environmental and health safeguards are in place, this includes: local referendum before final planning approval is given; halting any fracking in Scotland until the lessons of fracking in the rest of the UK are learned and a comprehensive review of the baseline conditions before any planning application is granted
Furthermore, because the UK government had failed to ensure the wider regulatory conditions are tough enough, Labour tabled an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill going through the UK Parliament to block fracking until the right regulation and inspection  regime is in place, which was accepted.

Margaret McDougall, MSP said: “I welcome UK Labour tabling an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill in Westminster, which essentially bans fracking in large areas of the country, while making it much more difficult in others.  It was disappointing, however, that our amendment for the immediate devolution of licensing to the Scottish Parliament was defeated.”

“The Scottish Government have now, following Scottish Labours lead, announced a Moratorium on fracking, a temporary ban, while a full public consultation is carried out. It’s a pity, however, that they have failed to sign up to any of Scottish Labour’s triple-lock commitments.”

“Scottish Labour are standing up for Scotland and setting the agenda while the SNP are chasing our coat-tails. When Scottish Labour got tough on fracking the SNP decided to act, despite telling the Scottish people only a few months ago that they were powerless on the matter. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but no one votes for imitation, vote for the party that’s standing up for Scotland, the party that’s setting the Agenda, vote Scottish Labour.”

SNP votes down “Dignity, Respect and Choice” in Welfare Bill

At the recent Welfare Reform Committee, the Stage 2 on the Scottish Welfare Fund,  SNP committee members sided with the Tory member on the committee to vote down an amendment which would have ensured dignity, respect and choice was a cornerstone in our approach to welfare in Scotland.

This amendment was supported by organisation such as the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Scottish Campaign on Welfare Reform and The Poverty Alliance.

Margaret McDougall, MSP said; “I find it astonishing that the SNP members on the committee, taking lead from Housing Minister Margaret Burgess, chose to vote down an amendment which would have ensured dignity, respect and choice was introduced in to the Scottish Welfare Fund Bill, more so given the Scottish Governments own document Scotland’s Future focused so heavily on dignity and respect being key tenants in any Scottish Welfare system.”

“The SNP seemed to have a problem with the word “Choice”, arguing that people on Welfare shouldn’t have a choice because it would put pressure on local authority budgets. However, I would argue that treating people with dignity and respect is about allowing them to exercise their right of choice and this amendment ensured that the local authority listens to the applicant’s views and allows them to make a choice from the options that are available to them, it doesn’t have to cost more.”

“The SNP need to remember that these are vulnerable people we are dealing with, who have found themselves in difficult situations, I and the third sector want their views to be taken on board, it seems the SNP believe otherwise.”