Tommy Sheppard

MP for Edinburgh East
Born in Coleraine, Northern Ireland in 1959, Tommy was educated at a local grammar school and, equipped with the requisite A levels, moved to Scotland to study medicine at Aberdeen University. He graduated with a degree in politics and sociology – the start of a lifelong interest in politics. He returned to Scotland in 1993 and established the Sta...nd Comedy Club in 1995, which he started as a hobby and built into a successful business. Tommy lives in Minto Street with his partner Kate and cocker spaniel Henry. More

Fiscal Framework an' a' that

Fiscal Framework an' a' that

Frustrated doesn’t begin to describe my mood yesterday when – for the fourth time in as many months I was down to speak in a debate in the Commons and didn’t get called. Of course, there’s no guarantee that anyone will get called by the Speaker and there’s a degree of chance and randomness about having your say. It’s also the case that the more you speak in debates, the less chance you have of being taken, as priority will go to someone who has spoken less. I’m now falling foul of that rule; although it doesn’t seem to apply to John Redwood – a Tory MP who seems to get to say his piece on pretty much everything!

Yesterday’s debate was on the negotiations taking place between the UK and Scottish Governments on the fiscal framework that will underpin the transfer of new powers to Scotland as set out in the current Scotland Bill. As subjects go, it’d be hard to think of anything more important to Scotland, and yet only four Scottish MPs were able to contribute including the Tory Secretary of State and his Labour shadow.

Continue reading
  4236 Hits
  0 Comments
4236 Hits
0 Comments

The powder keg that is East Jerusalem

The powder keg that is East Jerusalem

I don’t know if it's because I've never been to an Arab country in the winter before. Or if I was brainwashed as a kid into thinking the Middle East must be hot all the time. Whatever, there's something very incongruous standing in a main street in Amman looking at lots of colourful Arabic shop signs whilst buttoning  an overcoat against cold, wet sleet.

I’m here on a parliamentary delegation funded by the Palestinian Committee of the Jordanian Parliament. Both our hosts and the weather have gone out of their way to make us feel at home: it’s dreich and miserable, worthy of Scotland at its worst.

Continue reading
  1680 Hits
  0 Comments
1680 Hits
0 Comments

Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP)

Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP)

Earlier this month I met with the Portobello and Piershill Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP). Across the UK there are CAPS taking place in over 100 areas – the one in Edinburgh East being a Scottish Pilot. The CAP began in 2013 and brings together key local services (e.g. police and schools) with local businesses (supermarkets and independent retailers) and voluntary agencies.

The CAP aims to support Young People to have a balanced view of alcohol and to reduce alcohol related anti-social behaviour. Indeed, our local CAP has seen significant results in its short time: there’s been a 17% reduction in alcohol related anti-social behaviour in just 2 years.

Continue reading
  1693 Hits
  0 Comments
1693 Hits
0 Comments

Education Maintenance Grants

Education Maintenance Grants

Yesterday there was an Opposition day debate on Education Maintenance Grants. At first glance, this might seem like an issue that shouldn’t affect a Scottish MP – education is, after all, devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

That’s what the Speaker of the house has decided, making this piece of legislation part of EVEL (English Votes for English Laws) – although in this case it is an English and Welsh law. However, many English and Welsh students come to Universities in Scotland and become our constituents. For us here in Edinburgh East, a constituency that takes in the University of Edinburgh, students make up a large section of the community.

Continue reading
  1515 Hits
  0 Comments
1515 Hits
0 Comments

Pension Equalisation Debate

Pension Equalisation Debate

Today we are debating the important issue of the equalisation of the State Pension age for men and women (thanks to Mhairi Black who secured the debate). The UK Government’s dreadful handling of this change has resulted in profoundly unfair effects for women born between 6 April 1951 and the early 1960s. They now have to contend not just with the equalisation of their retirement age to the new higher age of 66, but also with this happening over a very short period of time.

The injustice here springs from the lack of notice provided to women born in the 50s and early 60s, despite having previously been promised more time to plan and greater tapering provisions. Understandably, many then relied on and factored in these promises for their retirement planning.

Continue reading
  2406 Hits
  0 Comments
2406 Hits
0 Comments

New Year Blog

New Year Blog

Happy New Year to one and all.

I'm on the train heading back to that there London for the start of the new term at the political equivalent of Hogwarts.

Continue reading
  1925 Hits
  0 Comments
1925 Hits
0 Comments

Changes to Women's Pensions

Changes to Women's Pensions

The changes to women's pension have been brought in too quickly, and my colleagues and I in the SNP are supportive of the campaign against the Government’s proposal. My colleague, Eilidh Whiteford MP said back in 2011 that the issue was not only the pace of change, but it was about the context of a lifetime of low pay and inequality faced by many women. I was pleased to see that my colleague, Ian Blackford MP, the SNP’s Pensions spokesperson, was able to secure a debate in Westminster Hall in November and raised this matter with the Government’s Economic Secretary.   It is only right that the Government are held to account over their actions, as it had previously stated in 2011 that they would consider transitional arrangements to ensure that women were not impacted disproportionately from the change. I have seen no evidence of this actually happening and they have been unable to confirm what had been done to protect women born in the 1950s. Although I was unable to do so myself, a number of my colleagues also attended the November debate in Westminster Hall, and if you are interested in some of the details of what they said, you can access Hansard via this link.

My colleagues and I will continue to question the Government on this matter because nobody should face inequality in their retirement plans because of when they were born. Indeed Mhairi Black will be leading a backbench debate in the Main Chamber on January 7th.

  1941 Hits
  0 Comments
Tags:
1941 Hits
0 Comments

Reflections on Syria Vote

Reflections on Syria Vote

When I was back in the constituency I took a few minutes to reflect on the week in his week in Westminster. You can see it here.  

  1955 Hits
  0 Comments
Tags:
1955 Hits
0 Comments

Syria Debate

Syria Debate

I wasn't called to speak in Wednesday's debate on whether to engage in air strikes in Syria so I recorded some of what I would have liked to say.

For the most part this has been a sincere debate with people who hold strong and passionate views being prepared to listen to those who hold equally strong but divergent views with respect.

Continue reading
  1779 Hits
  0 Comments
Tags:
1779 Hits
0 Comments

TTIP

TTIP

My SNP colleagues and I are extremely concerned about many aspects of the proposed TTIP deal. Those at least which have so far come to light - one of the greatest worries about the process has been the severe lack of transparency surrounding the TTIP negotiations. Our greatest concern, however, is any proposal that would expand Investor-State Dispute Settlements procedures - whereby companies can sue governments - and we will oppose any such expansion in the strongest terms. We will likewise oppose any possibility that it will involve opening markets in the service sector which could potentially include public services such as health, social services and higher education and the opening up of public procurement markets. I recently signed Early Day Motions 146 and 677 expressing my concern about TTIP and TiSA respectively. We are working with various trade union bodies (including the STUC) to raise awareness of the impact that TTIP may have on Scotland. We will of course resist any attempt to undermine European standards in the fields of public health, social and employment rights, health and safety and the environment. I also would encourage you to sign up for my colleague Alyn Smith MEP's newsletter where you can get the SNP's view from a European Parliament perspective.

  2915 Hits
  1 Comment
Tags:
2915 Hits
1 Comment

Military Action in Syria

Following the atrocious attacks in Paris, the UK Government appears to be on the brink of military intervention in Syria. In the absence of either a UN mandate or a coherent political strategy to end the civil war, I am not convinced that either air strikes or ground troops would bring stability to the region. Indeed, it is highly likely to lead to more civilian casualties and trauma. I am committed to a peaceful resolution to the increasing violence in the region.

At the SNP conference in October, a motion opposing UK participation in ongoing military action in Syria was backed unanimously. The motion stated that any airstrikes by the UK would be “militarily irrelevant” when American, Russian, Arabic, Turkish and French forces are already taking place. The motion calls for the UK government to support a renewed diplomatic initiative and recognise that only United Nations sponsored action will have the international consensus needed to bring the conflict and the humanitarian crisis that accompanies it to an end.

Continue reading
  2084 Hits
  1 Comment
Tags:
2084 Hits
1 Comment

The Scotland Bill

The Scotland Bill

Earlier this evening I spoke in the House of Commons on the third reading of the Scotland Bill. Complex bills can be given several days of debate in the chamber but today, the highly technical and complex Scotland Bill was allowed a total of around six hours. When you take out the time for voting, realistically that only left about four hours to discuss and debate over 200 motions and amendments.

I recognised that many who voted no last year, did so because they are happy with the status quo and wanted to remain in the United Kingdom as it stands.  However, there is another group of people who voted no because they believed what they were told by the leaders of the unionist parties, that a no vote on the 18th September was not a vote for the status quo but was a vote for a new relationship within the union where additional powers would be transferred. Undoubtedly this group were decisive in swinging the No vote.

Continue reading
  4421 Hits
  9 Comments
4421 Hits
9 Comments

Trade Union Bill

Trade Union Bill

I spoke against the undemocratic and draconian Trade Union Bill at its second reading on the 14th of September. I can assure you that my colleagues and I will continue vigorously to oppose this bill at its third reading tomorrow. This action, designed by the Conservative Government, seeks to deprive workers of their basic rights, rights which were hard won over the past 100 years. We will do our utmost to prevent this bill from becoming law.

The Bill threatens the right to pursue industrial disputes by legitimate means and the right to organise and to bargain collectively. We are also opposed to restrictions on Trade Unions using social media and support the usage of safe and secure online voting to maximise participation as well as changes to regulations regarding agency workers. Ultimately the proposed Bill places unreasonable restrictions on the rights of trade unions and their members.

Continue reading
  1928 Hits
  0 Comments
1928 Hits
0 Comments

Tax Credits

Tax Credits

The SNP group has been unanimous in its objection to the Tory party's obscene plans which will push the working poor of this country further into poverty.

The Conservatives are pushing through these changes because of an ideological belief in low taxation and minimal public services, and they are trying to use the fig leaf of the increased minimum wage to give the impression of decency to their plans. The new minimum wage, which the Tories are calling the living wage but is in fact well below the independently recognised living wage, in no way mitigates the effects of the cuts to Tax Credits.

Continue reading
  1987 Hits
  0 Comments
Tags:
1987 Hits
0 Comments

Feed-in-Tariff

Feed-in-Tariff

 

As you may know, the expansion of renewable energy generation in Scotland in particular has been extremely successful. Non-carbon based energy must be the mainstay of the future as we look to reverse man-made climate change.

Continue reading
  1686 Hits
  0 Comments
Tags:
1686 Hits
0 Comments

Palestine and Israel

Palestine and Israel

I have long been a supporter of the Palestinian people, whose suffering at the hands of disproportionate Israeli Defence Force (IDF) attacks has been harrowing. The occupation of Gaza and the continued expansion of settlements in the West Bank is both illegal and deeply unhelpful.

The current escalation in violence is particularly concerning with the IDF effectively implementing a shoot to kill policy on Palestinian citizens.

Continue reading
  2435 Hits
  0 Comments
Tags:
2435 Hits
0 Comments

Down the Allotment

Down the Allotment

What better way to spend a Saturday morning than down the allotments?  Craigentinny and Telforton allotments is run by committee and enables local individual, families, groups and charities to work plots of land in the community.   I spent some time with them recently, discussing their work and the latest threat from a bid to build on the site.

There have been allotments at Telferton for over 90 years, throughout that time they have been worked and managed by generations of people from the surrounding area. The committee have turned Craigentinny and Telferton allotments into a limited company and registered charity. However, they do not own the land. 

Continue reading
  2154 Hits
  0 Comments
2154 Hits
0 Comments

Made Some History - Not in a Good Way

Made Some History - Not in a Good Way

Just made the 6pm train to Edinburgh after a mad dash from the House of Commons. The debate of the day was EVEL (English votes for English laws). This was the third – or was it the fourth – attempt by the government to force through this shoddy procedure. And they won – predictably.

History was made today - and not in a good way. For the first time ever the rights of Scottish MPs have been curtailed in the Westminster Parliament. There will now be two classes of MP – those that can vote on everything and those that can’t.

Continue reading
  15328 Hits
  35 Comments
Tags:
15328 Hits
35 Comments

Reflections on Annual Conference

Reflections on Annual Conference

I'm writing this on the train back to Edinburgh from the SNP conference in Aberdeen. We have just had our biggest conference ever - indeed probably the biggest political conference in Scottish history.

And by any measure it was a huge success. The SNP is a big organisation now - over 114,000 members - and many people have speculated that size would bring division. Indeed, there are some sections of the press so desperate for an "SNP split" story that they will make one up. Yet the party seems more united and focussed than ever.

Continue reading
  5422 Hits
  2 Comments
Tags:
5422 Hits
2 Comments

UCG Moratorium Announced

UCG Moratorium Announced

The Scottish Government has today put in place a moratorium on underground coal gasification (UCG) in Scotland. The following press release was issued by the SNP.

SNP WELCOME OFFSHORE UCG MORATORIUM

Continue reading
  2042 Hits
  0 Comments
2042 Hits
0 Comments