Tommy Sheppard

MP for Edinburgh East

Getting down to business

Getting down to business

We are finally getting down to business at Westminster. Two major bills are now in Committee stage and we have been putting down multiple 
amendments for each.

The EU referendum

The SNP were 
the only party to vote against having a referendum on the EU. We said in our 
manifesto that we didn’t see any need for one and, as Alex Salmond pointed out
 in the debate usually (with PR, independence, etc) you only have a referendum
 when asking people to agree to a change. More than 80% of Scotland voted for
parties opposed to having a referendum and polls consistently show that Sots as
 quite content with being part of Europe. In spite of our opposition the bill
 passed its second reading with the support of the Labour "opposition" and so we
 now move on to look at the detail.

We will be proposing an amendment to provide for a double majority before the UK can leave 
the EU – that is that there must be a majority vote in favour in each 
constituent country with the UK. This is to prevent a situation where Scotland
 could be taken out of the EU despite a large majority of the people here voting
to stay in. The idea of a double majority is commonplace throughout the world
where major constitutional changes are being proposed. In the US, for instance, 
the 14 least populous states can - and have - prevented the passage of a
 federal constitutional amendment.

We are also
 pressing for the widest possible franchise to allow everyone who lives here to
 vote. In particular, we are arguing that 16 and 17 year olds should be allowed
 the vote as they were in the indyref and as they will be in the Scottish
 general election next year. Labour support this and a few Tories have expressed 
support so there’s a chance we might win this. We are also pressing for EU 
nationals, many of whom have relocated here and built their families and lives here to be allowed to vote. This is a big concern locally with a lot of people
 contacting me appalled that they are being denied a vote.

The Scotland Bill

The Scotland
 Bill passed its second reading (we put down a series of markers but did not
vote against) and is also now being debated in detail in Committee (for these purposes the Committee constitutes the whole House of Commons). We have so
 far submitted several dozen amendments and there are more to come. All are
 designed to strengthen the Bill and make sure it implements the Smith
 Commission recommendations. These fall into the categories of entrenching the
Scottish Parliament (as best you can with an unwritten constitution), removing
 the Secretary of State's veto in various areas, and improving the range of
 welfare powers.

We have also
 een bringing forward amendments to press for additional powers that go beyond 
Smith. Our argument is that the general election provided a clear and distinct mandate 
from the Scottish people that the Smith conclusions were not enough and they
 wanted to proceed towards a more home-rule style settlement, in the short term.
 Key amongst these is getting a full range of powers for the Scottish Parliament
 to control and develop Scotland’s economy. Full fiscal autonomy is the phrase often 
bandied about and we have sought precisely that. The word "full" is key. If we 
only get some powers, whilst others – which could contradict them – remain
 reserved, the situation could get worse. 
I was badly misquoted by the Prime Minister and others on this and set
 out my views in a recent article in the National

We therefore argued and voted for the Scottish Government to have 
full fiscal autonomy– bizarrely Labour abstained - after six months of
saying the policy would mean meltdown for Scotland they did not vote against the idea!

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Supermarkets and food waste
Devolution of welfare in Scotland

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Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
25 April 2019
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Forty years ago in the sweltering summer of 1979 I got myself arrested at Torness. I was one of hundreds protesting against the construction of the nuclear power station. For my efforts I got to spend a night in the cells at Dunbar nick.As the then Thatcher government was keen to point out - we didn't stop Torness. But as I'm keen to point out it was a tipping point. The time when nuclear energy l...
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29 March 2019
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For many months the government has wielded a number of sticks to beat MPs into supporting its Withdrawal Agreement. It might be bad, they argue, but the alternative is worse. Remainers have been threatened with no deal. Leavers with no Brexit.The latest big stick is the threat of having to participate in the European parliamentary elections. To avoid this the Government (and the EU’s) new deadline...
Tommy Sheppard
28 March 2019
Tommy's Blog
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So we’re not leaving the European Union tomorrow after all. As the Brexiters cancel their street parties and put away the bunting the rest of us should think carefully about what to do with the reprieve.This week started with parliament voting to take control of the process from government. A move without precedent. In truth, we were forced into it. What else can you do when faced with a governmen...
Tommy Sheppard
28 February 2019
Tommy's Blog
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Four weeks ago I was worried about writing this column on the eve of the last major parliamentary debate on Brexit. Anything could have happened, rendering my speculation obsolete by the time you read it. I shouldn’t have fretted. Anything could have happened but nothing did.

Here I am again. Groundhog day. It’s Tuesday. There’s a big debate tomorrow.

Tommy Sheppard
31 January 2019
Tommy's Blog

Tuesday. Another day spent discussing Brexit. Another day of my life I’m not getting back.

We are no further forward. As the clock ticks down to exit it’s only fair to ask: What the hell is Theresa May playing at?