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, 25 September 2018

Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
13 September 2018
Tommy's Blog
Media

Going back to Westminster after the summer recess you can almost feel the impending doom in the air. It’s the calm before the storm. Everyone knows something bad is going to happen. Just not what exactly. Like waiting for the ghoul to reveal itself in a horror movie.

And as the dread unfolds the discussion about whether there should be another Brexit referendum will intensify.

Tommy Sheppard
16 August 2018
Tommy's Blog
Media
How’s your festival going? Are you thrilled to bits at the world’s largest arts festival being on your doorstep? Are you overdosing on culture in one of the 200+ festival venues? Or do you spend August grimacing as it takes twice as long to get anywhere and the city centre is taken over by hordes of impossibly enthusiastic young people.Whatever your view on the summer festivals there’s no doubt th...
Tommy Sheppard
20 July 2018
Tommy's Blog
Articles
In 2016, Nicola Sturgeon announced that there would be a Growth Commission to explore Scotland’s economy and the potential that might occur after Independence. Andrew Wilson chaired the commission and in May this year they published their final report – you can read it in full here.There have been many commentaries on the report, from different political persuasions. Below is my contribution – wri...
Tommy Sheppard
20 July 2018
Tommy's Blog
Media
This month in parliament we celebrated the 90th anniversary of all women being allowed the vote with the passing of the 1928 Equal Franchise Act. This built on the Act a decade before which gave some women – those over 30 and either married or property owners – the vote. Every time we mark these historical landmarks I am struck not by how long ago they were, but by how recent.The 1920s were an age...
Tommy Sheppard
11 July 2018
Tommy's Blog
Media

We need to talk about democracy. The UK government recently hosted its first ever “National Democracy Week” – with no sense of irony.

We absolutely should be celebrating the 90th anniversary of the equalisation of voting ages for men and women. Nobody would argue with that.