Tommy Sheppard

MP for Edinburgh East

January Newsletter - Parliamentary Business

January Newsletter - Parliamentary Business

Happy New Year to you and welcome to my January Newsletter.  Before parliament returns next week, it's a good opportunity to reflect on what happened in December and on the year ahead.  I don't think any of us could have predicted the political events of 2016 and I'm struggling to make any predictions about 2017. What is clear is that Brexit will continue to dominate in Westminster. Yesterday's resignation of the UK's ambassador to the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers, and his scathing comments since show that even the highest level of civil servants don't know what Brexit actually means. It's going to be an interesting few months ahead.

December saw two Private Members Bills (PMBs) from SNP Members of Parliament. The first was from Mhairi Black as she attempted to change the cruel system of sanctions in the UK benefit system. Unfortunately the bill was blocked much to the frustration of our group. We weren't even looking to scrap sanctions all together (unfortunately that can’t be done in a PMB) but the Bill would have made it compulsory for Job Centre advisors to take a claimant’s personal circumstances into account before issuing a sanction.

There was much more positive news 2 weeks later when Eilidh Whiteford became the first SNP MP to ever get this far in changing UK law. Her PMB focused on getting the UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention and thus taking a big step towards ending violence against women and children. Congrats to Eilidh and the campaigners who worked so hard to get the Bill past this most challenging first stage. 

There was an urgent debate on the humanitarian crisis in Syria which many constituents have written to me about and which worries me greatly. You can watch my contribution to the debate here.

It’s my role as Cabinet Spokesperson to hold the Government to account on all matters Cabinet related – trying to improve Government systems for everyone in the UK. Last month I raised a legitimate concern about Lords members filibustering to stop changes to the ridiculous system of hereditary peer by-elections. In response the obsessed Tories once again fail to answer the question but instead talk about the Indy Ref. You can watch it here

Many of you will know that I sit on the Standards Committee. Last month the Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards launched a review on the Code of Conduct by which MPs are required to abide. One of the topics under debate is second, and subsequent, jobs. I have made a detailed submission to the review arguing for a five-point plan to regulate external employment. I’m not saying that MPs can’t have other jobs, just that there should be limits - you can read more on my views in the Edinburgh Evening News.

A highlight this month was popping into the Cats Protection Christmas reception. I was delighted to be able to give my support and will be following up on some of the issues they raised. The giant kitten made a great photo too.

Just before the festive break, The Scottish Government set out the Scottish Government’s proposals to protect Scotland’s interests following the EU referendum.You can read more about the proposals here.

January Newsletter - Constituency Business
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Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
18 July 2019
Tommys Blog
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The wait is nearly over. By next week the Tory party will have a new leader. And then they will foist him on the country at large. With most of the votes cast it seems that the clown prince is unstoppable. Barring a miracle Boris Johnson will be our next Prime Minister.

And then what?

Tommy Sheppard
08 July 2019
Tommys Blog
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Democracy means the right to change your mind. Collectively, people can decide to do something, and if it doesn't work, or they don't like it, they can do something else. That much shouldn't be in doubt for the left - or any democrat. There's no argument in principle against having a second referendum - on anything - if that is what people want.Then again, you can't go changing your mind every wee...
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25 April 2019
Tommys Blog
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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
Tommys Blog
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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...
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Tommys 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...