News & Articles

Some published articles and blog posts from Tommy Sheppard MP

Parliamentary Business - July 2017

Fringe-at-7_20170804-132048_1

Finally, it’s summer recess and I get to spend some time in the constituency. I’m sure you all know about my love affair with the Fringe. I was delighted to be able to help the Fringe celebrate its 70th year with a reception in Speaker’s House at the start of July after their original event had to be cancelled due to the election! I’m looking forward to it all starting in a few days time. 

Westminster had a very end of term feel about it this month with the Government seeming to be filling up time to avoid having to try and pass any actual legislation. Indeed, we even had a debate about how much legislation we should be passing in Private Members Bills (read my response here).

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Israel and Palestine Debate

Tommy contributes to the debate on Israel and Palestinian Talks (5th July 2017).

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Parliamentary Business - June 2017

Election-Night-2017

Well, it's good to be back. After a snap general election that wasn’t needed and that nobody wanted, I am delighted to have been returned to Westminster as MP for Edinburgh East.  Thanks to all those who supported me and came out to cast their vote on what must have been one of the wettest days of the summer so far! I pledge to help everyone, no matter who they voted for or what their political persuasion - it’s what I’ve been doing for the past two years and I don’t plan to change that now. I’m here to speak up for the people in Edinburgh East and to have the voice of our communities heard in Westminster. 

So back to Westminster and the only real business this month was the Queen's Speech, such as it was. As I said in my Evening News column – “Having listened and then read the three-and-a-half-page handout it’s clear this is the thinnest of programmes from a government with neither a mandate nor a majority.”  But there will be legislation to implement Brexit and the SNP will continue to fight for Scotland’s vote to be respected and our voice to be heard in the negotiations.

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Queen's Speech Debate

Tommy contributes to the Queen's Speech debate on Social Care (28th June 2017).

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April Newsletter - Parliamentary Business

April Newsletter - Parliamentary Business

It is incredible how much can change in a month in the world of politics.  On the 13th March the UK Government was visibly shocked when Nicola Sturgeon demanded that people in Scotland be allowed to choose whether they wanted to live under a Tory Brexit deal or decide things for themselves. As a result, Theresa May delayed the serving of Article 50 by a fortnight and it took a full 72 hours to get any response from the UK Government. When it came, the response of “now is not the time” was hardly impressive. No-one is arguing that now is the time anyway!  The Scottish Government are talking about 18-24 months when the Brexit deal is done but before it is too late to take a different path.  I used my Evening News column to put forward the case for having a choice and making it clear there is a cast iron mandate to consult the people, read it here.

This month Westminster was the target of the criminal acts of a loner who decided to attack innocent people going about their daily lives on Westminster Bridge before attempting to enter the parliamentary estate and killing PC Keith Palmer.  I had just left the estate and my staff were all in Edinburgh but I want to thank all those who sent kind messages on the day.  My thoughts remain with those who have been injured and the friends and families of those who lost their lives.

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March Newsletter - Parliamentary Business

March Newsletter - Parliamentary Business

I want to start this month's newsletter with a massive congratulations to my colleague Eilidh Whiteford who has worked so hard on her Private Members Bill. History has been made with the first piece of SNP legislation at Westminster as Parliament agreed to ratify the Istanbul Convention. There's still a way to go but this is a big step for those of us who want to see an end to violence against women. 

We began the month with the the Committee Stage of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. The SNP group tabled 50 amendments to the legislation to ensure we have the right financial and social protections in place before the UK begins the process of leaving the EU. Despite our efforts the Bill was passed without a single amendment from the SNP (or any other party).

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Occupied Palestinian Territories: Israeli Settlements

Tommy contributes to the debate on Illegal Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (8th February 2017).

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February Newsletter - Parliamentary Business

February Newsletter - Parliamentary Business

The UK leaving the European Union is dominating everything in Westminster.  The Supreme Court rightly decided that Parliament had to have a say and as a result we had 2 days of debate this week. I managed to get in for a few minutes in the last hour of the debate and you can watch it here. I've also outlined my position on the vote here. 

The SNP Scottish Government has already produced their own paper outlining how Scotland’s position can be protected. Scotland can remain part of the European Economic Area (EEA) even if the rest of the UK does not – leading to a relationship with the EU like Norway has. It would enable us to retain access to the single market and retain the freedom of movement of people that our country needs and benefits so vastly from. If you’ve not already had a look I highly recommend you read the paper, Scotland’s Place in Europe. You can access it here.

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Previous European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

Tommy contributes to the debate on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill (1st February 2017).

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Debate on Leaving the EU: Security, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice

Tommy contributes to the debate on Leaving the EU: Security, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice (18th January 2017).

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Point of Order - Paris Peace Conference

Yesterday I raised a Point of Order in the House.

Yesterday there was an international Peace Conference on Israel and Palestine in Paris.

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Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill - Report stage

Tommy contributed to the Report Stage debate of the Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill on Tuesday 10th January 2017.  

You can watch his contribution here or read it below. 

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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.

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December Newsletter - Parliamentary Business

December Newsletter - Parliamentary Business

Welcome to my December Newsletter.  The past month has been a busy one - at the start of November the High Court ruled that Parliament should have a debate and vote on triggering Article 50.  While Theresa May is appealing to the Supreme Court (we'll hear the outcome later this month) I do feel that parliament should have a say on this. It’s clear that a small majority voted for Brexit without knowing exactly how it might happen and having been lied to about what the consequences might be. There is a danger that some people may seize on this as a mandate for their own narrow interpretation of the UK's future relationship with other countries. To prevent that happening I believe parliament must be the body that decides on the Brexit plan.

There has been a focus this month on opposing the Tory government plans to cut ESA benefit both through an opposition day debate and through a back bench debate led by my SNP colleague Neil Gray. I spoke in both of these debates - in the first I felt it was important to share the experiences of two constituents whose lives would be devastated by the loss of £30 a week. You can watch this here. In the second I talked more generally about the broader impact of the cuts which you can see here.

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November Newsletter - Parliamentary Business

November Newsletter - Parliamentary Business

This month I presented Edinburgh East's WASPI petition to parliament alongside my SNP colleagues presenting petitions from across Scotland.  In the past month, there has rightly been a focus on refugees, the demolition of the 'Jungle' camp at Calais, the offensive in Mosul and the ongoing crisis in Aleppo.  I am concerned about some of the rhetoric we're seeing around refugees and want to take this opportunity to express the overwhelming view of my constituents: refugees are welcome here in Edinburgh and I'll do all I can to ensure that message is heard.  

During October the SNP had two opposition day debates.  One of these focused on reforming the House of Lords and in particular, the plans to decrease the number of elected MPs whilst increasing the number of un-elected members of the Lords - you can watch my speech from the debate here.  There is also a public consultation taking place on the proposed boundary changes (including to Edinburgh East) - find out more here. 

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October Newsletter - Parliamentary Business

October Newsletter - Parliamentary Business

After the summer recess, Parliament began with a statement on the UK leaving the EU.  I had hoped that this would start to provide some answers as to what Brexit will actually mean but that proved elusive. After a few hours of bobbing up and down on the green seats I was able to ask about alternative arrangements for Scotland. It's my view that the appetite for a 2nd independence referendum will in large part depend on the actions of the British Government in the coming months. You watch a video of the question and the response I received here. 

The Government have approved the development of development of Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. I first got involved in politics as a school boy campaigning against the nuclear reprocessing plant, Windscale, on the Cumbrian coast. I joined Friends of the Earth and became a passionate advocate for renewable energy. It's hard to believe that 40 years later I’m an MP and arguing exactly the same thing. You can watch my question on the Government's decision here. 

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Marwan Barghouthi could bring peace and independence to Palestine. But he's in jail

14 years ago today, the Palestinian MP Marwan Barghouthi was jailed.  This week I sponsored a parliamentary motion calling on the Israeli parliament to release him.   

I, and the other MPs who have signed, are calling for his release so that he can play a part in the process of reconciliation, unification and negotiation that will be needed before Palestine achieves its independence. Barghouthi, now 56, is still the candidate in the strongest position to win a presidential election to succeed Mahmoud Abbas, according to a recent poll by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research.   And precedents has been set - just look at South Africa, where Nelson Mandela was released from prison so he could take part in negotiations for majority rule, and India, where Gandhi and Nehru were released by the British so they could take part in negotiations for independence. 

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Local Government and Ethical Procurement

Tommy contributes to the Westminster Hall Debate on the Government's proposals to introduce updated guidelines on ethical procurement for local councils (15th March 2016).

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Tier 2 Visa Debate

Tommy contributes to the Westminster Hall Debate on the Government's plans to introduce a £35,000 earnings threshold on Tier 2 visas.

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MND Research and Gordons’s Fightback

MND Research and Gordons’s Fightback

Tommy Sheppard MP has sponsored an Early Day Motion congratulating Gordon on his extraordinarily successful campaign raising awareness of Motor Neurone Disease, and the substantial amount of funding he has raised for research.  The motion also calls for more public spending, which has fallen by a third over the last three financial years and is currently at a five year low.

MND is a cruel, debilitating and progressive disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord leading to weakness as muscles gradually waste away. It is a fatal disease and there is no cure. Currently it is not even known what causes it. Life expectancy after diagnosis is on average less than two years. This is why funding for research is vital.

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