Karen Adam is now the MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast

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30 December 2015

Three-Quarters of New 'Lords a Leaping' from Party to Peerage

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has highlighted new analysis showing that almost three-quarters of peers created since the UK election in May are ‘party insiders’ – including former MPs, Special Advisers or party aides – and has called on Jeremy Corbyn to honour his commitment to not appointing any new peers until the House of Lords is reformed.

picture from wikipedia
Since the General Election 62 new peers have entered the House of Lords, including four new hereditary peers and two bishops. However, by far the biggest group of new peers are retiring, former or deselected MPs and MEPs – 28 of the total. Four former UK Government Special Advisors and a number of Conservative party officials have also been introduced to the House of Lords. In contrast, only four academics and two third sector figures have become peers over the same period.

Commenting, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“Supporters of the unelected House of Lords often argue that it allows expert, outside experience to scrutinise legislation – these figures put lie to this myth and show that it is nothing more than a house of cronies.

“The facts speak for themselves – House of Lords appointments are overwhelmingly being used to reward loyal politicians and advisors or as a consolation prize for losing elections. It is beyond belief that this is tolerated in a democratic country.

“The SNP has never, and will never, accept seats in the unelected House of Lords. Prior to his election as Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn backed an SNP call for parties not to appoint new peers until the House of Lords is reformed – he must honour this commitment.

“Ending the absurdity of new Lords ‘a leaping’ from party positions to peerages would be a start – but it’s long past time that the House of Lords was reformed and this whole farce ends for good.”

29 December 2015

Local SNP Stalwart Presented with Life Membership

A long-standing supporter of the Scottish National Party in Buchan has been presented with Honorary Life Membership of the party.

Mr Bob Ritchie of Peterhead was presented with his membership card and a small token from the Party by local MSP Stewart Stevenson. Mr Ritchie, who celebrated his 90th birthday last year, was a founding member of Fraserburgh Branch SNP and is the Honorary President of Peterhead Branch SNP.
Mr Ritchie was also the Election Agent for the SNP at the 1964 General Election – the first time the Scottish National Party contested a Parliamentary election in Buchan.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Bob has been a stalwart of the SNP in Buchan for decades and an inspiration to many activists locally over the years.

“It is fitting that his long service is recognised and I’m delighted to be able to present him with Honorary Life Membership from SNP Headquarters.

“Bob holds a place in history as the first-ever SNP Election Agent in this area when the Party decided to contest the old East Aberdeenshire seat at the 1964 election. Bob tells a story that he narrowly avoided being the candidate at that election because he won the toss of a coin and chose to be the agent!

“At that 1964 election, the SNP got 6% of the vote and 1900 votes. In May this year in Banff & Buchan, Eilidh Whiteford achieved a record 60% of the vote and over 27,000 votes. It is thanks to the hard work and dedication of people like Bob in those early days that the party was able to put down such solid foundations to build on locally.

“But the SNP continues to fight each election as if we faced the same odds we did in 1964. We have to earn each and every vote through working for our communities and never take anyone’s vote for granted.”

28 December 2015

Age Peterhead Benefits from MSP's Christmas Card Fund

A Peterhead charity has benefitted to the tune of £400 from the decision by Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson not to send out Christmas cards.

Mr Stevenson has set aside the money he would have been spending on Christmas cards and postage to benefit local good causes in the constituency. The first of three local organisations to benefit is Age Peterhead.
 (l to r) Anne Stephen, Stewart Stevenson MSP, Joyce Clark (Chair),
Sandra Buchanan (Vice Chair) and George Strachan (Secretary)
Mr Stevenson explained:

“Royal Mail still delivered my close family cards, but with the increase in local SNP membership, my signing arm would be worn out pretty quickly. So I am taking the money it would have cost me to send out these cards and putting it to good causes in Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency.

“The first worthy recipient is Age Peterhead.

“Age Peterhead have a long history in the town, being founded in 1968 and have helped down the years with things like lunch clubs and – in the 1970s – coal distribution to OAPs. Now reformed as Age Peterhead and registered as a charity, the organisation provides information services, help with transport and operates two static caravans at Fochabers which are available to the elderly or infirm at attractive weekly rates for short breaks and respite.

“I am delighted to be able to support Age Peterhead in their good works and wish them well in their efforts in 2016.”

27 December 2015

MSP Welcomes Post Office Service for Rathen

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the launch of a new Post Office service to constituents in Rathen, near Fraserburgh.

The Post Office Home Service has been introduced in response to the closure of the sub-Post Office at Rathen and the unavailability of alternative premises or a new sub-postmaster.

Welcoming this new initiative, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Rathen Post Office closed some time ago and was a much-valued service within the community. Despite the best efforts of the Post Office to find someone to take on the service from a new base, it has not been possible to find someone willing to do so.

“This new service launched by the Post Office is the next best thing and will provide a lifeline service to Rathen, but particularly to those who may be elderly or inform, or who simply don’t have private transport to allow them to travel to their nearest Post Office.

“I am pleased that the Post Office has not taken what would have been a very easy option for them and simply withdraw from Rathen altogether and I commend them for supporting the community in this way.”

The Home Service is designed to provide customers living in small rural communities access to certain Post Office products and services. Customers who register for the Home Service can telephone the neighbouring Post Office Operator to order or request Post Office products and services, including stamps, mails acceptance, travel money and manual bill payments and have these delivered direct to their door during a designated delivery slot.

The Operator of the Turriff Mobile service will provide this Home Service to Rathen.

Customers wishing to use the new service should contact the Postmaster directly to register: The Operator of the Turriff Mobile service, c/o Turriff Post Office, 35 High Street, Turriff, AB53 4EA Telephone: 07767 832348.

26 December 2015

Buckie Pupils Get Parliamentary Recognition For Cinema Initiative

Pupils from Buckie Community High School (BCHS) and the local Regeneration Group have had their efforts to bring cinema back to Buckie recognised in the Scottish Parliament.

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has now tabled a Motion in Parliament congratulating the pupils at BCHS on their initiative and the local Regeneration Group who took the matter forward. The Motion has already gained cross-party support from SNP, Labour, Independent, Lib Dem and Conservative MSPs.
Stewart Stevenson with his God-Daughter at the first show
The cinema showings – which started in November - were the culmination of a process started when three Modern Studies pupils at Buckie Community High School wrote to Mr Stevenson lobbying for Buckie to have a cinema once again. The SNP MSP took the matter up with Film Mobile Scotland, a company who bring cinema experiences to those communities without their own cinema, and director, Ian Brown stated he would be extremely interested in bringing this service to Buckie, but required the support of the local community to do so.

Mr Stevenson then involved the Buckie Regeneration Group and local councillors Gordon McDonald and Sonya Warren, along with Buckie Community High School Rector Neil Johnston. As a result, Buckie film-enthusiasts have now been able to see top movies such as The Martian with Matt Damon and the latest James Bond film without having to travel to Elgin or Aberdeen.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“This has been a real community effort in action and all those involved in bringing this project to this stage deserve huge thanks, but none more so that the Buckie High pupils who started the whole thing off by writing to me.

“This Motion is a way of recognising the initiative of the pupils and the efforts of the local community to make this happen. It is an excellent example of a community-led initiative responding to the community’s own needs and is a great example to other towns. I’m pleased to have been able to play a small part in helping make this happen.”

22 December 2015

Budget for Scotland Sets Out Alternative to Tory Austerity

Boosts for Health, Policing and Housebuilding

The budget announced by Deputy First Minister John Swinney sets out a clear, Scottish alternative to austerity – protecting and reforming vital public services in challenging circumstances while supporting inclusive growth equip Scotland with the revenues needed to tackle inequality.

As set out by John Swinney today, Scotland’s budget will provide additional funding for key public services like health and education – and will deliver an additional £90 million to build more affordable housing.

Health board spending in Scotland is set for a £500 million increase – meaning total investment in the frontline NHS budget next year of almost £13 billion – which will support significant reform of Scotland’s health service to meet the challenges faced by an older population.

Mr Swinney also made clear that Scotland’s frontline policing resource budget will be protected in real terms for every year of the next Parliament by a re-elected SNP government – providing a boost of £100 million over the period.

In addition, household budgets across Scotland will be shielded from the effects of Tory austerity through the continued Council Tax freeze – the ninth year in a row it has been frozen, saving the average band D household around £1,500.

Commenting, local MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The budget set out by John Swinney is focussed on boosting economic growth and protecting our public services – setting out a clear, Scottish alternative to continued Tory austerity from Westminster.

“Despite unprecedented cuts to Scotland’s budget, the SNP in government is delivering a £500 million boost to our health service to equip it to reform and deal with challenges posed by an aging population – and our frontline policing budget is set to rise by £100 million, helping our hard-working police officers keep our communities safe.

“And the £90 million boost to investment in affordable housing is very welcome as we look to build on the progress made in recent years and deliver 50,000 new affordable homes over the course of the next Parliament.

“That the Deputy First Minister has been able to deliver these boosts to investment in key public services and our housing stock is testament to the Scottish Government’s determination not to simply accept Tory austerity – and to take real action to take a new and better approach.

“Our record in government over the last eight years is one we can be proud to stand on and be confident in taking to the people in May – and today’s Budget sets out a progressive and ambitious plan to boost our economy, protect and reform our public services and choose a Scottish alternative to continued Tory austerity.”

17 December 2015

Stevenson Welcomes High Youth Employment Rates

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, welcomes data showing that Scotland has the third highest youth employment rate in Europe at 54.6%.

On Wednesday Mr Stevenson asked the Minister for Youth and Women's Employment, Annabelle Ewing, what data there is on how Scotland’s youth employment compares to the rest of the European Union.

The Minister responded:

“The latest data from Eurostat show that Scotland, with a rate of 54.6 per cent, had the third-highest youth employment rate across the European Union countries for quarter 2 of 2015. Only the Netherlands, with a rate of 61.3 per cent, and Denmark, with a rate of 55.9 per cent, were ahead of Scotland.”

Mr Stevenson went on to ask the Minister what investment is being made to try and get Scotland’s youth employment figures to number 1 in Europe.

The minister agreed with Mr Stevenson’s desire to get Scotland to number one and went on to explain the various initiatives that Scottish Government is involved in at the moment to try to achieve this:

“We invested £12 million last year and we have invested £16.6 million this year in embedding our developing the young workforce principles and policies. We have also provided more than 25,000 modern apprenticeship starts year on year, and some 101,000 modern apprenticeship opportunities have been delivered in the current parliamentary session. We have ambitions to go further and secure 30,000 modern apprenticeships starts by 2020.

“We are going in the right direction, but we recognise that we have more to do.”

16 December 2015

Redesigning Primary Care for Scotland’s Communities

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, highlighted this week the importance of health care accessibility for people in rural communities.

During Tuesday's Scottish Government debate entitled ‘Redesigning Primary Care for Scotland’s Communities’, Mr Stevenson highlighted the need for more simplicity in the health service, commenting that it can be difficult for people to know who to turn to when they are feeling unwell.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Out-of-hours provision, which has been referred to repeatedly throughout today’s debate, is more complex for the patient. I have only discovered while reading the material for this debate that the phone number for NHS 24 is 111. I did not know that”

Mr Stevenson went on to commend the use of technology by doctors and patients which can help as a first protocol for people who are concerned about their health:

“Technology is helping doctors and patients. Nowadays the health service is asking us all to do some health checks.”

However, Mr Stevenson then highlighted issues with information sharing, which can prevent patients from getting the best care for them:

“Information about people’s health history is not broadly available. Perhaps we should do something very simple: just take all the handwritten notes and scan them in. We are focusing on doing difficult things such as translating them into words and interpreting them, but there are other things that we perhaps ought to do.”

15 December 2015

Stevenson Welcomes Passenger Group's Support for Rail Link

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a report from transport watchdog the Scottish Association for Public Transport (SAPT) on the benefits of a new rail link to Buchan.

SAPT has been involved in public transport issues for over 50 years. Their report concludes:

“The study area from Fraserburgh, Peterhead and Ellon to Aberdeen has poor public transport connectivity, and is particularly isolated from the national rail network compared with other comparable areas in Scotland.

“The high growth in usage of stations at Inverurie (+450% since 2002), Dyce (+239% since 2002), and Laurencekirk (+40% since reopening in 2009) confirms that where train travel is appreciably faster than car travel, the rail service successfully generates a high level of usage and attracts modal shift from car. The Borders Rail Link has decisively confirmed the effectiveness of reintroducing train services where these can offer journey times competitive with or faster than car travel.

“An initial Ellon-Dyce-Aberdeen train service with Park+Ride provision could be co-ordinated with improved bus connections from Peterhead and Fraserburgh to Ellon. As well as giving a fast 28 minute link from Ellon to Aberdeen, this would bring the benefit of seamless travel from the study area to the rest of Scotland and the world. Connections at Dyce would be available to Aberdeen Airport, and the Inverness line via Inverurie. At Aberdeen station seamless cross-platform connections would be available to the south. And in future, the local train service from Ellon could be extended to start at Fraserburgh and/or Peterhead . . .”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“With the opening of the Borders Railway, Peterhead and Fraserburgh are now the towns of over 10,000 residents which are furthest from a rail station.

“A line to a station at Ellon would be a very useful first step to getting Buchan back on track. Park and rail facilities there would benefit both commuters and vacationers.

“As Honorary President of SAPT I have been co-operating with people of all political persuasions and of none to help this important initiative forward.”

Lobbying Bill could leave important information unregistered, says parliamentary committee

The Lobbying (Scotland) Bill in its current form could leave a “great deal” of important information unregistered, says a Holyrood parliamentary committee.

A majority of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointment Committee takes the view that plans to include only face to face communication with Ministers or MSPs in a lobbying register is an artificial distinction, and recommends the Scottish Government reviews the potential impact of including all forms of communication in the Bill.

While the general principles of the Bill are endorsed in the Stage 1 report, the Committee also recommends that the Scottish Government considers bringing forward amendments to broaden the definition of regulated lobbying to include communications with other public officials, as well as Ministers and MSPs.

SPPA Committee Convener, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The Committee listened carefully to those giving evidence to the inquiry, and as a result, the majority view is that the Government should consider broadening the coverage of the Bill in key areas.

“The Committee understands that the definition of lobbying was restricted to oral communication in order to focus the scope of information to be captured and to produce a low burden, light touch regime.

“Nevertheless, the majority view is that restricting registration to oral communications is an artificial distinction which could leave a great deal of information unregistered.

“We recommend that the Government reviews the potential impact of altering its definition to include communications of any kind, with a view to establishing what amendments to the Bill might be necessary.”

The Committee’s report also notes concern about the workability of exclusions in the Bill for meetings initiated by MSPs or Ministers. The Committee asks the Government to re-examine the practicality of this and consider removing or replacing at Stage 2 of the Bill.

14 December 2015

Tories in Disarray Over Future of CCS


The SNP is today calling for the UK government to clarify its position on carbon capture and storage (CCS) after Tory Energy Minister Lord Bourne hinted that investment might be back on the table.

click for info: How CCS Works
© Global CCS Institute
Only two weeks after Chancellor George Osborne pulled the plug on developing the significant £1 billion clean energy project at Peterhead, the Conservative peer – a UK Government Minister in the Department of Energy and Climate Change – has revealed he is working on a new plan to develop CCS.

Commenting on the revelations, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“Just two weeks ago the Treasury leaked to the stock markets their decision to scrap £1 billion investment for CCS in Peterhead. George Osborne didn’t even have the backbone to announce this latest betrayal of Scotland’s energy in the House of Commons.

“And despite being told that the vital project had been killed off, along with the 600 jobs it would have created in the North East, a Tory minister has this week briefed that he’s dreaming up a new plans to pursue carbon capture technology.

“Why on earth the UK Government is going back to the drawing board when plans for Peterhead had reached such an advanced stage beggars belief.

“We’ve had rank hypocrisy from David Cameron posturing in Paris – extolling Britain’s climate change credentials, while his government is scrapping pioneering green energy technology back here in Scotland.

“Now we learn that an unelected Tory lord is working to revive a scheme that they ditched only two weeks ago. It is total disarray and utter nonsense from David Cameron’s government.”

11 December 2015

CAP Payments

Following a ministerial update on the Common Agricultural Payments (CAPS) Stewart Stevenson SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, asked Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, Richard Lochhead about potential delays to payments.

“The basic and greening payments process has been at the heart of what the cabinet secretary has said today, but farmers also wish to be assured that coupled support for beef and sheep and, indeed, the £60 million for less favoured areas are also on schedule to be paid in a reasonable time.”

The Minister responded explaining that some payments could be delayed in the coming months but that resources were focussed on minimising the effect on any other payments.

Mr Lochhead said:

“Stewart Stevenson is right that we have to recognise the importance of the payments other than the basic payments that will happen in the coming months. Normally, we pay the beef calf scheme in April and the less favoured area support scheme payments go out around March. I have said publicly already that some of those payments could be delayed by a few weeks, because the message that we have had from the industry is that all our efforts and resources should be focused on the basic and greening payments. However, clearly I am keen to minimise any impact on the other payments, given the fragility of some of the sectors involved and the cash-flow issues that they face.”

10 December 2015

Cross-Party Unity Against Damaging UK Government CCS Decision


SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has today welcomed cross-party support for his parliamentary motion condemning the UK Government’s decision to cut £1 billion in funding for the carbon capture and storage project in Peterhead – but has expressed disappointment that the Scottish Tories have thus far refused to stand up for the North East and back the motion.

The motion lodged by the Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP last week has now been signed by MSPs from the SNP, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the independent grouping in the Scottish Parliament – leaving the Tories as the only parliamentary group yet to lend their support.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“The carbon capture project would have been a major boost for the North East, creating 600 jobs and helping Scotland to become a world leader in clean energy – and I am delighted to see cross-party support in the Scottish Parliament on this important issue.

“It is disappointing that the Tories have thus far not saw fit to sign the motion and stand up for Scotland’s energy industry – that the two Tory MSPs for the North East in particular have failed to do so shows that they are more interested in standing up for the UK Government than in standing up for their constituents.

“The UK Government has swindled Scotland out of £1 billion while posturing as environmentally friendly on the world stage – and people in Scotland won’t be quick to forgive or forget this latest betrayal.

“That’s why it’s so vital that all North East Scotland MSPs stand as one against this decision- and make clear to the UK Government that their lack of support for our energy industry is completely unacceptable. That the Tories are so far refusing to do so only goes to show why they are increasingly a spent force in the North East.”

9 December 2015

Stevenson encourages coastal communities to apply for €107 million funding

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, is encouraging Scottish fishing communities to apply for their share of €107million (£77million) funding.

This scheme comes from the European Structural and Investment Fund, administered by the European Commission and aims to promote “smart, sustainable and inclusive growth across the continent.”

Mr Stevenson commented:

“Fishing is an important part of our Scottish coastal communities and I encourage people in my constituency to apply for their share of this funding

At the moment Scotland isn’t getting its fair share of the European Fisheries Fund (EMFF) so I encourage all Scottish fishing communities to apply and make use of the benefits of this funding, it is important for us to get the best deal we can for Scottish fishermen.”

The programme will open to applications on 18 January and will run until 2020.

Stevenson Raises Forth Replacement Bridge in Parliament

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has welcomed the replacement of the Forth Road Bridge which is on schedule and under budget.

Following a ministerial statement on the closing of the Forth Road Bridge, Mr Stevenson asked the transport Minister, Derek McKay:

“Does the minister recall my announcing in June 2007 that there would be a new bridge delivered in 2016? Is it a result of a proper and permanent response then, and effective management now that we are on schedule and £1 billion below the budget that I announced at the time?”

The Transport Minister responded, agreeing that building a replacement bridge has proved to be the most substantial contingency plan:

“I think that it is fair to say that, as well as all the other contingency plans that have been put in place as a result of the bridge closure, the decision that was made to build the replacement crossing is a rather substantial contingency plan. The events have vindicated the Government’s decision to build a replacement Forth crossing, which is being delivered on time and under budget.”

6 December 2015

MSP Urges Cross-Party Support for 'Vital' Energy Project


SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has today called for cross-party support for his motion calling for the UK Government to re-think their decision to cut £1 billion in funding for the carbon capture and storage project in Peterhead.

click here to learn about Carbon Capture
© CCSA 2011—2015
The Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP has lodged a motion in Parliament expressing concern at the decision, which could cost up to 600 jobs in the North East – and has called for North East MSPs of all parties to join him in condemning the UK Government’s decision and to stand up for the energy industry in the region.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“The carbon capture project would have been a major boost for the North East – creating 600 jobs and helping Scotland to become a world leader in clean energy.

“The UK Government’s decision to abandon the scheme is just the latest example of their complete disregard for our energy industry – and it’s right that North East MSPs from across the parties join in condemning this cut.

“During the referendum, Labour, Tory and Lib Dem politicians lined up to tell us that the only way to guarantee this funding was to vote No – given their broken promises, it’s now vital that they do the right thing and take a stand in condemning this damaging decision by the UK Government.

“The Tory government has swindled Scotland out of £1 billion while posturing as environmentally friendly on the world stage – and people in Scotland won’t be quick to forgive or forget this latest betrayal.

“That’s why it’s so vital that all North East Scotland MSPs stand as one against this decision- and make clear to the UK Government that their lack of support for our energy industry is completely unacceptable.”

MSP Commends Fishermen on Stock Management

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has commended the fishing industry for its approach to stock management during a debate on fisheries in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

Speaking during the debate, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Our fishermen are absolutely to be commended for the way in which they have risen to the challenge of stock management, often in the face of total misunderstandings of science and totally ineffective and uninterpretable regulation.

“Nonetheless, our fishermen have found a way to rebuild an industry. Stocks of cod are at three times their level in the relatively recent past.”

Turning to the issue of consumption, Mr Stevenson continued:

“We have an issue not just in catching fish and the regimes that surround that but in fish consumption levels, which are pretty static. We have not seen much increase in fish consumption, despite the fact that our processing and catching industries continue to grow and become a more valuable component of our economy.

“We have to address that issue. In other debates and other places, we have referred to the UK body Seafish, which we have to keep an eye on.”

MP & MSP Attend Peterhead Lifeboat 150th Anniversary Ceremony

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson and Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford attended a ceremony held at Peterhead Harbour to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the lifeboat station.
At the ceremony, Trustee of the RNLI Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence presented Peterhead Lifeboat Station with a vellum to mark the anniversary.

Commenting afterwards, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It was a pleasure and a privilege to be present at the ceremony to give thanks for the many lives saved by the Peterhead Lifeboats over the years, and to pay tribute to the crews both past and present.

“It is important that we as a community remember anniversaries such as these as it underscores the huge debt which we owe to the volunteer crews of the RNLI who put to sea in sometimes horrendous conditions to come to the aid of others, risking their own safety and, quite often, their lives in the process.”

Eilidh Whiteford MP added:

“During the fisheries debate in the House of Commons this week, I began my remarks by expressing my thanks to the men and women who crew our lifeboats in Fraserburgh, Peterhead and Macduff in my constituency. They are volunteers who risk their lives in all weathers to keep others safe.

“What we must all remember is that the RNLI is a charity and therefore is heavily reliant on donations of both time and money in order to carry out its invaluable service. RNLI staff and crew who protect seafarers and those using Scotland’s seas are to be commended for their courage, commitment and dedication and we owe them all a debt of gratitude.”

3 December 2015

Stevenson Welcomes Progress on School Bus safety Petition

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has welcomed developments made by the Public Petitions Committee in progressing school bus safety.

The School Bus Safety petition was originally brought to the attention of the Scottish Parliament by Gardenstown resident Ron Beaty following an accident in 2004 when his granddaughter was knocked over by a vehicle getting off a school bus.

Mr Stevenson has previously congratulated Ron Beaty calling him a “ferocious champion of improving safety in our school transport system.” and on Tuesday the Public Petitions Committee members discussed the School Bus Safety petition and agreed to write to the Department for Transport regarding the petition.

Speaking after the committee meeting, Mr Stevenson commented:

“I am delighted that we are making some progress on the School Bus Safety Petition, Mr Beaty has been the driving force behind the petition which continues to put the safety of young people on the radar and I commend Ron on his tireless work.”

The “Evaluation of Glasgow’s School Bus Signage Pilot” final report found that enhanced signage was more visible and noticeable to drivers than the statuary minimum signage and that the addition of flashing lights appeared to have a significant impact on drawing attention to the bus.

Commenting Mr Stevenson said:

“This recent report is very helpful in terms of what Ron has been petitioning for over the last few years, having better signage on School buses is of the utmost importance for the safety of children across Scotland”

Osborne Must Abolish Lords 'Plush Fund'


Following the Chancellor’s decision to cut public funding for political parties in the House of Commons, the SNP has called for him to abolish so-called Cranborne money for opposition parties in the House of Lords.

The Chancellor announced in his Autumn Statement that ‘Short Money’ for political parties in the House of Commons would be reduced by 19 per cent. However, he has not announced a similar cut for opposition parties represented in the Lords. Cranborne money is provided to the Labour, LibDem and Crossbench groups in the House of Lords, and is intended to pay for staff and office expenses.

Total funding for opposition parties in the Lords is set to increase to £924,989 this year – an increase of 46 per cent since 2010-11.

Commenting, local MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“People will find extraordinary enough that members of the House of Lords are spending almost £1 million for assistants but for this ‘Plush Fund’ to be protected by George Osborne while imposing austerity cuts on public services.

“Surely if funding to support democratically elected representatives in Parliament will be cut, there can be no justification for protecting spending on unelected and unaccountable peers. The Tories are fond of saying that ‘we are all in this together’ – clearly this does not include their colleagues in ermine robes.

“The SNP has never, and will never, accept seats in the House of Lords or the public money this would come with. We believe that the case for reform of the upper house is unanswerable - the Chancellor should start now and abolish the ‘Plush Fund’.”

2 December 2015

Stevenson Welcomes Restrictions on Promoting Nicotine Vapour Products

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, highlighted this week the serious health implications of using nicotine.

In Tuesday's Scottish Government debate on the Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc. and Care) (Scotland) Bill Mr Stevenson spoke about the serious health problems which arise from the misuse of Tobacco and Nicotine.

The Bill was brought forward by Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport on the 4th July 2015 and will introduce measures to limit exposure to smoking and to limit the prevalence of smoking behaviours. It will also require health and social organisation to inform people when they have been harmed as a result of the care or treatment they have received and will introduce criminal offences for ill treatment or wilful neglect.

Speaking in Tuesdays debate Mr Stevenson said:

“The Bill that is before us addresses the advertising and promotion of nicotine vapour products. I welcome restrictions on those products because, although they are certainly known not to carry many of the chemicals that are present in cigarettes and that cause ill health and death, they have nonetheless not yet been shown to be entirely safe to be sold.

“However, if NVPs reduce harm and enable people to move away from the well-known and well-understood problems that are associated with nicotine addiction, that is fair enough and, for the time being, I am prepared to accept them.”

Mr Stevenson finished by highlighting that the dangers of tobacco and nicotine on our health is not new information, he said:

“We have known that tobacco is an evil, poisonous material for 400 years. Why are we still debating the subject now?”

1 December 2015

David Cameron's 'Rank Hypocrisy' on Clean Energy Exposed


The UK Government’s ‘rank hypocrisy’ on clean energy has been exposed again today – after David Cameron’s speech on climate change in Paris yesterday contrasted with his decision to cut £1 billion in funding from a vital carbon capture project in Peterhead.

During the Paris climate talks, David Cameron said that instead of making excuses to future generations, “we should be taking action today”. This is despite his government cutting a £1 billion grant which could have created 600 jobs in Peterhead while helping Scotland become a global leader in clean energy technology – which was promised in the 2015 Tory manifesto.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“For David Cameron to try and lecture others on the environment just days after his government’s decision to cut the CCS funding in Peterhead is nothing less than rank hypocrisy – something which we’re getting all too used to from this Tory government.

“The Prime Minister may enjoy posing with world leaders and posturing as environmentally friendly on the international stage – but people in Scotland can see through his empty, vacuous words and will instead judge him on his actions.

“David Cameron says that we should be taking action on climate change today – and he’s right. Unfortunately, the only real action he’s taken in recent times has been to cut a vital clean energy project in the North East of Scotland.

“The Tory decision to cut the vital £1bn carbon capture and storage project won’t just cost 600 jobs in the North East of Scotland – but is a huge missed opportunity to help Scotland become a global leader on green energy technology and is just the latest example of the failure of the UK Government to support Scotland’s energy industry.”

Stewart Stevenson
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