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Issues - My policy positions

Issues - My policy positions

Amazon tax

The suggestions that the UK Government is planning to introduce an Amazon tax came a few days after the Scottish Government had already announced it was consulting on new powers, which would see companies like Amazon pay more tax.

The plans – announced by Finance Secretary Derek Mackay – would allow local authorities to impose an extra levy on “predominantly on-line” businesses such as Amazon.

Proceeds would be used to support rates relief for businesses in town centres.

In addition to this, the Scottish Government is committed to taking action against companies – such as making them ineligible for state subsidies - who fail to adopt fair work practices.

Scottish Enterprise confirmed that new rules governing jobs grants would be in force from April, which would prevent Amazon and others from applying if they failed to pay the living wage and adopt other “fair work” practices such as outlawing zero-hours contracts.

In Westminster, I have consistently voted for voted for measures to reduce tax avoidance, as I believe companies should pay their fair share. I also strongly support the Scottish Government’s proposals that would increase worker’s rights and have even brought forward my own plans at Westminster to strengthen these rights, such as my Bill that aimed to ban unpaid trial shifts.

Tags: tax petition

Pensions dashboard

issues

I am extremely concerned at reports that the current Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is considering scrapping plans for a pensions dashboard.

The SNP have supported the principle of a dashboard which brings together information about people’s retirement savings, including their state pension. This would make the pensions market a lot easier to navigate for consumers, and would ideally encourage people to interact with their pensions at a much younger age than post 55.

Reports that Ester McVey believes this is not a service that should be provided by the state are very troubling. Everyone should be able to access such an impartial service, in the same way that they can currently access the Pensions Advisory Service. Being able to effectively plan for retirement should not be a privilege of the few who can afford expensive financial advice.

We would strongly oppose any moves to scrap the introduction of the pensions dashboard, and will continue to press the UK Government on this iss.

If the Scottish Parliament had the power to do so, it would create a pensions system which puts the consumer at the heart of all policy-making, providing support to make retirement planning simple and affordable.

Tags: pension

Statement - PMQs Walkout

Last night the UK Government ploughed ahead with legislation that takes responsibility of 24 devolved policy areas back from the Scottish Parliament, without debate and without Scottish MPs being able to speak.

This was also in spite of all parties in the Scottish Parliament – with the sole exception of the conservative party – refusing a Legislative Consent Motion (LCM) for the UK Government to legislate on these devolved areas.

As we have had a mere 15 minutes of debate in which only the Conservative Government Minister could speak, Scotland’s MPs have not been heard.

It is unthinkable that we could allow that to happen without the bat of an eyelid, and carry on as normal.

In highlighting this today at Prime Ministers Question Time, the House of Commons Speaker suspended the SNP Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford. I joined my colleagues in walking out of the Chamber with him at that point.

With devolution being completely squeezed out of the debate, it is clear the UK Government intends to treat the SNP with the same braying and disrespect that we receive on a continual basis. Scottish Conservatives told us sit down, but I was not elected to sit back and allow such a piece of constitutional vandalism go unchallenged.

I accept that walking out in this way is not normal, and is not a decision that I took lightly. But my job as a Member of Parliament is to defend Scotland’s interests, and it cannot be in our interest to override the will of our Parliament in Edinburgh, and re-write the constitution after a 15 minute speech from a Conservative government minister at the exclusion of every single Member of Parliament from Scotland.

All of Scotland’s MPs have a duty to stand up against the betrayal that has taken place with the Tories' unprecedented power grab. Conservative, Labour and Liberal MPs have chosen to register no objection or protest whatsoever. I don’t believe that is how the job is done in the face of an extremely arrogant UK Government.

Gaza Border Violence

gaza

Like other Members, I am absolutely appalled by what is happening in Palestine right now.

It is important to note that we in the SNP support the European Union position of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. We firmly encourage Israel and Palestine to reach a sustainable, negotiated settlement under international law, based on mutual recognition and the determination to coexist peacefully. I, and other SNP MPs, will continue to engage with the Israeli and the Palestinian authorities through visits to the region and encourage them to work towards this.

What is crucial is that international law must be upheld and human rights must be respected.

The killing of demonstrators, including children, is both appalling and completely unacceptable. The heightened tensions in this long and protracted conflict has not been helped by the reckless move of the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Whilst I welcome the UK Government’s call for UN probe into deadly Israeli live fire against Palestinians, the UK Government really needs to find some more backbone. The Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, didn’t even bother to come to the House to outline what the UK’s response would be. He, and the rest of the Government, need to make it clear to the government of Israel that its deadly actions against protesters will not be tolerated by the international community, and I will continue to press the Government on this matter.

Carers credits

credits

New figures show that 4,000 people claimed carers credits in 2016/17 out of the 160,000 who could have done so.

If you are under state pension age and care for someone for at least 20 hours a week, you can claim a credit to help to ensure you get a full state pension when you retire.

One year of credits could fill a gap that could mean an extra £237 a year on a state pension if your pension contributions record is inadequate. Or it could boost a pension, in some circumstances, even if you already have 35 years' contributions.

To get these credits you must be caring for at least 20 hours a week for someone who gets one of the main non-means-tested disability benefits, such as attendance allowance or personal independence payment at the standard or enhanced rate.

Visit gov.uk and search "carer's credit".

Tags: benefit

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