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Issues - My policy positions

Issues - My policy positions

Brexit - People's Vote

If there is an opportunity to give people another say to reaffirm our desire to stay in the EU then I, and other SNP MPs, would back it.

That includes seeking an extension of the Article 50 negotiating period, voting for a new referendum on Brexit if that choice is put to the House of Commons and seeking to build consensus for continued membership of the single market and the customs union.

Whilst my party colleagues and I would vote, unconditionally, for a People's Vote on Brexit, we must ensure that Scotland is once again not put in a position where the country votes to remain in the EU, but is dragged out anyway as a result of votes elsewhere.

The democratic deficit has been clearer than ever over the past two years.

I am still of the mind-set that the best future for Scotland is an active member of the EU. Whilst I support a People's Vote, as people may be changing their mind as the Brexit circumstances unfold, a repeat of the outcome from the 2016 EU referendum that saw Scotland vote to remain, but still faced with being taken out of the EU against our will would be unacceptable.

Should the People’s Vote arise in Parliament, I would vote for it, but we must ensure Scotland’s voice is heard and respected should there be another vote. Otherwise, , it won’t resolve the same issue that Scotland faced in 2016 and we’d face exit anyway.

Tags: brexit

Universal Credit

The Tories roll-out of Universal Credit is having an absolutely catastrophic impact on people’s lives, pushing them into poverty, debt and destitution.

We do not disagree with the principle of Universal Credit, but the Tory approach has been to use their flagship welfare reform as an excuse to make savage cuts to the social security budget – impacting the most disadvantaged people in our society.

The way Universal Credit roll-out is being handled, the Government are simply being wilfully ignorant when they say 'Universal Credit is working'.

It is clear that DWP is in total disarray when it comes to the roll-out of Universal Credit – as it has been announced that the completion date for the full roll-out is being delayed again to December 2023.

This proves that their project is falling to pieces, all the while pushing people into crisis.

In Scotland, Universal Credit Scottish Choices means the Scottish Government is doing what they can with the limited powers available. Everyone receiving full service Universal Credit across Scotland is now able to choose if they want to be paid twice monthly and they will also have the option to have the housing element of their Universal Credit award paid directly to their landlords. This allows more people to have greater control over their household budget.

However, this offering in no way fixes many of the problems with the Universal Credit roll-out.

We in the SNP have said time and time again that the current system of Universal Credit is not fit for purpose and the roll-out must be immediately halted before more damage is caused to people.

Tags: benefit

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.

@StewartMcDonald on Twitter

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