SNP MP Angus MacNeil’s Refugee Families Reunion bill passes first stage in Westminster

SNP MP Angus MacNeil’s Bill to reunite refugee families and ease the UK government’s “inhumane” immigration rules has passed its first major hurdle in Westminster today.

Despite the UK government’s opposition, the Bill passed its Second Reading in Parliament with the backing of SNP, Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, Plaid Cymru, Green and DUP MPs. The Bill will now proceed to Committee Stage for further scrutiny and amendments.

The Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill looks to ensure that:
·         Child refugees in the UK would have the right to sponsor their close family to come to the UK, so they can rebuild their lives together and help them integrate in their new community.
·         An expansion of who qualifies as a family, so that young people who have turned 18, and elderly parents, can live in safety with their families in the UK.
·         The reintroduction of legal aid, so refugees who have lost everything have the support they need to navigate the complicated process of being reunited with their families.

The SNP MP’s Private Members’ Bill has been backed by the Refugee Council, the UN Refugee Agency, Amnesty UK, the British Red Cross and Oxfam GB.
Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil said:

“I’m delighted that this Bill which seeks to reunite refugee families has passed its first major hurdle in Westminster, and is one step closer to ensuring that refugee families are no longer cut off from each other due to the UK government’s inhumane and strict immigration rules.

“The Refugee Family Reunion Bill is not a party political issue, but a humanitarian one. It is a Bill that puts compassion first and seeks to bring to an end the callous approach of the UK government which has kept refugee children away from their parents, siblings and wider family.

“This Bill would not have reached the stage that it has without the help and support of MPs from across Westminster and organisations like Amnesty International UK, UNHCR, Oxfam and many others.

“More than half of the world’s refugees are children; young people who – having fled hell on earth – are searching for ways to rebuild their lives. The UK government has a responsibility to hold out that helping hand, rather than turning its back on them.

“Today, we have overcome the first hurdle. I now look forward to continuing to work with MPs and organisations to ensure that refugee families are no longer kept apart, and that this Bill becomes law.”


Notes for editors:

Amnesty International UK backs SNP MP’s Refugees Family Reunion Bill:

Patrick Stewart, Vivienne Westwood and Anish Kapoor urge MPs to vote to facilitate refugee family reunion:

MacNeil calls for clarity for the Scottish Fishing Industry post Brexit

Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, SNP Fisheries spokesperson at Westminster is writing to the Secretary of State for DEFRA Michael Gove MP to ask that he clarifies what implications Brexit will have on the Scottish fishing industry.

Mr Macneil is urging Westminster to resist a power grab of Scottish fisheries and enable the Scottish government to negotiate on behalf of Scottish fishermen and thus prevent them being betrayed by the UK Government as happened when the UK joined the European Union.


Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“According to UK Government figures, a World Trade Organisation deal will result in damage to GDP of 8 percent, or more than four times the damage caused by the economic crash.  Clearly, based on these figures Brexit is an all-round unmitigated disaster.

“The only mitigating area that I can see is in fisheries, but the UK government is in danger of giving that away.  Therefore, I am urging the UK government to get fisheries off the Brexit table and not to use this vital Scottish industry as a bargaining chip.  Power over fishing needs to be given to the Scottish Government to prevent Scottish interests in this industry being negotiated away.

“The UK government have had very little to say on fisheries.  They have acknowledged that they have been dodging questions I have asked them in the House of Commons, about who will get the increased tonnage they say they will take from the European Union and when the benefits of this will be seen.”


Included below the exchange between Angus MacNeil MP and Therese Coffey MP during Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Debate in House of Commons on 8th March 2018.

Angus MacNeil Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment and Rural Affairs), Chair, International Trade Committee

At the last EFRA questions on 25 January, I said to the Secretary of State:

“The question for fishing, given all the tonnes he will take from the European Union, is this: where is it going, and when?”


The Secretary of State answered:

“On to the plates of people from the Western Isles to the south-west of England, who can enjoy the fantastic produce that our fishermen catch every day.”

I said, “Good dodge”, and he replied, “Thank you.” Today, I wonder whether we can get an answer to the question with no dodge. Given all the tonnes the UK Government tell fishermen they will take from the European Union, where is it going, and when?


Therese Coffey – The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government are, of course, still seeking a trade deal, but the hon. Gentleman should also be aware of the fact that countries such as Norway and Iceland, which are independent states, have control of their waters and grant access to them. There are annual negotiations for shared stocks, and we will continue to be part of those negotiations.

Isles MP highlights Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) – apprenticeship opportunity based in Uist

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil is encouraging candidates in the Western Isles looking for an exciting career in the energy industry to apply for Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) 2018 Apprenticeship programme before the application deadline on Sunday 18 March.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

 “I have been asked by SSEN to promote this apprenticeship opportunity based in Uist.  SSEN is looking for a Multiple Craft Apprentice to be based in Uist, specialising in power distribution and undertaking a four-year programme to gain the knowledge and skills to safely build, repair and maintain the circuits that deliver electricity to homes and businesses across the islands.

“I understand that the learning programme offers candidates an excellent opportunity to earn while they learn and gain a career within an exciting industry. Apprentices will be supported throughout the programme by a mentor, an Apprenticeship Programme Manager, colleagues and also college tutors while studying on the mainland.

“The deadline (Sunday 18th March) is fast approaching and I would encourage anyone who interesting in this career opportunity to apply.”



More information on the Engineering Craft Apprenticeship and to submit an application, please visit:

Time for RBS to make amends and halt threat to bank branches says Isles MP

Commenting on media reports that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has returned to profit for the first time in a decade as it continues its recovery, Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus B MacNeil said:

“It is good to see the RBS returning to profit.  Ross McEwan, Chief Executive of RBS is quoted as saying that this is “a really symbolic moment.”  What would be symbolic would be for Mr McEwan to accept my invitation to come to Castlebay and Lochboisdale and meet the public to explain why he is presiding over the closure of the Castlebay branch and reducing the hours of the Lochboisdale branch.

“RBS continue to use the line that “they provide customers with more ways to bank than ever before – customers can choose from a range of digital, face-to-face and local options. The way people bank with us has changed radically over the last few years: since 2014, the number of customers using our branches across the UK has fallen by 40%”.  If they follow this logic will they close all branches?

Mr MacNeil has invited John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to HM Treasury to the Isle of Barra and the Isle of South Uist to gain a better understanding about the implications of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS) decision to close the branch in Castlebay and reduce the hours of the branch in Lochboisdale.

“With eye-watering profits and bonuses being paid to RBS Senior Executives there is no excuse for branch closures.   RBS, still majority-owned by the taxpayer, has recently been dragged through the coals by the disconcertingly hesitant Financial Conduct Authority, (who initially tried to bury the report) for its awful customer relations.

“It is time for RBS to make amends and halt these branch closures.”

RBS logo



SNP MP Angus MacNeil has said his Private Members Bill on the treatment of refugees is a ‘humanitarian issue not a party political one’.

His comments came as his ‘Refugee Family Reunion‘ Bill is published today at Westminster, which addresses several issues about the UK’s refugee policies. It will seek to give the right to refugee children to be reunited with their parents – under current reunion rules children cannot sponsor their parents to come to the UK – thus leaving them alone here.

The Bill will also look to expand the definition of family members, as currently only spouses and children under the age of 18 are allowed to join their family in the UK, which risks young people being exploited or possibly trafficked, without that family support around them.

Angus MacNeil has already secured support from the Refugee Council, UNHCR the UN Refugee Agency, Amnesty International, the British Red Cross and Oxfam GB.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil said:

“This Private Members Bill has support from members from six parties – Government and opposition. It is not party political it is a humanitarian issue and would bring the UK into line with a majority of European countries if passed. Clearly, we can all understand the anguish people would feel from being separated from family members by the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen whether deliberately or accidentally.

‘’Therefore this Bill seeks to improve the lot for people who have found themselves in the worst situation possible having fled their homeland as refugees. In short, it is the least we can do and therefore that is why I am glad of the support of so many politicians across so many parties.”



The bill and explanatory notes can be found at:

Holyrood Committee asked to look into impact of Tourist Office closures

Impact of Tourist Office closures greater in rural areas says MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar

lochmaddy TO

In a letter to Joan McAlpine MSP Chair of Holyrood’s Committee on Culture Tourism, Europe and External Affairs, Angus MacNeil MP has asked for the impact of the closure of Tourist Information Centres to be investigated.

Commenting Mr MacNeil said

“A 70 mile stretch of my Constituency covering a number of Islands will go from having three Tourist Information Offices to having none. Visit Scotland appear to have decided to close Tourist Offices purely on the basis of footfall without regard to the geography of the area or to the number of visitors compared to the size of the resident population.

Castlebay Tourist office had 17000 visitors in 2016 – 17 times the population of the Isle of Barra, Lochmaddy saw 6,000 visitors, more than 4 times the number of residents. With few other sources of information in these rural areas the impact on tourism could be substantial.

I have asked Joan McAlpine MSP and her Committee to look into how Visit Scotland made their decisions and the impact on tourism in remote and rural areas such as the Islands of these cuts.”




RBS Castlebay Branch slight reprieve

Castlebay branch to remain open until at least the end of 2018

RBS Castlebay

Isles MP, Angus MacNeil MP has received confirmation from the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) that the Castlebay branch is to remain open until at least the end of 2018.

Mr MacNeil has remained vocal in his criticism of RBS following their decision to close the branch in Castlebay and reduce to opening hours of the Lochboisdale branch.

Last week, Mr MacNeil extended an invitation to John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to HM Treasury to visit the Isle of Barra and the Isle of South Uist to gain a better understanding about the implications of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS) decision to close the branch in Castlebay and reduce the hours of the branch in Lochboisdale.

Commenting on today’s announcement from RBS, Angus MacNeil MP said:

“This is a step in the right direction but we still have a long way to go.

“What we need here is complete removal of any threat of the Castlebay branch closing or reduction in the hours of the Lochboisdale branch.”





Economic Secretary to HM Treasury invited to visit islands – Isles MP maintains pressure on RBS

Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil has invited John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to HM Treasury to the Isle of Barra and the Isle of South Uist to gain a better understanding about the implications of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS) decision to close the branch in Castlebay and reduce the hours of the branch in Lochboisdale.

RBS Castlebay

Earlier this month, during a Westminster Hall debate on ‘the role of banks and their responsibility to the communities they serve’ Mr MacNeil again called on Ross McEwan, CEO of RBS to come out of hiding and face the public.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“RBS is 72 percent owned by the taxpayer and it is only right that the UK Government is aware of the enormous impact bank closures and reduced hours will have on island communities.

“Following an informal conversation, I have written to John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to HM Treasury to invite him to come to Barra and South Uist so that he can see first-hand what RBS propose to do to island communities.

“Ross McEwan, CEO of RBS appears to be unwilling to come to the islands to face loyal RBS customers – but from the signals it seems John Glen MP will accept my invitation and seems more concerned than either Ross McEwan or the RBS Chair Sir Howard Davies about RBS island customers being left without a bank.”


Comhairle nan Eilean Siar must not block Barra Community all-weather pitch

MacNeil calls on Comhairle to approve Community Asset Transfer

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil is calling on Comhairle nan Eilean Siar not to hinder a sports facility project on Barra.

Coimhearsnachd Bharraidh and Bhatarsaidh Ltd submitted an Asset Transfer request to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for a plot of land opposite Castlebay Community School for the purpose of building a much needed all-weather pitch especially as it has been expected for years, and by some for as long as 18 years, but the Comhairle has not delivered. Now when others are stepping up the Comhairle is being an active hindrance.

This request was declined and the community is now in the process of appealing this decision.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“It is really hard to understand and difficult to explain why the Comhairle is preventing a community from building a much-needed sports facility.

“I understand that one of the reasons for refusal is that the land in question may need to be used for the purpose of siting a portacabin during the construction of Castlebay Community School, however, I am told that land is being made available by a crofter for this purpose, should it be required.

“I have written to Comhairle Leader Roddie Mackay and all councillors, the Comhairle must approve the Community Asset Transfer of this land to allow the community to benefit from an all-weather pitch. This has full support on Barra and it is bizarre that the Comhairle of all bodies should ride rough shod over the community.

“Campaigners have lived with 18 years of promises from the Comhairle.  People are not even looking to the Comhairle to fund it but to get out of the way and let it happen.

“The community has until the 30th of January for their Community Asset Transfer appeal and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar should remember they were only custodians of the King George V playing fields in Castlebay and shouldn’t act like unreasonable Victorian landlords, councillors, of course, have to ensure this.”

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Isles MP in discussions with Air Traffic Controllers in Stornoway and Benbecula

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil spoke with Air Traffic Controllers in Stornoway and Benbecula this week regarding Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd’s (HIAL) proposal to centralise the Air Traffic Control services.


Speaking after the meeting, Mr MacNeil said: “I found out a number of things from the Air Traffic Controllers which weren’t clear from my meeting with HIAL Directors and Board members at Westminster.

“I think the level of this decision is far too big to be made at Board level. There is a huge social implication in keeping these jobs in the islands and the Scottish Government has to keep a very close eye on this and consider implications more widely than HIAL can.

“It also turns out that the cost of the investment is not £28 million as we were told but about £130 million. The numbers we were told were the net cost, which is debatable, and not the actual cost of the investment which is likely to rise.

“I feel that the best situation – socially, technically and to ensure a service at the airports – is to maintain the service we have at the moment but especially with a focus on local recruitment.

“Air Traffic Controllers who are recruited locally from the islands tend not to leave, as evidenced by Benbecula especially with zero turnover and Stornoway, where the locally recruited Air Traffic Controllers stay for many years, if not decades.”