Good news for BiFab: New investment welcomed by Isles MP – First Minister announces new Investment in all 3 BiFab Yards.

The announcement this morning that the Scottish Government has brokered an agreement between  Canadian company JV Driver through its subsidiary DF Barnes and BiFab to support new opportunities at Methil, Burntisland and Arnish for fabrication and construction in the marine, renewables and energy sector has been welcomed by Angus MacNeil MP.

arnish

Commenting Mr MacNeil said:

“This is a good step forward with investment coming in from the Scottish Government through HIE and Scottish Enterprise. The Scottish Government will be encouraging and helping in the gaining of orders.

“It is good that all three sites are involved particularly with Arnish having the capabilities of rolling which are unique in Scotland and the UK.

“They already have a great track record of producing, fabricating and delivering and we wish them every success going forward.”

Speaking at Methil the First Minister said:

“We are delivering on the commitment I made last year that we would stand by BiFab and work to secure a long term future for the company.

“We have been in negotiations with DF Barnes for a number of months and today is a significant step forward in our efforts to restore BiFab to its place at the centre of Scotland’s marine energy industry.

The First Minister also paid tribute to the efforts of the trade unions and employees at BiFab saying

“This announcement is also a tribute to the efforts of the trade unions and employees at BiFab whose dignified actions throughout this difficult time have played a huge part in enabling us to bring in new investors and creating new employment opportunities in Fife, the Western Isles and for the Scottish economy as a whole.”

 

Increase in registered births in Uist -Isles MP welcomes positive research

Commenting on media reports that research conducted by members of the Uist community suggest that the registered births in Uist for 2015, 2016 and 2017 show a 67 per cent increase compared to a decade ago, Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil said:

“This really is a very positive piece of research.

“It is also good to see that more families with young children are choosing to settle in Uist.

“With wide open spaces, stunning beaches, machair land and much more, Uist is a fantastic place to live and where better to bring up children.”

Uist

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Lobbying to have Spaceport located in North Uist

Isles SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil, together with representatives from QinetiQ and the Leader and officials from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, today welcomed Scotland’s Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse MSP to Uist to discuss the possibility of having a spaceport located in the Hebrides.

photo 3 April 2018

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“Uist is the lead site in the UK for a vertical take-off facility to be located.  Not least because of the local expertise which could launch and successfully guide monitor and control such a rocket.  Last year during the maritime exercise Formidable Shield, Hebrides Range in Uist became the only place in the UK to have fired a rocket into space indeed it was the heaviest, largest and highest rocket launched into space that has ever been fired from the British Isles.

“Currently the UK has no sovereignty in this area but countries as diverse as Kazakhstan, Algeria, Morocco and India do.  Indeed a lot of the work in this area goes to India.  Many in this field feel that a UK capability would be very helpful, to say the least.

“The UK government wants to have about 10% of the annual global space market, which is in the region of £40billion.

“Any spaceport site would be based in Scolpaig in North Uist with a firing take-off angle about 85 degrees towards the northwest, going high between Iceland and the Faroe Islands, it would not be going over any land at all and be higher than aircraft altitudes within 20 miles.

“Further given the track record of Hebrides Range in being able to conduct very technical launches with an excellent safety record, there can be nowhere better to bring this work than to Uist.”

 

Commenting Council Leader Cllr Roddie Mackay said:

“The narrative we have heard from QinetiQ is why the Spaceport proposal in North Uist is a very serious proposal and it is why it’s the leading vertical take-off option for the UK.”

 

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Isles MP asks Payment Systems Regulator to intervene in Tarbert ATM

Angus Brendan MacNeil SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar is asking the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) to intervene in the ongoing issues with the ATM in Tarbert on the Isle of Harris.

Isles MP Angus MacNeil, together with ward councillors and representatives of North Harris Community Council have been in contact with Cardtronics, the company who have responsibility for this ATM on numerous occasions to report disruptions to this cashpoint.

ATM

Commenting Angus MacNeil said:

“Once again, the ATM in Tarbert is out of action and Cardtronics continue to ignore the pleas from the local community.

“There has been no response from Lloyds Banking Group to my communication with them.  Despite assurances that they wanted the Isle of Harris to receive an improved and more consistent level of servicethey appear to have washed their hands of this ATM.  A wall of silence continues from Cardtronics.

“Therefore, I am today contacting the Payments Systems Regulator to ask that they investigate the catalogue of complaints with this ATM.

“Again, the people of Harris have been let down by Cardtronics over the busy Easter weekend, causing disruption to residents and tourists alike.  This must be sorted.”

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Lochmaddy ferry disruptions – Isles MP contacts CalMac

Isles MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil has contacted Caledonian MacBrayne due to the acute situation with the ferry service from Uig to Lochmaddy.

Mr MacNeil has raised a number of suggestions with CalMac which he believes could help get the MV Hebrides back on the route.

Angus pic

Commenting Angus MacNeil said:

“Clearly the MV Hebridean Isles is not coping and Uist is suffering as a result.

“The already fragile Uist economy was hit particularly hard by the situation over the Easter weekend, when the Hebridean Isles was clearly inadequate for the service. It remains the case that it is not coping with the demands of being on the Uig triangle.

“I am hoping that CalMac will listen to the options raised, and the message is clear – we have to get the MV Hebrides back on the Lochmaddy route.”

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Iolaire Memorial Project

Isles MP Angus MacNeil was pleased to be able to assist the Stornoway Amenity Trust and The Nicolson Institute by collecting stones to represent the three young London men lost in the Iolaire tragedy.

The stones will become part of a stone cairn featuring 201 stones representing all those lost in the sinking of the Iolaire on New Year’s Day 1919. The memorial will be unveiled by Nicolson Institute pupils in Stornoway on Friday.

During a break from business at the House of Commons, Mr MacNeil collected the stones from the shores of the Thames to represent the loss of 22 year old Albert Richard Matthews, 19 year old William Joseph J Stanley and 33 year old Alfred Samuel E Taylor who were all from the city of London.

The memorial will be situated in Carn Gardens, close to Stornoway Town Hall and will consist of a slate engraving on a wall and a stone cairn which will include a stone to represent each man lost. A bench donated by Stornoway Port Authority will also be put in place nearby.

The plan to include stones from the home village or town of all victims was devised by pupils of The Nicolson Institute who have spent the last few months working on those collections. Stones have now been collected in villages all over Lewis, Harris, Berneray and also from the home towns of the 20 victims who were not from the Isles – a project which has involved communities across the UK.

iolaire - MP

Westminster fishery power grabs will ensure more fishery betrayals

Power over fishing needs to be given to the Scottish Government to prevent Scottish interests in this industry being negotiated away any further says Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, SNP Fisheries spokesperson at Westminster.

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Fishermen were promised that they would regain full control over the country’s fishing waters on Brexit day, 29 March 2019. Instead, the UK will merely be “consulted” on fish quotas during the interim period, while remaining in the CFP.

Last week, Mr MacNeil called on the Secretary of State for DEFRA, Michael Gove MP to clarify what implications Brexit will have on the Scottish fishing industry and to urge that Westminster resists a power grab of Scottish fisheries.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“Fisheries must be handed to the Scottish Government and not power grabbed by Westminster, as Westminster is likely to negotiate Scotland’s fisheries away during the Brexit negotiations.

“Brexit is going to be damaging given that control over fisheries was one bit of hope in a very gloomy landscape. Now we see the Tories selling out the fishing industry.

“This is a massive betrayal to fishermen who were promised by the Tory Government they would regain control again – what we are seeing here is not regaining control but losing control.

“Astonishingly, a Tory-leaning journalist has stated “If the UK must ‘sell out’ any industry then fishing is a good industry to choose… it’s only 12,000 jobs in Scotland.”

“The Tories have been leading fishermen up the garden path – we simply cannot trust the Tories to do what is best for Scotland’s fishing industry.  This is the first betrayal by the Tory MPs who are only now after the event telling the Prime Minister how important fisheries are, just what have they been doing for the past year?”

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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.
FamiliesTogether
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.”

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Notes for editors:

Amnesty International UK backs SNP MP’s Refugees Family Reunion Bill: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/refugee-family-reunion-bill

Patrick Stewart, Vivienne Westwood and Anish Kapoor urge MPs to vote to facilitate refugee family reunion: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/patrick-stewart-vivienne-westwood-and-anish-kapoor-urge-mps-vote-facilitate-refugee

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.

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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.”

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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.”

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Notes:

More information on the Engineering Craft Apprenticeship and to submit an application, please visit: https://www.ssen.co.uk/Careers/Apprenticeships/