Fishing industry must feature in UK Government Immigration policy

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus B MacNeil is writing to the Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack following his recent comments regarding the UK Government’s immigration policy. 

Mr Jack recently stated that the immigration system is good news for the Scottish economy and that it will be less restrictive than at present.  The current UK Shortage Occupation List includes classical ballet dancers but makes no reference to the fishing industry.

Commenting Angus MacNeil said:

“The West Coast of Scotland’s fishing industry has for years been crying out for crew and I have repeatedly called on the Home Office to listen to these concerns, yet boats are tied up due to lack of crew – this is damaging to the fishing boat owners, the processing sector and our economy.

“The fishing industry need crew now – while I do not wish to take anything away from the Arts, prioritisation of classical ballet dancers is not what our economy needs.

“I will be writing to the Secretary of State for Scotland to ask him to clarify when fishermen will be added to the list of skilled workers.  Only then will the new immigration system benefit the Scottish fishing industry.”


UK Government’s post-Brexit immigration rules damaging for Scotland

Commenting on the UK government’s planned changes to immigration rules which will not offer visas to so-called ‘low-skilled’ migrant workers after Brexit, Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil said:

“The UK Government’s hostile environment continues to cause misery and this latest policy announcement on post-Brexit visas could have devastating consequences for our economy.

“We already know how the UK Government’s policy of not allowing Work Visas for non-EEA workers is damaging to the West Coast fishing industry – this policy announcement will be harmful to many sectors such as hospitality, social care and agriculture.”


Joined-up thinking required to aid renewable energy projects in islands

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil today questioned the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack on the UK Governments approach to island renewable projects.

In September 2019, Mr MacNeil expressed his disappointment following the Contracts for Difference (Cfd) Allocation Round 3, which only awarded two renewable projects in Lewis a Cfd totalling 240 MW, which is well below the 369 MW required for the Interconnector to the mainland.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“The islands have the best wind resources in Europe and has the potential to produce more than enough wind to support a 600 MW interconnector.  The stumbling block is the lack of joined-up thinking between the UK Government and the Energy Regulator Ofgem.

“At Scottish Questions today, I had the opportunity to raise this with Alister Jack, the Secretary of State for Scotland and I was pleased that he agreed with the point I raised and that the interconnector should be built.”


Affordable housing shortage – Isles MP writes to Hebridean Housing Partnership

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus B MacNeil has written to Hebridean Housing Partnership about the lack of affordable housing in Harris and Barra.

Mr MacNeil has received representations from people in Harris and Barra who are very concerned about the lack of house building projects in these islands.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“Concerns have been expressed from Harris and Barra that the lack of affordable housing is resulting in difficulties for young people and families wishing to remain in these areas.

“I appreciate that Hebridean Housing Partnership may have difficulties in securing land to build houses, but some means must be found to make land available for housing in order to ensure that there are people to run our tourism, care and all the other services needed within the islands.

“It would be a sad day if employment was available, but lack of housing prevented people making their homes in our islands.”


Angus MacNeil MP re-elected as Chair of International Trade Committee

Angus MacNeil MP

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil has been re-elected as Chair of the International Trade Select Committee.

Mr MacNeil – who has chaired the Committee since 2017 and is the first SNP MP to be elected as a Select Committee Chair in an election by the whole House of Commons – says the issue of international trade is now more important than ever.

The International Trade Select Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine expenditure, administration and policy of the Department of International Trade and its associated bodies as well as scrutinising what they do.

Commenting on his re-election, Mr MacNeil said: “It is probably true to say that international trade has never been as important as it is now given that the UK is leaving the EU trading bloc, ending many of our current trade agreements with European partners – international trade will feature greatly in the months and years ahead.

“I have already had contact with the International Trade Department with a view to scrutinising trade bills going forward.

“We have to get this right, it’s not about political parties, it’s about the aerospace industry, pharmaceuticals, car manufacturers, food and drink exporters, the entertainment industry, the ceramics industry among many others.

“It is a huge honour to be re-elected as a Select Committee Chair in an election of the entire House of Commons.   I look forward to the challenges and the great opportunities of working with cross party colleagues to hold the Government to account, to drive the agenda forward and to try to make the best of the situation that we are in.”


Air Traffic Control options non-starter says MacNeil

Isles MP Angus MacNeil is again expressing concerns about proposed changes to air traffic control (ATC) in the Islands.

Highlands and Islands Airport Ltd propose to centralise air traffic control services in Inverness by using ‘remote towers’.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“HIAL have named this high risk and costly option as ‘remote towers’ when in actual fact it is the centralisation of air traffic control meaning high-value island jobs going to Inverness.

“The Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament committees, particularly the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee should be scrutinising this proposal line-by-line because it has huge implications not only for transport but for the community in the Western Isles. 

“We know that air traffic control has a difficulty with recruitment and retention, but this is not the case in the island areas – when they recruit locally, they do retain locally. 

“There is a huge risk that if air traffic control is centralised in Inverness that all air traffic controllers could be lost from Inverness as they are in demand globally and we would find ourselves without air traffic control anywhere in the HIAL network.

“This is an ill-conceived proposal which HIAL has somehow taken regardless of the warning voices from everyone else.”


New Pilot Scheme to ease Crew Shortages in West Coast Waters

Angus MacNeil MP looks for more information on proposed pilot scheme.

Following the first Scottish Questions of the new year Angus MacNeil MP has called on Douglas Ross MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Scottish Office to bring forward details of a pilot scheme to allow non-EEA fisherman to crew boats in West of Scotland waters and ease crew shortages.

Mr MacNeil  believes that the Outer Hebrides would be the ideal place for the pilot and after speaking with Mr Ross commented

‘I can assure Mr Ross a pilot scheme allowing non-EEA fishermen into waters West of Scotland would be most welcome. Indeed, fishing interests in the Outer Hebrides, the West Coast and probably Northern Ireland would all welcome such a scheme. I am confident that any such trial would be a great success.

‘I have written to Mr Ross and look forward to getting more information from Mr Ross and hope he will consider using the Outer Hebrides for this trial. ‘

Castlebay 2G outage

4 Months without a 2G phone signal is 4 months too long says Isles MP

Angus MacNeil MP has written to EE to see if he can help resolve a dispute which has left Castlebay residents without 2g on their mobile phones for more than 4 months.

Commenting Mr MacNeil said

” It was brought to my attention that the Castlebay mast in Barra has been without a 2g phone signal for more than 4 months. It seems that there is some dispute between the Operator, the owner of the mast and the landowner which is preventing access to enable restoration of the signal.

“I have today written to EE to ask if there is anything that I can do to resolve this dispute and bring about a restoration of the signal. If there is a problem between the land owner and the owner of the mast then this must be sorted out in order to reassure Castlebay customers that this is not just an excuse for the operators to do nothing.

” Four months is too long to leave customers without 2G and something must be done to ensure operators have access to masts as soon as something goes wrong”

Be prepared for polling day says Angus MacNeil SNP Na h-Eileanan an Iar

 Angus MacNeil SNP  Na h-Eileanan an Iar has urged everyone to prepare for polling day Thursday 12th December.

With forecasts predicting colder weather and the shorter days at this time of year this polling day will be very different from the normal early summer elections.

Mr MacNeil said

“With only about 6.5 hours of daylight and the risk of inclement weather it is important to plan how and when you will get out to vote.

“Polling stations are open from 7am – 10pm and I would urge people to vote as early as possible and not wait until later when darkness and falling temperatures could cause problems. For those with transport please consider whether neighbours may need lifts to the polls.

“Finally if you are a football fan and are planning a night watching Scottish teams in Europe on the TV remember to vote early and good luck to both Scottish Teams!”


MacNeil highlights SNP support for Island Communities

Campaigning in Uist yesterday the SNP candidate for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Angus MacNeil, pointed out the very real support the SNP has given the island communities over the last ten years.

“While other parties make promises, the SNP delivers, namely the investment the Scottish Government has made in transport, housing and key industries over their years in office.

“A record £1 billion has been invested in vessels, ports and ferry services since 2007, while RET has been rolled out to all ferry routes in the Hebrides network.

“£5 million is being invested in an islands housing fund to support the building of new affordable housing in island communities. 

“The recent substantial investments in a Rural Tourism Infrastructure fund, and in the food and drink industry are further evidence of the huge benefits the SNP Scottish Government brings. 

“On Thursday December 12th a vote for the SNP will strengthen the voice of Scotland’s island communities.”