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.”

ENDS

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/

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

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WIDESPREAD SUPPORT FOR SNP MPs ’REFUGEE FAMILY REUNION’ BILL

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.”

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Familiestogether

The bill and explanatory notes can be found at: https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2017-19/refugeesfamilyreunionno2/documents.html

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.”

 

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