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Inside you'll find information about my work during November 2021.
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Tommy Sheppard MP Newsletter
Right, so the office Christmas tree is up and I’m now desperately trying to decide what to get as my Secret Santa gift.
Whether you’re someone who leaves everything to do with Christmas until the last possible moment, or you’ve been good to go since mid-September, it’s still worth getting out there to show your support for small businesses and have a wander round some of the wonderful local shops we have in Edinburgh East. We have some real hidden gems.
It was great to start November with a non-stop Q&A about COP26 and everything else from S4 students at Leith Academy ([link removed]) . Thanks for keeping me on my toes guys!
It has now been 5 years that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been unlawfully detained in Iran. At the beginning of the month, I went to meet and show my solidarity with her husband Richard Ratcliffe who, at this point, had been on hunger strike outside the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) for 10 days. It was clear that it was already taking its toll on him physically, and yet he continued for 21 days in a desperate plea for action from the Foreign Office to secure the release of his wife. The UK Government must repay money owed to Iran because, as it stands, it is this poor family who are paying the consequences.
It was a pleasure to meet with Ilmarie from End Our Pain ([link removed]) and discuss the problems she faces getting medical cannabis for her son Eddie who suffers from intractable epilepsy. It is shocking that three years after Sajid Javid made it legal, only 3 prescriptions have been issued.
On transparency, like so much else, the government is shifting the goalposts. I wrote a piece for openDemocracy ([link removed]) about my Freedom of Information fight over the secret union polling. This is just one front in a campaign against a government that thinks the rules don't apply to them.
We need reform of drugs laws. I’ve said it before, and I brought it up again in a parliamentary debate at the beginning of the month. I'll keep reminding the UK government until they act. Better yet, they could give Holyrood the powers and just let MSPs go ahead and do it.
In my monthly column in the Edinburgh Evening News ([link removed]) I wrote about COP26 climate change summit. Climate change wasn't caused by the world's poor, but they are the people it is hurting the most.
It's crazy that the UK hosted COP26 and called for all countries to reduce carbon emissions, yet the MPs' pension fund still invests in fossil fuels. I've put my name to this letter calling on the PCPF to stop funding climate disaster #DivestParliament ([link removed])
You can read more about it in this article in The Guardian ([link removed])
At Defence questions on the 15^th November, I asked why the UK Government gave £54m of Afghan rebuilding funds to Adam Smith International? The minister was unable to answer, and I was later told that they can’t disclose that information on security grounds. I guess we’ll just have to take their word for it that the money was spent wisely.
It's was a capacity crowd at the debate in support of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. MPs from all parties are speaking out. But words are not enough. The Prime Minister has to step up and take action. #FreeNazanin ([link removed])
A victory for Joanna Lumley and the Stop Sea Blasts ([link removed]) campaign with the UK Government announcement that they will be seeking alternative ways of disposing of old munitions on the seabed without impacting on marine life. The focus will now shift to ensuring companies comply.
The Tories have taken away the EU structural funds and replaced them with a much smaller fund of their own. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all losing out. Another Brexit broken promise.
Taking part in the Roadmap to Peace in Palestine debate at Westminster Hall, I asked whether the UK Government truly believe in a two-state path to peace in the Middle East? Because there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of it.
(You can watch my full contribution to the debate at [link removed] ([link removed]) .)
Arts and culture support thousands of jobs in Edinburgh and help make this such a great city to live in. I will always support our creative industries. I finally had a chance to meet Capital Theatres ([link removed]) CEO, Fiona Gibson, in person after a year of Zoom, and catch up on the superb programme and exciting plans for redeveloping the King's Theatre.
I dropped by Niddrie Mill Primary to see their Place2Be ([link removed]) service. It's a listening and counselling service that helps the children with anything and everything, be it trauma, family or social problems. The young people I spoke to really value it.
It was an honour to be asked to speak at the Scottish Independence Movement ([link removed]) event on the 27th. Some great pictures of the event here ([link removed]) .
Many of you have written to me with concerns about the UK Government's Health and Care bill. I and my SNP colleagues voted against the bill in its entirety. The Scottish NHS is a public NHS. We are very fortunate that it is governed by the Scottish Parliament, not the UK Parliament. As long as it is the responsibility of the SNP Scottish Government, private companies will be kept out of the management boards of the NHS, and all core services will remain in the public sector. The NHS in Scotland does not buy services, it provides them. This is how I believe health care is best delivered and I hope the MPs who represent constituencies in England will come round to the same approach.
In the parliamentary debate on the conduct of the Boris Johnson, Ian Blackford offered Tory MPs a chance to defend the PM. None of them would, so I got up instead. Independence means breaking free of these charlatans and having a democracy we can be proud of.
In other parliamentary business this month, I backed motions on aviation safety and on Afghan citizens resettlement. I also asked PQs to Foreign Office on Sudan following concerns from constituents about the recent military coup.
The vaccination programme is going extremely well but the pandemic is not yet over. Enjoy the shopping and the Christmas get togethers, but ca canny everyone, and stay safe.
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Tommy Sheppard MP . 94 Portobello High Street . Edinburgh, EH15 1AN . United Kingdom
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