Wednesday, 31 December 2008

HOMECOMING SCOTLAND 2009 OFFERS HOLIDAY DEALS

HOMECOMING SCOTLAND 2009 OFFERS HOLIDAY DEALS.



LABOUR RUIN YOUR HOLIDAY PLANS.


SNP Westminster Tourism spokesperson, Angus MacNeil MP, has accused the Labour Government of ruining people's holidays, as well as the economy, arguing that the frail pound, fuel surcharges, soaring inflation and rising unemployment had left families less able to afford a family break in 2009.

Mr MacNeil said:

"As people feel the pinch of the Downing Street downturn, luxuries like holidays abroad are bound to be cut back.

"The struggling housing market is weighing on consumer confidence, the pound has been pummelled by the UK's faltering economy.

"Combined with inflationary pressure on everyday costs at home, and uncertainty about people's jobs, holidaymakers are completely scunnered with Labour."

However, Mr MacNeil said there was light at the end of the tunnel, and encouraged people to 'holiday at home' and join the celebration of Scotland's Homecoming 2009.

Mr MacNeil added:

"Taking a break at home in Scotland is the perfect antidote to the frail pound, and a great opportunity to get involved in the Homecoming celebrations.

"2009 will be a fantastic year to invite people from around the world, with either a family link or affinity for Scotland, to come home.

"I would urge everyone in Scotland to play their part in what will be the biggest ever celebration of Scotland's achievements and culture, and our ties of family and friendship around the world."


More information on the Homecoming Scotland 2009 Blog.

SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY SNP MEMBERSHIP UP 60% IN FIVE YEARS.

SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY SNP MEMBERSHIP UP 60% IN FIVE YEARS.

SNP MEMBERSHIP UP 60% IN FIVE YEARS.

The SNP's end of year membership figures show the party has increased its number of members by 60% in the last five years.

Membership of the Scottish National Party has increased dramatically with a 20% increase since the SNP's historic election win in 2007 and a 60% increase over the last five years.

At 31 December 2007 the SNP had 15,097 members (13,944 at 31 December 2006 and 9,450 in 2003).

SNP Business Convener and Westminster leader Mr Robertson commented:

"In 2008 we have built on our historic success in the Scottish Parliament elections with a year of good government and a spectacular victory for John Mason MP in Glasgow East.

"The continued growth of the SNP's membership shows the success and popularity of the SNP in Government. Over the last five years our membership has increased by 60%.

"It is only the SNP in Scotland that is winning new members and winning public support as we deliver real improvements for Scotland such as abolishing the graduate endowment, freezing council tax, cutting prescription charges and investing in our schools, colleges and universities.

"Our task now is to continue to grow the Party as we carry forward the momentum of our election success to the upcoming European and Westminster elections.

"In 2009 SNP ministers will continue to govern with competence, build consensus and offer our nation a vision of growing and achievable success as we introduce world leading climate change legislation and take key steps toward scrapping the unfair council tax."

To join the Scottish National Party.
http://www.snp.org/join

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

PROMOTING SCOTTISH PRODUCE IN SUPERMARKETS, SHOPS, MALLS AND RETAIL OUTLETS.

PROMOTING SCOTTISH PRODUCE IN SUPERMARKETS, SHOPS, MALLS AND RETAIL OUTLETS.


SALTIRE COULD SIGNIFY BONUS POINTS FOR SCOTTISH SHOPPERS.



SNP MSP for South of Scotland, Aileen Campbell, has written to the Rural Affairs Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead suggesting that leading supermarkets could encourage shoppers to buy Scottish produce by using a 'bonus points' system similar to the one already operated successfully by retailers in Ireland promoting local products. Shoppers in Irish supermarkets are alerted to local produce by shamrock symbols on supermarket shelves, which then also appear on till receipts. These products can often earn bonus points through supermarket loyalty schemes. Aileen Campbell's suggestion is that Scottish produce could be similarly 'flagged up' on till receipts with a small Saltire, which could also earn bonus points where loyalty scheme exist. She has now written to Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, to ask him to raise the idea with Scotland's major retailers. The Scottish Government has already established working relations with the major supermarkets to promote environmentally friendly practices such as reducing carrier bag use. Commenting Aileen said: "Earning bonus points for buying local could be an excellent way to boost Scotland's economy and cut down on unnecessary food-miles this winter. "There are already a number of labelling initiatives run by the supermarkets and producer groups, and introducing a further incentive to buy local could be a shot in the arm for Scotland's farmers. "Just like the shamrock in Ireland, a Saltire on the shelves and then on the till receipt would help to emphasise how easy and important it is to buy decent local produce, and reward shoppers in the process. "I have written to the Cabinet Secretary asking him to look at the idea in more detail, and hopefully discuss it at his next meeting with the major supermarkets. "We need to make full use Scotland's magnificent larder if we are to promote healthy eating, reduce pollution from transporting food, and boost the economy during the current downturn.

"A simple scheme like this could make all the difference."

For more information on Aileen Campbell please visit here website at www.aileencampbell.com

Monday, 29 December 2008

SNP TOP WESTMINSTER POLL OF POLLS FOR FIRST TIME IN 2008.

SNP TOP WESTMINSTER POLL OF POLLS FOR FIRST TIME IN 2008.



2008 SWING TO SNP INCREASES FROM 2007 HIGH POINT.

'CLEAR INDICATION THAT SCOTTISH POLITICS HAS CHANGED'.


An analysis of opinion polls in Scotland for 2008 shows the SNP leading across the year with the party ahead of Labour for Westminster for the first time in its history.


According to a poll of polls for Westminster in 2008 – combining Scotland only polls and the breakdowns for UK polls - the SNP is on an average 33.5% to 32.5% for Labour.


This equals a swing of 11% to the SNP from Labour since the 2005 election. In total the number of people sampled is an impressive 18,632.



In comparison an analysis of similar Westminster polls and polling breakdowns for 2007 – the year the SNP ended Labour's 50 year dominance in Scotland –shows that Labour's average was still ahead of the SNP by over 4%.



Averages for System 3 Westminster polls in Scotland between 1974 and 2003 also show that the SNP never overtook Labour in that period.



Commenting on the analysis the Depute Leader of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, said:



"This analysis is great news for the SNP and clearly indicates that Scottish politics has changed for good. It shows the historic sea change in Scottish politics with the SNP, for the first time in its history, overtaking Labour in polling averages for Westminster.



"That we have overtaken Labour in Westminster polling from our high point in 2007 is immensely significant for the SNP. The swing from Labour has increased in 2008 reflecting our success in by-elections.


"It shows that the advantage is with the SNP and we are on track to seriously challenge Labour in a two horse race for the Westminster elections.


It reflects how the SNP in Government is delivering for the people of Scotland.



"In Government in Scotland it is the SNP which is doing everything it can within its power to deliver a six-point plan to help families and business in these troubled economic times."



We've put more money back in people's pockets with a council tax freeze and lowering prescription charges; and we've put more money back into high street businesses with our small business bonus.



"Labour's age of irresponsibility is over and it is the SNP which is offering the people of Scotland a better future with an age of responsibility. The choice is clearly between the SNP offering a positive vision of responsibility compared to a Labour party obsessed with negativity and irresponsibility."

SCOTTISH CARE AGENCIES MUST DECLARE FINANCIAL POSITIONS.


SCOTTISH CARE AGENCIES MUST DECLARE FINANCIAL POSITIONS.




CARE AGENCIES MUST FACE UP TO FINANCES.


Care agencies should be compelled to provide accurate statements on their financial position.

The call for accurate financial information to be provided to Local Authorities or the Care Commission by agencies or private companies providing care services follows a case in Falkirk of a care agency entering administration and withdrawing services without notifying the Commission or the local authority.

Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson is calling for new regulations to ensure that care agencies give early notice of any financial difficulties, rather than leaving it to the point when the shutters are pulled down and vulnerable individuals are left without care.

Mr Matheson has welcomed correspondence from the Care Commission confirming that there is no early warning provision and stating that they are discussing the finances of care providers with COSLA. In a letter to Mr Matheson the Chief Executive of the Care Commission Jacquie Roberts states;

"There are at present no specific provisions which would require a company providing care services to give the Care Commission early notice of financial problems they may be facing"

The Commission continues..

"The Care Commission has been in discussion with COSLA to ensure early discussions between the Care Commission and the Commissioners should a service be in financial difficulty."

SNP MSP Michael Matheson said;

"If a care agency faces financial difficulties it is vulnerable people that are at risk when the shutters come down.

"When People First Care Agency closed and withdrew services it was the local enterprise company, not the agency, which told the local authority.

"Local authorities will always try to fill that breach and Falkirk coped admirably but it is vital that care providers are obliged to keep local authorities and the Care Commission informed of their financial position.

"There should be regulations ordering care agencies to provide the Care Commission and Local Authorities with early warning of any financial difficulties.

"Had this been in place at the time people first when bust, better planning could have been put in place to manage the care arrangements for the many vulnerable people who where dependent on the company.

"It cannot be right that if a private provider goes bust the local enterprise company finds out but not the local authority that will need to provide the services and ensure no one is left without care.

"I welcome the Care Commission and COSLA's recognition that this problem must be tackled. The Care Commission does what it can to ensure agencies start with a sound financial basis, what is needed is a means to ensure they maintain that financial position."

SNP COMMENT ON UK JOB LOSS REPORT.


SNP COMMENT ON UK JOB LOSS REPORT.



SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT AHEAD OF UK GOVERNMENT

Commenting on jobs forecast report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development which warns that 600,000 jobs could go in the UK in 2009, the SNP's Westminster Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie said:

"The Westminster Government must use their greater economic powers to deliver, and it is clear that the Pre-Budget Report was a major missed opportunity to get to grips with the situation.

"This has been demonstrated by the analysis showing that investment in capital projects would have delivered more than double the impact in terms of jobs and output than a temporary cut in VAT.

"The SNP Government is already ahead of anything the UK government is doing in accelerating £100 million investment in affordable housing, and it is bringing forward £260 million of capital spending over this year and next, supporting 4,000 Scottish jobs and complementing our already substantial capital investment programme.

"Scotland continues to have significantly lower unemployment, and higher employment and economic activity rates than the UK as a whole, and within its responsibilities the SNP Government is doing all it can to help business and families. But the economic downturn will bite hard in 2009, and these measures will be more important than ever.

"The full implementation of the SNP Government's small business bonus scheme will also see business rates slashed or completely abolished for our smallest firms, and we are providing another £70 million extra to fund a further freeze of the Council Tax – keeping more money in people's pockets and local economies.

"And we have the enormous opportunity of Homecoming 2009 to turn a potential tourism downturn into a visitor boom.

"These decisive measures have put us ahead of the curve in tackling the economic slowdown."

SNP INCREASING POLLS LEAD OVER LABOUR PARTY.

HOLYROOD POLL OF POLLS SHOW SNP INCREASING POLLS LEAD OVER LABOUR PARTY.


SNP GOVERNMENT DELIVERING POPULAR POLICIES FOR PEOPLE OF SCOTLAND.


An analysis of Holyrood opinion polls in Scotland for 2008 shows the SNP leading across the year with the party ahead of Labour and increasing its lead.


According to a poll of polls for Holyrood in 2008 the combined average for the constituency vote shows the SNP leading on 40% - an increase of 7% from the 2007 elections – to 31% for Labour.


For the regional vote the SNP leads on 35% to Labour's 28%.

Commenting on the Holyrood analysis the Depute Leader of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, said:


"These figures are great news for the SNP as we finish a second year into Government. They show people trust the SNP at levels never seen before in Scottish political history.


They underline why the SNP Government has brought a sea change in Scottish politics and a breath of fresh air from the staleness of decades of Labour.

"Scottish politics has changed for good with the SNP Government.


We are focussing on the issues that matter to people and delivering on them.


"The SNP has increased its support because in Government it is delivering a range of SNP policies like freezing the Council Tax, cutting business rates, restoring free education in our universities and beginning the abolition of prescription charges."


Voters like what the SNP are delivering and have serious doubts about London Labour's plans – particularly their threat of a massive £1 billion cut in Scotland's budget.


"And it will be SNP success in next year's European elections – and in the General Election to come – that will stop Labour's planned £1 billion cuts to Scotland's budget in their tracks."

SNP MP CONVEYS PUBLIC CONCERN OVER GAZA ATTACKS.


SNP MP CONVEYS PUBLIC CONCERN OVER GAZA
ATTACKS.

ROBERTSON WRITES TO ISRAELI AMBASSADOR.

Westminster SNP Leader and Foreign Affairs spokesman Angus Robertson has written to the Israeli embassy in London passing on the concerns of constituents and joining the international calls for an end to the Israeli offensive in Gaza.


The major escalation of violence in the Gaza strip has led to a significant public reaction in Scotland and Mr Robertson says that he and other parliamentarians have been receiving a large volume of emails and letters condemning the violence.


In his letter to Ambassador Ron Prosor, Westminster SNP leader Angus Robertson said:

"The SNP supports a two state solution which includes the right of Israel to exist in security and we condemn the rocketing of Israel from within Gaza. "

However, Israel's approach to the situation in Gaza appears to be a collective punishment of all who live there and is unacceptable.


"The violence in Gaza and Israel has led to significant international concern from many people throughout Scotland.
"

I and other parliamentarians have received messages from constituents who believe that the Israeli military operations are disproportionate and have caused many civilian casualties.


"These concerns have been raised throughout the international community, and I hope that Israel will move to de-escalate this terrible situation."

PETER MANDELSON'S ROYAL MAIL GUARANTEE.

PETER MANDELSON'S ROYAL MAIL GUARANTEE.

PETER MANDELSON'S ROYAL MAIL GUARANTEE COMPLETELY WORTHLESS.



Mike Weir MP, SNP Postal Affairs Spokesperson, has condemned the reported guarantee being offered by Lord Mandelson to Labour MPs opposing part privatisation of Royal Mail as "completely worthless".

It has been reported that the Business Secretary has sough to buy off potential rebels by offering to insert into the legislation a guarantee that only 33% of Royal Mail will be privatised.

Commenting Mr Weir said

"The maintenance of a comprehensive mail delivery service is essential for Scotland and that could best be achieved by keeping the company in public ownership. We have already seen the chaos that has overtaken the Post Office network by the rush to "liberalisation".

"A similar situation could devastate mail delivery services. The report recommending part privatisation also suggests that local sorting centres could be closed.

"This so called guarantee is completely worthless and could be removed by a vote in Parliament at any time in the future.

"The present Labour government, the Tories and LibDems all favour a part privatisation of Royal Mail. This is the slippery slope that will inevitably lead to greater private involvement in the company and endanger the universal service obligation.

"Royal Mail is a vital public service and the maintenance of the universal service obligation is essential for communities and small businesses throughout Scotland. Many small businesses rely on Royal Mail and any threat to it could be disastrous at a time of recession when it is essential to support small local businesses.

"It is clear that Royal Mail requires investment, but that should be public investment for the future and to ensure a universal service."

UK INTEREST RATE CUT EXPOSES RIP-OFF LENDERS.

UK INTEREST RATE CUT EXPOSES RIP-OFF LENDERS.



MSP CALL FOR INTEREST RATE CAP.

Dave Thompson SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands and a member of the Scottish Parliament's Economy Committee has today called for the Treasury to introduce a cap on interest rates for lenders.

With interest rates now cut to 2% Mr Thompson has identified irresponsible lending practices, including extortionate interest rates as a potential problem as families face recession and as a real burden on consumers.

The UK Government has called on credit card companies to provide more information to consumers but has failed to control rip-off lending rates.

Mr Thompson recently met with Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, alongside Citizens Advice Scotland and Money Advice Scotland. Mr Thompson is asking the Justice Secretary to raise the issue with the Treasury.

Mr Thompson commented:

"Extortionate interest rates are crippling individuals, families and communities across Scotland.

"Many people struggle for money at Christmas and are tempted not just by doorstep lenders but by offers of store cards at initially attractive rates. Even in the current economic climate store cards are still offered on a regular basis.

"With actual interest rates now down to 2%, the idea of door step lending rates at 164% and store card and credit card rates of 30% is outrageous.

"The whole of the UK has a severe problem with high levels of debt – and reports suggest Scotland is particularly badly affected. This is a prime opportunity for the UK Government to intervene, cap the rates and reduce the risk to families.

"The UK stands alone in Europe as refusing to limit interest rates. Our continental neighbours have interest rate ceilings that stop unscrupulous lenders taking advantage of society's most vulnerable people – it is time for Scotland to join them.

"The meeting with the Cabinet Secretary was very constructive and I hope we will be able to convince the Treasury to take action and protect people from unscrupulous and extortionate lending."

Sunday, 28 December 2008

SCOTTISH PILGRIM WAY WALK OFFERS TOURISM BOOST.

SCOTTISH PILGRIM WAY WALK OFFERS TOURISM BOOST.


CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED FOR NEW PUBLIC WALK WAY.

A leading MSP has revealed Scotland could make millions from religious and walking tourists with a new path linking Iona to St Andrews.

Roseanna Cunningham says the route would include wonderful scenery on
Iona and Mull and east through Argyll, Stirlingshire, Perthshire and Fife and she is seeking support from the Scottish Government and local councils to get the route ready during for the Year of Homecoming celebrations and give a tourism boost to many small communities.

Roseanna Cunningham has set up a campaign for a "Pilgrim Way" between
Iona and St Andrews. The Pilgrim Way, which has received the backing of leading Scottish mountaineer and broadcaster Cameron McNeish, would add to Scotland's internationally renowned West Highland and Southern Upland Ways. Ms Cunningham said:

"Walking is an increasingly popular holiday past time and the more opportunities we have to encourage people to come and take their walking holiday in Scotland or to holiday at home the better. "

The Pilgrim Way would offer all walkers a fantastic route across
Scotland. The campaign is gathering momentum, and I am delighted that it has received the backing of one of Scotland's leading mountaineers and broadcasters Cameron McNeish. "St Andrews was a massive medieval pilgrimage centre and everyone in Scotland knows the iconic significance of Iona.

I think it would be
an excellent idea to link the two locations with a new addition to Scotland's public footpaths. "Going from the historically significant islands of Iona and Mull down through Highland Stirlingshire and into Perthshire following the routes St Columba's monks would have followed as they fanned out across Scotland through some of our best countryside would be a huge attraction for walkers.

"Linking historical events and sights through some of the best of Scotland, a Pilgrim Way would have absolutely everything you could possibly want. "Having walked the Great Glen way it became clear that small villages and B & Bs benefited significantly from being on the route. "The Pilgrim Way offers an excellent opportunity to support business, build tourism and promote Scotland's wonderful countryside. "I'm very hopeful that we'll get a properly supported way marked that goes from Iona to St Andrews."

BISHOPS ATTACK ON BROWN REFLECTS PUBLIC WORRY.

BISHOPS ATTACK ON BROWN REFLECTS PUBLIC WORRY.


Commenting on the attack by five leading bishops on Gordon Brown's
government, questioning the morality of Labour policies, SNP Work and
Pensions spokesperson John Mason MP said the comments reflected wider
public concerns about Labour.

Mr Mason said:

"The bishops are right to speak out, and their withering attack
reflects wider concerns about Labour policies and how they are
creating a more unequal society.

"A government that would rather spend billions on a new generation of
Trident weapons of mass destruction instead of working to eradicate
poverty is one that has lost its moral compass."

Friday, 26 December 2008

LONDON 1912 PRECEDENT FOR SCOTLAND OLYMPIC FOOTBALL TEAM.

LONDON 1912 PRECEDENT FOR SCOTLAND OLYMPIC FOOTBALL TEAM.





LONDON 1912 PRECEDENT FOR SCOTLAND OLYMPIC FOOTBALL TEAM.

HOME TEAMS SHOULD GO BACK TO THE FUTURE.

The SNP today (Sunday) revealed research showing the London Olympics
set a precedent for all four home nation football teams to take part
in the Olympic Games.

SNP Olympics spokesman Pete Wishart MP called for the precedent, set
during preparations for the London 1908 games when football became an
official Olympic sport to be revisited and revived for 2012 to allow
all home nation teams to participate.

The research shows Scotland was invited to take part in the 1908
games, along with Wales and Ireland. Special clauses in the games
rules continued into 1912 to allow countries to submit four teams -
specifically to allow Scotland, Wales, Ireland and England to all
enter football teams.

The 1912 rules state "Each National Football Association belonging to
a nation recognized as such by the International Olympic Committee and
affiliated to the International Football Federation (Federation
Internationale de Football Association) is entitled to send four
teams."

The research also shows a team competing as "GB - Scotland" won bronze
in the 1908 Olympic hockey tournament and Scotland came fourth in the
cycling in 1912.

Pete Wishart MP said;

"In 1908 the unique position of the home nations was recognised by the
London Olympics and all four countries were invited to send a football
team.

"That position should be recognised in 2012 with a revival of the
practice for the London Games.

"If we are looking for a solution for London 2012, then let it be this
one, and let's see the Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and English
teams playing football with the rest of the world at London 2012.

"In 1908 the SFA could not afford to send a team! If the London
Olympics make the offer for 2012 I think we can safely say Scotland
would be there.

"Scotland has competed as a separate team in hockey and in cycling -
winning a medal at hockey in 1908. And our track record in cycling
at the Olympics goes back to 1912 with the Scottish team coming fourth
in Stockholm.

"Instead of trying to forge a GB football team that simply does not
exist the London Olympics offers an opportunity to revive previous
practice at a London Games, to preserve and promote Scotland's
national team and to allow all four home nation teams to compete."

NHS BOARDS LEAD WAY IN HELPING SCOTTISH FARMERS.

NHS BOARDS LEAD WAY IN HELPING SCOTTISH FARMERS.

GOOD FOR THE SCOTTISH ECONOMY AND GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT.

Publishing a report into the approach of NHS Boards to the procurement
of locally sourced meat Dr Bill Wilson MSP – a member of the Scottish Parliament's Rural & Environment Committee - said there were very encouraging signs that NHS Boards were sourcing meat for hospital meals from Scottish Farm Assured produce.

Dr Wilson congratulated Tayside NHS Board in particular for making
great efforts in sourcing meat from Scottish Farm Assured produce as it would not only help local livestock farmers but play a part in helping the environment as locally sourced produce has a much smaller carbon foot print.

Earlier this year Dr Wilson wrote to all of Scotland's NHS Trusts to
ask them to what extent they were implementing Quality Meat Scotland's (QMS) procurement recommendations.

The document produced by the West
of Scotland MSP revealed how stipulations with regard to quality, welfare and environmental impact could lead public bodies to purchase more Scottish Farm Assured produce.

Summarising the major findings, Dr Wilson said: "The picture of NHS Boards procuring meat from locally produced sources is encouraging. In such uncertain economic times it is a very encouraging sign that our NHS Boards are playing a part in helping Scottish livestock producers and those involved in the meat trade.

"Although European directives prohibit public procurement from
explicitly considering the country of origin, because Scottish farmers produce quality products with high welfare standards and low environmental impact it is entirely possible to honour that directive and support local producers. "

In particular NHS Tayside deserves particular praise for its
ambitious approach. Not only does it intend looking at carbon-reduction in the supply chain and whole-life costing models but it is also helping as an example to other public bodies about responsible procurement.

"I very much hope that the other NHS Boards — and other public bodies throughout Scotland — can learn from NHS Tayside's experience. "

One area where there appears to be scope for improvement is in the
NHS Trusts' sourcing of pork products. Scotland's pigs enjoy higher welfare standards than many overseas, so if welfare were a major consideration — as I believe it should be — then Scottish farmers would be justly rewarded for the care they take of their animals.

"QMS deserves considerable praise for its extensive work to promote Scottish produce for all the best reasons. I am delighted, though not surprised, that they were recently honoured at the Government Opportunities magazine's Excellence in Public Procurement Awards Scotland. Well done!"

QMS Chairman Donald Biggar said:
"We began working five years ago to help public bodies with their red meat sourcing and I'm pleased to say we've made significant progress.

All 32 of Scotland's local authorities are now putting sustainability
at the heart of their supply policies and that's excellent news for the people who rely on them for quality, nutritious food.

"It's also good news for the 20,000 red meat businesses in Scotland. The meat bill for Scotland's public sector stands at £6 million a year and we would like to see more of our companies getting the chance to compete for the business. "

As well as being able to supply excellent tasting beef, lamb and pork
they can be satisfied that all the meat comes with assurances on production standards all the way from the field to the fork."

UK GOVERNMENT RECORD ON PERSONAL DATA LOSS.

UK GOVERNMENT RECORD ON PERSONAL DATA LOSS.


LABOUR'S 'DIABOLICAL' DATA LOSS RECORD.

25 RECORDS LOST EVERY MINUTE OF 2008.

SNP Home Affairs spokesperson, Pete Wishart MP, has today (Saturday)
hit out at the UK Government's appalling data loss record – highlighting the loss of more than 13 million records in 2008 – equivalent to 25 records every minute of the year.

A survey of data loss reveals nine major breaches including the loss of a data stick with access codes to a system containing the details of over 12 million people which was found in a pub car park.

On this
occasion, the Department of Work and Pensions Gateway Portal was shut down for an extended period. Mr Wishart said:

"These diabolical figures reveal a shockingly cavalier approach to data security by the Labour Government. "

Despite promises of tightened security and high level reviews in
light of the loss of the personal details of 35 million child benefit claimants the previous year, there have been nine serious security breaches in 2008."

The Prime Minister himself admitted just last month that the UK
Government is unable to guarantee data security.

Labour's abysmal record on data security is reason enough to abandon ID cards but it is even more absurd pushing ahead with this costly project given the dire state of the UK Government's finances.

Instead of slashing the Scottish budget by £1bn, Labour Ministers
should cut their plans for ID cards which are both expensive and intrusive and, judging by the UK Government's track record, a data disaster waiting to happen.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

TIME TO OFFER INDEPENDENT AMBULANCE GUARANTEES.

TIME TO OFFER INDEPENDENT AMBULANCE GUARANTEES.




SNP MSP Sandra White has welcomed indications from the Scottish Government that it is considering the regulation of independent ambulances.


Independent or Private Ambulances are used to provide services such as patient transport and ambulance cover at major events and festivals.


A consultation by the previous Scottish Executive in 2006 received unanimous calls for private ambulances to be regulated by the Care Commission but no action was taken.


Following a letter from Ms White the Minister for Public Health Shona Robison has said the Government will look at regulating private ambulances as part of a wider review of regulation in Scotland.


Commenting on the previous consultation Ms Robison said;


"The unanimous view of the respondees was that independent ambulances should be regulated by the Care Commission.


"The Scottish Government Legal Department have advised that any regulation by the Care Commission would require primary legislation. The Scottish Government is considering a range of options following the proposals made in the Crerar Review and the regulation of independent ambulances will be looked at alongside other legislative amendments emerging from the review."


Ms White, MSP for Glasgow said;


"Independent ambulances offer a valuable service but it is important that they and those working in them are subject to the same regulation as other care services.


"Independent Ambulances should be added to the list of care services regulated by the Care Commission.


"After the previous administration failed to take the necessary action I am pleased to hear the Scottish Government is now considering bringing independent ambulances under the Care Commission's watchful eye.


"Those working in private ambulances must be trained for all eventualities and public must be able to have confidence in the staff and services.


"Whether providing cover at big events such as music festivals or offering patients transport to and from hospital the highest standards must apply.


"At present independent services are regulated by their contracts with individual NHS boards or the organisations contracting them. That is not sufficient for such a valuable service used largely by people in a vulnerable position.


"Encouragingly those operating independent ambulances want the industry regulated to prevent patients being put at risk from unscrupulous operators.


"I welcome the Scottish Government's intention to look at regulation and hope we will see private ambulances covered by the Care Commission in the near future."

RAF LOSSIEMOUTH UK'S FIRST COMMERCIAL SPACE FLIGHT ENTERPRISE.

RAF LOSSIEMOUTH UK'S FIRST COMMERCIAL SPACE FLIGHT ENTERPRISE.


ROBERTSON SEEKS SCOTTISH SPACE RACE MEETING.

"ICONIC AND INSPIRATIONAL SCOTTISH OPPORTUNITY."

SNP Westminster leader and Moray MP, Angus Robertson, is set to meet with UK Science and Innovation Minister, Lord Drayson, over groundbreaking proposals for commercial spaceflight from Scotland.

Virgin Galactic have identified RAF Lossiemouth, in Mr Robertson's Moray constituency, as a potential base for the UK's first commercial spaceflight enterprise, and the SNP MP is working to bring together the local community, government and enterprises agencies behind the proposals.


Mr Robertson said:


"The prospect of spaceflight from Scotland is a serious and exciting one."

Virgin Galactic's proposals are an iconic and inspirational opportunity, which would bring technology investment, jobs and tourism, as well as science and educational opportunities.


"I am keen to meet with the Science and Innovation Minister, Lord Drayson, and discuss in detail how this cutting edge project can be taken forward."


"It is crucial for the UK government to address the legal framework for commercial space flight. When this is in place, we can look forward to an excellent opportunity of hosting this cutting edge technology.


"Other countries are keen to be at the front of the queue and I would like to see Moray remain the front-runner. "

It would be a mistake to underestimate the tremendous potential of these flights which will probably also launch satellites into orbit as well as offering tourist flights into near earth orbit."

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND'S CHIEF ECONOMIST WARNS UK.


INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND'S CHIEF ECONOMIST WARNS UK.

IMF ADVOCATE INCREASED CAPITAL SPEND.



"ONLY BROWN BLUNDERS ON OBLIVIOUS"



INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND'S CHIEF ECONOMIST WARNS UK.

SNP Treasury Spokesman, Stewart Hosie MP, has highlighted comments made by the International Monetary Fund's chief economist Olivier Blanchard who has warned that increased spending on economic stimulus may be necessary to combat the recession.



Speaking in Le Monde today (Tuesday), Mr Blanchard also said that Gordon Brown's decision to cut value-added tax by 2.5% would not influence consumers' behaviour significantly.



Mr Hosie said:



"Research published by the Scottish Government has revealed that the 2.5% VAT cut will cost £1bn in Scotland and support 7200 jobs while a capital investment programme of the same value has the potential to support 14 900 jobs.



"And the increased economic output impact is much more than double - an extra £1.5 billion, compared to £686 million.



"It is time the Prime Minister stopped claiming to be the world's saviour, heed the IMF's advice and put the Scottish economy centre stage.



"For a start he should release the £1bn of Scottish resources being withheld by the Treasury, and rule out the £1bn cuts Labour plans to the Scottish Budget.



"Increased spend on capital projects is the best way forward. Mr Blanchard knows it, the Scottish Government has highlighted it and other European leaders have recognised it. Only Mr Brown blunders on oblivious."

ROYAL MAIL POSTAGE STAMP INCREASE BUSINESS WORRIES.

ROYAL MAIL POSTAGE STAMP INCREASE BUSINESS WORRIES.



ROYAL MAIL POSTAGE STAMP INCREASE BUSINESS CONCERN.SNP MP COMMENTS ON POSTAGE STAMP INCREASE.

YET ANOTHER BURDEN ON SCOTLAND'S SMALL BUSINESS.

Mike Weir MP, SNP Westminster Business and Enterprise spokesperson has expressed concern following the announcement that the cost of a postage stamp is to rise by 3p from April 2009. A first class stamp will now cost 39p with a second class stamp at 30p.

Commenting, Mr Weir said:

"This is yet another blow to Scotland's small businesses which will be felt as the recession really starts to bite.

"These are substantial increases which will hit those who rely on the Royal Mail - individuals and small businesses - very hard indeed.

"Those who do not have access to alternative carriers or bulk mailing arrangements will suffer as a direct result of this increase.

"Royal Mail should have been fighting for all the custom it can get, not driving folk away with eye-watering price hikes.

"I wonder if this is the first sour taste of the fruits of Lord Mandelson's labour at Royal Mail."

Monday, 22 December 2008

SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY APPEAL OVER FAREPAK MONEY SCANDAL.

SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY APPEAL OVER FAREPAK MONEY SCANDAL.

TIME FOR A FAIR DEAL FOR FAREPAK FAMILIES.

SNP Work and Pensions spokesman, John Mason MP, has issued an eve of Christmas appeal calling for the UK Government to bring forward compensation for Farepak families, who are still waiting for reparation two years after the collapse.

Comparing the UK Government’s response to bailing out the banks with Farepak, Mr Mason has written to Gareth Thomas, Minister of State for Trade, Investment and Consumer Affairs, asking why 20,000 Scottish customers, who lost their Christmas savings in 2006 are still out of pocket.

Mr Mason said:

“The UK Government bent-over-backwards to bail out the banks including those who shut the doors on Farepak, but have not found a single penny for the Farepak families.

”It is two years since Farepak collapsed, but that nightmare of Christmas past has left many low-income families still struggling to find their feet.

“We’ve been assured by the liquidators that savers would receive at least 5p back for every pound they lost. We’ve had promises from the Leader of the House, Harriet Harman that answers would be offered in a forthcoming Government report. We’ve been assured by the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs that this report was still forthcoming. None of these things have been delivered.

“It is simply disgraceful that, two years after the Farepak collapse, customers are still waiting for their money back.

“The UK Government needs to bring forward compensation for these families, particularly given that it was its failure to secure adequate consumer protection through regulation that allowed the Farepak Christmas crisis to happen.

”UK Ministers should step in without further delay to secure compensation for those who lost out so badly.”