The introduction of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) in 1999 was a great achievement of the last Labour Government.
This policy ended the exploitation of millions of Britain’s workers and increased productivity without job losses. But the challenge we faced 15 years ago is different to the one we face today and the one we will face in the coming years.
That’s why Ed Miliband has today announced Labour’s plan to raise the NMW to £8 an hour by 2020.
One in five British workers find themselves struggling on low pay, often relying on benefits or tax credits to top up their wage so they can simply afford the essentials, even though they often work long, hard hours. This can’t be right. If you work hard you should be able to bring up your family with dignity without relying on the taxpayer to make up the difference.
But under David Cameron and George Osborne often people are not getting the rewards because the Government’s recovery is only benefiting a privileged few.
So the next Labour government, working with businesses and the Low Pay Commission, will raise the NMW to £8 by 2020, a move that will put an extra £3,000 a year in the pockets of Britain’s lowest paid workers.
This is an important move that will end the scandal of five million Brits struggling to make ends meet because they are on low pay. But Labour understands that businesses need time to adjust their models to support higher wages. That’s why we will raise the NMW over the five years of the next Parliament so businesses will have enough time to plan for the long-term goal of £8 an hour by 2020.
The Tories are boasting that the economy is fixed but we’ve seen a recovery that is working just for the few. Labour’s plan for Britain’s future will ensure we become a country that rewards hard work again. That begins by guaranteeing that everyone in Britain should be able to live on the wage they earn.
There is no more important decision a country can take than to commit our armed forces to military action and I can assure you this is not a decision that I, or any Member of Parliament, take lightly.
I know that the appalling brutality of ISIL – including taking British aid workers hostage and their campaign of atrocities against people of all religions and nationalities – will have shocked many people in our constituency and across Britain.
As you know, the House of Commons was recalled on Friday 26th September to consider whether the UK should agree to the request by the Iraqi Government to join the coalition of countries – including those in the region – that are taking part in air strikes against ISIL in Iraq. After carefully considering both sides of the argument, I decided to vote against the Government’s proposal for our air force to join air strikes in Iraq against ISIL.
I believe we must focus on wider political and diplomatic strategy in the region – in particular providing ongoing support for an inclusive and democratic Iraqi Government that can combat ISIL and restore stability and security.
A recent survey found that almost three-quarters of people living with a disability in Scotland feel that their voice has not been heard in the referendum debate so far.
Fears about the ongoing reform of the welfare system, their ability to live independently, and the social care support on offer were the most pressing concerns given by those questioned in the survey.
Therefore, Disability Agenda Scotland (DAS) – a consortium of Scotland’s leading disability charities that cover everything from sensory loss to physical disability, learning disability and mental health organised a hustings to consider the question: What does a yes or no vote mean for disabled people in Scotland?
Anne appeared on the panel on behalf of Better Together. In delivering the opening statement, she spoke of the need to achieve social justice and civil rights for disabled people across the UK.
She highlighted that the Tory/Lib Dem welfare reforms have disproportionately affected disabled people but she said that a change of policy would improve the lives of people living with a disability rather than a change of the constitution. She also pointed out that welfare is currently distributed based on need rather than a postcode lottery and, therefore, being part of the UK has benefited Scotland as it has allowed resources to be pooled and shared leading to higher public spending in Scotland.
Anne also spoke of the achievements in civil rights for disabled people that have taken place over the last thirty years by people like Alf Morris and Bert Massie who fought for the rights of disabled people across the UK. And, while people with disabilities have difficulties getting their voice heard, she highlighted that it doesn’t matter whether they are trying to lobby Westminster or Holyrood. To make a real difference, there have to be changes to policies and politics to engage with disabled people rather than independence for Scotland.
She finished by saying that a yes vote is a gamble and often when gambling it’s those who have the least that lose out which means that disabled people will lose out. She believes that more will be achieved by standing shoulder to shoulder with disabled people across the UK and that’s why she is voting no.
Guide Dogs organised for the Transport Minister, Baroness Kramer, to receive a card for her birthday with messages from her parliamentary colleagues in support of for audio visual (AV) announcements on buses. Dame Anne’s message to the Minister was:
“Best wishes for your birthday. I hope you have a lovely day.
On your birthday, I wanted to let you know that, having recently joined local Guide Dog users on a blindfolded bus journey, I have witnessed first-hand how disorienting bus travel can be for those with a visual impairment. However, public transport offers a vital lifeline for people with disabilities by allowing them to travel independently and it helps to tackle issues such as social isolation. I do, therefore, hope you will support Guide Dogs campaign and have audio-visual announcements installed on all new buses.”
I joined around four hundred protesters to condemn the recent spiral of violence that has engulfed Gaza, southern Israel and the West Bank, which is continuing to bring untold suffering to innocent people. This spiral of violence that reinforces the insecurity of the Israelis and the humiliation of Palestinians has only lead to further suffering.
The scale of the suffering in Gaza today must be fully and frankly acknowledged. Because the life of a Palestinian child is worth no less than the life of an Israeli child.
The international community must offer immediate support to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza today. But we know that a humanitarian response, while necessary, is not itself sufficient. Ultimately the underlying cause of this latest crisis is the failure over decades to achieve a two state solution for two peoples. So although the urgent priority must be securing a ceasefire, the ultimate goal must be not just an end to the war, but a strategy for building the peace.
That is why I am calling for an end to the terror, the occupation and the seven year blockade.
Dame Anne Begg MP showed her support for a campaign led by the charity Guide Dogs to make travelling by bus easier for people with sight loss.
The MP for Aberdeen South went to a reception at the Houses of Parliament on 2 July in support of Guide Dogs’ campaign to make sure all new buses have audio visual (AV) next stop announcements, which are vital for blind and partially sighted bus travellers.
AV systems are only fitted to around one fifth of the bus fleet nationally, with the overwhelming majority of these buses operating in London.
James White, Guide Dog’s Campaigns Manager, said: “Buses are a lifeline for people who are blind or partially sighted, and we welcome the support of Anne Begg MP for people with sight loss to be able to travel safely and independently.”
Anne launched the new Peterculter Post Office by cutting the ribbon at an opening ceremony.
As part of Post Office plans to modernise the network and extend opening hours for customers, the new Peterculter branch located at 177 North Deeside Road Aberdeen AB14 0UJ offers Post Office® services from two open-plan counters from Monday – Saturday 08:00 – 21:00 & on Sundays 08:00 – 20:00.
Anne said: “I welcomed the news that Peterculter Post Office was to be modernised to create a bright modern open-plan branch and am delighted to have the opportunity to congratulate Mohammed and Shee on their hard work.”
A film nominated by Anne for a national film competition has collected first place.
Anne was delighted to see a group of her constituents from Ferryhill School and other school children from Sunny Bank and Skene Square Primaries won the under 19 award in the Parliament sponsored competition, ‘Film the House’.
Working with the Belmont Cinema and North East Scotland College, the school children aged between 8 and 12 developed a film about ghost bullies. The children wrote and starred in the film, and developed the film as part of the National Youth Festival of 2013.
Anne attended the Scottish Labour street stall on Union Street to speak to local people about why she is supporting a No vote on 18th September. She was joined by Shadow Scotland Secretary Margaret Curran MP and Lewis Macdonald MSP to promote the positive case for the Union.
Speaking after the stall, Margaret Curran said “It is very clear to me that the No vote is gaining ground.”
“I think our message, that people can have the best of both worlds is really working.”