MP Criticises Lack of Action Over Child Poverty in Aberdeen

Dame Anne criticises lack of action over child poverty in Aberdeen as recent figures show 18% of children in Aberdeen grow up in poverty.

Aberdeen South MP, Dame Anne Begg, says that only Labour’s plans to tackle the cost of living will help reduce child poverty in Aberdeen.

The release of the child poverty map by the Campaign to End Child Poverty showed that 18 per cent of children in Aberdeen are living in poverty after meeting housing costs. This is on the back of recent news that unemployment in Aberdeen South is 1 per cent.

Commenting on the report Dame Anne said: “Despite unemployment in Aberdeen South sitting at one percent, children are still living in poverty. We have an acute housing shortage, energy bills soaring, and jobs aren’t paying enough.

“We face the biggest housing crisis in a generation and both Tories in Westminster and Nationalists in Holyrood are letting children down.

“The Tories always say work is the best route out of poverty, but we can see in Aberdeen that simply isn’t the case.”

Dame Anne went onto criticise the Scottish Government: “The SNP have failed to use the measures open to them to mitigate the impact of Tory policies like the bedroom tax.  The SNP have refused to use all the Scottish Welfare fund and the fuel poverty budget, at a time when 900,000 households are in fuel poverty.

“Labour has endorsed the comprehensive plan set out by Sir Michael Lyons Housing Review, the first of its kind in a generation, which shows how Labour will meet their commitment of building 200,000 homes a year by 2020 and sets a course for doubling the number of first-time buyers by 2025. Labour will also increase the minimum wage, and freeze energy bills.

“Only Labour has a plan to tackle the cost of living crisis and help lift children out of poverty in Aberdeen.”

MP Votes to Recognise Palestine

Palestine

On 13th October, I voted to recognise Palestine as a state.

Palestinian statehood is not a gift to be given but a right to be recognised and that is why since 2011 I, and my Labour colleagues, have supported Palestinian recognition at the United Nations.

I fully support two states living side by side in peace, and recognised by all of their neighbours and it is clear that the events of recent months only underline the dangers for both Palestinians and Israelis of a resumption of violence and bloodshed.

Labour is clear that this conflict will only be resolved through negotiations. However after decades of diplomatic failure there are those on all sides that today question whether a two-state solution is any longer possible.

That is why Labour believes that, amidst the undoubted despair and the disappointment, the international community must take concrete steps to strengthen moderate Palestinian opinion, encourage the Palestinians to take the path of politics, reject the path of violence, and rekindle hopes that there is a credible route to a viable Palestinian state and a secure Israel achieved by negotiations.

We are clear that Palestinian recognition at the UN would be such a step. That is why Labour called on the then Foreign Secretary, William Hague, in 2011 and in 2012 to commit Britain to supporting the Palestinians’ bid for recognition at the UN, not a means of bypassing the need for talks, but as a bridge for restarting them.

Labour’s consistent support for the principle of recognising Palestinian statehood, as part of continuing steps to achieve a comprehensive negotiated two state solution, is why I voted to support the principle of Palestinian statehood.

This motion does not commit Labour to immediate recognition of Palestine but it does reaffirm Labour’s support for the principle of recognising Palestinian ‎statehood. The timing and the mechanism by which Palestinian statehood would be recognised will continue to be a matter decided by Labour in Government.

You can read the debate in full here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm141013/debtext/141013-0002.htm#14101322000001

International Day of the Girl 

Dame Anne Begg MP is today supporting International Day of the Girl, a UN-led campaign to raise awareness of gender inequalities and abuse suffered by girls around the world and this year’s theme is “Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence”.

The Labour Party has made stopping violence against women and girls a key priority for their programme for Government. Earlier this year, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper MP announced that a Labour Government would bring in new legislation to give better support to victims of violence and bring perpetrators to justice. And in the summer the Party appointed Seema Malhotra MP as the first ever Shadow Minister for Preventing Violence against Women and Girls.

The Labour Party has committed to:

  • Introducing a new Commissioner of Domestic and Sexual Violence to sit at the heart of Government and ensure victims voices are being heard
  • New national standards for policing to drive up performance across the board
  • Introducing compulsory sex & relationship education in all state-funded schools, so young people are taught that no form of violence in relationships is acceptable
  • A new £3million annual fund for refuges supporting victims of domestic violence
  • New FGM Protection Orders to stop children suspected of being at risk of FGM from being taken abroad

Dame Anne said: “I want girls in Aberdeen South growing up knowing they won’t face discrimination because of their gender and never fearing violence will be used against them. That is why it is important that we continue to fight for gender equality and continue speaking out against violence and discrimination – in our local area, but also across the country and internationally too.

“This is an incredibly important cause and that’s why a Labour Government – and a Labour MP in Aberdeen South – will make it a priority.”

Seema Malhotra MP, Shadow Minister for Preventing Violence Against Women and Girls said: “The global level of violence girls in our country is horrific. All too often rape and violence are used as weapons of war and in many countries discrimination against girls is deeply embedded in the national culture. International Day of the Girl is an important moment where we can stand side-by-side with women and girls across the world and say: ‘we will not stand for this. We want change.’

“And we need change in our country too. Teenage girls and young women are now the most likely group to be victims of domestic violence, thousands of girls are at risk of FGM and NUS report a growing number of sexual assaults at university.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to this growing violence. That is why Labour is putting this issue centre stage in our plans for Government.”

You can find out more about the UN International Day of the Girl at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/girl-child

MP Visits Home-Start Aberdeen

Anne visited Home-Start Aberdeen with her colleague Richard Baker MSP on Monday 6th October to mark Home-Start’s manifesto which was launched in Westminster in July.

Home-Start aims to support families under stress offering friendship together with emotional and practical support and the manifesto highlights the issues that Home-Start families are facing.

In Aberdeen, each year around 100 Home-Start volunteers work with approximately 200 families including over 500 children. Home-Start Aberdeen also manages the Recipe for Life project to provide practical assistance to prepare nutritious food and runs a charity chop at 101 George Street.

    Home Start Aberdeen with Anne and Richard2

During the visit, Scheme Manager Georgette Cobban spoke about the variety of families they support across the city and the many reasons why families are referred to them. She also spoke about their recent initiative to recruit 50 volunteers over 50 weeks to allow them to meet the demand for their service.

For more information about Home-Start Aberdeen, go to http://www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk/

The manifesto can be read in full at http://www.home-start.org.uk/about_us/what_we_do/manifesto

Labour Will Help Britain’s Lowest Paid by Raising the Minimum Wage

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.

MP Votes Against Air Strikes in Iraq

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.

To read the House of Common’s debate in full, go to: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140926/debtext/140926-0001.htm#1409266000001

What does a yes or no vote mean for disabled people in Scotland?

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.

DSCN6709Fears 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.

DSCN6706She 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.

DSCN6727She 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.

Transport Minister Receives Birthday Message in Support of AV Announcements on Buses

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.Baroness Kramer with Guide Dog 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.”

MP Calls for Strategy to Build Peace

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.

You can read more information about the protest at http://aberdeentuc.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/fourth-week-of-aberdeen-protest-to-end.html

Dame Anne Begg MP on board with Guide Dogs’ Talking Buses campaign

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.Anne Begg with Guide Dog

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.”