Friday, 12 December 2008

Anne Begg's Week

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One of the main pillars of a democratic community is accountability. It's hard to hold elected representatives responsible if you don't know what they've been doing. To enable her constituents to follow the work she does on their behalf Anne Begg the MP for Aberdeen South posts what she has done each week on her website. I'm pleased to say that we are also able to facilitate the democratic process by cross posting that information here.

Week beginning 8th December – Good news for trawlermen.

I wasn't able to be in the Chamber on Monday for the debate on the Speaker's response to the Police search of an MP's Westminster office as I had to attend a funeral in Aberdeen in the morning. Once I managed to make it down to London I arrived 4 minutes too late for the first vote. I would have made it if BA had been able to get my wheelchair to the aircraft side instead of me having to pick it up off the luggage carousel! Nevertheless, missing the debate didn't get me out of taking part in Radio Scotland's 'Scotland at Ten' programme.

Tuesday and Wednesday are always particularly busy days in Westminster with end to end meetings and events, and this week was no different. A range of different organisations want to lobby MPs either individually or in a group. On Tuesday there was the Communication Workers Union, who wanted to lobby on the future of the Royal Mail and Post Office network, the Big Lottery Fund and Equity on Scottish broadcasting to name a few. Unfortunately, however, I ran out of time so didn't get to meet the Olympic rowers at a celebratory reception being held for them.

I also had meetings of All Party Groups which I sit on, these groups meet to advance a particular issue or support a certain cause, industry or country. Tuesday saw the inauguration of a new one, the Chronic Pain group, and I am its new Chairman. I also had a meeting of another group I Chair, the All Party Equalities Group. With an Equalities Bill announced in the Queen's Speech this group will have busy year. However, on Wednesday it was the European dimension we were discussing with our guest Richard Hewitt MEP.

Wednesday saw the highlight of my week, when Tony McNulty, the Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform, come in to give evidence before my Select Committee. I only managed to speak once in the Chamber this week, and that was also on Wednesday during Scottish Questions. I asked the Secretary of State for Scotland, Jim Murphy MP, about Scotland's future energy needs (you can see my question and the Minister’s reply here).

On Thursday I sat in the Chamber for the statement on Welfare Reform and BERR questions but, unfortunately, I did not get called. This was disappointing as I particularly wanted to congratulate the Minister of State for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs, Pat McFadden MP, for his decision to rerun the Cod War Trawlermen's Compensation Scheme. While I have over a hundred constituents who have received pay outs from the scheme, there were some who had got very little because they had a break in service through no fault of their own. I have been lobbying the government hard since the Ombudsman ruled this was unfair, so Thursday's news was very welcome indeed.

Friday will be the usual organised chaos with a presentation ceremony for the winners of my annual Christmas card competition in the morning; a meeting with Grampian Society for the Blind; a Christmas carol concert at Hazlehead Primary and then constituent surgeries.

I think it's interesting to note that it seems that even MPs get crap service from airlines. I'd also like express my appreciation of the Labour Government's continual striving for equality, I think the ideal of an equitable society is central to Party and is something we must continue to strive for.

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