Friday, 6 February 2009

Anne Begg's Week

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Bad weather was the theme of Anne's Week in Westminster this week. Hopefully the snow that has been causing chaos elsewhere will not show up in Aberdeen now. I'm certainly not loooking forward to the walk to the station to get a train through the snow that's falling and it's not even that bad yet. Plus as attractive as the idea of cancelled lectures is the reality of having to catch up with missed material is not so appealing. So here's hoping for a bit of warm weather.

Week beginning 2nd Feb - Snow, snow and more snow.

They say it was the worst snow in London for 16 years and I would not surprise me if this was the case. It took me the whole of Monday to get down to London. Heathrow was effectively closed so I had to fly into Gatwick and pray that the Gatwick Express was running. Luckily by 9pm there was a skeleton service but it hadn't been running at all earlier in the day.

As a result of the snow, I missed a meeting of my Select Committee which took place on Monday afternoon, and the 2nd evidence session of the Speaker's Conference on Tuesday was cancelled as some of the witnesses couldn't get in.

The only advantage to all this was I reached the bottom of my reading pile. I don't think I have ever managed that before!

The Speaker didn’t reach my question during Scottish Questions on Wednesday, but at Business Questions on Thursday I did get the chance to raise the difficulties being faced by businesses in my constituency due to the reluctance of banks to lend them money.

The icing on the top of a frustrating week was when I arrived home at 11 pm on Thursday night to discover the wheelchair carrier on my car didn’t work, leaving me stranded. My grateful thanks go to the neighbour who got out of bed to get my spare wheelchair out of the house (you know who you are).

This Friday, I will have a Civil Servant from the UK Identity and Passport Service work-shadowing me all day to see how an MP’s constituency office functions. He will hopefully be allowed to sit in on some of my surgery appointments and I will be taking him along to a presentation by a new offshore oil operator in the afternoon.

The question asked by Anne during Thursday's Business Questions:
In his reply to my hon. Friend David Taylor, the Minister said that the scheme came on top of the finance already available—but does the Minister think that the banks are playing ball? A small business—well, it is not actually that small—contacted me: RBS has found any excuse to restructure its loan, and has charged it 1 per cent. for doing so. It is a profitable business that is looking to expand, but it finds it very difficult to get what would, in normal circumstances, be classed as normal finance. It feels that it is being taken for a ride by the bank.

It seems more and more that the more I hear about the activities of the banking sector the less I like it. The banks have dug themselves into a nice hole and then not only expect the tax payer to bail them out but also think that they can continue to treat their customers however they like. I'd like to point out that the members of a customer driven co-operative would not allow it to act in such a manner.

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