A CLEAR CHOICE ON JUNE 8TH

It has been an honour and a privilege to represent Midlothian as your MP for the last two years. In this time I have been working on many different issues and representing the views of Midlothian in Westminster.

None of us expected to be going to the polls again at this time but with much work still to do I hope to have the opportunity to continue to represent you in Westminster.

In this election we face a clear choice, a choice between the most extreme right wing Tory Government in years, with the chaos of Brexit and the most appalling and inhumane policies like the rape clause and welfare cuts to the disabled, or a vote for the SNP to stand up and protect Midlothian’s interests at Westminster.

For the past two years the SNP has been the only real opposition at Westminster and now more than ever Scotland needs strong voices.

We must stand firm against the Tory agenda of hard-line austerity and for investment in public services, the SNP in this election will—as we always do—stand up for Scotland and Midlothian.

#Midlothian #GE17 #Owen4Mid #VoteSNP

SNP LAUNCH MIDLOTHIAN GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN

Midlothian SNP have today launched their General Election campaign at the Mining Museum in Newtongrange.

With voters going to the polls on June 8, Owen Thompson who has been the MP in Midlothian since May 2015, is urging voters to vote SNP to re-elect Owen Thompson to send a clear message that Midlothian rejects the Tories destructive and harmful austerity policies.

Owen Thompson, SNP candidate for Midlothian, said:

“In this election we face a clear choice, a choice between the most extreme right wing Tory Government in years, with the chaos of Brexit and the most appalling and inhumane policies like the rape clause and welfare cuts to the disabled, or a vote for the SNP to stand up and protect Scotland’s interests at Westminster.

“For the past two years the SNP has been the only real opposition at Westminster and now more than ever Scotland needs strong voices.

“We must stand firm against the Tory agenda of hard-line austerity and campaign for investment in public services, the SNP in this election will—as we always do—stand up for Scotland and Midlothian.”

THERESA MAY’S SNAP GENERAL ELECTION: MIDLOTHIAN MP JOINS HIS SNP COLLEAGUES IN CONTINUING TO PUT SCOTLAND FIRST

Owen Thompson, SNP MP for Midlothian, today (Tuesday 18 April) expressed his shock at the Prime Minister’s announcement of legislation for a snap General Election on 8 June 2017.  However, he has pledged to join his SNP colleagues in continuing to reject the UK Government’s narrow, divisive agenda, and in putting Scotland’s people first, in the weeks leading up to the General Election.

Commenting, Owen Thompson MP said:

“The Prime Minister’s announcement – and her U-turn on the concept of an early General Election – is not only unexpected but also shocking.  Yet again, the Tories are putting party above country, trying to do whatever they want and to get away with it – like making a hard Brexit almost inevitable.

“It is absolutely crucial that we stand firm against a Tory Party who wish to use this General Election as a mandate to push through even more of their punishing policies and cuts, as they push the UK even further to the right.

“When the Prime Minister said she was calling an election to ‘give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first’, she didn’t mention the will of the Scottish people.

“My SNP Westminster Group colleagues and I will use this campaign to stand up for our constituents – to stand against Tory austerity, to stand against leaving the EU against Scotland’s will, to stand for progressive and socially responsible policies – and to prove to the people of Scotland that they can trust SNP MPs to continue to put Scotland’s interests first.”

SNP MP TELLS CHANCELLOR: HANDS OFF BEER TAX

07Taking part in a Westminster Hall debate the Scottish National Party’s Owen Thompson told a group of MP’s that raising Beer Duty further would have far reaching consequences across communities, and impact on national, local and micro economies as well as having a knock on effects for pubs and jobs that rely on the industry.

The MP for Midlothian is asking the Chancellor to ease off Beer Duty in tomorrows Budget and to follow Scotland’s lead by introducing measures to support the food and drink industry.

In February this year the SNP Scottish Government announced business rates relief for the hospitality sector, which will save Scottish pubs around £6 million. The package also included a one year cap on business rate increases in Scotland for the hospitality sector, at 12.5 per cent, benefiting 8,000 further businesses.

Speaking in the debate Owen Thompson said:

“Of course businesses should pay their share in tax and this should be fair. But in 2015, beer duty comprised 49 per cent of a brewer’s turnover and the Beer and Pub Association calculate that the beer and pub sector is one of the most highly taxed across the UK economy.”

“With business rates, employment taxes and corporation tax added on top and costs of production taken into account, a brewer on average will make just two to three pence per pint as profit.”

“The Scottish National Party support finding a better, fairer, evidence-based way of taxing alcohol. We need to find the right balance and I very much hope that today’s debate will provide ‘beer’ for thought for the Chancellor ahead of his upcoming Budget.”

MIDLOTHIAN MP MAKES EARTH HOUR PLEDGE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE

Owen Thompson MP at the WWF Earth Hour Parliamentary event, 15 March 2017

Owen Thompson, SNP MP for Midlothian, has signed up to support WWF’s tenth Earth Hour by making a special pledge to help protect the planet.  The world is changing – fast – and it’s never been more important to show support for action on climate change.

Owen Thompson MP is one of many MPs who met with WWF recently at the House of Commons to show concern about the future of our planet, ahead of the global lights-out event on Saturday 25 March at 8:30pm.  MPs from all political parties will be celebrating Earth Hour, sending a united message that this is a pivotal time for our planet and that more needs to be done to tackle climate change and build a sustainable future.

Each year, millions of people around the world come together to call for action to protect the planet.  Last year, a record 178 countries took part and iconic landmarks across the UK switched out their lights, from Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, to Brighton Pier, Edinburgh Castle and Caerphilly Castle.  This year – the ten-year anniversary of Earth Hour – is set to be the biggest yet, and with 2016 breaking temperature records for the third consecutive year, it’s never been more important to tackle climate change.

Owen Thompson MP commented:

“I am delighted to support WWF’s Earth Hour this year to demonstrate how important it is that we take climate change seriously.  I am proud to be a member of a Parliament which has set ambitious targets to reduce our carbon emissions over the coming decades, and I will continue to urge the UK and Scottish Governments to deliver clear plans in order to live up to these ambitions.”

Naomi Hicks, Head of WWF UK’s Earth Hour, said:

“We are at a real crossroads when it comes to our planet’s future. We all need to act and do what we can to protect our planet from the impacts of climate change. That’s why it’s great that MPs are giving their support to this year’s campaign and we hope they will inspire many others in their constituencies and communities to sign up and get involved on 25th March.”

MIDLOTHIAN MP WELCOMES REUNIFICATION OF SYRIAN FAMILY

Photo of the Karous courtesy Deb Armstrong, The National

Owen Thompson, SNP MP for Midlothian has today welcomed Syrian refugee, Mohammed Karou, to Midlothian as he joins his family after five years apart.

Mohammed, now aged 10, was one of the thousands of child refugees alone in Syria. His parents, brother and sister fled to a refugee camp in Syria believing he was dead and only learnt that he was alive as the family were in the process of being resettled through international humanitarian efforts.

In September 2016 the Midlothian MP raised the case directly with Theresa May at PMQs and has been proactively working with the Home Office to ensure the safe return of Mohammed.

Owen Thompson, MP said:

“I was delighted to be able to meet Mohammed and the Karou family today and to see how happy they all are to be back together. It’s understandably been an exceptionally difficult time for the whole family with Mohammed being alone and so far away.”

“I’m honoured to have been able to play a small part in being able to reunite the family, but this has been a real team effort from my office, Midlothian Council, the Home office and countless faceless heroes who are on the frontline in highly dangerous circumstances who took actions that have resulted in the family being together here in Midlothian today.”

“It is disappointing that in the very week we are able to celebrate the reunion of this family that the Tory Government blocked moves in the House of Commons to help more vulnerable children like Mohammed and continues to refuse sanctuary to so many. “

“Mohammed has been lucky in many ways, but we can’t stop while there are still any children who need similar support.”

MIDLOTHIAN MP CALLS CHANCELLOR’S BUDGET ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY A “DERELICTION OF DUTY” TO WASPI WOMEN

Owen Thompson MP signing the Unison WASPI pledge, 8 March 2017

Owen Thompson, SNP MP for Midlothian, has joined his SNP colleagues at Westminster in calling the Chancellor’s Spring Budget a dereliction of duty and criticising the Chancellor for failing WASPI women on International Women’s Day.  He warned that the UK government’s silence and failure to outline a single measure to tackle state pensions inequality was deafening.

Following the Budget, SNP MPs addressed the WASPI campaign’s protest taking place outside Westminster.  They called the Chancellor’s Budget yet another signal of a Tory government intent on pursuing a policy of austerity, ignoring repeated debates and interventions led by SNP MPs calling for justice for women born in the 1950s and seeking to fill the gap left by gross pensions inequality.

Owen Thompson MP commented:

“This should have been an opportunity to celebrate International Women’s Day, instead my SNP colleagues and I are campaigning alongside WASPI campaigners – including some from my own Midlothian constituency – protesting for long overdue justice following a Spring Budget that was nothing short of a dereliction of duty by this Tory government.

“The silence from the Chancellor on state pension inequality as he delivered his Budget was devastatingly deafening for those WASPI women campaigning outside the House of Commons.”

Ian Blackford MP, the SNP’s Pensions spokesperson, added:

“The Chancellor had an opportunity to right a wrong and deliver measures that would give these women their pensions that they have rightfully earned, yet are unfairly denied.  However, at every opportunity this Tory government has failed to act.  What the UK government must realise is that pensions are a contract, not a benefit. And this Budget should have shown the UK government living up to that contract.

“It’s clear that delivering fair pensions is not high on the UK government’s priorities.  With inflation spikes forecast, this budget was completely devoid of any mitigating measures to future-proof pensioner incomes.  What we needed was a clear commitment to the triple lock beyond 2020 and action for the pension injustices WASPI women have suffered for too long.”

MIDLOTHIAN MP CALLS FOR PUBLIC RESPONSE ON DOMESTIC ABUSE VICTIM TAX

Owen Thompson MP holding a sign with details of the petition site at www.domesticabusevictimtax.co.uk

Owen Thompson, SNP MP for Midlothian, is calling upon his constituents to help scrap the Tory government policy to tax victims of domestic abuse for exerting their right to child maintenance, urging them to sign a petition that calls for the UK Government to remove the 4% collection charge on child maintenance payments that applies to parents using the ‘Collect-and-Pay’ service.

Payments made to the ‘Collect-and-Pay’ service are managed by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) and can be removed directly from the paying parent’s bank account and have enforcement powers to ensure maintenance is paid on time and in full.  The CMS exempt victims of domestic violence from the £20 application fee, but do not make any exemptions from the monthly charges.

In response to a written question tabled by SNP MP Angela Crawley, the UK Government said the charges are in place to encourage parents to pause and consider whether they require the ‘Collect-and-Pay’ service – encouraging parents to utilise the less bureaucratic ‘Direct-Pay’ scheme.

However, Mr Thompson stressed that the ‘Direct-Pay’ service does not offer the same protections as ‘Collect-and-Pay’ and can continue the cycle of abuse.  He is urging constituents to sign the online petition at www.domesticabusevictimtax.co.uk

Owen Thompson MP further said:

“Victims of domestic abuse should be protected by the UK Government, not punished financially for their inability to engage with an abusive ex-partner – ultimately, it will be the children that child maintenance payments are intended to support who will lose out.

“The UK Government advises victims of domestic abuse that they should utilise their less safe ‘Direct-Pay’ scheme, which has no powers of enforcement and allows continued communication through bank transfers.

“This tax puts victims of domestic abuse and their children in real danger.  The UK Government must look again at this unfair tax and listen to calls from charities, the public and MPs to scrap it.”

MIDLOTHIAN MP CHAIRS LAUNCH OF PARLIAMENTARY GROUP TO HONOUR AND SUPPORT BOYS’ BRIGADE

Owen Thompson, SNP MP for Midlothian, recently sponsored the inaugural meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Boys’ Brigade, attended by cross-party parliamentarians from the House of Commons and House of Lords as well as officials from the Boys’ Brigade, including Brigade Secretary/CEO Bill Stevenson.

Mr. Thompson was elected Chair of the APPG, with John McInally MP (SNP, Falkirk) voted secretary and four parliamentarians sharing the elected position of Vice Chair: Steven Paterson MP (SNP, Stirling), Steve McCabe MP (Labour, Birmingham Selly Oak), David Burrowes (Conservative, Enfield Southgate) and Lord Griffiths of Burry Port (Labour).  Nine other Parliamentarians – including Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing MP and Mr. Thompson’s SNP colleagues Dr. Eilidh Whiteford MP and Marion Fellows MP –  have also joined the APPG.

The Boys’ Brigade – the largest Christian uniformed youth movement in the UK and Ireland – was founded in Glasgow by Sir William Alexander Smith in 1883, and continues in its mission to care for and challenge young people through informal education and weekly activities, in partnership with interdenominational houses of worship, to this day.   The APPG has been formed to honour and call attention to the good work of the Boys’ Brigade, and to see how best it can offer continuing support to the Boys’ Brigade in taking its mission forward.

Commenting on the establishment of the new APPG, Owen Thompson MP said:

“It is both a pleasure and a privilege to work closely with the Boys’ Brigade on setting up and taking forward this APPG.  I very much appreciate the mission they have carried forward for over a century, and the education, opportunities and friendship they offer to the young people in the Brigade.  And it is great that so many of my colleagues in both the Commons and the Lords feel the same and have joined me in setting up this APPG.  I look forward to the next meeting and investigating further how best we can support the Brigade’s work in our own constituencies and beyond.”

Bill Stevenson, Boys’ Brigade Secretary/CEO, added:

“We were delighted that we have been able to establish the APPG at Westminster.  We were really excited to see how many parliamentarians were keen to support our work.  The Boys’ Brigade continues to be a great force for good across the land and is still as relevant today as when it was founded in 1883. We were particularly pleased that many ex-members of the BB who are now MPs and members of the Lords have signed to be members of the group.  I am sure this will really help us raise our profile and develop our work further.”

‘RESPECT THE NATIONS’ WARNS SNP MP

SNP MP for Midlothian, Owen Thompson has received cross party support from MPs from all devolved nations for his Early Day Motion asking MPs to have more respect when debating issues relating directly to devolved nations.

Owen Thompson tabled the motion following Tory MP John Redwood filibustering through amendments relating to the devolved nations in Monday’s Brexit debate, to talk about English fishing policy – blocking SNP MPs from speaking.

The motion has been supported by Alisdair McDonald, Social Democratic and Labour Party MP for Belfast South and Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts, MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd and other SNP members.

Owen Thompson MP said:

“The disrespect and disdain shown to Scotland, and other devolved nations has been clear. But the constant ignorance during remarks from Tory MPs shows a much wider, worrying rhetoric of talking down to Scotland, flexing their imperialistic muscles.”

“Scotlands voice has been ignored long enough, we have a Tory Government that we didn’t vote for and we are about to be dragged out of the EU against our will. It is high time that Tory MPs respected the devolved nations and pay the most basic of courtesies to the MPs that represent those parts of the UK.”

The EDM reads:

EDM 922: RESPECTING THE NATIONS (Session: 2016-17. Date tabled: 06.02.2017)

That this House recognises and respects the unique identities of each of the Nations of these islands; further recognises the importance of clarity when debating important matters that relate to each of our unique countries; and agrees that every effort should be made by hon. Members to bring clarity to debate by not confusing Britain with England, thereby raising the level of debate in this House.