Statement on EU Council and Calais
Parliamentary business this week started off with a statement from the Prime Minister about her recent EU summit in Brussels. Sadly anyone looking to try and understand the UK's plans for a future outside of the EU would have been left disappointed. Months after Theresa May announced that 'Brexit means Brexit' we are no further forward in understanding what the UK's negotiating stance may be. I appreciate that the UK Government do not want to outline their every position before a negotiation, but some clarity is needed before the end of negotiations in 2019 or the businesses will quickly begin to relocate elsewhere.
After the Prime Minister's disappointing statement the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, gave an update on work to re-settle children from the Calais migrant camps back in the UK. She informed the House that over 200 children have been re-settled already and that more are being screened before being placed with families. A number of constituents have emailed me to express their concerns about the impending closure of the migrant camp and to share with me their concerns about the children that we should be allowing into the UK. I would like to assure those constituents that my colleagues and I will be doing everything we can to scrutinise that work.
Backbench Business Committee
Outside of the Chamber, I had a number of meetings relating to on-going work in my committee and in the constituency. On Tuesday, I also joined George Kerevan MP at the Backbench Business Committee to lobby for a debate on the possibility of setting up dispute resolution service for commercial financial contracts. This may seem like an unimportant issue, but many small and medium sized businesses suffer because they have no way to seek redress when they have been treated badly by banks as was evidenced by the recent revelations on RBS' Global Restructuring Group. This particular branch of the RBS group, killed or crippled thousands of businesses during the recession as a result of a deliberate plan to add billions of pounds to its balance sheet, according to a leaked cache of thousands of secret documents according to Buzzfeed. It is increasingly clear that something needs to be done to protect SMEs and hopefully this debate, if selected by the Committee, will raise awareness of that.
Question to the Chancellor
This week I was one of 25 MPs selected in a ballot to ask a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Sadly, due to time constraints, I was not called to ask my question, however I have received a written reply to the question I asked and I have included this below. I had hoped to get more information on the re-negotiation of the UK's tax treaty with Malawi but this will have to wait until I am selected again.
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what his Department's objectives are in negotiating double taxation treaties with developing countries.
Jane Ellison: Financial Secretary to the Treasury.
In negotiating double taxation treaties, the UK’s objective is to reach an agreement that allocates taxing rights on a basis acceptable to both countries.
On Wednesday evening I attend the debate in the chamber about the ongoing crisis in Yemen. This debate considered a motion that asked for the UK to support a UN led investigation into accusations of human rights abuse in the conflict and for a suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia until this had been completed. Sadly this motion was defeated by the Government, despite the fact that this request mirrors exactly what the BIS Committee and the International Development Committee called for after their cross party inquiry into arms sales to Saudi Arabia. I understand that both sides of this horrible civil war have committed human rights violations and that many jobs in the UK may be at stake. However, we cannot turn a blind eye to the possibility that British made weapons are being used to commit terrible war crimes. If this is the case, then we must act. Hopefully parliament will reconsider this before more innocent people die.
At the end of the week I was back in Edinburgh West for busy surgeries in Ratho, Kirkliston and South Queensferry and a number of calls to constituents. Next week I have a surgery in my office, so please contact my team on 0131 516 2402 if you wish to book an appointment.