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27 November 2014

Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Tom Greatrex voted in Parliament last week to support a Labour MP’s Bill to ensure the NHS is protected from a trade treaty between Europe and the USA.

There are fears that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – designed to bring a trade agreement between the EU and the USA – would lead to the commercialisation of public services including the NHS.  Tom, a Labour and Co-operative MP, joined with other Labour MPs to support a Private Members Bill to block the TTIP Treaty from imposing procurement and competition obligations on the health service.

The Bill has been passed to the next stage in the Parliament with the backing of MPs, mostly Labour, from all of the UK.

Tom said, “The benefit of many of our public services, particularly the NHS, is that they are integrated.  Here in Scotland, decisions on funding and the structure of the NHS are made by the Scottish Government. Over the last year alone SNP Ministers have presided over a 20 per cent rise in private sector provision in our NHS in Scotland to the tune of £80m. Under the Tories, competition in the NHS in England is being encouraged.

“Regardless of what elected governments in Scotland or any other part of the UK decide to do, I strongly believe that decisions about the NHS should not be subject to an international trade treaty being negotiated between the EU and the USA.  That’s why I’m delighted this Bill has passed with the support of my Labour colleagues. The UK Government should now make it clear that any trade deal which does not exempt the NHS and other public services is not acceptable to the UK. 

If the Tory-led government decide to block the Bill between now and the general election in May, Labour will act in Government to introduce a Bill with the same measures straight after the general election. After May, we will either have a Labour-led government or David Cameron still in Downing Street. Labour are clear that we will safeguard the NHS, and force the Tories out of Downing Street in 6 months’ time.”

 

Tom Greatrex hails NHS vote a victory for patients

27 November 2014 Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Tom Greatrex voted in Parliament last week to support a Labour MP’s Bill to ensure the NHS is protected from a trade treaty...

 

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24 November 2014

Let's Look Out For Each Other

From the child walking to school, to the commuter cycling or driving to work, the motorcyclist, and the lorry driver delivering goods to our stores, we are all rely on roads to get from A to B. Roads must be safe for all of us.

But although the UK has some of the safest roads in the world, five people still lose their lives from collisions every day. Not only is each of these a personal tragedy, but they come at a huge cost to our economy too – around 2% of annual GDP in the UK.

This week thousands of children, schools and colleges, workplaces and police officers from across the country will join together to call for action in Road Safety Week. The annual campaign reminds us how much more there is to do to make Rutherglen, Cambuslang, Blantyre and Hamilton safer places to be.

Parents of pupils at both West Coats Primary and St Charles Primary have contacted me to share their concerns about the particular issues of congestion and parking. It shows there are still areas where we need to encourage people to take care, and that we still have work to do in raising awareness about road safety and taking measures to tackle it.

We all share the road space, and all road users need to respect each other to make them safe places to be. It is not right that over two thirds of primary school children believe the roads in places like Rutherglen and Hamilton West are unsafe for walking and cycling.

Sadly recent figures show that progress on road safety is at risk. In the first half of this year we have seen worrying increases in the numbers of people killed and seriously injured on the roads. It should be a wake up call for the Government.

Progress on road safety demands strong leadership. That’s why the last Labour Government was right to make road safety a priority. There are now almost 17,000 fewer deaths or serious injuries in a year than there were in the mid-1990s.

I’m worried about the Tory-led Government’s attitude to safety. Why have they axed targets to cut deaths and serious injuries on our roads? Since 2010 they have failed to deliver improved young driver training and testing, have hiked HGV speed limits on flimsy evidence and cut the frontline police vital for traffic enforcement. The Government’s cuts have forced local councils to cut the numbers of lollipop men and women, who have helped children get to school for over 60 years.

A Labour Government will not tolerate the relegation of road safety. We will restore targets to focus minds and efforts on progress, prioritise the most vulnerable by ‘safety proofing’ roads for pedestrians and cyclists, and take action to make HGV’s safer too.

That’s why I’m highlighting calls for supporting people locally to look out for each other on the roads. And I’m calling on the Government to end the complacency and commit to saving lives.

 

Tom highlights calls for Road Safety Awareness

  24 November 2014 Let's Look Out For Each Other From the child walking to school, to the commuter cycling or driving to work, the motorcyclist, and the lorry driver...

 

Tom Greatrex MP was one of a cross-party group of 92 MPs to propose a “market rent only” amendment to deliver a fair deal for local pub company pubs, including in Lanarkshire, and helped secure a victory over the government by 284 votes to 269 in a dramatic vote on Tuesday afternoon.

The UK government’s Small Business Bill already includes plans for a Pubs Code and an Adjudicator to support pubs and their tenants, but does not include the essential market rent only option which is needed to stop large pub companies forcing up beer prices charged to pub tenants to unacceptable levels.

 The amendment will allow pub tenants tied to the large pub companies (more than 500 pubs) to opt for a rental only deal, allowing them to buy beer on the open market at prices up to 70% below what pub companies currently force them to pay.

 Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Tom Greatrex was amongst a group of 92 MPs from Labour, Lib Dem, Green and Plaid Cymru MPs to force their amendment to a vote – and secure a victory over the government. The amendment was also backed by the national Fair Deal for Your Local campaign which consists of ten leading national organisations, including CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale), the Federation of Small Businesses, the Forum for Private Business and licensee organisations.

 Tom Greatrex MP commented:

“I am delighted our cross-party amendment of 92 names was successful in the teeth of opposition of the government – to bring fairness to landlords currently forced to pay excessive rents by pubcos, such as Punch Taverns. With 10% of their stock in Scotland, this is an issue in all parts of the UK.

“The market rent only option is reasonable and gradual and simply provides an option for tenants to choose at appropriate times whether to carry on with a tied agreement or to have a rental only agreement. This option will stop the abuse of the beer tie and will lead to companies offering fair tied agreements, with genuinely lower rents for higher beer prices.

“Now that this measure has been passed into law, it is time for the Edinburgh SNP to catch up with the action forced by Labour MPs and backbench rebels from other parties, and act to introduce a Pub Code (already part of the law in England and Wales) so this protection can be introduced for landlords in Scotland too. Given the scale of the concerns from tied landlords in Scotland, there can be no excuse for further delay from the SNP. It is time they too stood up to the vested interests of the big pub companies in the same way as the UK Parliament has done.”

Tim Page, CAMRA Chief Executive added:

“CAMRA is very pleased that Tom Greatrex MP co-signed the amendment, which called for an important change to improve the relationship between pub-owning companies and their tenants. It is simply unacceptable that so many tenants running successful pubs are earning less than the minimum wage and are unable to invest in the future of their pub. Far too many pubs have been lost permanently as a result of the pub companies squeezing the life out of them with excessive rents and tied beer prices.”

“Allowing pub tenants to choose the best deal for them will put huge commercial pressure on the large pub companies to cut their beer prices to competitive levels. Such a move would benefit over 10,000 pubs, help pub tenants make a living, help keep pubs open and help keep the cost of a pint to consumers affordable.”

John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“Pubco tenants aren't getting a fair deal and this will continue unless they have the option to go free of tie, with an independently assessed rent.

“Our research showed that the ‘market rent only’ option would bring significant benefits in terms of investment, employment and consumer choice. This New Clause will give MPs the opportunity to ensure that the Small Business Bill provides a fair deal for tied pubs.”

“Labour help force government on fair deal for pub landlords – SNP must now act”

  Tom Greatrex MP was one of a cross-party group of 92 MPs to propose a “market rent only” amendment to deliver a fair deal for local pub company pubs,...

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