Letter to NHS Lothian on Liberton and Astley Ainsley Hospitals


Letter to NHS Lothian on Liberton and Astley Ainsley Hospitals

It was reported earlier this week that NHS Lothian are considering the closures of Liberton and Astley Ainslie Hospitals in the Edinburgh South area. I’m really concerned about the mixed messages from the Scottish Government, with Ministers saying that we need to maintain bed numbers and the health board saying fewer will be needed. I hope to meet with the Chief Executive in the near future to discuss this important issue in more detail. It is a vital facility for many elderly people across the city.

Ian Murray MP welcomes Moredun Community Initiative Week


Ian Murray MP has welcomed Moredun Community Initiative Week (2 – 7 April 2013), which aims to make the area cleaner, greener and safer and raise awareness of all the various services available to residents within the Moredun area.

 This intensive period of partnership activity is aimed at the Moredun area from Moredunvale Road to Ferniehill Drive which includes all six multi story flats, and will involve The City of Edinburgh Council, Lothian and Borders Police, and various partner agencies and supported by local groups including the newly established residents group. The intention is to deal with the area’s needs, community concerns and identify trends through statistical analysis.

 During the week the following `drop-in` sessions will take place:

 Tuesday 2 April,10am to 2pm. Police and Fire and Rescue Services will provide information on Cycle Safety and fire safety advice at Moredun library.

 Wednesday 3 April,  2pm to 4pm. Staff from the South Neighbourhood local office, CastleRock/Edinvar Housing Association and Neighbourhood Support Service will provide advice and assistance on Welfare Benefit Reform at the Goodtrees Neighbourhood centre

 Thursday 4 April  10am to 2pm. Police and Fire and Rescue Services will provide information on Driver and Pedestrian Safety and Fire prevention at Moredun library.

 Friday 5 April, 12pm to 2pm. Police will provide cycle safety advice and bike marking  at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

 Saturday 6 April,  10am to 4pm. Police and Fire and Rescue Services will provide Crime Prevention information and Fire Safety Advice at Moredun library.

Lots of other work will be taking place across the area during the week.

Participants in the initiative will include:

  • Lothian & Borders Police
  • Lothian & Borders Fire and Rescue
  • Community Safety Officers
  • Environmental Wardens
  • Task Force
  • Specialist Cleaning Unit
  • Housing Property Team
  • Moredun Library
  • Community Learning and Development
  • Children and Families
  • Community Engagement
  • City of Edinburgh Council Noise Team
  • Moredun Concierge Service

 Activity during the week will include:-

  • Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour
  • Information and advice provided on range of issues at the drop in centres
  • Street cleansing
  • Graffiti removal
  • Joint patrols by the Environmental Wardens and the Police
  • Lothian & Borders Fire and Rescue Service carrying out residential fire and safety checks.
  • Community Safety Officers doing face to face visits to residents
  • Crime Prevention information and advice.
  • Road Repairs if required
  • Fire Safety Advice

Ian Murray MP response to constituents on JSA sanctions


I have received a number of lobbying emails on the subject of JSA sanctions, and the vote in Parliament last night. I wanted to reproduce my response, so constituents can see why I made the decision I did.

Many thanks for your email on this important subject.  I apologise for the length of the response but I think it is important to explain the detail of the decision to abstain and the contents of the Bill.  The Guardian newspaper was not correct and it is unfortunate that they chose to publish this story with no substance whatsoever.

There has been a bit of confusion over the Jobseekers (Back to Work) Bill and what it is seeking to resolve.  This Bill is not about the much mentioned Poundland case, nor is it a Bill that would stop the Government workplace schemes.  Some commentators have said that defeating this Bill would stop those dreadful schemes but that is not the case.  The Bill is primarily about the sanctions that were applied to JSA claimants.  It is not about the dreadful situation of the Government forcing people onto work schemes and that is why it must be seen as being simply about sanctions that were applied to people for not being correctly informed of the consequences of not participating in work experience schemes.  The explanantions not being as detailed as they should have been in regulations and in letters to JSA claimants were the main issue.

All Governments since 1911 have had a sanctions regime of some description in the system.  There were sanction regimes in place for Labour’s flagship work schemes of the past in the New Deal and the successful Future Jobs Fund.  Sanctions are an appropriate way to ensure that there is fairness in the system and that those who do the right thing and try to get themselves back into work are not disadvantaged by those who do not participate.

The reason the Government are in such a mess is due to their complete incompetence in their work programmes.  It is a mess of their own making.  It is also a symptom of them being completely incompetent at improving the economy and getting more jobs to get people back into work. Their economic plan is not working and that can be emphasised by there not being jobs for people to get employment.  That is where their work schemes fall down as there can only be fairness in the system if there are jobs for people to do.  It is statistically correct to say that the Governments work programme is such a disaster that it would be more effective to do nothing.

This is why Labour are calling for a compulsory jobs guarantee for every young person unemployed for more than 1 year and for every adult out of work for more than 2 years.  A proper back to work programme that offers a guaranteed REAL job at its conclusion is the only way to get people into employment, off benefits and paying tax.

The Government’s total incompetence has resulted in a figure of £130m being due to all people who were sanctioned since 2011 not just those who were on the work place schemes. The result would be that where claimants were sanctioned for refusing to sign on or refusing to apply for jobs, attend skills training or were consistently refusing paid jobs, they would have received the money back also.  This would have been exceptionally unfair to people who are doing the right thing.  Most people who are unemployed are desperate to get back into work and it would have been unfair to them to allow those who are not engaging but on support from the tax payer to be compensated.  The fact that it is called “Job Seekers Allowance” should mean that those who are not seeking work should be encouraged to do so and if that is not forthcoming, sanctions should be applied.

This is why the Labour Party demanded safeguards in the Bill to ensure that it could clear up the Governments mess and assist the people that were affected in the work schemes.  This relates directly to the £130m as the Government was persuaded to accept our safeguards in terms of:

1. The Government will guarantee that appeal rights are protected for JSA claimants who have been WRONGLY sanctioned.  This means that people who had good cause for not participating will still be able to claim their JSA back and that includes all people who were wrongly sanctioned for not participating in the work place schemes.  Good cause makes it wide enough to allow appeals for those who are caught up in this case without compensating those who were not seeking work.  This should cover all those claimants who were sanctioned illegally, as upheld by the Courts.

2. The Government must launch an independent review of the entire sanctions regime, with an urgent report to parliament.  This would allow an analysis of where sanctions are being applied, to whom and expose the cases where sanctions should not have been applied.  The urgency of this should assist with the people who wish to appeal as per point 1 above.

These 2 safeguards are clear in their intention to ensure that all those Job Seekers claimants who were sanctioned for not participating in the workplace schemes due to the scheme instructions and information letters being defective should get their JSA refunded through an appeal process.

Finally, it is the case that the coalition Government have a working majority of 100.  Had Labour not pushed for these changes and amendments to the Bill then it would have passed easily without there being a mechanism for the compensation of people who were wrongly sanctioned as a result of the Court rulings.  That is the critical point and is a matter of justice and fairness.  It is also the case that the sanctions regime would have continued unrevised and that, too, would have been unjust and wrong. By insisting on these safeguards we have made sure that this is a better Bill, resolves the court ruling, compensates those who were affected and reviews the sanctions regime.  Otherwise, it would have been a dreadful Bill that punished those who should not have been punished in the eyes of the law.

I was satisfied, after these changes were made, that something had to be done. I lodged my abstention in order to allow the government the opportunity to sort the problems of their own creation. I still disagree with the government’s policy in this area, which is why I did not vote in favour.  We cannot have a welfare system which does little to support people back to work. I believe people who can work should not be able to claim benefits with no obligation to find a route back into work.  Constituents tell me consistently that they also find this unfair.

The decision to abstain was not an easy decision. This issue has generated strong feelings about the injustice of unpaid work and I appreciate why some of my colleagues decided to vote against the motion, but this was not the subject of the Bill.  It may be that you disagree with my decision but I hope you can see my reasoning for doing so.

Please do not hesitate to get back in touch should you require more information on this or any other matters.

Best wishes,

Ian Murray

Labour Member of Parliament for Edinburgh South

Shadow Business Minister

Constituency Office: 0131 662 4520

House of Commons:  0207 219 7064

Write: 31 Minto Street, Edinburgh, EH9 2BT


See Ian’s current award winning eMagazine here  (Flash users) or here (Non-flash users)

Ian Murray MP pledges to back Prostate Cancer UK’s Quality Checklist


Ian Murray MP has pledged to support the swift implementation of a Prostate Cancer UK initiative in South Edinburgh to help men with prostate cancer receive the best possible care and support, regardless of where they live.  This comes as new analysis uncovered variations in the care that men with prostate cancer receive across the whole of the UK. The evidence further highlights that, despite recent improvements, the disease lags behind the treatment of other common cancers in key areas such as availability of Specialist Nurses, provision of information and support.1

In a bid to help stamp out these inequalities, Prostate Cancer UK has produced a Quality Checklist to be used as a best practice guide for men and clinicians. The checklist sets out 15 national standards for care and support that men with prostate cancer should expect and demand, from the point of their diagnosis through to the end of their life.

Ian showed his support for the Quality Checklist at a campaigning event held at Westminster this week where he met with people affected by prostate cancer from across the country.

Ian said: ““Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, and is set to be the most common cancer overall by 2030. It is incredibly important that we do all we can to ensure all men with the disease get the care and support they need. I am therefore delighted to endorse Prostate Cancer UK’s Quality Checklist, and call on NHS Lothian to ensure it is adopted as soon as possible”

Dr Sarah Cant, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “There are over 250,000 men living with prostate cancer in the UK, many of whom have to make difficult treatment choices or cope with tough side effects. It’s not good enough that that they also face a postcode lottery when it comes to the quality of support and information they receive to deal with this. It is vital that every man with prostate cancer has access to the world class information, care and support he needs and deserves if we are to help men have a better quality of life in the future.”

“We are delighted that Ian Murray MP has shown his support for men with prostate cancer by endorsing our Quality Checklist and urgently call on healthcare providers and commissioners to follow Ian’s lead. Men with prostate cancer deserve the best, and we’re absolutely determined that’s exactly what they are going to get.”

The charity is working closely with men and their families, healthcare providers, politicians and health professionals to ensure that the checklist is adopted and implemented throughout the UK.

To view the Quality Checklist please visit www.prostatecanceruk.org/qualitycare



Responding to claims by the UK Government that the Royal Mail would cease to exist in a separate Scotland and that the SNP Government has had no discussions with the Royal Mail, Shadow Postal Affairs Minister Ian Murray MP said:

“The SNP Government’s response to what postal services would look like after separation is quite extraordinary and involves two unsubstantiated assumptions. Firstly, that we will follow the EU Directive on postal services – but Scotland may not be in the EU and, secondly, that nothing would change.  How can the SNP claim sending post to the rest of the UK would be the same when the service will be being provided by the UK Royal Mail who would be free to charge a commercial rate?

“End to end postal delivery is expensive and the SNP has to do more than just say everything will be the same. Alex Salmond has many questions to answer. What would be the cost of sending letters inside and outside of Scotland? How would the jobs and pensions of Royal Mail staff be secured? And what would happen in areas of rural Scotland that are currently supported by a guaranteed UK wide service.

“The SNP Government hasn’t spoken to the EU but make assertions about EU membership, hasn’t spoken to the Bank of England but invented a place on the Monetary Policy Committee, hasn’t spoken to the BBC but says we’ll still get all the TV shows we want and, now, hasn’t spoken to the Royal Mail but insist nothing will change. The people of Scotland need all the information to make an informed decision. Spin and assertion won’t do – the people of Scotland deserve better.”