IAN CALLS FOR NOMINATIONS FOR BEST LIVE BAND AND LIVE MUSIC VENUE AS PART OF NATIONAL ROCK THE HOUSE COMPETITION

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Ian is proud to invite nominations from within South Edinburgh, to be considered for the best live band and best live music venue awards of the first ever parliamentary Rock the House competition.

Ian  said: “Rock the House is a terrific initiative and an accessible vehicle through which to capture the imagination of the public and legislators in recognition of the need to support and promote the live music sector. It aims to promote the intellectual property rights of unsigned and up and coming musicians; and highlight the importance of live music venues to local communities.  It gives a real chance for local artists to showcase their talent and get a foothold in an industry that for live acts is becoming increasing difficult to break into.”

Ian will nominate one band and one live music venue from South Edinburgh on 31 March 2011. Any band or live music venue can enter the competition by downloading and completing an application form from www.rockthehouse.me.uk and send fully completed submissions to Ian Murray MP at 31 Minto Street, EH9 2BR or at ian@ianmurraymp.co.uk by 31st March.

Finalists and winners will be determined by an independent judging panel, which includes Chris Ingham, Group Publisher of Future Publishing, musicians and music professionals, Mike Weatherley MP and John Robertson MP (Chair of the APPG on Music).

The Panel will determine the five finalists in each category, and the shortlist will be announced by the end of May 2011. Each of the finalists will be invited to a star studded reception on the Terrace of the House of Commons, on 30th June 2011, where the winners will be announced.

The sponsors and supporters have pulled together an unbelievable array of prizes, many of which money can’t buy, including: the chance to perform live on the terrace at the House of Commons and at a top music venue or a music festival; a photo shoot with an internationally published music photographer; Yamaha gear and instruments; the chance to network and have consultancy sessions with top industry professionals; master classes from top sound and lighting engineers; the opportunity to record music; the chance to make a music video; invaluable PR exposure through coverage in Future Publishing’s catalogue of specialist music titles; and many more runners up prizes.

Rock the House is supported by a myriad of big names within the international and British music sector: Yamaha music; UK Music; Future Publishing; BPI; Live Nation; Consumer Focus; Music Managers Forum (MMF); Incorporated Society of Musicians; MVPA; the All Party Parliamentary Group on Music (APPG on Music); and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pubs & Clubs (APPG on Pubs & Clubs).

IAN WANTS GREEN INVESTMENT BANK FOR EDINBURGH

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Ian  last night challenged the Business Secretary Vince Cable on the floor of the House of Commons to commit to bringing the Green Investment Bank to Edinburgh.  As a Member of the Environment Select Committee, Ian championed Edinburgh’s outstanding credentials to host the bank and questioned why the government have no firm plans on the issue.

Ian said “Edinburgh, in my view, has the expertise, location and reputation to be the location for the Green Investment Bank.  The highly skilled Edinburgh workforce in both the financial and new technologies sectors gives an unparalleled opportunity for the Green Investment Bank.”

“There is a real opportunity to show that the Green Investment Bank is different and fresh.  Locating it in the City of London would, in my view, send out the wrong message.  Edinburgh is thriving with new technology companies such as Pelarmis in Leith.  This is coupled with the intellectual centre of the new green technology centre being located at our fine Universities.”

In response the Secretary of State, Vince Cable was uncommitted to the location and refused to divulge current thinking on the plans.  Leaving Mr Murray frustrated as this decision would bring a welcome boost to the local economy in Edinburgh and create jobs.

Ian votes to clampdown on legal loan sharks

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Today Ian voted yes to supporting the introduction of a series of caps on the amount that payday and home credit lenders can charge for credit. The motion has gained widespread cross-party support from MPs who recognise that the Government has a duty to intervene in the high-cost credit market, which is often uncompetitive and exploitative.

Currently lenders can charge any price for credit which means some loan and credit companies charge £82 for every £100 lent. Annual interest rate charges of over 2500% are also now common (despite the Bank of England base rate being just 0.5%). Borrowing at these rates repeatedly tips customers into inescapable cycles of debt and poverty. According to the OFT £16,000 of excess profit is made every hour in this sector.

Ian said, “Communities across Britain, including my own constituency of Edinburgh South, are being targeted by unscrupulous lenders who are legally allowed to charge whatever they want for credit. The case for introducing caps on the total cost of credit is now unanswerable – that’s why I voted to support the introduction of caps in Parliament today”.

Joe Cox, Campaigns Organiser for the End Legal Loan Sharking Campaign said: ” I am delighted that [MP’s name] has voted to end legal loan sharking. Credit and loan companies are legally allowed to charge whatever they like for lending money. Door to door lenders are now charging £83 for every £100 borrowed, whilst some online pay day lenders charge a whopping 3000% APR. Now is the time to protect the most vulnerable by capping the cost of consumer credit”

Spread the Warmth

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I have been contacted in recent weeks by a number of older people who have had concerns about their heating during these cold winter months.  I have been able to help them on a case by case basis by getting in touch with the relevant organizations to get their issues resolved.

I have recently received some very helpful pamphlets from AgeUK which provides advice on how to ward off the winter chill. This helpful booklet includes a home thermometer which is a great way to ensure that your home is at the appropriate temperature to make sure that you are not at risk of hypothermia or heart attacks.

If you or someone you know would like to receive this pamphlet from AgeUK, please don’t hesitate to contact me at either my email address or my constituency office address listed below.

ian@ianmurraymp.co.uk
Constituency Office:
31 Minto Street
Edinburgh
EH9 2BT

I am always happy to be of assistance with any other questions or concerns that constituents may have so please get in touch if I can be of assistance.

IAN HIGHLIGHTS POTENTIAL HOUSING CRISIS IN EDINBURGH SOUTH, CAUSED BY TORY-LED GOVERNMENT HOUSING BENEFIT REFORMS

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Ian has expressed grave concerns that not only would the Tory-led Government’s proposed housing benefit reforms result in people in South Edinburgh being forced from living on their own in one-bedroom flats to renting a room in shared accommodation, but that a shortfall in availability of multi-occupancy homes for them to rent in South Edinburgh will in fact force many of them onto the streets.

The Government’s proposals are that from April 2012, single claimants of LHA over 25 years but under 35 years will only be entitled to a one room rate based on shared occupancy rather than a self contained property. However, as there are very few shared occupancy homes in the socially rented sector in practice, claimants will need to look for accommodation in the private rented sector.

In figures obtained by Ian, it has become clear that there is a serious deficit in South Edinburgh between the number of House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) and the number of single people on LHA in the area that are facing a cut in their benefit to the single-room rate.

Ian said: “Not only is the Tory-led Government’s oblivious to the fact that its reforms will force ordinary people from their homes if they live on their own into renting a room in shared accommodation and the impact of this on individual’s lives, but even more worrying, they are apparently oblivious to the fact that there simply isn’t the housing stock available in [constituency] to cope with their reforms. We are facing an absolutely horrific crisis in housing. As the private rented sector in Scotland is so much smaller than in other parts of the UK the impact here in South Edinburgh could be much worse and we have serious concerns that some constituents may find themselves out on the street.”

Royal Mail Debate

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Ian spoke out on the floor of the House of Commons against the Tory LibDem Government and its plans for the Royal Mail during the Postal Services Bill debate.

Ian who is concerned about the long term implications such a move would have on the Royal Mail’s universal service and our local post office network said, “It is not inconceivable that a company such as Deutsche Post could buy Royal Mail. When such a transaction happens in Germany, the post office network is protected by law. As a result of the cost implications, Deutsche Post could run down our post office network to subsidise its post office network in Germany.

Prior to any sale or transfer of a post office company an agreement must be secured between the new owners of Royal Mail and the Post Office for either the suggested period of 10 years-or it could be for any number of years-in order to gain that transfer. Under the Bill, a privatised Royal Mail could break the historic link with the post office network and use another outlet such as Tesco.

The Government have shown complete ambivalence towards post offices in this process. Everyone has talked of the importance of maintaining the link and the inter-business agreement between Royal Mail and the Post Office in some fashion, to ensure that the post office network is maintained.  However, unless the Government make a strategic
decision to put business through the post office network, the future of the network as we know it will be in significant danger.

Tory and Lib Dem MPs were happy to use the Post Office for their own political ends when it suited them in opposition. The post office network was a political hot potato for many years in my constituency of Edinburgh South. It seems shameful that the Liberal Democrat party, which has made a living out of pretending to save post offices-now sits in judgment on Royal Mail and threatens many thousands of post offices, if not the entire network.

That the Government are not prepared to put a straightforward clause into the Bill to guarantee the future of post offices calls into question the logic of allocating more than £1.3 billion of taxpayers’ money to subsidise and refurbish them. The Government’s failure to take forward Labour’s plans for a people’s bank at the Post Office is yet another Lib Dem manifesto pledge broken. They are turning their backs on the very people out of whom they made political capital for many years. We must leave no stone unturned in looking to provide services through the post office network, so that it can survive this process. The black hole in finance that will come if the inter-business agreement is removed will make most post offices in this country unviable. We should look at every conceivable option to get as much revenue as possible into the post office network, because, as everyone in this Chamber knows, people love and enjoy the services that it provides.

In the Official Report, Postal Services Public Bill Committee, 11 November 2010 the Minster admitted that there will be no inter-business agreement going forward and that the post office network is essentially being hung out to dry by this legislation, along with the Royal Mail and tens of thousands of workers.”  Ian concluded, “I think we are in real danger of losing universality of delivery, a 6 day service and one of the last remaining public owned services that is much loved by the public.  We could even see David Cameron’s head on the stamps if the Queen decides not to allow any new private company to use her image.”

A New Year Message

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2010 was, to put it mildly, a life changing year for me.

The decision to stand for election for Edinburgh South as a first time parliamentary candidate was to prove a life changing experience: I had realised that the many years of hard work I had put in as a local Councillor in Edinburgh South would stand me in good stead in the mother of all Parliaments at Westminster.

I was selected very late on March 13th and that meant that I had no option but to hit the ground running, and with the General Election called but a few weeks later on April 6th campaigning went into full swing. 18 hour days were the rule in the campaign for the weeks up to polling day and I enjoyed every last second of it. Commentators kept saying the seat was unwinnable but we chose to fight a solid, traditional doorstep campaign. We spoke with over 20,000 constituents in 4 weeks and what became clear to me was the generosity of spirit in the constituency. People were really welcoming and I enjoyed the discussions, debate and, sometimes, arguments on the doorsteps. I even had the odd cup of tea and toilet stop for which I will forever be grateful to those voters involved. I had great support from my team – Paul Godzik, a fellow councillor and now candidate for Edinburgh Southern in the Scottish Parliamentary Elections, acted as my election agent and Henry Phillip marshalled his crack team of envelope stuffers and leafleters who hit the streets in fine style. I was also extremely fortunate that Kezia Dugdale, now also standing for the Scottish Parliament, was regional organiser. Even so, it was a close fight, and I must confess that my victory, announced at 5am on the Friday morning after a nailbiting count, confirmed what I always thought – it is never over until the fat lady sings and the electorate choose their MP!

However it quickly dawned on me that I now had been given the greatest chance of my life – to represent the Edinburgh South in Westminster and to fight to improve the lives of those who had put their trust in me to do so. What an awesome responsibility and what an incredible privilege to embark on such a journey.

The loss of the election by Labour was a huge disappointment and the establishment of the coalition between the Tories and the Lib Dems, only further whetted my appetite for the political fight ahead. But there was also another exciting dimension to the large new intake. In Parliament, a third of the MPs are first timers, and we all feel a sense of excitement about the potential for change that this new blood brings with it. Parliament will have changed forever and I want to be part of the generation that changes it for the good.

This is when the hard work really began, and I don’t just mean taking on 600 years of some of the strangest traditions and customs imaginable! I was fortunate in that I had a readymade office set-up at 31 Minto Street, and staff in place who knew the ropes, so that from the constituents’ point of view there was continuity and thankfully, after a bit of a struggle, the Parliamentary authorities agreed that we could continue to rent the office, which is ideally placed to serve the constituency.

In London, there was a steep learning curve as I sorted out accommodation under the new rules and an office in the Norman Shaw building (with a window no doubt). My early weeks were further complicated by an obligation from my previous life as an events manager, and I had to spend 2 weeks in Bath for the fringe festival that Hannah and I had organised in the preceding months! Nicely keeping my feet on the ground by digging moats to keep our outdoor venue from flooding and unblocking toilets with rubber gloves.

However by June things were fairly stable and I was beginning to get the hang of the more arcane traditions of Westminster. I was kept busy with meetings and receptions introducing me to the life of an MP, and I was beginning to make friends and alliances amongst my colleagues. The campaign for leader of the Labour Party got going and I am happy that under Ed’s leadership Labour is able to start afresh and rebuild to meet the challenges ahead.

And what challenges they are: the battle over the VAT rise, just beginning to take effect. Spending cuts, ideologically driven and much deeper than anyone expected, are due to really start biting in the next few months. The privatisation of the Royal Mail, a policy detested by the vast majority of the people, nevertheless firmly on the statute book. The rise in tuition fees, leading to the biggest demonstrations seen in the country for a generation. Those who can least afford it being obliged to pay for the mistakes of the banks led by those most comfortably off in society. The battle lines are drawn and I am proud to take my place on the front line. Defending those most in need, fighting for those with little voice whilst always acting according to the values that make me proud to be Labour.

In addition there is the day to day work I now do in the House – in October I was invited to take on the role of Parliamentary Private Secretary to Ivan Lewis MP the newly appointed Shadow Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, a role which allows me to combine my previous experience in events and entertainment with being a member of Parliament. I sit on the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, the Environment Audit Committee and the Committee on Arms Export Controls. I have joined a number of All Party Parliamentary Groups, with interests from Cancer to the Middle East and many more in between. It is fair to say that there is never a dull, or a quiet moment!

I hold more surgeries than any other MP in the Country. Twice a week I hold my constituency advice sessions at the Minto Street office with monthly surgeries around the constituency. The office aims to deal with constituents’ issues within 2 days, a tradition carried on in which I take pride. My weekends are spent in Edinburgh getting around the constituency as much as possible, talking to people, meeting groups and organisations and catching up on constituent enquiries. And has all this kept me off the doorsteps? Absolutely not. An MP is for 5 years not just for election!!!!

There’s a lot to look forward to and a lot to fight for. With your support, I hope to be able to continue to fight for the constituency and the party for years to come.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Murray MP