Ian joins the House of Commons Environment Select Committee

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Ian  has successfully joined the Environment Select Committee.  Ian said, “Climate Change and environmental issues are going to be one of the key policy areas during the term of this Parliament.  It is an issue that affects us all including developing sustainable energy sources and our future food supply.”

He stated: “We need to make sure this government is doing all it can to combat Climate Change and protect our local environment.  I have joined the Select Committee so I can closely examine the government’s environmental policy and make sure the UK continues to be a world leader in tackling this global problem.”

Ian campaigns to protect research funding for breast cancer from the Coalition Cuts

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Ian is pressing the Tory/Lib Dem coalition government not to cut the funding for the Charity Research Support Fund (CRSF) which helps pay for the direct costs of researching a cure for Breast Cancer and other terminal illnesses .

The CRSF was set up by the previous Labour government in 2004 to help charities pay for scientists, materials, university labs and associated costs which would otherwise be unaffordable.

Ian who was speaking at an event hosted by the Breast Cancer Campaign and Breast Cancer Care , two of the organisations under threat, said “The CRSF is vital to enable charities like the Breast Cancer Campaign and Breast Cancer Care to carry out research to find treatments that will ultimately improve patient outcomes.  It would be a scandal to cut the funding which is helping us work towards a cure for the most common form of cancer in the UK today.  There are over 550,000 people living with a diagnosis of breast cancer in the UK and I am writing to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to implore him to maintain the current levels of funding from the government.”

Ian who is a member of the All Parliamentary Group on Cancer continued, “I was astonished to learn that each Parliamentary constituency in the UK has on average 850 people living with a diagnosis of breast cancer, and when you take into account the families and friends who are also affected it is clear to see this funding is critical.  I am thankful to charities like the Breast Cancer Campaign and Breast Cancer Care for not only the information and awareness they provide but the support they give to sufferers and their families”.

Ian meets Bill Gates to discuss the UK’s continued leadership in the fight against global poverty

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Ian attended a landmark address by Bill Gates* in The Houses of Parliament during which Mr. Gates praised the UK for its continued global leadership in the field of International Development.

Speaking to Ian and other new MPs just weeks after the election Mr. Gates commended the UK’s continued track record on delivering on the promises made in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

He stated: “I welcome the UK’s leadership on international development and its commitment to maintaining the nation’s promise to spend 0.7% of its Gross National Income on official development assistance, despite significant challenges to the British economy. I urge other donor nations, particularly those in the G8, to follow its lead.”

Ian said, “It was a great honour being able to discuss the UK’s fight against global poverty with Bill Gates, who has done such phenomenal work through the Bill and Melinda Foundation to combat this scourge on humanity.  We must do all we can to make the Millennium Development Goal Summit in September a renewal of all countries’ commitments to the MDGs a reality.”

Ian concluded: “Britain has lead the way – and should be proud that it is the first and only country in the world to commit to spending 0.7% of its income on aid from 2013.  However I will be pressing the Tory/Lib Dem government to continue these commitments and progressive plans of the previous Labour government in tackling global poverty and not to put millions of lives around the world at risk”

With just 5-years to go until the conclusion of the Millennium Development Goal’s and a special Summit convened in September by the UN General Assembly to track progress Mr. Gates outlined why 2010 must be a year of decisive action in terms of International Development, commenting “In the face of such challenging economic times, we must be even smarter about how resources are used and maintain our commitments to the world’s poor.”

Indeed great progress has already been made in areas such as reducing the proportion of people in chronic poverty by half, which is within reach for the world as a whole and; increasing access to clean water, with one point six billion people having gained access to safe drinking water since 1990, other areas are significantly off-track.

Yet despite this with just 5 years until the conclusion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), many MDGs are off track and some are even moving in the wrong direction.

More people suffer from chronic hunger today than at any other time in history. MDG 1, to reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger, is so far off track that it is now moving in the wrong direction. To achieve MDG 1 – 115 million people must be lifted out of chronic hunger each and every year up until 2015 – and this would still only be half of the global problem.

It is estimated that the cost of this under-nutrition to the developing world is estimated to be some $20 – 30 billion per year.

It is in this context that Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation called for a new partnership in International Development, stating: “Aid is important but there are also millions of entrepreneurs in developing countries looking for the opportunity to trade their way out of poverty. Instead of business as usual, Fairtrade has shown how business unusual can create a win-win – strengthening producer organisations and sustainable supply chains so that these farmers and entrepreneurs can play a role in transforming their own communities. There is a real opportunity, as the Gates Foundation shows, for the private sector to step up to the plate, and build new kinds of partnership for development.”

Aaron Oxley, Executive Director for RESULTS-UK, echoed these sentiments calling on policy makers to act now and help the poorest people help themselves out of poverty. He commented: “Experience shows us the poor are often poor because they are excluded from opportunities and if we can help create the conditions for those opportunities suffering is averted and development ensues”

Shadow Secretary of State for International Development Rt. Hon Douglas Alexander noted: “It is a rare privilege to sit on a panel with somebody who has changed the world once, and I think we are in the presence today of somebody who has changed the world twice – first with his work in Microsoft and now with the extraordinary work that he and Melinda are taking forward in the Gates Foundation”

While Bill Gates concluded: “Aid over the last 50 years has achieved some phenomenal things…We wouldn’t be spending the money if it wasn’t something that I didn’t think was catalytic. We get smarter all the time, but the aid we’re spending really makes a huge difference and so again thank you for your generosity and partnership”.

Ian joined others in expressing his support for Mr. Gates comments and for the vital Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit due to take place at the UN General Assembly in September this year at which recent progress towards the MDGs will be measured.

The aim of the meeting was to highlight the ‘living proof’ of International Development and the crucial difference that it makes to the lives of millions of people worldwide.

 

 

 

Ian insists the Tory/Lib Dem plans to cut Housing Benefit will hit the most vulnerable the hardest.

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Ian  hits out at Tory/Lib Dem plans to claw back over £1.7 billion a year in housing benefit by 2014/15.
Ian said, “These shocking figures prove that the Coalition Government plan to continue attacking the most vulnerable people in our community over the term of this Parliament, these housing benefit cuts will push thousands of people into poverty and homelessness.

“Almost every private sector tenant in the country on Local Housing Allowance is going to be badly hit by these plans — including over 50,000 of the poorest pensioners on pension credit who will lose on average £11 a week.

“These figures show that the Coalition government’s housing benefit reforms will mean almost a million households will lose on average £12 a week from next year.  Over half a million will lose more than £10 a week, and over 40,000 households will lose more than £20 a week.

“However the Coalition government are deliberately concealing the whole truth, as these figures only relate to 2011 which shows £580m worth of cuts when we know that the full Housing Benefit cuts by 2014/15 are over £1.7bn.”

“It is scandalous that despite the evidence showing the terminal impact these cuts will have on our community the Tory/Lib Dem government still think it is a good idea to not only go ahead with their plans but to go much further too – including savage cuts for working people and pensioners who won’t be able to afford their rent.”

Key points:

  • 936,960 will lose on average £12 a week, and 522,890 will lose over £10 a week and 44,330 will lose over £20 a week.
  • The budget only covers the measures to be introduced in 2011/12 totally around £580m, however the total cuts in Housing Benefit in 2014/15 is £1.76bn according to the Budget Red Book.
  •  308,000 people either on sickness benefits or who are lone parents will lose on average £13 a week
  •  51,000 pensioners on pension credit will lose on average £11 a week
  •  Hundreds of thousands of working people will lose on average £12 a week
  •  Labour ditched the proposal to remove the £15 excess in the December 2009 consultation paper, which was welcomed by the Tories and Liberals:

All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer Care

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Ian attended the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer Care event to highlight the inequality of cancer care that exists in the UK.

Ian said:

“I went to the event to hear firsthand the affect cancer and its treatment is having on families in Edinburgh South and the UK.  It is an issue close to me and I immediately signed EDM 281 to make sure the Tory/Lib Dem government do not neglect the families dealing with cancer everyday and that the postcode lottery on cancer treatment is abolished”

Following the event Ian Murray MP joined the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer Care to make sure the voices of the families affected by cancer in Edinburgh South are heard at the highest level.

TEXT OF EDM281

“That this House encourages the Government to implement the recommendations made by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer (APPGC) in the report of its inquiry into cancer inequalities; welcomes the re-establishment of the APPGC; calls on members of both Houses to join the APPGC so it can maintain a high profile in Parliament for cancer reform and continue to highlight the fundamental issues affecting cancer patients and their families and carers; and further calls on the Government to address the unacceptable inequality which still exists in cancer care and outcomes in the UK.

Ian slams Liberal Democrat and Tory betrayal of local pensioners.

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Ian has slammed the Liberal Democrats and Tories for voting against a plan to protect local pensioners from the VAT hike. The Commons vote came as new research showed Britain’s pensioners will be stung by an £8 billion VAT bill over the course of this Parliament. There are over 77,000 pensioners in the City of Edinburgh, all of whom could be affected. Worse, figures hidden in the Budget show that local pensioners will be hit every year by changes that hit them in the pocket;

• From January, pensioners will face a £400 million VAT tax bill which they will have to start paying months before any increase in the Basic State Pension. Pensioners face paying nearly £8 billion in VAT over the parliament.

• In 2011, weekly pension increases fall behind VAT-fuelled price rises.

• In 2012, pension rises fall behind price rises again, after the Treasury quietly changed the way the so-called ‘triple lock’ up-rates pensions in practice.

• By 2013, pensioners face cuts to Disability Living Allowance benefits, which may total £350 million a year by the end of the Parliament, alongside cuts to HousingBenefit and the lower up rating of public service pensions and benefits. Ian Murray MP last night sought to protect local pensioners by supporting an amendment to the Finance Bill which would have delayed the VAT increase until a proper plan for shielding pensioners was in place. But Liberal Democrat and Tory MPs ganged up to block the move. The City of Edinburgh’s 77,000 pensioners will now start paying their share of £33 million extra in VAT a month starting in January. Ian Murray MP said: “This is a betrayal of our local pensioners by the Tory-Liberal government. Our retired community has paid in for a life-time and is now being hit hard in the pocket. “I wanted a plan in place to protect local pensioners from the £8 billion VAT bill but the Liberal Democrats refused to help. I can’t believe the Tories and Liberals are trying to disguise the tax bill with a few promises which on closer inspection just don’t add up. The Budget small print says pensioners keep on getting hit every year with a host of Treasury tricks”.

Glencorse Supports Local Energy Fair – 15th May 2010

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On Saturday 15th May, Edinburgh Transition held an Energy Fair at Fairmilehead Parish Church. The fair was organised to enable people in the community to move from high energy consumption to low energy consumption. Robin Harper, MSP and Ian Murray, MP opened the event.
Bethan Emmanuel and Bill Elliot, members of the Glencorse Project Team were delighted to attend and explain how energy consumption has been minimised in the design of the new Water Treatment Works. Attendees were particularly impressed with the initiative to have a mobile pipe production factory set up to manufacture large diameter pipes for the project. In this world first, the project managed to save 1500 Tonnes of Carbon Dioxide by choosing not transporting the pipes from abroad.
“I am highly impressed with technology being put to good use” commented local resident, Ms. Comrie.
Members of the public were interested to learn about the hydro turbine which will generate power for the finished works using the force of the water. The grass roof which will reduce solar reflection was also well received.