Colin Beattie, SNP MSP for Midlothian North & Musselburgh, was unanimously elected chair of the Scottish Commission for Public Audit this afternoon at Parliament.
The Commission, which consists of five MSPs from four political parties, primarily has the responsibility to examine Audit Scotland’s use of resources and expenditure and to review their budget needs and report on them to the Parliament. They also appoint the auditors to Audit Scotland, and publish a copy of Audit Scotland’s accounts and that auditor's report on them. The Commission also appoints the non-executive directors, and the Chair, to Audit Scotland.
Commenting, Colin said:
“I’m pleased to be elected to chair the commission for a second parliamentary session and to help direct its important work in the coming years. As further powers are devolved to the Scottish Parliament the role of Audit Scotland and that of the Commission in ensuring that use of public funds are well scrutinised and transparent becomes even more vital. Efficient government is crucial to fulfilling our responsibilities to the public and the Commission is a critical part in that process.
"I look forward to working with my fellow commission members.”
Colin Beattie SNP MSP for Midlothian North & Musselburgh has welcomed latest figures that show a steep decline in recorded crime across East Lothian since the SNP came to power in 2007.
Recorded crime in East Lothian has fallen by 33% in the ten years between 2006/07 and 2015/16, part of a nationwide fall of 41%. Local MSP Colin Beattie believes this shows the success of SNP policies in policing and justice.
Commenting, Colin Beattie said:
“These are welcome figures that show a steep fall in recorded crime in the period since the SNP entered office in 2007 – and shows that SNP policies, such as having more police officers, have made our communities safer.
“It is excellent to see a decline in recorded crime of 33% across East Lothian, part of a Scotland-wide picture that shows an overall fall of 41% since 2006/07.
“Having safe communities where everyone feels welcome are vital to creating the Scotland that we all want to see – and these figures show that, under the SNP, we have made significant progress in achieving this goal.”
Collin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North & Musselburgh, is appalled at the newly unveiled, independent research which shows that Tory figures on pension inequality are wrong. He has called for immediate action to help the thousands of women born in the 1950s that live in the Midlothian region who have been denied their pension.
The 2011 Pensions Act accelerated planned increases in women’s State Pension Age from 63 to 65 between April 2016 and November 2018, and from 65 to 66 by October 2020 - many women were never told of the changes and some women will now receive their state pension years later than they expected to.
The issue, which effects 4,000 women in the Midlothian region, has been widely debated in the House of Commons and the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) groups have worked tirelessly to campaign for the introduction of transitional measures but the UK Government has refused to act – saying that, at a cost of £30 billion it would simply be too expensive to correct their mistakes of the past.
Independent research by Landman Economics, however, has found that it would cost £8 billion to return to the original timetable set out in the 1995 Pensions Act – a significantly cheaper option for the UK Government which would go some way to ending the gross injustice served to these women and would help to alleviate pensioner poverty.
The National Insurance Fund (NIF) had a £20.9 billion surplus at the end of March 2015 and the latest forecasts project a surplus of £26.3 billion at the end of this year and £30.7 billion at the end of 2017/18.
Colin Beattie MSP said:
“Thousands of women in Midlothian are being denied access to their pensions and being told it’s because we can’t afford to pay them. This report clearly shows that the Tories have not done their job taking care of them and that it is within our reach to make this situation right immediately.
“I want to reassure women affected by the Tories’ negligence that I remain committed to making sure that they receive what is already theirs. A pension is not a privilege, it is an entitlement. Among these women there are many that are facing real hardship because of the government’s abandonment. They deserve action on this matter now.
“The Tories continued denial of aid to the women of the 1950s represents a gross offense against their dignity. If the Tories will not be devoted to helping them then we must be. This report outlines several sensible approaches to remedy this situation as quickly and efficiently as possible. I hope that this report will be welcomed by the UK Government and that they will finally act to end this inequality.”
“UNACCEPTABLE” TO SEE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS ROLLED BACK
Scotland’s progress on climate change risks being rolled back by a Tory Brexit, SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh Colin Beattie has warned, as Scotland marks its national Climate Week, which runs from 16th September until 23rd September.
The opposing approaches of the Scottish and UK governments in the last week were highlighted by Mr Beattie – as a Scottish Government supported world-leading tidal energy project was unveiled days before the Tories approved the costly white elephant Hinkley Point. A Climate Change Committee report also showed that Scotland is leading the UK in cutting carbon emissions, despite Tory cuts to renewables damaging the industry.
This has led to SNP MSP Mr Beattie calling on the Tories to match the Scottish Government’s pledge to maintain vital environmental protection measures required under EU law after Brexit – something that is important in safeguarding communities across East Lothian and Midlothian from the effects of climate change.
Commenting, SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh Mr Beattie said:
“The Tory government at Westminster are in serious danger of damaging our efforts to tackle climate change and build a sustainable future for the Lothians – which is completely unacceptable and light-years away from our efforts in Scotland, marked by the annual national Climate Week.
“Time and again, the Tories have failed to adapt to the need to develop a more sustainable energy policy that would benefit our local communities in the constituency. From the appointment of Andrea Leadsom, who once asked if climate change was real, to the environment portfolio and harrowing cuts to renewable subsidies, to a willingness to spend billions on nuclear power whilst scraping innovative Carbon Capture and Storage schemes, we can see that their priorities lie elsewhere.
“Their record on the environment leaves a lot to be desired – and with an unwanted Brexit now looming over my constituency, I don’t have high hopes for the vital protections that the EU provides on animal habitats, air and water pollution and carbon emissions being maintained.
“If the increasingly right-wing Tory government had any sense, they would prioritise and strengthen environmental legislation – but given their desire to roll back the decades and cut out the ‘Brussels red-tape’ which provides many vital protections across all areas of public life in Midlothian and East Lothian, I can’t say I’ll be holding my breath on that.”
On Monday Consul General Pan Xinchun of the Peoples Republic of China visited the Roslin Institute in Midlothian. Consul General Pan, who is based at the Consulate offices in Edinburgh, was invited by local MSP Colin Beattie
Mr Beattie, the Consul General, and Edward Siu MingTsang of the Asian Association of Culture, Commerce and Education in Europe were given a tour of the Institute by Easter Bush Campus Operating Officer Val White. Consul General Pan was highly impressed by the level of investment and quality of work at the Institute, in particular aspects of the pig genealogy.
Mr Beattie said: ‘I was only too happy to show Consul General the excellent work performed at Roslin Institute. I’m very grateful to everyone at the Institute for being so accommodating.
‘The Consul General’s keen interest in visiting the Institute reflects very well on its global reputation as a centre of excellence – not least because of its groundbreaking work with Dolly the sheep.
‘I hope this visit will help strengthen the scientific and economic bonds between Scotland and China in the years to come.’
Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, recently opened the new Co-op Funeralcare funeral home in Dalkeith.
The home, based at 172 High Street, is staffed by an experienced team led by Ian Thomson and exemplifies the Co-op’s commitment to local communities.
Mr Beattie commented: ‘I was delighted to attend the official opening of the new funeral home. Co-op Funeralcare has tremendous experience in providing empathy to people at some of the most difficult times of their lives.
‘I’m sure that residents of Dalkeith and beyond will take comfort in knowing the funeral home is there for them.
‘I look forward to visiting the home again, though ideally still in professional capacity!’
UK GOVERNMENT CRITICISED FOR LACK OF PLAN FOR BREXIT TWO MONTHS ON
The Scottish National Party has criticised the UK government for failing to come up with any plan for Brexit despite more than two months having passed since the EU referendum.
Commenting Stephen Gethins MP, the SNP spokesperson on Europe, said:
"As Parliament resumed today following summer recess, the much-hyped statement by David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, was a letdown. The UK government remains devoid of any clear strategy for Brexit.
“It is unbelievable and utterly irresponsible that having gone into the EU referendum without a plan for leaving the EU the UK government still has no plan more than two months later.
“After a summer of silence we still have no idea what ‘Brexit means Brexit’ actually means – and more worryingly it is becoming increasingly clear that the UK government hasn’t got a clue either.
“The current situation is unsustainable. The lack of any clear strategy and the deep divisions in government are causing huge levels of uncertainty for all those impacted by the decision to leave the EU – the businesses that rely on access to the single market, the farmers, food and drink producers who stand to lose vital support, the universities who rely on cooperation and funding, and the EU nationals who have made their home here and contribute so much economically and socially.
“The inaction of the UK government stands in stark contrast to the action of the SNP Scottish Government, which has set out its clear intentions, convened an expert group to explore all options for retaining Scotland’s EU status, reached out to EU nationals, and is delivering a £100million economic stimulus to help deal with the economic shock caused by Brexit.
“The SNP's Programme for Government will set out further plans as we continue to do everything we can to protect Scotland’s relationship with Europe, in line with the overwhelming vote by the Scottish people to remain in the EU.”