A Week in Parliament

TMD Friction

While covered elsewhere within the paper, I have to repeat my disappointment about the decision to close the factory TMD Friction in Hurlford. I am conscious that a “consultation” is ongoing before a final decision is made, but the reality is that the parent company have made that decision. Yet again, it would appear that from a national company perspective, it makes more economic sense to consolidate on the one site, at Hartlepool than continue with the two operations. This numbers game just ignores the human impact on the local workers and the wider community impact. It is the hardest aspect to deal with as an MP – with bankruptcy, the stops can be pulled out to find a buyer and try and keep a company going as a going concern. Loans and grants can be sought after. When a company starts making internal decisions on relocation, then it is much harder to change the outcome. That’s not to say these decisions once intimated should be accepted. It is my job and others to challenge such proposals and see if better alternative solutions can be found. This work will continue.

Fisheries Enquiry

The Fisheries Minister, George Eustice was back in front of the EFRA Committee. Some of the questioning was on a “No Dea “ scenario, and the Minister was robust saying they had planned for such an outcome and could cope with it. When pressed on modelling of the impact of a no deal, he then stated that they couldn’t do modelling as it was “too difficult”! He stated that as they didn’t know what tariffs would be applied then they couldn’t do any modelling, (which is just nonsense).  I pressed further on what considerations he had given to export arrangements under a no deal, as 3/4 of the seafood caught by UK fishermen gets exported to the EU, and relies on “just in time delivery”. He then explained they couldn’t consider the impact of this as they won’t know the readiness or processes the other EU countries will have in place. So, in short, he says they are ready, but that they don’t know what will happen because it is too complicated. So, that’s all that sorted then!

Broadband Funding

Telecoms is a matter reserved to the UK. Therefore, while the Scottish Government has taken responsibility for the roll out in Scotland, it is ultimately a Westminster function. Scotland has nearly 2/3 the landmass that England has, a greater rurality, and of course all the islands and so more complicated to cover with superfast broadband and mobile coverage. Yet, when I asked the Minister why does Scotland get less than a fifth of the broadband funding awarded to England, she could not explain the methodology.

For the record, when looking at Great Britain as a whole, Wales has 9% landmass and gets 10% of the UK Government funding; Scotland has 35% landmass and 14% of the funding but England with 56% landmass receives 76% of the funding. No-one can argue that is fair or logical.

These thoughts were first published in the Kilmarnock Standard.