STOP BREXIT TO PROTECT NHS IN DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY

TRUMP TRADE DEAL AND HIT TO STAFF AND MEDICINES MUST BE AVERTED

The European election is a chance to stop Brexit and protect our NHS, SNP MSP JOAN McALPINE has said – as the party steps up campaigning on the final days ahead of the European election.

Donald Trump has outlined his demand that a post-Brexit trade deal sees “full market access” for US health products, allowing American drug firms to hike up prices for medicines.

The potential hit to NHS budgets adds to existing concerns that Brexit will have a harmful impact on healthcare.

A BBC investigation found that NHS DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY were concerned about attracting and retaining key and specialist staff and ending freedom of movement could limit Scotland’s ability to fund the NHS – with Holyrood’s cross-party Finance committee last year warning there was a strong demographic risk to the size of the Scottish budget. 

The BMA’s European election manifesto this week said that “Brexit will be damaging for the medical profession, both in the UK and across Europe.”

Commenting, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine
 said:

“Thursday’s vote is a chance to stop Brexit in its tracks – and to protect the NHS in Dumfries and Galloway.

“Brexit poses a major risk to medicine supplies and is already making it harder to attract vital medical staff to the region and we already know that Donald Trump wants to use a post-Brexit trade deal to rip up the rulebook and open our NHS to American drug firms.

“That would mean higher prices for medicine and a worse deal for patients. 

“The Scottish Government is working as hard as possible to mitigate the impact of Brexit on Dumfries and Galloway’s health service – but any Brexit will have consequences for our NHS.

“We need to send the strongest possible message that we will not stand for this. A vote for the SNP on Thursday will make clear that Scotland will not stand for Brexit.”

US drug firms would be able to charge NHS more under Trump trade plan, campaigners claim
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2019/mar/01/brexit-latest-news-theresa-may-faces-further-backlash-over-decision-to-give-mps-vote-on-extending-article-50-politics-live?page=with:block-5c792219e4b0c5f213665258#block-5c792219e4b0c5f213665258

Rightwing thinktanks unveil radical plan for US-UK Brexit trade deal
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/sep/18/rightwing-thinktanks-unveil-radical-plan-for-us-uk-brexit-trade-deal-nhs

European Parliament Election Manifesto 2019
https://www.bma.org.uk/collective-voice/influence/europe/brexit/eu-parliamentary-manifesto
 

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Scotland can’t be forced into bargain basement Trump trade deal

Scotland must avoid being forced into a “bargain basement” trade deal with Trump by stopping Brexit, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has said. 

The Tories have made the ability to strike independent trade deals a red line in Brexit negotiations – despite the EU having a proven record of securing advantageous trade deals on the UK’s behalf. 

But a chilling 18 page list of US government negotiating priorities published earlier this year outline the potential cost of a trade deal with Trump. 

The US priorities include weakening food standards in the UK, opening up our domestic market to genetically modified crops, chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-injected beef – which could disadvantage farmers in Dumfries and Galloway.

Studies have indicated significantly higher rates of salmonella in the US than in the UK, contributing to fears over the safety of reducing food standards. 

Commenting, Joan McAlpine MSP said:
“Dumfries and Galloway voted to Remain in the EU by 53.1% – yet we face being dragged out against our will.
“Brexiteers promised that leaving the EU would lead to free trade deals across the globe. 

“The reality is that the UK alone will be in a much weaker negotiating position than the EU as a whole – and Donald Trump will try to use that weakness to lower standards and open up our market to second class produce.  

“That’s bad news for consumers, and bad news for food producers, our local dairy industry, and manufacturing companies in Dumfries and Galloway forced to compete with a flood of cheap, low quality imports. 

“Scotland can’t be forced to accept a bargain basement trade deal with Trump. 

“We need to stop Brexit – a vote for the SNP in the European election will make clear we will not stand for this.”

Britain’s hopes of a trade deal with America just suffered a big blow
https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/01/business/us-uk-trade-deal-brexit/index.html

Chlorinated chicken: How safe is it?
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-47440562
 



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McAlpine Slams Tory Government’s Callous Treatment of Mixed Pension-Age Couples

South of Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has hit out at the Tory led UK Government this week over a callous decision to force newly-retired people with partners younger than the state retirement age of 65 to claim Universal Credit, rather than Pension Credit.

 
The change comes/came into force on Wednesday, 15 May, despite calls from Age Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland, Engender, MSPs, MPs and campaigners who have expressed concerns about the impact this move will have on some of Scotland’s poorest pensioners.
 
The switch to Universal Credit could cost affected households £140.44 per week, or £7,320 per year. Put another way, the Pension Credit Guarantee tops up a couple’s income to a minimum of £12,940 per year. Under Universal Credit, the Standard Allowance entitles couples to less than half that amount. 
 
Those affected by the loss of Pension Credit will also miss out on other aspects of social security delivery, as Pension Credit is a passporting benefit, enabling access to free NHS dental treatment, Cold Weather Payments, and help with Housing Benefit and Council Tax.
 
The Scottish Government estimate that, by 2020-21, 3,800 mixed-age households in Scotland, will collectively lose around £20.8 million.
 
The announcement was sneaked through on the day of the first ‘Meaningful Vote’ on Brexit.
 
Age Scotland issued a statement which said: 
 
“Such an outrageous new policy will do nothing but penalise older couples of mixed age, making them poorer for living together”.
 
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said:
“This decision by the UK Government is utterly disgraceful, plunging even more people into financial difficulty.
 
“These changes to Pension Credit eligibility will only exacerbate the situation already faced by women who are affected by the Tory increase in the state pension qualifying age.
 
“The proposed changes are extremely unfair and in exceptionally bad taste in light of other Tory proposals which hurt pensioners, including proposals to take away free TV Licences for over 75s and thousands more pensioners being pushed into poverty while the UK already has one of the lowest earnings to pension ratios in Europe.”
 
Any older person who is concerned about their income should call Age Scotland’s excellent Helpline. It is free and available from Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm on 0800 12 44 222.
Picture of Joan McAlpine MSP Attached
 

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DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY FARMERS CAN’T TRUST TORY BREXIT

Farmers in Dumfries and Galloway have been “badly let down” by the Tories and food producers are suffering from ongoing Brexit uncertainty, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has said.


Ms McAlpine said that the failure of the UK government to pass on money from the EU owed to Scotland underlined the danger of a Tory power-grab after Brexit.

Scottish farmers receive £580 million annually through the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The EU provided an uplift in funding as farmers and crofters in Scotland receive less per hectare than the EU average – but the Tories failed to pass the uplift on in full, short-changing Scotland by £160 million.

The UK government plans a power grab over agriculture – despite the Leave campaign promising that powers in devolved areas would automatically come to the Scottish Parliament after Brexit – raising fears of a repeated snub to Scottish farmers and crofters.

The National Farmers Union, Scotland (NFUS) have supported the Scottish Government’s position that all decisions affecting farming and food production in Scotland should be taken in Scotland.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“Brexit is an enormous threat to Dumfries and Galloway’s farmers, who are deeply concerned over export markets, the future of farm support and ability to hire seasonal staff.

“The Tories simply can’t be trusted after their brazen cash-grab of EU money from the pockets of Scottish farmers.

“Scottish farmers have now endured 3 years of uncertainty about access to European markets for our beef, lamb and other produce.

“On top of that, there is now the risk of our domestic market being flooded with food imports that don’t meet any of the high welfare and safety standards we farm to.

“The European election is a chance to send a message to the Tories that Dumfries and Galloway doesn’t want Brexit. A vote for the SNP is a vote to make clear Scotland says No to Brexit and to protect Scottish farming.”


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270 Families in D&G received best start grants

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the news that 270 families in Dumfries and Galloway received a payment of £600 on the birth of a first child, and £300 on the birth of any siblings, thanks to the Scottish Government’s Best Start Grant scheme. 

 
Since opening for applications in December, nearly 10,000 low income families across every area of Scotland got help from the new Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby payment, with the new benefit paying out £3.5 million in the first three months. 
 
This week, the First Minister announced a brand-new benefit as part of the Scottish Government’s new Best Start Grant package, which will build on the success of the Pregnancy and Baby Payment.
 
Applications are open for the new payment, which will see low-income families paid a further £250 when their children start nursery and school.
 
The Early Learning Payment is for children aged between two to three and a half and can be used for anything from children’s clothes and shoes to toys, books or days out.
 
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said: 
 
This substantial increase in support for families and new babies shows what can be achieved if we take a different approach to social security – using Scotland’s new powers to support families across the country.
 
“In just the first two months of the Best Start Grant, the Scottish Government got more money into people’s pockets than the DWP had managed under the old system in an entire year.
 
“The SNP in government has consistently demonstrated a commitment to increasing financial support for families, bringing equality to Scotland’s children by helping them towards the best possible start in life.
 
“With full powers over social security, Scotland can be the best place for a child to grow up.”
 
Anyone who wants to apply for a grant or to find out if you’re eligible can visitwww.mygov.scot/benefits/best-start
 
Notes to Editors:
 
More information on the Best Start Grant can be found at this link:
 



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Joan McAlpine Praises Dumfries and Galloway at Historic Environment Scotland Event

SNP MSP for South Scotland, Joan McAlpine, has celebrated the unique cultural heritage of Dumfries and Galloway at a Scottish Parliament reception to launch Historic Environment Scotland’s new corporate plan ‘Heritage for All’.

 

Ms. McAlpine, who is also convener of the Scottish Parliament’s committee on Culture, Tourism, Europe, and External Affairs, sponsored the event in parliament and used her opening speech to highlight Dumfries and Galloway heritage sites which have benefitted from HES custodianship since the body was established in 2015 by the Scottish Government.  

She praised high-profile attractions like Caerlaverock Castle, which is being brought to life using VR technology. Ms. McAlpine also drew attention to several smaller projects which have benefitted from HES investment, including parish churches in Sanquhar, Dunscore, Kirkcudbright, and Thornhill.

 

She also singled out restoration projects to bring older buildings back into good repair in order to benefit the community, including Annandale Distillery, Moat Brae children’s literature centre, Moffat town hall, and the Crichton memorial church. The funding HES provide for such projects helps support local businesses, social enterprises and  voluntary groups.

 

HES also manage 12,525 Canmore Galloway records, 33,000 catalogued archives, and have a role in safeguarding 3367 listed buildings locally.

Historic Environment Scotland is the result of a merger between previous public bodies ‘Historic Scotland’ and ‘The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland’.

 

Speaking to gathered guests, Joan McAlpine said:

“In Scotland we are blessed with a rich cultural heritage, containing the most incredible built heritage, from medieval castles, through Georgian mansions to ancient brochs. 

“The committee I currently chair is responsible for overseeing the work of HES and it is clear the merger is a considerable success – I think we were all particularly impressed when conducting our pre- budget scrutiny last year when HES told us that there were so many people visiting their properties, that their self-generated income was actually growing.

“This reflects the success story and indeed the passion for Scotland’s heritage by our growing cohort of international visitors as well as Scots themselves.

“It’s clear that many people are already enjoying Scotland’s cultural heritage, and I am really looking forward to hearing about how Historic Environment Scotland plan to make sure that many more people get to enjoy that heritage.”

 

Please find attached an image of Joan McAlpine MSP with Jane Ryder, OBE, Chair, Historic Environment Scotland and Alex Paterson, Chief Executive Historic Environment Scotland

 

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McAlpine slams UK Govt for EU voter barrier

South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine, has hit out at the UK Government for failing to properly inform EU citizens that if they don’t complete extra paperwork they could be prevented from voting in next month’s European elections.

 

Nearly 1500 EU nationals across Dumfries and Galloway could be affected, meaning they could lose their right to take part in the election on the 23rd of May.

 

This is because most EU citizens must complete an additional form declaring their wish to vote in the UK even if they are already registered to vote. Only those from Ireland, Malta and Cyprus will be exempt from the extra stage.

 

Commenting, Ms McAlpine says,

 

“it’s unacceptable that the Tories have failed to inform EU citizens across the UK of this extra process that they must complete by early next week. They should have written to all EU nationals individually to let them know that there’s a real risk of them being disenfranchised.

 

“This additional paperwork is completely unnecessary, but with the Tories polling at just 10% in Scotland for the Euro elections it’s no surprise that they’d want people who would likely cast their votes for a pro-EU party to be forced to stay at home.

 

Any EU nationals who are concerned should contact Dumfries & Galloway Council as soon as possible on 030 33 33 3000, or you can visit their website at www.dumgal.gov.uk to find out more. The forms must be printed out, signed and returned to the council by Tuesday the 7th May 2019.                                     

 

Notes:

 

The link to the website to download the additional paperwork required by EU nationals is here:

https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/255197/EU-citizen-European-Parliament-voter-registration-form-English.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3fvF9FHnsANdgElfi-Lf_9fwl4lnoP-uOS_TLWvn6HvWxzzEH-wf1hcfs

 

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Greystone Rovers gets windfall from Climate Challenge Fund

South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine has congratulated a Dumfries sports charity on securing a grant from the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund.

 
The Greystone Rovers Foundation has received £139,453 in the latest round of awards, aimed at helping community-led organisations tackle climate change by running projects that reduce local carbon emissions.
 
The charity, which is based at the David Keswick Athletic Centre in the town, plans to run projects which use sports and athletics to teach best practice, change behaviour and help reduce waste. They hope that 20 tonnes of CO2 will be reduced each year by increasing car-pooling, walking and cycling and other forms of shared transport. A further 8 tonnes of CO2 will be saved through plastic recycling schemes.
 
The funding will also enable the group to set up a bulk washing and natural air-drying scheme for playing and training kits, reducing emissions in over 100 households.
 
Ms McAlpine has submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament congratulating Greystone Rovers.
 
Commenting, Ms McAlpine says,
 
“I’m delighted that Greystone Rovers has secured this grant, with young people across the town and beyond set to benefit from the funding. This news means not only an increase in sporting activities available to kids in their leisure time but will lead to a reduction in carbon emissions at the same time.
 
“Recycling is a big part of reducing carbon emissions and this funding will also enable Greystone Rovers to establish a sports clothing and equipment exchange which will reduce clothing and footwear going to landfill by 142.12kg per year. It will also have the advantage of saving parents money and could mean the difference between taking part or missing out for some kids.
 
“The news that grant will support a full time Project Coordinator and two part time project workers is also very welcome. The south of Scotland has missed out on this funding in the past so it’s great to hear that Greystone Rovers have been the first project to succeed with their application.” 

Image of Joan McAlpine MSP with Graeme Muir, Manager and Alisa Templeton, Project Worker, Greystone Rovers
 

The Scottish Government’s created the Climate Challenge Fund in 2008 to encourage communities across Scotland to take action on climate change and so help our transition to more sustainable, low-carbon lifestyles. 

The fund has supported projects involving energy efficiency improvements to community owned buildings, home energy efficiency advice, lower carbon travel options, community growing initiatives and schemes to tackle waste. 
The Climate Challenge Fund is managed by Keep Scotland Beautiful on behalf of the Scottish Government.
 
Greystone Rovers Motion
That the Scottish Parliament congratulates Greystone Rovers AFC in their success in securing an award of £139,453 in the latest round of Climate Challenge Fund grants which distributed £3.3m to projects across Scotland; notes that the funding will be used for sports and athletic projects for young people in Dumfries and Galloway; believes that this will benefit the health and wellbeing of young people across the region as well as reducing CO2 emissions; notes that Climate Challenge Fund grants are funded by the Scottish Government and are distributed by Keep Scotland Beautiful; notes that this is the first grant from the fund to be awarded to a project in the south of Scotland.
 

 






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LOCAL CANCER PATIENT TEAMS UP WITH MSP TO PROMOTE BOWEL CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

A cancer patient from Brydekirk has reached out to MSP Joan McAlpine to ask for help promoting Bowel Cancer Awareness Month this April and to encourage others to undertake their regular screening tests.

Mrs Myra Little was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the end of January after sending off a routine screening sample in the post. She received a letter back right away telling her that cancer cells had been detected. Within seven days she’d had a colonoscopy, a week later a scan and a week after that had undergone surgery to remove the tumour.

“I’d heard stories about waiting times for treatment so was afraid when I first got the diagnosis,” says Mrs Little. “But the service I’ve had has been incredible and I was so relieved when the tumour was fully removed within just 21 days. I’m so grateful for everything the NHS has done for me and I can’t thank them enough. We’re so lucky to have such hard working, dedicated people in the NHS who care for us so well. I still have to undergo a course of chemotherapy to stop the cancer returning but I’m confident going forward that I’ll receive the best care possible.”

Mrs Little wanted to take advantage of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month to encourage others take part in the screening process. “The bowel screening kit is such a brilliant initiative, everyone should complete it so that no cases go undiagnosed. If I hadn’t sent off mine it might have been too late by the time I found out.”

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine agrees. Commenting, she says,

“I’m delighted that Mrs Little has had such a positive experience with our local NHS, and that her treatment has been so prompt and successful. It’s great that she’s now speaking up to encourage others to carry out their tests and send them back.

“Like Mrs Little, many people with bowel cancer show no symptoms. That’s why it’s really important to undergo regular screening. The test kits are posted out to everyone on a regular basis once you reach 50. It’s been simplified so it’s really quick and easy to carry out at home yourself.

“I’d encourage everyone to send back their sample as soon as possible after they arrive through the post. It’s a free service, it’s really effective it could save your life.”

Image of Joan McAlpine MSP and Myra Little attached

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month is an initiative promoted by the charity Bowel Cancer UK, it takes place throughout April.

More information on is available at www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/support-us/bowel-cancer-awareness-month

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UK GOVERNMENT OVERLOOKS DAIRY SECTOR

Joan McAlpine MSP has raised concerns about the impact of a no deal Brexit on the dairy sector in Dumfries and Galloway after expert trade negotiators told her that incoming tariffs on dairy products would be scrapped if an agreement could not be reached.

 
The shocking revelations were made to the MSP during a meeting of the parliamentary committee she convenes. The UK government made the decision to drop incoming tariffs in the event of “no deal” without apparent consultation with the industry – tariffs will still apply to Scottish farmers and producers exporting to the EU.
 
Currently, EU Most Favoured Nation Dairy Tariffs are on average 72.3% for dairy products. In the event of a no deal scenario the UK Government is proposing to drop that to 0% but with no guarantee the EU will reciprocate.
 
Dmitry Grozoubinski a Former Australian WTO trade negotiator told the Culture Tourism Europe and External Affairs Committee that the decision to drop some tariffs unilaterally, in order to avoid shortages, had come as a surprise and suggested that the UK government had not considered the effect on communities reliant on the jobs provided by the industry.
 
“It is entirely possible that, without adequate consultation and feed-in, dairy was not deliberately ignored but just never rose up as an issue. “
 
Joan said after the committee meeting:
 
“It is deeply concerning that there appears to have been so little consultation by the UK Government. In the event of a no deal Brexit all sectors and nations of the UK will be massively impacted but if, as appears to be the case, the tariffs set by the UK government ignore entire sectors of the economy then this could be even worse than we feared.
 
“Not only is this deeply concerning as we face the imminent threat of a no deal but it is also deeply worrying for the future. We need to have systems in place that allow all companies, sectors, and the governments of the devolved administration to contribute towards developing trade policy. That is the only way we can develop a trading policy that will work for all sectors of our economy. By unilaterally scrapping the tariffs in advance, the UK government weakens its negotiating position when it tries to make deals in future – it’s already given everything away!
 
“This just emphasise that a no deal Brexit will be disastrous for the dairy sector in the south of Scotland. We need to see both the Conservative and Labour party take the only concrete action possible to remove this threat and support the revocation of article 50.”
 
EU Most Favoured Nation Dairy Tariffs are on average 72.3% and the UK Government is proposing to drop that to 0%. Source:
 
What should we make of the UK’s ‘No Deal’ tariffs? By Dr Michael Gasiorek is a Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Sussex and Julia Magntorn Garrett is a Research Officer in Economics at the University of Sussex. Both are fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory. L. Alan Winters CB is Professor of Economics and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory (14 March 2019).
 
The full exchange in committee can be found here:
 


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