US TRADE DEAL THREAT TO LOCAL FOOD AND DRINK

SNP MSP for South Scotland, Joan McAlpine, has warned that farmers and food producers in Dumfries and Galloway could be hit by a post-Brexit trade deal with Donald Trump – after the US ambassador reiterated demands for major concessions from the UK.

 

The Trump administration want the UK to accept lower food safety standards than exist within the European Union, allowing US products such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef to be sold in the UK – undercutting our own food producers.

 

The US ambassador this week confirmed that a future trade deal would require access to “the entire economy”, potentially impacting other sectors such as the NHS.

 

There are also concerns that Scottish products, such as Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb and Scotch Whisky, could lose their protected status after Brexit – allowing cheap-knock offs to be sold.

 

Commenting, Ms Joan McAlpine said:

 

“Scotland has top-quality food safety standards, in line with the rest of the EU, protecting consumers and our world-renowned Scottish produce.

 

“But that’s now under threat, with the Tories planning to sell out Scottish food producers as part of a damaging back-room trade deal with Donald Trump.

 

“As a member of the EU, local products like Scotch Beef and Lamb have been protected from cheap market knock offs – we can’t allow the Tories to take a take a wrecking ball to our booming food and drink sector here in Dumfries and Galloway.

 

“The UK government’s shambolic approach to Brexit leaves them in an exceptionally weak bargaining position – with Tory leadership contenders competing to be the most reckless with our economic future.

 

“There’s a real danger that, if Brexit happens, the next Prime Minister will be absolutely desperate to sign whatever damaging trade-deal Trump demands.

 

“Scotland voted overwhelmingly against Brexit – and the threat of selling out Dumfries and Galloway’s food producers shows exactly why we need to stop it.”

 

Notes: https://inews.co.uk/news/uk/us-ambassador-nhs-healthcare-services-on-table-for-post-brexit-trade-deal/

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lJoan McAlpine welcomes meeting of the health board with epilepsy parents

South of Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed news that Epilepsy Scotland will meet with representatives from the Dumfries and Galloway Health Board alongside local parents of children who suffer with epilepsy.

 

The meeting has been arranged after Ms. McAlpine raised concerns with Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport Jeane Freeman about Dumfries and Galloway being the only local authority in Scotland not to have a specialist epilepsy nurse, despite figures from Epilepsy Scotland which suggest that over 100 children are currently living with the condition across the region.

 

The health board is currently conducting a comprehensive service needs analysis and has agreed that engaging with families will be an essential part in working towards meeting the needs of families dealing with epilepsy.

 

Commenting, Joan McAlpine MSP said:

 

“I am pleased that the local health board are willing to meet with parents and discuss concerns about the lack of a specialist epilepsy nurse for Dumfries and Galloway. I am fully supportive of the local families who are working hard to change this for the benefit of others dealing with this condition across the region.”

 

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SNP WIN IN DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY AS SCOTLAND SAYS NO TO BREXIT

RESULT IS BIGGEST EUROPEAN ELECTION VICTORY EVER SEEN IN SCOTLAND


The SNP has won the European election in Dumfries and Galloway as Scotland voted emphatically to reject Brexit.

The SNP received 27.8% of the vote in Dumfries and Galloway and 38% nationally. The conservative party received 21.1% of the vote, while the Labour party only achieved 7%.

The SNP won in every part of mainland Scotland, with the party making history by achieving the country’s biggest ever margin of victory at a European election and securing 3 MEPs. 
 
The emphatic win means the SNP is on course to send Alyn Smith, Christian Allard and Aileen McLeod to the European Parliament. 
 
Commenting, returning SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said:
 
“People in Dumfries and Galloway, and across the country, have sent a strong message that Scotland does not want Brexit.
 
“This is the biggest European election win for any party ever seen in Scotland. Winning 3 of 6 available seats in Scotland is simply phenomenal.
 
“Throughout this campaign the SNP has offered a message of hope and ambition. Scotland wants to be part of an EU that allows us to travel, work and live freely across Europe.

 

“This is in contrast to both the Tories and Labour who have not been clear about their Brexit position and have failed at every turn to stand up for Scotland’s best interests.
 
“Scotland deserves better than a Westminster system that isn’t working – it’s no wonder more and more people believe Scotland’s future should be as independent country within the EU.”
 

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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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