MSP commends Unicef- Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Partnership

Ash Denham MSP last night sponsored an event celebrating the four-year anniversary of the Unicef and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games partnership at the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking at the event, Ash Denham commended the collaboration and celebrated the achievements of the partnership, which was first announced at Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games with the ambition to Put Children First.

In its four years, the partnership has raised £6.5 million, funding programmes in all 52 Commonwealth countries, and has reached 11.7 million children, including 540,000 in Scotland.

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Ash Denham: Current laws failing victims of sex trafficking

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade has released an inquiry report into sex trafficking which has highlighted “industrial scale” sexual exploitation in ‘pop up’ brothels facilitated by online websites.

The report detailed the links between sexual exploitation and organised crime, with the majority of brothels recorded as being connected to other brothels, agencies or non-UK Organised Crime Groups.

The UK’s current laws make it a “highly profitable and low risk” destination for sex traffickers and other third party enablers of sexual exploitation, the report explains.

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Ash Denham MSP: landmark minimum unit pricing for alcohol will save hundreds of Scottish lives

On the same day as the Scottish Government introduces minimum pricing of alcohol in Scotland, Ash Denham MSP asked Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, about the process the Scottish Government will use to monitor the effectiveness of the pricing per unit of alcohol.

The Cabinet Secretary replied that minimum unit pricing will be monitored by NHS Scotland, and will focus on implementation and compliance, price, economic impact and attitudes to minimum unit pricing.

Scotland is the first country in the world to introduce minimum alcohol pricing.

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Edinburgh Eastern families to benefit from £1 billion childcare investment

Families in Edinburgh Eastern will benefit from almost £1 billion of Scottish Government investment in free childcare, SNP MSP Ash Denham has said.

Following extensive engagement to reach a shared understanding of the costs of the expansion, Scottish Ministers and COSLA Leaders have reached agreement on a multi-year funding package.

The Scottish Government will invest an additional £567 million per year by 2021-22, bringing total spending on early learning and childcare to around £990 million.

All three and four year olds, and eligible two year olds, will be entitled to 1140 hours of free childcare – effectively mirroring the primary school week.

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Ash Denham MSP helps to launch charity campaign tackling social isolation

This morning Ash Denham MSP joined charity Carr Gomm to help launch their new campaign “Stomp Out Loneliness”.

The campaign aims to stomp out loneliness in communities across Scotland by raising £30,000 to fund a variety of local projects and activities tackling social isolation.

Ash Denham MSP spoke at the event and did some cycling to help raise awareness of the importance of being active.

Aiming to bring people together, the “Stomp Out Loneliness” campaign encourages individuals to pledge a target distance to add to the charity’s 1000 mile route around Scotland.

Miles can be completed in any manner, by cycling, running, swimming or pushing wheelchairs.

All money raised will go to funding local events and projects in communities across Scotland.

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MSP encourages constituents to exercise caution when buying pets online

Recent figures released have revealed that over 6,000 online adverts were posted in the last year for dogs, cats and rabbits in Lothian.

The stats come as the Charity Blue Cross for Pets aims to raise awareness in potential pet owners of the dangers of buying household pets through the internet.

With tens of thousands of pets sold online each year in Scotland, Charity Blue Cross is calling for a change in legislation to protect animals bred for sale.

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MSP calls on Liam Fox to reject Investor-State Dispute Settlements in UK Trade Bill

Ash Denham MSP has called on the Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox to preclude any commitments to investor-state dispute settlements in the UK Trade Bill.

Expert witnesses at the Finance and Constitution Committee today raised concerns that the UK Trade Bill remains unclear over the potential use of investor-state dispute settlements in any future trade agreements to settle international trade disputes.

Investor-state dispute settlements are an instrument of international law that enables international corporations to sue host states for alleged discriminatory practices, such as loss of profits stemming from public policy.

The Trade Bill as currently drafted would grant the UK Government sweeping powers to negotiate future trade deals on Scotland’s behalf- including in areas that are devolved to the Scottish Parliament such as agriculture and health.  But at present the Bill contains no provisions for allowing parliamentary scrutiny by Holyrood.

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Tory welfare cuts behind rise in food bank use

Ash Denham, SNP MSP for Edinburgh Eastern, has criticised the UK government for “driving families to food banks” after new figures reveal the number of food parcels has increased over the past year. 

The Trussell Trust’s annual foodbank statistics show that the number of food parcels distributed in Scotland surged by 17% in 2017-18 to record levels – with Tory welfare policy remaining the main driver. 

Benefit delays and sanctions are the primary reason for referrals, with the roll-out of universal credit a factor in the rise. 

The SNP have called on the UK government to reverse the benefits freeze and introduce a real living wage to help ensure families have enough money to live on.

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It’s time for the UK Government to give Scotland an equal place at the trade negotiating table

A witness panel giving evidence to the Finance and Constitution Committee this week contended that any future trade deals the UK Government seeks to pursue must only be secured with the consent of the Scottish Government.

The Committee took evidence from witnesses on the possible impact of the UK’s Trade Bill on Scotland. The Bill would grant the UK Government sweeping powers to negotiate future trade deals on Scotland’s behalf- including in areas that are devolved to the Scottish Parliament such as agriculture.  But at present the Bill contains no provisions for allowing parliamentary scrutiny by Holyrood.

According to Professor Aileen McHarg of Strathclyde University the Bill in its current draft contains ‘no requirement for UK Ministers to gain devolved consent before exercising regulation making powers in devolved areas.’

Asked by SNP MSP Ash Denham if the UK Government should be able to proceed with trade deals that the Scottish Government didn’t agree to, Graham Kemp, from St Andrews TTIP Action Group, answered,

“The answer is no. They shouldn’t be able to proceed. We have been told we are an equal partner to the union and should be treated as such.”

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Ash Denham MSP encourages shoppers to keep it local

SNP MSP Ash Denham is encouraging consumers in Edinburgh Eastern to shop locally and support the 18,710 small businesses in the local economy.

The Scottish Government is committed to supporting businesses in Scotland, including retailers, providing the most competitive package of non-domestic rates reliefs anywhere in the UK in the 2018/19 budget. This includes the Small Business Bonus scheme that has already saved smaller firms £1.5bn, lifting 100,000 business premises out of rates altogether.

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