Stirling Observer Column – November 2009 – Anne McGuire MP
Millions of bottles of Scotch Whisky will be bought all over the world over the next few weeks to celebrate Christmas and of course to bring in the New Year. Yet although “Scotch” is used throughout the world to describe whisky,
in reality, our national drink has been open to fraudulent imitations with little protection to safeguard the integrity of the drink - until this week. New regulations introduced on Monday by the UK Government will ensure that we can protect and promote Scotch whisky with tighter rules on labelling, on the bottling of single malt, and offering protection to the traditional regional descriptions of “Highland” and “Lowland”. Consumers around the world are passionate about Scotch Whisky and the industry here in Scotland has welcomed the new rules. With two distilleries in the Stirling district, these moves to support a unique Scottish product will ensure that the local “Glengoyne” and “Deanston” brands will be better protected than ever before.
The New Year in the UK Parliament comes in, not with a dram, but with all the pomp and ceremony of a full royal occasion, complete with Household Cavalry, a Royal Procession, and the Queen’s Speech. Without the Queen’s
Speech, the new session cannot commence. This year of course, the parliamentary year will in fact only last a few months as there has to be a General Election before June of next year. However, we should not lose sight of the important proposals in last week’s Speech. Agency workers have often
been exploited. Therefore, the Government announcement that it will enact the Agency Workers Regulations 2010, to provide agency workers equal treatment with permanent staff on pay and holidays after 12 weeks in a job, will be welcomed by many in this constituency who, up till now, have had to work without employment rights.
Over the years, I have often been lobbied on the issue of “cluster bombs”, so I am sure that the proposed Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Bill, which was also announced in the Speech, will be recognised as a real step forward by those who have contacted me on this important issue – and indeed by those
who have never lobbied, but share the concerns. The Bill will implement in UK law the Convention on Cluster Munitions that bans the use, development, production, stockpiling, retention or transfer of cluster munitions. In addition, the draft International Development Bill, which will make binding the Government's commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income on international development by 2013, illustrates that even as the Government is grappling with re-establishing economic stability at home, it has not forgotten its obligations to the wider world.
Two local employment visits in the past few weeks highlighted once again the diversity of local industry in this area. The first was to the Stirling Remploy factory where chemical and biological suits are skilfully manufactured for our emergency and military services across the UK. Although I have visited the factory many times, I never fail to be impressed by the skills of the workers who turn out a product that could mean the difference between life and death to the wearer. I also made my first visit to Falcon Food Services which is a leading manufacturer in the commercial and professional kitchen industry –
again with contracts in all parts of the UK. Both companies based in Stirling, but both with a reach beyond this city and beyond Scotland.
It was back to the Eighties in Dunblane this month, with a special night at the High School to see the Annual Show. The talent was undoubtedly on display and the enthusiasm and energy of the cast was infectious, bringing rapturous applause from an appreciative audience of parents, pupils and one MP! However, not all of Stirling’s young people are quite so enthusiastic about education and I had the chance to meet up with some of them recently when I went along to the Secondary Support Services in Riverside. These young people have all kinds of issues which makes mainstream school difficult for them. However, we had a good discussion on the things that interested them – including a very knowledgeable discussion on the NHS. I hope that with the support of the dedicated Support Services staff, these young people will find their place in the Stirling of the future.
One depressing statistic came across my desk recently - recent figures revealed through a Parliamentary Question in the Scottish Parliament show that only 173 new central heating systems were installed across Scotland in the first 5 months of the Scottish Government’s new Energy Assistance
Package. This new scheme replaced the previous Executive’s popular
Central Heating Programme which installed 14,430 heating systems across Scotland in its final year of operation. I am still receiving sad inquiries from older people in this area who are on modest incomes and who cannot understand why they would have qualified last year for new central heating but not this year. These pensioners simply cannot afford to replace old or broken systems and now face a bleak winter. How to turn a successful scheme into a disaster in a few short months, Mr Salmond!
You can contact me at the Parliamentary Advice Office at 22 Viewfield Street, Stirling, FK8 1UA, telephone 01786 446515 or by email
firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also keep up with my activities on my web site, www.annemcguiremp.org.uk