Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Fife - a centre of energy excellence

Iberdrola, the owners of Scottish Power, are world leaders in energy generation especially wind power. They have pledged to establish a centre of excellence for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at Longannet if the power station is successful in securing government backing for a CCS plant.

That would be a huge boost for Fife and would be complementary to the energy park being developed in Methil and would give the Kingdom a central role in developing new energy technologies.

My full speech is available on


The Gurkha vote in Parliament today was a victory for common decency. To win by over twenty votes was a pleasant surprise.

To me it was a simple issue the Gurkhas put their lives on the line for our security. I therefore believe they have the right to live here.

In a Parliamentary debate led two years ago by Bob Russell MP we edged the Government in the right direction but they refused to budge on the right to live here.

I raised the issue in Parliament several time and again last week when there were indications that the Government were preparing for a shabby response to the successful court case.

Nick Clegg identified this as a moral issue and he was right to give these brave people his backing.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The universe is too big to think about

I prefer not to think about the universe as the whole thing is too much to contemplate. A new pair of fell shoes is a much better choice for brain energy. The numbers that the Chancellor was spitting out today were much too big to contemplate - 175 billion pounds of debt and more - so he opted to talk about the minutia instead. The trouble is that I can get away with not thinking about the universe whereas the Chancellor doesn't have that luxury with the economy.

Now, don't get me wrong, some of the minutia was important but that stuff should not have been centre stage. There was no great vision of a new world in the budget. Instead it was a hotch potch of different measures, worthy enough in their own right, but insufficient to get the passions raised.

If we expect the public to put up with the pain they'll want to know the gain first.

I was pleased by the coal carbon capture news that will enable up to four demonstration schemes to proceed. It means that Longannet Power Station has a great chance to show what it can do. It could turn Longannet it Scotland's green power house.

I was, however, very disappointed that the Chancellor didn't stump up the necessary funding to replace the Forth Road Bridge. The SNP failed to raise a single penny for it but I fear that Westminster may fail too.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Alton Towers

Over the recess I spent a few days with the family in Alton Towers ( Plummeting down the vertical ride that is Oblivion is the best way that I've found to forget about Westminster.

I'm glad I've got two boys in different age groups because it means I have an excuse to go on the full range of rides from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory through to Nemesis.

The expression on Stephen's (4) face as we tore around on the Run Away Train was the a mixture of joy and extreme fear. It was only when he started to laugh did we realise he wasn't going to cry. Alexander (12) coolly took everything in his stride but Nemesis tested that to the limits.

The waterpark at the hotel was the best I've experienced with huge volumes of water gushing in all directions.
Despite the poor information systems in the park and the painfully slow service in Flambo's Feast restaurant in the Splash Landings Hotel it was a great break.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

International Fire Rescue Association

As Honorary President of the Rosyth based International Fire Rescue Association I take every opportunity to see them off on their latest mission. On Friday a team of four set off for Bosnia with another van full of fire fighting and school supplies. They will also be training the local rescue services.

This is a great service the Association provides. I was told that donated equipment that went out to Bosnia last year was used to save children from a fire in an orphanage. Quite literally all of this donated equipment is helping to save lives.

Friday, 3 April 2009

On the PM's patch

It’s wonderful to see a business expanding during the recession. I was pleased to be asked to officially open Water Coolers Scotland’s newly expanded premises at Kelty – in the PM’s patch – today.

It's a great business that supplies water coolers to businesses and the public sector across Scotland. With twenty seven employees it's a business that I am sure will continue to grow.

Save the honey bee

Last night I attended the West Fife Beekeepers Association to discuss the plight of the honey bee which has seen a dramatic decline. Since the winter of 2007 there has been a 30% reduction in the population of domestic honey bees due to the varroa destructor mite.

Scottish bee farmers run up to a quarter of the UK’s commercial bee hives and also make up a significant portion of the UK’s amateur beekeeping population. Yet despite their importance, Scotland only has four bee inspectors to investigate cases of disease outbreak.

The Western honey bee plays a vital role within the planet's eco-system, pollinating 70% of the food that we eat and contributing over £165 million per year to agricultural output. Put simply, fewer bees will mean less pollination, a decline in plant life and a huge blow to animal life.

I am pressing the Scottish and UK Governments to work together to tackle this problem. I also want to see a significant increase in funding to research new treatments and see more people qualified to treat bees.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Small Business Club

Janet Torley's Small Business Club is a thriving group full of vitality. I addressed around thirty small businesspeople at East End Park and was quizzed on issues such as the banks, Europe, confidence and a range of local concerns. There certainly is a fighting spirit amongst the Fife business community.

Time to explain and apologise...

In a debate that I led on the Dunfermline Building Society in the House of Commons yesterday I concluded with the following:

"People want answers, but I have absolutely no desire to have a crude witch hunt. That is not our style in Dunfermline; it is not how we do things. However, members, staff and the community want to understand what happened. They want to know how such a fine institution for 140 years could be wrecked in a few months. They want to understand why reckless decision making caused that to happen. I urge those who were responsible—those who were in charge—to step forward, explain and apologise. We will treat them with respect and we will listen but we ask them please to accept that request. The society of 140 years deserves it."