Scrapping of EMA in England

Some of you may be aware that I have been a long supporter of the Education Maintenance Allowances (EMA) and the Save EMA campaign, ever since I realised it could be under threat in Scotland when the SNP administration at Holyrood decided to cut the EMA budget by 20 per cent and axe the £10 and £20 payments.

I asked the Prime Minister in PMQs back in October following the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) why he broke his promise at a Cameron Direct event in January last year before the election to the Save EMA campaign that he supported the  Education Maintenance Allowances.

I also secured an Adjournment Debate that week on the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), the week it was abolished in the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR). There are over 600,000 teenagers on EMA in England alone who will see this allowance withdrawn and 80% of those will be the poorest teenagers in our country from families with household income below £20,810.

Now, although I am a Scottish MP I still fi ght for young people’s rights as a UK MP, and Scotland is where EMA was fi rst attacked by the “Tartan-Tories” – the SNP. Last year they cut the EMA budget by 20% and axed the £10 and £20 payments. You could say I saw the writing on the wall and didn’t want EMA to suffer the same fate in England as it had in Scotland.

This is a scheme close to my heart because it is based on providing a platform to poor families, which means that economic barriers will no longer stand in their way to getting an education and getting on in life.

I have spoken on this subject before, when I secured an adjournment debate in the previous parliament on 2nd February this year and if you want a good example of the difference between the previous government and the new one today then it will be this policy. For example, the last time I spoke on this issue the then Minster, Iain Wright MP, committed the then Labour government to maintaining EMA in its current form up to 2011 and beyond.

Many of the young people who contacted me following that debate, sending me their support and thanks, will now feel disappointed by politics after having their fears and hopes raised and then crushed in a matter of months by this Tory-led Government.

But I hope they can continue their fight as I will continue my support!

Diamon Wedding Anniversary

I was honoured to present the flowers to Mr and Mrs Kelly on this momentous occasion for the whole area, and I hope all residents will join with me in congratulating them and wishing the best of luck for

the future. Jack & Mary married in St John’s in the Gorbals on 29th December 1950. They have five children and celebrated with a party at Oakbridge Nursing Home, in Great Western Road, Knightswood with family, staff and residents.

Energy Bills This Winter

You may have seen me recently in the papers regarding Energy Bills, I am a member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, and I have called for a Select Committee investigation into continually rising energy prices. I have sent a letter to the Conservative Chair of the Select Committee, Tim Yeo MP, requesting an instant and extensive inquiry into the energy market and the recent price rises. I will let you know his response.

The number of Scottish households in “extreme fuel poverty”, those who spend over 10% of their income to heat their home, had risen from 3% in 2002 to 10% in 2009. Yet, only last December, the biggest energy suppliers in the UK, announced more price rises again, despite only previously cutting prices by less than 10% when wholesale energy prices had been lower and when other European countries saw their energy prices rising substantially less than in the UK. It should be noted also that for every 1% increase in energy bills that means that 40,000 more households enter into fuel poverty. People in Glasgow and the rest of Scotland have been struggling to keep warm this winter, and the big energy companies are not being responsible and definitely not helpful to hard working families.

So I want the Select Committee to look into these price rises to make sure they know we are sharpening our teeth.