Oops Ross

I’ve just reported Ross Thomson MP to the Committee on Standards and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards for what I think is a breach of the Parliamentary Code of Conduct with regards to entries in the Register of Members Financial Interests.

Up until 16th July Ross had listed a £20,000 donation from PD Development Company (the owner of Soul and other bars in Aberdeen – this in itself was a typo as the company is actually called PB Development Company as comfirmed here by the Electoral Commission) as well as a £5,000 donation from Balmoral Comtec Ltd but by the next entry on August 13th these were gone.

I’m not 100% sure that this is illegal but having spoken to a couple of ex MPs I think it might be so will await the answer from the Commissioner with interest.

Update Feb 22: 

I’ve had a reply from the Standards Commissioner which said…

Entries are rolled forward from one Register to the next, for a period of twelve months by the Registration team, who are responsible for compiling the Registers. Twelve months after registration, items are routinely removed, unless they are ongoing interests. For example registrable property which an MP has owned for 12 months and continues to own, or has ceased to own within the preceding 12 months would continue to appear in the Register longer.

“We do not comment on the register entries of individual MPs.”

So no positive result this time but it was worth a try and I will keep looking out for any wrong doings.

Personally I feel any donations made to MPs by companies should stay recorded for the whole duration of their term of holding their seat.

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Holyrood Elections Voting System: A Discussion

I got into a really interesting discussion on Saturday night on Twitter about how the voting system for Holyrood elections worked and many people in the conversation admitted they simply don’t understand how the system actually works especially when it comes to the issue of list votes.

In this article I aim to explain the system in simple terms, examine the factors that led to the SNP losing its majority in the 2016 election and also explore the differences between voting SNP on both ballot papers and splitting the votes between SNP and another pro-indy party.

It’s a long article so get yourself a cuppa (or something stronger) and make yourself comfy 🙂

Read more

Number of Universal Credit Sanctions Falling in Scotland

Data obtained from the Department of Work and Pensions shows that the number of Universal Credit claimants being sanctioned fell between March and August 2018 in Scotland. (August 2018 is the latest month that data is currently available for).

Despite the total number of people claiming Universal Credit rising from 78,975 in March to 113,831 in August the number of people subject to sanctions fell from 3,397 to 2,380 over the same period. That represents a change from 4.3% of claimants being sanctioned down to 2.1%.

Read more

Scottish International Trade Outperforming The Rest Of The UK

Figures released recently by HMRC show that Scotland is outperforming the rest of the United Kingdom when it comes to imports and exports.

In the year to the end of September 2018 Scotland exported £29.6 Billion worth of goods to countries abroad compared to £27.9 Billion in the previous year, a rise of 6.1%.

In contrast the UK as a whole showed only a 4% increase from £322.8 Billion to £335.6 Billion. Read more

Explained: How New Pension Credit Rules Could Cost Couples Up To £7286 Per Year

At 7:20pm on Monday night, under the cloak of everything going on with the Meaningful Vote debate, the Department for Work and Pensions sneaked out an announcement that the eligibility rules for couples wishing to claim Pension Credits would change from May 15th this year.

Under the current rules a couple can apply for Pension Credits once the older partner in the relationship reaches retirement age. The new rules mean that the couple would not be entitled to Pension Credits until both partners had reached retirement age.

Pension Credits are a benefit that tops up a pensioner’s income to a certain amount. In the case of a couple this amount (from April) will be £255.25 per week, meaning the couple would be guaranteed a minimum income of £13,273 per year. Read more

Meaningful Vote: What Exactly Are MPs Voting on?

UPDATE: The speaker has announced that Amendments a, k, b & f will provisionally be voted on tonight (you can find the text of these in the article below). The procedure will be as follows:

  1. Amendment (a) in the name of Jeremy Corbyn will be voted on and if passed the original motion as amended by Amendment (a) will be voted on. If Corbyn’s amendment is defeated we move on to step 2…
  2.  Amendment (k) in the name of Ian Blackford will be voted on and if passed the original motion as amended by Amendment (k) will be voted on. If this amendment is defeated we move on to step 3…
  3. Amendment (b) in the name of Sir Edward Leigh will be voted on and if passed the original motion as amended by Amendment (b) will be voted on. If this amendment is defeated we move on to step 4…
  4. Amendment (f) in the name of John Baron will be voted on and if passed the original motion as amended by Amendment (f) will be voted on. If this amendment is defeated we move on to step 5…
  5. The original PM’s motion as is will be voted upon.

Original Article Below:

Finally the historic day of the “Meaningful Vote” is upon us, but what are MPs actually going to be voting on tonight?

The original motion as laid down by the Prime Minister reads:

“That this House approves for the purposes of section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, the negotiated withdrawal agreement laid before the House on Monday 26 November 2018 with the title ‘Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community’ and the framework for the future relationship laid before the House on Monday 26 November 2018 with the title ‘Political Declaration
setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom’.”

However in today’s Parliamentary Order Paper there are 13 amendments tabled to the Prime Minister’s motion and I will detail them below. How many of these get to be voted on is a decision for the Speaker of the House, John Bercow, to decide. He is free to choose as many of them as he likes and will announce his decision at the beginning of the debate this afternoon. Read more

GE2017 Candidate Spending

Because of one thing and another this post has taken a few months to finally see the light of day but finally you can find out how much every candidate in Scotland spent on campaigning at the General Election in 2017.

These figures are for candidate spending which is spending where a candidate authorises campaigning to promote them at an election. For example, leaflets, billboard advertising, websites and campaign staff costs.

The figures do not include party campaign spending which is spending authorised by a party to promote the party and its policies generally. For example, national newspaper adverts for the party, or leaflets explaining party policy. It also includes spending on promoting candidates at elections where the party nominates a list of candidates for a region, rather than individual candidates for local areas. Unfortunately there is not a feasible way to break this down by Constituency given information available.

Also make sure you check down to the bottom of the article to see why I reported the Liberal Democrats to the Electoral Commission over their candidate spending returns. Read more