Every week, Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP, writes a column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition.
Last week was crunch time in the European Parliament as MEPs voted in favour of ambitious proposals to reform the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). There has been much concern among local fishermen in Berwickshire about the reform of the CFP because the current system has damaged many local businesses. The measures passed last week are certainly a welcome step in the right direction because they will help end the terrible practice of discards and the unnecessary micromanagement from Brussels.
However, the negotiations aren’t over yet and there will be more discussions with fisheries ministers this year before the changes become law. MEPs hope to reach a final deal on the reforms with the Council in June and up until then I will continue to press Ministers to secure the best deal for fishermen in the Borders and across Scotland.
Last weekend, I spent time out and about in the Borders, spreading the news that this April people in the Borders are going to receive another tax cut. This is because the Government is raising the tax-free part of a person’s income to £9,440 – £2,965 higher than in 2010. As a result of these changes over the past 3 years, 5,190 Borderers are being lifted out of tax altogether and 47,500 are receiving a tax cut.
Raising the income tax threshold to put money back in the pockets of low paid workers was the Lib Dems’ top priority on forming the Coalition and I am glad that we are delivering on this for Borderers in Government. This action we are taking, along with other measures on Capital Gains Tax and reducing tax avoidance, is making the tax system fairer so that those with the broadest shoulders pay their share, and those on low incomes pay less.
Pontoon for Eyemouth
Following news in December that the Eyemouth Harbour had been granted over £100,000 for a new pontoon from the Coastal Communities Fund, it was great to hear last week that it is now fully funded by an additional grant from the European Fisheries Fund.
This funding will mean that the existing pontoon availability at the harbour will be doubled, making it more attractive for tourism and dive vessels. I know that the new pontoon will be good for the local economy and I want to congratulate the Eyemouth Harbour Trust and the Council for securing this well-deserved funding.