Michael Moore’s Westminster Notes

Every week, Michael Moore MP, Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland, writes a column for newspapers in his Borders constituency. Here’s the latest edition in which he is too modest, however, to draw attention to the fact that he won Best Scot at Westminster in the Herald’s Scottish Politician of the Year awards,  

Post Offices

In recent months a number of my constituents have written to me expressing concern that the Post Office Network might not win the renewal of the DVLA contract to provide driving licence and tax disc services. So I was pleased last week to hear the news that the Post Office bid for the contract had been successful.

In Berwickshire, Post Offices are a vital part of our communities and the previous Government’s closure programme saw many of our local Post Offices closed with local people having to travel further to access the service. One of the first commitments of the Coalition Government was to end Labour’s closure programme and, with £1 billion of new investment, we are ensuring that the Network is modernised to meet the needs of customers and sustainable for the future. This news last week provides a further boost to our local Post Offices and I am pleased that the new deal means that the Post Office will be able to bid for other Government contracts in the future.

Shared parental leave

Last week Lib Dem BIS Minister Jo Swinson and the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg announced new proposals to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees. The Liberal Democrats have long supported more flexible working and parental leave so I am extremely proud that we are delivering on this in Government.

Shared parental leave is about fairness for women in the workplace and equality for men and women as they plan their families and careers. The proposals will mean that people can decide which parent takes the parental leave and both are entitled to ask for flexible working. The plans will also extend to grandparents who have childcare responsibilities. I think this is great news for my constituents and it will also help local employers attract and retain women in their organisations and prevent women dropping out of the workforce once they start a family.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Last week, in my role as Secretary of State for Scotland, I was honoured to inaugurate the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Trail in the Pyrenées Orientales, a project led by Robin Crichton. The trail is a magnificent tribute to the life and works of the great Scottish architect and artist and I was very impressed with the three exhibitions on the trail which were put together by Glasgow University and the Glasgow School of Art. During the day’s festivities I unveiled a bronze plaque by British sculptor Jane Robbins commemorating Mackintosh and the day’s events were accompanied by pipers and Catalan dancers from the town. I attended the inauguration with former Borders MP David Steel who played a key role in bringing about the trail and I am pleased to say it has already become a major tourist attraction in the region.

* Michael Moore was the Liberal Democrat MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk from 1997-2015 and Secretary of State for Scotland from 2010-2013.

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