Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

 Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP, writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

Royal Highland Show

Mike Moore et al at Royal Highland ShowIn the Borders we have a strong and successful farming industry with local farmers trading their products throughout the UK and abroad and constantly innovating and developing their businesses. Every summer I always attend local rural shows and events in the Borders which are an opportunity to meet with local farm businesses and discuss the work they are doing to expand and create jobs. I also always enjoy attending the Royal Highland Show and was pleased to be able to do so recently at Ingliston.

There was a fantastic array of livestock, food products and businesses on display at the show which gave testament to our flourishing food and drink sector in Scotland. During the day I met up with well kent local faces such as NFUS President Nigel Miller, Vice President Rob Livesey, Alan Murray, back chairing the Royal Highland Show again, Ronald Wilson from the Border Union Agricultural Show and Ray Jones, wearing his Scottish Food and Drink hat. As with every year, time at the Show is home from home and it was good to be able to discuss both local and national farming and industry concerns with fellow Borderers.

The meeting I had with the NFUS executive at the Show was a useful time to discuss the ongoing CAP reform negotiations along with Lib Dem Farming Minister David Heath. The negotiations are reaching crunch time in the next few days and weeks and the decisions which are made will have a huge impact on farmers here in the Borders. During our meeting, David made clear that the UK Government is fighting the corner of Scottish farmers in the negotiations and making the case for a greener, more flexible CAP which takes into account the environmental efforts already being made by our farmers.

There is no doubt that Scottish farmers have a strong and powerful voice as part of the UK in these negotiations and I am glad that once again the NFUS was able to outline the concerns of Scottish Farmers directly with UK Ministers.

Borders College

Hundreds of our local young people attend Borders College every year and gain the vital skills, experience and training they need to move into further education or jobs. The work of the College is absolutely invaluable and I fully support the ongoing efforts of staff to improve the teaching and facilities for the benefit of its students. I met with Liz McIntyre the College Principal last week and we discussed funding for the College as well as opportunities to expand their work with apprentices. It was a very productive meeting and we will continue to work together in the future to ensure that the college is able to give young people in the Borders the best possible training and education.

Armed Forces Day

It was Armed Forces Day last Saturday which was an opportunity to remember those who have died in the service of our country and thank those men and women who continue to serve in extremely challenging conditions across the world.

I was pleased to be able to hold a reception in the Scotland Office in Edinburgh on Friday with members of our Scottish Armed Forces to commemorate the Day. Here in the Borders we have a strong connection to our armed forces and I know that over the weekend many will have taken part in services of thanksgiving.

Boosting the Borders Economy

Last week the Chancellor held his spending review and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury gave a statement on infrastructure spending. In both statements I welcomed moves to boost the UK economy which will benefit businesses here in the Borders.

First of all it was encouraging to see the progress the Government is making on the economy despite the terrible economic situation left to us by the previous Labour Government. The action we have taken has reduced the public spending shortfall by a third, the number of people in work is up by 914,000 since 2010 and interest rates have been kept at near record lows which is good for Borders businesses and families.

I regularly meet with businesses here in the Borders to discuss the challenges and opportunities they face and poor transport links and lack of decent broadband are often cited as key obstacles to growth. As local MP I have been campaigning on these issues for many years so it was great to hear last week that the UK Government will be investing in the A1 north of Newcastle and in high speed broadband.

Although improvements to the A1 will be south of the border, this is still an important route for Borders businesses trading into England and I know it will provide a much-needed boost to our transport links. Now I want to see the Scottish Government to match this investment and dual the A1 in Scotland to bring these benefits closer to home.

The UK government also announced plans to invest an additional £250 million in high-speed broadband across the UK. This funding is on top of £100.8 million which has already been announced to deliver better broadband for Scotland. This money will directly benefit rural areas like the Borders as the Government works to reach 99% high-speed broadband coverage across the UK by 2018.

* 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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This entry was posted in Op-eds, Parliament and Scotland.
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