This is my fortnightly column which is published first in the Fife Herald, East Fife Mail, and St Andrews Citizen.
Parliament is now in its summer recess, with debates, voting and other parliamentary business on hold until MPs return to Westminster in September. But even with Parliament shut MPs’ work continues. My office remains open and my staff and I will continue to engage with my constituents on the wide variety of issues we are contacted about. It is a chance to spend more time in North East Fife, and indeed I will be crossing the constituency as part of a summer tour with my colleague Willie Rennie.
The end of the parliamentary term is also a chance to look back over recent months and some of the issues I have worked on.
Undoubtedly my proudest moment of recent months was passing the Carer’s Leave Act into law. I led the legislation through Parliament as a Private Member’s Bill. It will give unpaid carers specific employment rights for the first time, and has the potential to help hundreds of thousands of people across the country as they balance working and care.
Energy has continued to be a major concern for many constituents. Rising prices have put households under enormous pressure, but on top of that many energy companies have shown shockingly poor customer service, piling on the worry and stress. I have raised these issues in Parliament, leading a debate on the topic, calling on the prime minister to bring in a charter of consumer rights for energy companies, and meeting government officials to discuss problems with smart meters.
Maintaining local services is also a key priority in North East Fife. Recently announced bank closures in Falkland, Cupar and St Andrews have caused concern. Last week I presented a petition against the closures in Parliament. I have also met with the banks, and with LINK and the Cash Action Group to ensure that access to cash is maintained as a minimum. I have also pushed for bank hubs to be established as a way to offer in-person services and greater choice.
Those are just some of the key issues. I have also challenged the government of lengthy delays at the DVLA which prevent people for working. I have continued my work on the Scottish Affairs Committee, hearing evidence on the impact of rising prices in rural parts of the country. I have opposed pieces of government legislation including the Public Order Act and and the Illegal Migration Act. I have pressed for farmers to get long-term clarity on seasonal agricultural visas.
I will continue to work on the priorities of people in North East Fife, and I look forward to spending more time across the constituency in the coming weeks.