Glasgow MP joins recruitment drive for Children’s Panel members

Alison Thewliss MP at Buchanan Street Steps

Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, today (Wednesday) joined forces with Children’s Hearings Scotland to launch their campaign to recruit new members of the Children’s Panel.

Children’s Panel members are lay tribunal members who play a vital role in the care and protection of vulnerable children across Scotland. Panel members sit in on children’s hearings, which operate on a rota basis, and make decisions about improving children’s lives.

The Children’s Hearings System was set up in 1971 to deal with children who had committed criminal offences or were in need of care and protection. Since its establishment the Children’s Panel has played an important role in upholding children’s rights and it now focuses on ensuring the protection of children who have experienced abuse and neglect or who are at serious risk of harm.

Commenting on the campaign, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“I’m delighted to give my support to the Children’s Hearings Scotland annual recruitment drive for Children’s Panel members.

“Children’s Panel members are trained volunteers who come from a wide range of backgrounds and sit on hearings in the local communities in which they live or work. Their dedication to securing positive results for children who are at risk of harm or exploitation is truly inspiring.

“Being a Children’s Panel member is a great opportunity to make a difference to the lives of the most vulnerable children in Glasgow. Children’s Hearings Scotland also provide valuable opportunities for training and personal development, including support towards a recognised qualification which is highly valued by employers.

“I encourage constituents across Glasgow Central to take advantage of this worthwhile experience and apply to join the Children’s Panel today.”

Civil servants’ union blasts rape clause plans

Alison Thewliss MP joins supporters at the launch of her campaign to scrap the rape clause

Campaigning MP, Alison Thewliss, has warmly welcomed support from one of the UK’s largest trade unions representing civil servants, which has blasted Government plans for a rape clause and two child policy.

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), which represents civil servants, said it was “firmly opposed” to the Government’s tax credit cuts and said they wanted the two child policy and rape clause to be abandoned.

Ms Thewliss, who first drew attention to the policy during the summer budget of July 2015, welcomed PCS union’s support and has called upon Lord Freud, the Government’s Welfare Reform Minister, not to “ride roughshod” over civil servants’ wishes.

Commenting, the Glasgow Central MP said:

“PCS union’s intervention should serve as a major warning to the Government that they cannot ride roughshod over the wishes of UK civil servants.

“The fact remains that the introduction of a rape clause and two child policy would put civil servants in an incredibly awkward position, almost certainly having to ask intrusive and deeply personal questions of vulnerable women, who have been raped and subject to sexual violence. That simply is not on.

“Like me, PCS have repeatedly raised these concerns with the DWP and no answers have been forthcoming about how this can be handled. The reason no answers are forthcoming is because it’s an unworkable, immoral and abhorrent policy.

“Lord Freud and the DWP should listen to, and respect, the wishes of PCS and its members and abandon this offensive and damaging policy agenda without delay.”

Tories must live up to their rhetoric and scrap regressive policies against women

Alison Thewliss MP joins supporters at the launch of her campaign to scrap the rape clause

Medieval two child policy has still not been scrapped.

The SNP has called on Theresa May to “live up to her rhetoric” of being on the side of ordinary people by scrapping her party’s regressive policies against women.

A report by Engender found that since 2010, £26 billion worth of cuts have been made to benefits, tax credits, pay and pensions and 85% of this has fallen on women’s incomes.

This week, the new Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green confirmed that as part of the delayed roll-out of Universal Credit, the two child policy will continue to operate – meaning a further hit to women’s incomes.

During Women and Equalities Questions in the House of Commons today, SNP MP Alison Thewliss asked what was being done to about women being disproportionately impacted by Tory welfare refoms – Work and Pensions minister Caroline Nokes failed to suggest any way of tackling the imbalance.

Alison Thewliss MP said:

“According to Engender, since 2010 there have been £26 billion of cuts made to benefits, tax credits, pay and pensions with 85% of this coming directly from women’s incomes.

“The Tories are determined to plough on with the roll-out of Universal Credit despite the new Work and Pensions Secretary revealing the roll-out has been delayed for another year and despite the new benefit already being plagued with delays and billions of extra costs.

“The continued roll-out of the Tories’ failed new benefit will also mean the frankly medieval two child policy has still not been scrapped even though it almost certainly breaches the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.

“It is not enough to simply have a female Prime Minister as there is still so much work to be done when it comes to gender equality – Theresa May must live up to her rhetoric.”

Alison Thewliss MP helps constituents get smart with energy

Alison Thewliss MP meeting representatives from British Gas in Parliament.

Alison Thewliss MP is encouraging constituents in Glasgow Central to take advantage of smart meters to help save energy at home.

This week, Ms Thewliss attended a British Gas event at Portcullis House in Westminster, to see how constituents can save money on their bills thanks to innovative energy saving technology.

British Gas’ Smart Energy Experts, who install smart meters in homes, were on hand to showcase the technology and to talk about the benefits to customers, as well as explain the company’s new FreeTime plan, which offers customers free electricity on Saturdays or Sundays between 9am-5pm’.

In Glasgow Central, more than 2100 smart meters have been installed in homes by British Gas.

Ms Thewliss said: “Meeting British Gas’ Smart Energy Experts was a great way to learn how my constituents could benefit from smart meters and the new energy saving plan. I’d urge anyone to find out more about this fantastic technology. Homes can save energy and money on bills.”

British Gas Smart Energy Expert, Nicola Bush, said: “I’m proud to be part of the smart meter roll-out. Smart meters mean an end to estimated bills and the need to give meter readings. Customers can see how much energy they’re using in pounds and pence. It’s a really simple way for our customers to save energy.”

* British Gas smart meters replace standard meters and come with a smart energy monitor which helps people to better understand their energy usage, resulting in potential savings on bills.

* British Gas smart meter customers also benefit from an end to estimated bills, because the meters automatically send accurate readings to the supplier.

* British Gas customers with smart meters can benefit from ground-breaking new plan offering free electricity between 9am and 5pm on Saturday or Sunday.

For further information, visit

Energy-saving tips from British Gas Smart Energy Expert, Nicola Bush:

1. “Turn the lights out. If you leave a room, or don’t need the lights on, flick the switch and turn them off.

2. “Putting hot food in the fridge wastes energy and is bad for your appliance. So let it cool naturally first.

3. “Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need. There’s no point boiling a full kettle if you’re only making tea for yourself.

4. “If you can, do the week’s washing in one go and put a full load into the machine. And if you’ve got an eco-function, put that on too.”

Stop Trident

Alison Thewliss MP campaigning against the renewal of Trident nuclear weapons

It was a pleasure to attend the Stop Trident CND lobby in Parliament yesterday. Next week there will be a vote in the House of Commons on the renewal of Trident and I look forward to joining my SNP colleagues next week in voting against an obscene, immoral and wasteful nuclear weapons system.

Alison Thewliss MP shows her support for ending violence against women and girls

Alison Thewliss MP calls on the UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention and end violence against women

Yesterday (Tuesday 12th July) Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, joined other MPs in showing support for The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (known as the Istanbul Convention). This legislation requires the UK to take measures to prevent violence against women, protect women experiencing violence, and prosecute perpetrators.

The Istanbul Convention Parliamentary lobby was an event run by the IC Change campaign, a campaign for ratification of the Istanbul Convention, which raised awareness about the Convention’s importance and where MPs heard from survivors. The campaign aims to secure the ratification of the Istanbul Convention (IC) in the UK.

Research states that on average, two women in England and Wales are killed every week by a current or former male partner. In Scotland in 2014/15, 1,797 rapes and 104 attempted rapes and 59,882 incidents of domestic abuse were recorded by the police. In Northern Ireland in 2014-15 there were 2,734 sexual offences recorded, including 737 offences of rape, and 13,426 domestic abuse crimes were reported (approximately 13% of the overall crime in Northern Ireland).

Alison Thewliss MP said:

“I am passionate about women’s and girls’ rights and, whilst we are making good progress on tackling violence against women and girls in Scotland, far too many women and girls experience unacceptable violence and intimidation in their day-to-day lives. The SNP has long called for the UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention and I urge them to do so without delay.”

Rebecca Bunce, co-director of the IC change campaign, said “This law is about women’s lives. It is easy to forget when talking about legal technicalities, but ratification is really about women being able to live free from violence and free from the fear of violence.”

She continued “With the promise of the Istanbul Convention, we have already seen progress from the UK government with legislation on forced marriage, psychological violence and female genital mutilation (FGM). We can’t stop now. With uncertain times ahead it is all the more vital that there is a clear legal framework to help end violence against women. We urge the UK government to finish what they started and ratify the Istanbul Convention.”

Jenn Selby, a journalist, campaigner and survivor who attended the lobby, reflected:

“When I think of all the brave women I’ve met on my way through the system, how many years we’d all been waiting for court cases that didn’t happen, all the while deprived of our human right to adequate mental support, I wonder how many of them made it.

“The legal framework did more to see our perpetrators walk free than to keep us alive. This is not justice. Ratifying the Istanbul Convention would end this.

“Not only would the Istanbul Convention mean a government commitment to the adequate funding of women’s services and a stronger survivor-led prosecution service, but also commitment to prevention programmes – so the violence doesn’t happen in the first place.

“This is a life or death situation. The Istanbul Convention is the best legislation currently in existence and it will increase our chances of survival significantly.”

Alison Thewliss MP asks the people of Glasgow “are you feeling breathless?”

Alison Thewliss MP supporting the British Lung Foundation

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, is supporting the British Lung Foundation’s upcoming lung health awareness campaign, taking part in an online ‘breath test’ in the Houses of Parliament on 5th July, and encouraging others to do the same.

During a week-long exhibition at Westminster, the charity will showcase their upcoming Listen to your lungs campaign, due to start in Mid-July. The UK-wide campaign will aim to raise awareness that feeling out of breath doing everyday tasks could be a sign of lung disease.

Public Health Minister, Jane Ellison MP launched the exhibition and ‘breath test’ on 4th July.

The exhibition gives MPs, Peers and visitors to parliament a chance find out more about lung disease in the UK and to test their lung health using an online ‘breath test’, displayed on an interactive display donated by technology company MultiTaction.

The test allows people to check their lung health through a 10 simple questions, based around the Medical Research Council breathlessness scale. The aim is to reassure people who don’t have a problem and guide those with significant breathlessness to make an appointment with their GP.

Alison Thewliss MP said:

“Completing the BLF’s online ‘breath test’ is a really easy way of checking your lung health. I’d encourage everyone to try it. It’ll either give you peace of mind or start you on a path to helping you manage your breathlessness.

“If you’re even slightly worried a loved one has been feeling increasingly short of breath – please, make sure they take the test.”

Irene Johnstone, Head of the British Lung Foundation in Scotland said:

“This parliamentary exhibition gives us a chance to heighten awareness amongst Scottish MPs about the respiratory health challenges affecting many of their constituents in Scotland. BLF Scotland is pushing for change and has asked for a National Lung Improvement Plan for Scotland to halt the increase of lung disease and to see a long term, sustainable improvement in Scotland’s lung health.

“There are nearly 900,000 people in Scotland living with lung disease; the most prevalent conditions are COPD and Lung Cancer. This is a key health issue for the nation impacting on health services and life expectancy.”

The British Lung Foundation wants at least 100,000 people to take the test and share it with their friends and family. To take the test visit:

“Shameless” Prime Minister condemned by SNP MP

Alison Thewliss MP sitting at her desk in Parliament

Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, today branded the Prime Minister shameless for shrugging off repeated international condemnation for his welfare policies.

Ms Thewliss was questioning Prime Minister David Cameron in the House of Commons today (Wednesday 6th July) about recent United Nations condemnation for UK welfare cuts.

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has published a damning new report on the UK’s implementation of economic, social and cultural rights. The Glasgow MP asked the Prime Minister how much more international condemnation was needed before he scrapped his regressive welfare policies, including plans to limit tax credits to two children and a rape clause mechanism.

Ms Thewliss commented:

“Yet again the Prime Minister has behaved in the most utterly shameless way possible by brushing off my calls to respect UN concerns about economic, social and cultural rights, which are clearly impeded by these regressive welfare policies.

“I’m appalled that the Prime Minister can casually dismiss major concerns from highly respected institutions such as the United Nations.

“The rape clause and two child policy, as well as many other welfare changes, take us down a deeply damaging path to social engineering and it will heap further misery on already vulnerable people.

“The Prime Minister needs to put his pride aside and scrap these cruel policies.”

Thewliss presses PM for assurances on EIB loan terms

Alison Thewliss MP speaking in the House of Commons

SNP MP Alison Thewliss this week questioned the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, and lambasted his “hopelessly inadequate” reassurances for Glasgow following the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

Questioning David Cameron in Parliament, Ms Thewliss asked the Prime Minister what reassurances could be provided for businesses and organisations in Glasgow who have benefited from EU Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) grants and European Investment Bank (EIB) finance.

Ms Thewliss said the Prime Minister bumbled his way through the answer and couldn’t give any guarantees to Glasgow.

Commenting from the House of Commons, Ms Thewliss said:

“The Prime Minister’s answer was hopelessly inadequate and will offer no comfort or reassurance whatsoever to companies and organisations in Glasgow worried about their future.

“Hundreds of millions of pounds from the European Investment Bank have led to major investment in Glasgow yet we still don’t know what Brexit will mean for the terms of those loans.

“It beggars belief that Downing Street had no plans in place in the event of Brexit. Contrast this, for example, to the Scottish Government’s weighty white paper which was in place long before the Scottish independence referendum.

“Leaving the EU was always, sadly, a possible outcome when the UK Government legislated for a referendum. The Prime Minister is only now, belatedly and hurriedly, setting up a new department in Whitehall to plan for Brexit. That’s just not good enough; a degree of certainty is crucial for all organisations to plan for the months and years ahead.

“The Prime Minister must make it a top priority to get around the country, visit the businesses and organisations who’ll be affected by Brexit, and obtain answers about what this dreadful decision will mean for them”.

A transcript of the exchange:

Alison Thewliss MP: The Prime Minister said that we are entitled to all the benefits of EU membership up until the point at which we leave. Can I clarify if there has been any discussions about access to EU funding, such as Regional Selective Assistance which has created and safeguarded 10,000 jobs and been worth £83 million to Glasgow since 2010 and the terms and conditions of loans issued by the European Investment Bank, which also provided significant amounts of money and require some clarity for local authorities involved in the loans.

Prime Minister: What I can say is that any contract entered into before Britain leaves the EU should be honoured in full in terms of EU funding for research or for regions of our country. The status we have with respect to the European Investment Bank will have to be determined as part of the negotiations and that is the sort of technical issue that the [dedicated] Whitehall unit can look at now and see what the options are so that we can discuss them in this House.

7 Arches and Gorbals Art project

Alison Thewliss meeting Liz Peden, Director of the 7 Arches Art project.

It was a great pleasure to be invited to the launch of the 7 Arches network and the Gorbals Art Project. These artworks are a fantastic permanent tribute to the rich history of the Gorbals and the Gorbals Art Project do fantastic work in community-led regeneration. I’d like to congratulate the artist Liz Peden and all involved in the project.