Chancellor must scrap tampon tax as more major stores absorb costs for consumers

Alison Thewliss MP sitting at her desk in Parliament

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, has called on the Chancellor to scrap the tampon tax for good, following the Co-op’s announcement today (29th August) that they will cover the cost of the tax for their customers.

Several big retail companies, including Tesco, Waitrose, Morrisons and Lloyds Pharmacy, have already announced that they will absorb the cost of the tampon tax for their customers before it is scrapped entirely.

In October 2015, the UK Government announced that it had reached agreement with the European Commission to scrap the tampon tax, after an amendment to the 2015 Finance Bill forced them to explore options to remove the levy. In March 2016, the UK Government promised to bring forward legislation to scrap the tampon tax by changing the bands at which VAT is applied to tampons and sanitary products.

However, over a year since the UK Government promised new laws to remove VAT on tampons and sanitary products, they remain subject to 5% VAT and no legislation has been brought before Parliament to end the tampon tax.

Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“I am pleased that the Co-op have joined several other major retailers in paying the cost of the tampon tax for their customers. However, retailers should not need to mitigate the cost of an unjust tax that the UK Government has already promised to scrap.

“It is appalling that, over a year since the UK Government promised to end the injustice of taxing periods, no draft legislation has been brought to the House of Commons to remove VAT from tampons and sanitary products. This issue has been running on for far too long and too many women are still being taxed for their periods, despite the commitments of some retailers to shield their customers from the tampon tax.

“The only way to guarantee that all women will benefit from the tampon tax being axed is for new laws to be brought in without further delay. The Chancellor must now come to Parliament with a clear plan and timetable to end this unjust tax once and for all.”

Alison Thewliss MP supports heart disease and stroke patients in Glasgow Central

Last week Alison Thewliss MP met with health experts to discuss the burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in Glasgow Central.

Latest figures show that there are 14,400 people living with heart disease and stroke in Glasgow Central.

Ms Thewliss attended an event in Westminster held by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Heart Disease and met with experts from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to learn more about the levels of CVD locally, and ways to improve patient care.

They also discussed the progress the group had made on other issues such as heart failure, and inherited heart conditions.

Commenting on the meeting, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“Cardiovascular disease is a devastating condition responsible for more than a quarter of all UK deaths, and it is the most common cause of hospital admission for people over 65 years of age.

“Politicians in Westminster and the British Heart Foundation are working to support people burdened by heart disease and stroke, and find new ways of improving care in Glasgow Central.

“It’s vitally important that we work together to ensure that people living with cardiovascular disease in Glasgow Central get access to the care and support they need.”

Glasgow MP: Tories must reverse further cuts to disability benefits

Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, has called on the UK Government to re-examine the criteria for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), after it emerged that changes to the criteria for PIP have severely disadvantaged claimants with long term mental health problems.

At Prime Minister’s Questions today, Ms Thewliss raised the case of a constituent whose mental health condition is so severe that she has had over 50 separate admissions to psychiatric care. She needs regular assistance to manage her condition, which currently qualifies her for Disability Living Allowance but not for Personal Independence Payment. She stands to lose £110 a week as a result of the UK Government’s planned transition from DLA to PIP.

In March 2017, the UK Government brought in a change to the eligibility criteria to Personal Independence Payment, in light of a tribunal rulings which stated that people who required supervision to take medication for a long-term health condition should be awarded more points in the PIP assessment.

The change is estimated to deny at least 2,000 people with long-term mental health conditions access to Personal Independence Payment, according to figures provided by the DWP’s own Equality Impact Assessment – around 1.2% of the total number of people who claim PIP.

Ms Thewliss has written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to ask for an urgent review of the PIP criteria, to ensure that people who require long-term monitoring of medical conditions can continue to receive the support they need.

Speaking after Prime Minister’s Questions, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“The denial of PIP to my constituent demonstrates the real human cost of the Tories’ callous austerity agenda. My constituent, and many like her, have been placed in a very difficult position because of the Tories’ obsession with cutting social security for some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“When changes to the PIP criteria were introduced in March 2017, the Government’s own assessments indicated that a small, specific group of people with long-term mental health conditions would lose out on crucial financial support. The Government ignored the warnings given and decided to press ahead with targeting some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“The Prime Minister’s promises of radical action on mental health are ringing hollow today. If Theresa May is serious about supporting people with serious mental health conditions, she must act to reverse the changes to PIP immediately.”

Alison Thewliss MP supports Summer Reading Challenge

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, is supporting a campaign run by Scottish libraries, Tesco Bank and The Reading Agency to encourage children to take part in this year’s Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge Scotland.

The annual Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge Scotland, run by national charity The Reading Agency in partnership with Scotland’s libraries and Tesco Bank, encourages children to read at least six books of their choosing over the summer holidays, a time when children’s literacy skills traditionally dip. This year the initiative follows on naturally from the inaugural First Minister’s Reading Challenge which runs during term time, helping to contribute to a continuation of children’s reading in the break from school.

Research shows that reading for pleasure is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background, and that children who use libraries are twice as likely to be above average readers.

The Challenge is a unique partnership between The Reading Agency and public libraries across the UK which last year got over three quarters of a million children borrowing, reading and talking about their favourite books.

This year’s challenge theme is Animal Agents, based on a detective agency staffed by all kinds of clever animals – furry, scaly and slippery – who are out to crack a case with a little help from their friends. Tony Ross, the UK’s best-selling children’s illustrator (including creator of the Little Princess books, illustrator of the Horrid Henry series by Francesca Simon, and books by David Walliams and Claire Balding), has created this year’s exclusive artwork.

To take part, all children need to do is to head to their local library where they will be given a collector folder to keep a record of their reading journey. Children that read at least six library books over the summer, will collect stickers which will give them helpful clues to crack the case and help the Animal Agents find out what’s really been going on!

Alison Thewliss MP said: “I hope parents, grandparents and carers in Glasgow will take their children to the library over the summer to sign up for the Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge Scotland. The challenge is free, inclusive and makes reading fun – a vital ingredient in building literacy.’

Sue Wilkinson, CEO of The Reading Agency said: “At The Reading Agency, we believe that everything changes when we read and we know from our research how much fun families and children have when taking part in the Challenge. This year we hope the wonderful characters created for us by Tony Ross will inspire more children than ever to take part and make use of their local library throughout the summer and beyond.”

Adele Mills, Senior Community Investment Manager at Tesco Bank said: “Reading for pleasure is one of the best ways to spend the long summer holiday so we’re delighted that over 40,000 children from across the country will get involved in the Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge Scotland through their local library. The Challenge aims to inspire children to pick up and enjoy reading books – something that will undoubtedly have a positive effect on their future.”

For more information on the Summer Reading Challenge including how to get involved and resources for schools, go to

Follow the Summer Reading Challenge at and on Twitter @readingagency #summerreadingchallenge

Alison Thewliss MP supports campaign to revolutionise Parkinson’s research

This Parkinson’s Awareness Week Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, has pledged their support to the charity Parkinson’s UK’s We Won’t Wait campaign, calling for urgent action to unlock the promise of research developments that could pave the way to better treatments and stop Parkinson’s drugs ‘falling behind’.

Alison Thewliss MP said;

“While great strides have been made over the past 200 years, people with Parkinson’s are still waiting for a treatment that can tackle the condition head on.

“Because of this, I am supporting Parkinson’s UK’s We Won’t Wait campaign: we need a complete step change to deliver better treatments and a cure faster.”

Research released by the charity revealed that despite being an incurable, degenerative condition which can affect anyone, in Scotland:

• Almost half (48%) of people are unsure, or wrongly say that it is possible to prevent Parkinson’s.
• Four in five (83%) are unsure, or incorrectly think that there is no limit to the amount of time Parkinson’s medication works for.
• Two in three (65%) wrongly believe that Parkinson’s medication does more than mask or ease the symptoms of the condition.

Parkinson’s UK wants to drive forward crucial developments in Parkinson’s research and to pioneer more effective treatments that are desperately needed for the 11,000 people in Scotland currently living with the condition.

Commenting on Alison Thewliss MP’s pledge, Katherine Crawford, Scotland Director at Parkinson’s UK said;

“We are delighted that Alison Thewliss MP is supporting our crucial campaign to transform Parkinson’s research. People with Parkinson’s across Scotland are telling us that they need access to new and better treatments to improve their lives, and ultimately a cure for this cruel condition.”

SNP politicians welcome rejection of city centre student accommodation proposal

Angus Millar, SNP Councillor for Anderston/City ward and Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, have today welcomed the decision by Glasgow City Councillors to reject a student accommodation development in Glasgow city centre.

Ms Thewliss and Cllr Millar, along with many other local residents and organisations, objected to the proposals to build a large student accommodation complex directly in front of Glasgow School of Art’s iconic Mackintosh building. A decision on the application was originally deferred on 7th March to allow a further hearing to take place and enable residents to voice further concerns about the proposed development.

Following the hearing this morning, councillors decided to reject the application entirely.

Commenting on the committee’s decision, Cllr Angus Millar said:

“I am delighted that this application has been refused, having attended the hearing this morning to argue against these proposals, which were overwhelmingly opposed by the community.

“The Mackintosh Building is a unique part of Glasgow’s cultural heritage and any development on this site must respect and enhance the character of the area – unlike these deeply damaging plans to throw up yet more private student accommodation.

“Communities in the city centre are all too clear that their areas are saturated with unwanted private student housing, instead of the kind of positive development and mixed communities we should be creating.

“I am so pleased to congratulate the Garnethill community, the Art School and all of the others opposed to these damaging plans for their brilliant success in persuading the council to refuse planning permission.

Commenting on the application, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“Like many others, I was pleased to learn today that yet another monolithic student development, which would dwarf an iconic part of Glasgow’s skyline, has been refused planning permission.

“The decision to reject this application is very much welcome. I am delighted that councillors have taken on board the views of residents at today’s hearing, which further exposed the folly of these plans and highlighted the significant misgivings the local community have about this wholly inappropriate development.

“Whilst today’s decision is excellent news for many residents, it’s clear that significant concerns remain about the saturation of student accommodation in the city centre. Currently there is no means of establishing the need for this type of accommodation, this must be addressed urgently through a comprehensive housing strategy.

“The SNP understands that Glasgow needs a mixed approach to housing; voting for SNP councillors on 4th May will deliver the high quality housing Glasgow needs for future generations to come.”

Alison Thewliss MP supports Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central is supporting Bowel Cancer UK’s campaign to urge more people to take part in bowel cancer screening and save lives, as part of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month in April.

More than 1,500 people die from bowel cancer in Scotland every year, it’s the country’s second biggest cancer killer.  However, it shouldn’t be. It’s treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early. Bowel cancer screening can save lives but at the moment in some areas of the country only half of those who receive a test complete it. Thousands of people are missing out on the chance to detect bowel cancer early when it is easier to treat.

Alison Thewliss MP said, “I am committed to improving uptake rates for bowel cancer screening, both locally and nationally. Glasgow has one of the lowest uptakes of screening for bowel cancer and I would urge my constituents who are sent a bowel screening test to use it.  Taking part in bowel cancer screening is the best way to get diagnosed early.  If you are over 50, take the test when you receive it in the post. If you are younger, tell the people over 50 in your life to take the test. Early diagnosis really can save lives.”

Deborah Alsina, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said, “I’d like to thank Alison Thewliss MP for supporting our campaign during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month to raise participation levels for bowel cancer screening. In Scotland, one in 15 men and one in 19 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime but it is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.”

The Scotland Bowel Cancer Screening Programme can detect bowel cancer at an early stage in people with no symptoms when it is easier to treat. If you’re registered with a GP and aged 50-74, you will receive a test in the post every two years. You carry out the simple test at home in private and it comes with step by step instructions. The test looks for hidden blood in your poo, which could be an early sign of bowel cancer.

Alison Thewliss MP supports Be Cervix Savvy roadshow in Glasgow

Glasgow Central MP Alison Thewliss is supporting Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust’s first ever cervical cancer prevention Roadshow. The Be Cervix Savvy Roadshow is in Glasgow from 20 – 31st March and aims to raise much needed awareness about cervical cancer and how to prevent it.

Commenting on the roadshow, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“Cervical screening provides the best protection against cervical cancer yet the number of women attending this potentially life-saving test in Scotland is at a 10 year low and Glasgow has the lowest attendance rate across Scotland. This needs to change. I am proud to support Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust in their efforts to raise awareness of cervical cancer and how it can be prevented. It is vital more women understand the signs of cervical cancer and how the HPV vaccination and cervical screening can reduce risk of the disease.”

Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said:

“We are delighted that Alison Thewliss is supporting our Roadshow. Cervical cancer is largely preventable, yet every year over 3,000 women are given a life-changing cervical diagnosis, and every day two women lose their lives to the disease. Through our Roadshow we hope to reach hundreds of women across Glasgow, providing vital and potentially life-saving information about how they can reduce their risk of the disease and where they can access support. I want to encourage anyone with worries or questions to come and have a chat with our trained team.”

The Be Cervix Savvy Roadshow will visit 11 cities over a 14 week period across the UK. The Roadshow will visit four locations in Glasgow, George Square (20-21 March), Buchanan Street (23-24 March), Shandwick Square (27-28 March) and Forge Market (30-31 March), and the charity hopes to engage with over 800 women in the city.

MP makes Earth Hour pledge for climate change

Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, has signed up to support WWF’s tenth Earth Hour by making a special pledge to help protect the planet. The world is changing – fast – and it’s never been more important to show support for action on climate change. Ms Thewliss is one of many who joined WWF in Westminster at their reception this week to show they care about the future of our planet, ahead of the global lights out event, taking place on Saturday 25 March at 8:30pm. Earth Hour Heroes is supported by the players of the Peoples’ Postcode Lottery who joined the event.

MPs from all political parties are celebrating Earth Hour, sending a united message that this is a pivotal time for our planet and more needs to be done to tackle climate change and build a sustainable future.

Commenting on the pledge, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“I am delighted to support WWF’s Earth Hour this year to demonstrate how important it is that we take climate change seriously. The SNP-led Scottish Government have already exceeded the level of their world-leading 2020 target for a 42% reduction six years early. I will continue to urge the UK Government to follow the excellent example set by the Scottish Government on reducing emissions and tackling climate change.”

Each year, millions of people around the world come together to call for action to protect our brilliant planet. Last year a record 178 countries took part and iconic landmarks across the UK switched out their lights, from Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, to Brighton Pier, Edinburgh Castle and Caerphilly Castle. This year is set to be the biggest yet as it’s the 10 year anniversary of Earth Hour. With 2016 breaking temperature records for the third consecutive year, it’s never been more important to tackle climate change.

Naomi Hicks, Head of WWF UK’s Earth Hour, said:

“We are at a real crossroads when it comes to our planet’s future. We all need to act and do what we can to protect our planet from the impacts of climate change. That’s why it’s great that MPs are giving their support to this year’s campaign and we hope they will inspire many others in their constituencies and communities to sign up and get involved on 25th March.

Rape clause emergency debate application turned down

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

SNP MP, Alison Thewliss, has expressed her frustration at the decision of the Speaker of the House of Commons to reject her application for an emergency debate on the UK Government’s proposed rape clause, due to come into force on Thursday 6th April 2017.

Speaking from Westminster after invoking Standing Order 24 and calling for an emergency debate – which was rejected – Ms Thewliss said she would not give up the fight to protect vulnerable women and families. Tory Ministers last week quietly used a negative statutory instrument to try and railroad the rape clause onto the statute books without a parliamentary debate or vote.

The Government has stated that it will expect nurses, doctors and social workers to act as third party arbitrators. This means that public service workers will have to judge whether or not a child has been conceived as a result of rape, simply in order for a woman to be exempt from the two child policy. Recent parliamentary answers given to Alison Thewliss MP suggest that the over 660,000 nurses, doctors and social workers in the UK have not been given adequate sexual violence awareness training to exercise the exemption.

Commenting after Mr Speaker rejected her application, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“For 18 months, I’ve pursued this Tory Government relentlessly on its plan to introduce a pernicious two child policy and medieval rape clause. Today’s decision not to allow the emergency debate is incredibly frustrating, but I won’t just give up.

“In determining that my application did not merit an emergency debate, the Speaker noted that I had tabled an arcane motion of prayer to annul the law – indeed, at the advice of Commons clerks. What the Speaker did not say was that the last time such a motion of prayer worked was in 1979. This is just one example of the many ways in which the procedures of the House of Commons are so arcane, irrelevant and medieval that it fails the people we, as MPs, seek to represent.

“The clock is ticking; the rape clause is due to come into force in the next couple of weeks but I’ll keep on working to make this Government think again.”