New PM implored to stand up for women and scrap rape clause threat

Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, has written to the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, urging her to “stand up for vulnerable women and scrap the rape clause”.

Writing to Theresa May after the Government announced its autumn statement would take place Wednesday 23rd November, the Glasgow MP urged the Prime Minister to do the right thing and abandon the previous Government’s plans to restrict tax credits to two children and compel women whose third child was born as the result of rape to justify this to Department of Work & Pensions officials.

Ms Thewliss has been campaigning for the tax credit changes to be scrapped since July 2015, when they were first announced by the Government. Since then, she has:

This week, the campaigning MP has written to Downing Street, calling upon Theresa May to use the recent change in Government and forthcoming Autumn Statement to abolish the deeply flawed changes to tax credits.

In addition, Ms Thewliss was informed today (Tuesday) that she has been granted a Westminster debate, which she says she will use to “interrogate” Ministers on their proposed plans.

Commenting, the Glasgow Central MP said:

“Theresa May certainly wasn’t shy in weeding out many of the former Prime Minister’s allies in the cabinet, and she is obviously not afraid to do things differently from David Cameron.

“Given that she’s had the courage to do this and to review some of the previous Government’s key policy commitments, I am today calling upon her to scrap a very real and serious policy which is still frightening vulnerable women and welfare charities all over the UK.

“Since summer 2015, I’ve been pursuing the Government on their deeply flawed plans to restrict tax credit payments to two children per family.

“Equally worrying is their medieval plan to introduce a rape clause, whereby certain exemptions will be made – and tax credits paid – if a women can prove her third child was conceived as a result of rape.

“Earlier this year, I had an dreadful meeting with the Welfare Minister, Lord Freud, who struggled to answer basic questions and suggested that women in abusive relationships – where the majority of rapes still happen – should just flee. This showed the Minister to be completely ignorant of the very real dangers some women face.

“I am pleased to have secured a parliamentary debate on this issue to interrogate the Government on their cruel and unworkable policy. Over a year on from announcing it, they still don’t know how it could be implemented.

“A parliamentary debate, change in personnel in Government, as well as the forthcoming Autumn Statement, means that Theresa May has plenty of opportunities to do the right thing, stand up for vulnerable women and scrap the rape clause.

“This needn’t be about saving face for the Prime Minister. It’s about this Prime Minister standing up for other women, doing the decent thing and getting shot of this wicked policy agenda”.

Unsolicited Marketing Communications (Company Directors) Bill

Delighted to support my colleague Patricia Gibson MP’s Bill to clamp down on unsolicited telemarketing calls by making company directors accountable for these calls. I know that many constituents, often vulnerable people, are being targeted by unwanted marketing and sales calls and I hope that the Bill will receive cross-party support. I also support Which’s Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign, which seeks to name and shame repeat offenders to the ICO’s office.

I’m also keen to see the outright banning of marketing calls that offer high-cost consumer credit products, such as payday loans. In response to a written parliamentary question, the UK Government has confirmed that a review will be published by the end of the year, and I look forward to seeing tough action against companies who target vulnerable people with products that can push them further into debt.

Thewliss visits Princess Royal Maternity wards

Glasgow Central MP, Alison Thewliss, today (Friday) visited the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital to meet with staff and learn more about their efforts to tackle Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).

The city MP’s visit coincided with the launch of a poster campaign to make people aware of the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

Children with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome often have problems with neurological development, abnormal growth, and have characteristic facial features that result from their foetal exposure to alcohol.

Commenting after her visit, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“It was lovely to be back at the Princess Royal Maternity again where my own two wee ones were born. I am really grateful to the busy staff at the Princess Royal Maternity for their time today.

“We discussed some of the increasing challenges to the NHS that arise as a result of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Unfortunately the rates of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome are still too high and the poster campaign launched today is clear – it’s best to stay alcohol free during pregnancy.”

MP in “certainty” plea to Government over Yemeni asylum seekers

Alison Thewliss MP sitting at her desk in Parliament

Scottish National Party MP, Alison Thewliss, today pressed the UK Government to provide “safety and certainty” and grant refugee status to asylum seekers from Yemen.

Taking part in an exchange with Foreign Office Minister, Tobias Ellwood, regarding breaches of humanitarian law in Yemen, the Glasgow Central MP said the Government was failing woefully to help provide certainty to Yemeni asylum seekers.

With most of the debate between MPs and the Minister focusing on British arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the worsening humanitarian crisis in Yemen, Ms Thewliss seized on recent figures from the Home Office which show that in the second quarter of 2016 alone thirteen Yemenis were refused asylum in the UK and a further fifty-seven applications were still showing as pending. She called upon Foreign Office Minister, Tobias Ellwood, to help provide certainty to Yemeni asylum seekers.

Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“It beggars belief that the Foreign Office are aware of the awful humanitarian crisis in the Yemen, yet the Home Office – in their characteristically obtuse manner – still have their heads in the sand.

The most recent Home Office statistics show that they’ve rejected asylum claims from thirteen Yemeni asylum seekers. Where exactly do they expect them to go if they don’t want to give them refugee status? Are they seriously suggesting they should return to Yemen which is quite literally a war zone?

“Equally as bad is the fact that the Home Office have kicked another fifty-seven asylum applications into the long grass with no decision. These people urgently need certainty; people are lying awake at night worrying whether they will be forced to return to a country suffering brutal conflict and severe humanitarian disaster.

“Ministers need to show some humanity and grant Yemeni citizens status in the UK, not leave them in fear of being returned to a war zone”.

Glasgow MP encourages community groups to apply for charity funding

Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, today called on community groups across Glasgow to apply for funding from the “Chosen by you, given by us” programme run by the Asda Foundation.

The programme, which awards grants to community groups located close to major Asda stores, gives Asda customers the chance to nominate local groups and vote for their favourite groups to receive funding. In the latest round of funding, St Fillan’s Primary School was awarded £500 and Camglen Road and Hollybrook Academy were awarded £200 each.

With more and more supermarkets and businesses using the funds raised from the Scottish Government’s 5p bag charge to support good causes, Ms Thewliss is encouraging groups across Glasgow and beyond to make the most of the funding available for local projects.

Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“It’s great to see many different schools, community groups and non-profit organisations across Glasgow benefit from this excellent initiative by Asda, which provides vital support for organisations which are working at the heart of the community.

“I’m also pleased to see that more and more businesses are using the funds raised from the Scottish Government’s 5p bag charge, which has raised over £1 million for charity in the last year alone. This initiative is one of many funding programmes that are available for community groups across Glasgow.

“I hope many more charities and community groups in Glasgow will take the opportunity to apply for the funds offered from programmes funded by the 5p bag charge and I am always happy to help point groups in the right direction for funding which matches their needs.”

Glow Gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Graphic showing the symptoms of childhood cancer

Today marks the start of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. It’s vital that cancer is diagnosed at an early stage and I encourage everyone to be on the lookout for the early warning signs of cancer in children and young people. You should also be on the lookout for buildings glowing gold in the month of September to raise awareness of childhood cancer – visit to find out more. #glowgold #ccam

MP praises Step Change debt charity

SNP MP Alison Thewliss has praised a national debt advice charity based in her Glasgow Central constituency. The Westminster MP was visiting Step Change as part of her summer recess visits.

Step Change, which is headquartered in Leeds but has over 40 staff in its Glasgow base, assisted almost 7,000 clients in Scotland within the last year. Figures show that the average debt per Step Change client in Scotland is approximately £12,500. Now the SNP MP is calling for anyone worried about debt to get in touch with Step Change by calling on 0800 138 1111.

Commenting after her visit, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“I really appreciated the opportunity to visit Step Change’s Glasgow base and to learn more about the invaluable service they provide to those with concerns around debt and personal finance.

“People can fall into debt for a whole variety of reasons – a change in employment, reduced income or benefits, lack of budgeting or a relationship breakdown.

Step Change is there to help people get back on their feet with practical help like putting a budget together, negotiating reduced payments with creditors or even just being a listening ear over the phone.

“I would recommend that anyone who feels they cannot cope financially gets in touch with Step Change by calling their free advice line on 0800 138 1111.”

Thewliss condemns “anti-foreigner” rhetoric from the UK Government

Alison Thewliss MP at Buchanan Street Steps

SNP MP Alison Thewliss has condemned the UK Government for what she says is yet more “anti-foreigner rhetoric emanating from Downing Street”.

With newspapers recently covering a story that the Government is to launch an initiative to crackdown on student migrants, Ms Thewliss says that moves to do so would be deeply damaging to the city of Glasgow.

As well as being home to many college campuses, the Glasgow Central constituency includes Glasgow School of Art, the University of Strathclyde, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Glasgow Caledonian University – all of which have thousands of international students studying in the city.

The Glasgow Central MP has written to Prime Minister, Theresa May, urging her to abandon any proposals to deter international students.

Commenting, Ms Thewliss said:

“This continued anti-foreigner rhetoric emanating from Downing Street is deeply damaging for the city of Glasgow.

“Glasgow is enormously enriched by the thousands of talented international students who come to learn in our world class education establishments.

“Our universities work incredibly hard to attract students to the UK, who bring their skills as well as funding. Universities are already facing challenges in attracting international students due to the removal of the post-study work visa, and students are choosing to go instead to countries which make them make them more welcome.

“UK Government moves to further restrict international students will only serve to undermine the efforts of universities. This comes as yet a further blow to universities which are already set to lose crucial Horizon 2020 funding.

“The UK’s decision to leave the European Union in June – despite Scotland voting overwhelmingly to remain – has already caused concern for EU nationals currently studying in Scotland. Theresa May’s Government should be focussing on making people feel welcome – not digging a deeper moat, pulling up the drawbridge and adopting a little Britain attitude.”

Back to School Bank

Supplies donated to the office of Alison Thewliss MP by volunteers from the Back to School Bank.

Many thanks to the volunteers at Back to School Bank for providing my constituents with essential school supplies for their children. It is a shame that this service is needed in 21st century Scotland, however I am pleased that they were able to help out in a difficult situation. They are on the lookout for volunteers so like their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter to find out more about your local school uniform bank and how you can help them out.