12 Nov Central Fife Times Politicians Opinion Article (August)
Scotland’s Baby Box
The introduction of Scotland’s Baby Box has been a huge hit with mums and dads the length and breadth of our country. In the past week The Royal College of Midwives announced that it supports the universal provision of the baby box across the UK, which would give the same benefits to those parents and their babies, not just in Scotland, but in England, Wales and Northern Ireland too. So c’mon Westminster – catch up with Scotland! The box is currently offered to every new born in Scotland by the Scottish Government. The baby box aims to give a fair and equal start to all children and packed with goodies to give every wee one the best start in life…and their parents love them too.
The Queensferry Crossing
The Queensferry Crossing Audit Scotland report, out last week gave an overwhelmingly positive reaction on how the project was managed. It went on to say that Transport Scotland delivered value for money and showed strong and consistent leadership throughout the project. The bridge cost £110m less than expected and it’s quite clear that not only is it a design icon, but with no closures due to high winds and resultant accidents the bridge is proving to be more reliable than the previous Forth Road Bridge crossing. I am more than a little disappointed with our political opponents, all of whom did not want the new bridge to be built. Luckily for Fife, the SNP Scottish Government just got on with the job anyway!
It’s a bit of a Malta-teaser
One of the smallest countries in the EU is Malta. Earlier this year, despite having the population of less than a tenth of that of Scotland they held the Presidency of the EU Council for 6 months. The Presidency means that they lead discussions between EU governments as well as negotiating draft laws with the European Parliament, and it’s a role that is at the centre of Europe. And small nation Malta turned out to be rather good at it — negotiating deals to push through legislation in dozens of policy areas. What is at stake now is the future status of whether the 9500 Maltese citizens who have called Scotland their home get to stay here and whether Scots who have set up home in Malta can remain there after Brexit. I have had many EU citizens write to me (not just from Malta!) asking for clarity about their future as they work here in the likes of our NHS, their kids go to school here, and they pay tax into our system. Despite several ministerial changes by the Tory Prime Minister, the Brexit quagmire continues to affect families, the pound in your pocket and jobs here in Fife. However until we become independent like Malta, we’re stuck with whatever Westminster throws at Scotland…including mad-cap Brexit!
Douglas Chapman MP
MP for Dunfermline & West Fife