David Stewart MSP

Archive for April 2009

Concerns raised about Road Equivalent Tariff

29 April 2009

David Stewart, Highlands and Islands regional Labour MSP, is contacting the Transport Minister after concerns have been raised about the impact of the Road Equivalent Tariff.

Residents on the Western Isles have contacted Mr Stewart about the amount of journeys they are receiving when exchanging their concessionary vouchers.

Mr Stewart said: “In a particular case, one constituent travelling from Lewis exchanged his annual allocation of concessionary vouchers for ferry tickets, but was told that he would only be entitled to two return journeys.

“Prior to the introduction of the Road Equivalent Tariff, he would have received a six journey book of tickets.”

“It is clear that there is an imbalance between the old and new systems and that there are people on the Western Isles who are being short changed in terms of travel compared to people in different areas of the country.”

Mr Stewart added: “The Road Equivalent Tariff is supposed to set ferry fares on the basis of the cost of travelling an equivalent distance by road.

“The high cost of ferry fares have been seen by many as a barrier to economic growth on the islands.

“I will be writing to the Transport Minister, Stewart Stevenson about this issue, and hopefully get a resolution to this problem for the residents of these areas who rely on ferries to get to the mainland.”


Written by davidstewart

April 29, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

North MSP fights case for Highland League

24 April 2009

David Stewart, Highlands and Islands regional Labour MSP, has written to Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell over the impact of the minimum wage ruling.

The decision would hit semi-professional footballers in leagues across the country paid for their training sessions and travel time, as well as their games.

Mr Stewart said: “The minimum wage is a vital piece of legislation brought in at Westminster to help fight low levels of pay.

“It is something I supported during my time as an MP, but it is clear that we should be looking at carefully in relation to semi professional footballers.

“I have received some concerns about the cost implications for clubs.

“These could all add up and could force some to change their status to amateur.

“For Highland League Clubs especially, the costs for travelling time will all add up.

“It is routine for Wick Academy to travel to play Cove Rangers or Buckie Thistle to head to Fort William.

“Under these new rules, the squads will be paid from the moment they get on the bus which can amount to round trips of ten hours or more.

“For these players, this is a hobby and something they do for the love of the game, not because of the amount they are paid for it.

“Most players have a job or another source of income, and don’t rely on their earnings from ninety minutes.

“It is an activity which brings a community together and the clubs themselves are also run by volunteer committees.

Mr Stewart added: “In a time when we are urging the nation to be as fit and active as possible in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow the London Olympics, there is a real worry over where the rules will stop

“Will this impact on other sports?

“This may just be the thin end of the wedge.

I have written to the Minister for Work and Pensions.

“Hopefully we can find a resolution to this issue to allow footballer to continue to play and keep clubs in business.”

Written by davidstewart

April 24, 2009 at 10:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Stewart welcomes decision on HMRC decision on Inverness Leisure Membership Packages

17 April 2009

David Stewart, Highlands and Islands regional Labour MSP, is welcoming Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs decision on VAT on Membership packages.

Inverness Leisure had contacted Mr Stewart regarding what they had believed to be incorrect VAT ruling on membership packages and they have now been informed that this was the case and the correct charges are being applied.

Mr Stewart said: “It is great news that HMRC have seen sense over this issue, which could have been devastating for the Aquadome.

“I have been in discussions Inverness Leisure and written to the Chancellor to try and resolve this.

“The amount of cash to be paid to would have been crippling for Inverness Leisure, which is a great resource to the Highland Capital.”

Written by davidstewart

April 17, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Fiddling with Bureaucracy while Crofting Burns

15 April 2009

The Labour MSPs for the Highlands and Islands, Peter Peacock, Rhoda Grant and David Stewart have accused the Scottish Government of entertaining `fiddling with bureaucracy while crofting burns’.

In a letter to Rural Affairs Minister, Roseanna Cunningham, they have argued the government’s priorities for crofting for the coming period should be to address the economic challenges facing crofting which is seeing a collapse of cattle and sheep numbers and a threat to the services which support crofting.

The MSPs are also asking her to defer what they claim will be very controversial proposed legislation which could add delay and cost into decision making at a time of economic crises for the industry.

Rhoda Grant said, “We have written to the Minister about the economic crises facing crofting and the proposed Bill, which will affect everyone in crofting.

“Legislation , especially in the current economic climate, will become a major distraction from the key issues facing crofting when all our efforts should be directed to tackling the grave concerns over stock numbers and wider issues like reforming the Scottish Rural Development Programme and Less Favoured Area Status, so that crofters can benefit more.

“In addition we are seeing threats to livestock transport , vet services and feedstock supplies, all of which crofting need.

“These problems require to be tackled urgently and diverting time and attention into debating the finer points of crofting regulation and new burdens on croft houses just doesn’t seem right just now.”

The MSPs have offered to work with the Minister and other parties in Parliament to address a desire for greater accountability of the Crofters Commission and point to the fact that the Minister has powers of direction and wide scope for action to address such concerns without resorting to legislation, unless and until those powers are found to be lacking.

Peter Peacock said, “The Crofting Acts give the Minister powers of direction over the Crofters Commission which have yet to be fully used

“These powers could be used to give the Commission more focus on absenteeism in those places where that is a real problem

“The election of the Assessors network could also be strengthened under existing powers, as a basis from which to draw new Commissioners.”

The Minister is due to visit Inverness later this week and visit a croft.

Rhoda Grant added : “During her visit this week and in other visits I hope she makes to crofts across the region, the Minister will hear first hand the issues facing crofters and the need for action.

The Government need to use all their current powers to improve the situation without diverting attention and effort into new legislation, the need for which is very controversial.

“They need to act before the economic circumstances of many crofters become untenable

“I don’t want to spend any time fiddling with bureaucracy while crofting burns.”

Written by davidstewart

April 15, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Highlands and Islands MSP Launches Public Consultation on Victims’ Commissioner

06 April 2009

David Stewart, Highlands and Islands regional Labour MSP, has launched a public consultation document for a Victims’ Commissioner for Scotland.

Mr Stewart said: “One million people are victims of crime in Scotland each year and frequently this is a traumatic and deeply upsetting experience.

“The criminal justice system should always consider the needs of the victim and a Victims’ Commissioner for Scotland would champion the rights of victims and witnesses to crime.

“It is ironic that convicted prisoners have their own Commissioner, while victims do not.

“By launching this consultation document, I hope to asses the level of support from within key groups involved in the justice system and various organisations who are already supporting the victims of crime.”

Mr Stewart added: “Victim’s Commissioners already operate in Northern Ireland and only last week I met with Sara Payne, the recently appointed Victim’s Champion for England and Wales.

“There is an increasing acknowledgement that the needs of the victims of crime should be centre stage in the judicial system.

“I have issued some three hundred consultation booklets and hope to get a positive response so I can take my Bill to the Scottish Parliament for further scrutiny.”

Written by davidstewart

April 7, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

North MSP to meet with Victims’ Champion for England and Wales

31 March 2009

David Stewart, Highlands and Islands Labour regional MSP is to meet tomorrow with Sara Payne, the recently appointed Victims’ Champion for England and Wales.

Her role is to prepare the way for the appointment of a ‘Victims and Witnesses Commissioner’ for England and Wales.

Mr Stewart commented, “I am on the verge of launching a members’ bill in the Scottish Parliament hopefully leading to the appointment of a Victims’ Commissioner, who will be a champion, a focal point and a voice for victims across the length and breadth of Scotland.

“It is important to learn from the work that Sarah Payne has already carried out and also the Victims’ Commissioner in Northern Ireland.

“The main tasks to be carried out by Scottish Victims’ Commissioner could include promoting awareness and understanding on the rights of victims and actively engaging with victims and those working on their behalf.

“The Commissioner would also keep under review current policy and practice relating to victims and make recommendations on best practice and publish and instigate research on issues associated with victims.

“He/she would also conduct investigations on broad issues involving victims as a group, with the power to call witnesses.

“An example could be the treatment of rape victims by the justice system.”

Mr Stewart added, “The criminal justice system needs to keep the needs of victims of crime centre stage and ensure that the necessary support is in place for those who have often undergone what is frequently a traumatic experience.”

Written by davidstewart

April 1, 2009 at 7:19 am

Posted in Uncategorized