East Lothian Courier – 11 June 2021


Valiant attempts were made last week in Parliament to restore what had been a Tory manifesto commitment to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income on foreign aid. Those doing the orchestrating were dome dissident Tories, but I was happy to support them as I believe what they were seeking to do was right.

Sadly, the amendment to a Bill which was unrelated to Foreign Aid was ruled as procedurally incompetent and only a debate was held. That was tragic and a missed opportunity. In that debate Theresa May, the former PM, spoke and once again she’s somebody I’m not used to supporting but the points she made were correct. She argued that 0.7% had been the correct thing to do before coronavirus but now it was essential.

Hopefully, the Government will reflect on that as addressing the needs of the developing world is vital and Covid and climate change are impacting even more harshly on them than on ourselves. Its fair to say that few other countries have delivered on the 0.7% commitment, but France and Denmark have and so should the UK.

Out of parliament I was able to engage with the rail sector regarding the East Coast Main Line and the potential for benefits to the county from upgrading it. There’s already pressure on the line with the fast trains, local services and freight all competing for limited space. New London services are also planned as attempts are made to switch travellers from air to rail.

One way of providing capacity would be by either creating a passing loop or additional lines in the county. That would have potential benefit locally as though it would allow for more through train traffic, it could also be an opportunity to provide a station for Haddington or at Blindwells.

There’s currently a Union Connectivity Review where much of the focus has been on a Bridge to Northern Ireland. Frankly, that’s undeliverable or only manageable at huge cost. Meanwhile, upgrading the line between Edinburgh and Newcastle’s perfectly deliverable and a fraction of the cost. That’s what I’ll be pushing for.