East Lothian Courier – 14 December 2023


Sometimes in Parliament the best information’s gleamed from written questions or research from the House of Commons library and so it was last week. As the situation in Gaza has worsened, I’ve looked on with horror. A humanitarian pause was always totally inadequate and now war has recommenced with a vengeance.

I asked the Ministry of Defence whether RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus was being used by the US military to supply Israel as seems to have been tracked by agencies monitoring the war. The MoD answer was that they wouldn’t comment on the actions of allies. But that’s absurd.

They were prepared to disclose that medical equipment had been supplied by the UK to the Israeli military which while it may not be arms or munitions it’s certainly not humanitarian aid. They were even prepared to say how many RAF flights had been made from Akrotiri to Israel.

But they won’t say what’s being done at a UK sovereign base by our supposed allies. Surely, we’re entitled to know what’s being done supposedly in our name. Failing to support a ceasefire’s bad enough but any complicity in this genocide would cross a line in a democracy, never mind for humanity.

Research from the Library also showed just how complex the law is on fireworks. Manufacture and sale are reserved to Westminster, but Holyrood can regulate use. Actions needed as police and fire officers are coming under attack from hooligans using fireworks as weapons. Life’s under threat and communities are blighted.

What’s needed is to stop the manufacture of these items being used and restrict the sale of them, even if made elsewhere. Regulating their use is difficult to oversee and frankly too late. After all its what we do with firearms and the likes of hunting knives. Some fireworks should no longer be made and others the sale needs tightened and available only to those operating events.

I was glad to have the support of Police and Fire Service Unions in writing to the UK Government seeking action or having the powers devolved to Holyrood so they can do so.