Westminster Notes: Getting a better deal for Borders farmers

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I am sure everyone is glad that the referendum is now over and we can move on together to make Scotland a better, fairer society as part of the UK family of nations.

There is no doubt that after the referendum result, Scotland is a new country. The referendum engaged the whole of Scotland in the debate as people asked themselves, what’s best for me, my family and my community? People are engaged in politics as never before and Scotland has certainly changed as a result.

Change is already happening in the Scottish Parliament – over the next 18 months, MSPs will take responsibility for setting half of the income tax we pay in Scotland, they will begin to set our property taxes and they will be able to use new borrowing powers to support our economy.

These important changes come from the Scotland Act 2012 which I piloted through Westminster as Secretary of State for Scotland.

Last week I was pleased to be selected to attend cross-party talks led by Lord Smith of Kelvin as part of his Scottish Devolution Commission. The aim of the Commission will be to set out recommendations of further devolution for Scotland by the end of this November.

In the talks, I will be making the case for the Liberal Democrats’ vision of Home Rule where Scotland has greater control over taxes, welfare and spending and still enjoys the protection and strength that come from being part of the United Kingdom.

On Monday, I organised for the Supermarket Ombudsman, Christine Tacon, to visit the Borders and meet with farmers and food suppliers to hear their concerns about the supply chain and supermarkets. The Ombudsman was established by the Coalition Government after farmers and suppliers across the country complained about the unscrupulous behaviour of some supermarkets who pay below-cost prices to farmers for their produce and fail to honour contracts.

Farmers can now complain directly to the ombudsman who can investigate their concerns anonymously and hold supermarkets to the Grocery Code of Conduct. We had an excellent discussion with Christine during her visit and I look forward to continuing to work with her and local suppliers to get a better deal for Borders farmers.

This week I have held community advice surgeries across Berwickshire in places such as Greenlaw, Eccles and Longformacus. These surgeries are an opportunity for my constituents to come and discuss any concerns they may have and as their local MP, I assist them in any way I can. I have completed over 50 of these surgeries this summer and met with many constituents from all across the Borders. It was been great to be able to hear their concerns and take up their cases whether at the local council, local housing associations or at the Department for Work and Pensions. I will continue to hold my regular surgeries throughout this year and you can find ouy more about these on my website www.michaelmoore.org.uk or call my office on 01896 663650.