Construction jobs hit by recession

The international financial crisis and the world recession are now having a serious impact on individuals, families and businesses. In Edinburgh, many jobs have been lost in the construction industry.The Government has taken action to tackle the crisis. It has acted:

  • to prevent the collapse of the banking system and keep people’s savings safe
  • to get the banks lending again to secure business and jobs
  • to support the economy through increased government spending and investment
  • to provide people with additional help through more difficult times

When we have got through this recession we need to ensure that measures are in place to prevent a failure on this scale ever happening again. That must include tight regulation of the financial system, and effective international cooperation.

This article is from Gavin Strang’s Spring 2009 Constituency Update.

More must be done to tackle ongoing HIV threat

An article by Gavin Strang in the Evening News:

TODAY marks the 20th anniversary of the first ever World AIDS Day. Even though we have known how to protect ourselves from HIV for decades, the virus is still very much with us.

117 people were diagnosed HIV-positive in Lothian last year. The number of new diagnoses in Scotland hit an all-time high at 453.

The face of HIV in Scotland has changed. In the 80s, people who injected drugs were hit hardest. Nowadays it is gay men – usually infected in Scotland – or people heterosexually infected abroad. It is also perfectly possible to pick up HIV through heterosexual sex here in Scotland – 29 people were diagnosed last year as having done so.

Across the UK we need more and better HIV prevention work. It is a public health failure that so many people become infected every year. HIV awareness is too low, and high-risk behaviour continues.

We must also make sure that people who have become infected with HIV get themselves tested, and tested early.

An individual with HIV benefits from early diagnosis, as the treatments will be able to do more for them. However, a third of people testing positive are diagnosed late, and one in ten are diagnosed so late that they had already progressed to Aids.

The wider population also gains from early HIV diagnosis, because people who have been diagnosed are less likely to pass on the infection.

The aim must be to make it easy and normal for people to take an HIV test. There has been progress. Pregnant women are now routinely offered HIV tests, and the number of people taking a test more than doubled between 2003 and 2006. New guidelines recommend that the NHS should make HIV tests more widely available, to ensure that fewer people go undiagnosed.

If you might have been exposed to HIV through unprotected sex or sharing drug-taking works, then it would make sense to take a test. To find out more call the NHS Sexual Health Helpline on 0800-567 123.

Gavin Strang is architect of the Aids (Control) Act.

Local MP dares to ‘Wear it Pink’

Rt Hon Dr Gavin Strang MP is joining forces with Breast Cancer Campaign for its award winning fundraising event, wear it pink, on Friday 31 October 2008.

This year’s theme is ‘dare to wear’ and Gavin is urging residents, young and old to get their craziest pink outfits on, whether it be a pink lab coat, pink glasses or just a pink tie. Gavin is pictured wearing a pink lab coat to represent the importance of breast cancer research.

Taking part in wear it pink couldn’t be easier. Whether you are in an office, at school, or simply popping to the shops, on 31 October donate £2 and wear an item of pink, the more daring the better! Your donation will allow Campaign to continue funding innovative world class research across the UK.

The Rt Hon Dr Gavin Strang MP says “Every year over 45,500 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer. I would like to encourage everyone to support wear it pink on October 31, to raise valuable funds for breast cancer research.”

To help Breast Cancer Campaign reach this year’s target of £3.5 million, take part in the UK’s original and best pink day. Call freephone 0800 107 3104 or visit www.wearitpink.co.uk and register to receive your free fundraising pack now.

Gavin Strang speaks up for local Post Offices

Gavin Strang, Member of Parliament for Edinburgh East, has spelled out in the House of Commons the importance of local Post Office branches in Edinburgh.

News is expected later this summer from the Post Office on a new round of branch closures.

Dr Strang told the Minister for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs, Pat McFadden MP, that a worrying aspect of the previous round of closures was that less well-off areas were hardest hit. Edinburgh – not least Gavin Strang’s own Edinburgh East constituency – had ‘had quite a hammering’, the MP said.

The exchanges took place in the recent Oral Parliamentary Questions with Ministers from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

Speaking in Westminster today, Gavin Strang MP said:

‘When a local Post Office is closed, it is very often the least well off in our society who lose out. Furthermore, it has all too often been the branches in the hardest-off areas that are earmarked for closure.

‘Like any service, the Post Office network needs to continue to adapt to the needs of 21st century Britain. But local branches have a vital role in our communities, and the Post Office has a duty to maintain a network that is up to the job.’

A transcript of the exchanges in the House of Commons on 3 July follows:

Dr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that a worrying aspect of the last closure programme was that, no doubt for business reasons, a disproportionate number of the closures were in working class areas, often in major cities and near former council schemes, some of which had a high proportion of elderly people? As the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (John Barrett) said, we do not have the Edinburgh proposals yet, but is there any prospect that that will not happen this time around? We had quite a hammering last time, not least in Edinburgh, East.

Mr. McFadden: My right hon. Friend makes a fair point about the importance of the post office network to people on lower incomes, and that is why this Government have put so much public funding into supporting it. The network faces major changes in how people do business, but we are supporting it with up to £1.7 billion over the next few years. Without that public support and strong commitment from the Government, thousands more branches would be under threat. We have put that support in place precisely because we appreciate the value of the network to the constituents whom my right hon. Friend mentions.

Gavin Strang meets Climate Change Campaigners

Speaking at a Christian Aid Climate Change Coffee Morning in St James’ Parish Church Hall, Rosefield Place, Portobello this morning, Gavin Strang MP said:

‘The inclusion of a Climate Change Bill in last November’s Queen’s Speech marked a success for the environmental movement. I was one of a large number of MPs who signed Early Day Motions calling for such a Bill, and wrote urging Ministers to include a climate change bill in the Queen’s Speech.

‘The Bill will cap greenhouse gas emissions and will introduce a legally binding system of carbon budgeting.

‘The Bill will also require the Government to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by 2050. This target will be legally binding.

‘Many now take the view that 60% is not enough and that the long-term target should be 80%.

‘That is why the Prime Minister has announced that the new independent Committee on Climate Change will be asked as its first task to advise whether the 2050 target should be increased to 80 per cent.

‘Climate change is with us, it is real, and it has the potential to deliver great harm across our planet.

‘The Stern Review has shown that we can move to a low carbon economy without adversely affecting our employment prospects and living standards.

‘I welcome the steps that the Government has taken to address greenhouse gas emissions, at home and within the international community.

‘It is clear, though, that we must do more, and that the UK must respond more urgently to climate change.’