01 Apr 2009

Controversial UK Government plans for part-privatisation of Royal Mail have been described as being in pieces today (Wednesday) by the SNP MP for Glasgow East, John Mason, after a House of Commons Parliamentary Committee said the government has not made the case for the move, and criticised the worrying lack of transparency over Lord Mandelson’s proposals.

The proposals, which have caused consternation for customers, Royal Mail employees and many others, have been a major focus of concern at Westminster in recent weeks.

Mr Mason has received a large mail-bag on this issue, having been contacted by Royal Mail staff and trade union representatives as well as a large number of local people who are concerned about the impact of the proposals on their area. Along with his SNP colleagues, and other MPs, John Mason has pledged to continue fighting against these plans.

The report published by the Business and Enterprise Committee makes numerous damning comments on the proposals including:

1 The Committee is not persuaded that the provisions contained in the Bill allowing such a partnership are necessary or desirable.

2 There is no clarity as to how the proceeds of any sale of a stake in Royal Mail would be used.

3 It is entirely unacceptable that Parliament is being asked to approve such fundamental changes to Royal Mail Group when there is no indication of exactly how much money Royal Mail Group needs for investment and the Government is prevaricating about the use to which any private sector cash would be put.

4 There is a worrying lack of transparency in the Government’s proposals.

and critically that:

5 The Committee does not think the Government has yet made its case, and the Government needs to answer a number of important questions.

Commenting on the report, John Mason said:

“The communities of the East End, and the city as a whole, have demonstrated their support for the Royal Mail and the Post Office time and time again, and the UK Government’s privatisation plans are quite simply an attack on a crucial publicly-owned service.

“It has already been clear that there is huge opposition from employees, customers and from across the political parties. That has been underscored by this influential cross-party committee report, which leaves Lord Mandelson’s plans in pieces.

“It is as plain as day that privatisation would spell the beginning of the end for Royal Mail, and open the door to job losses, service cuts and a deterioration in the working conditions of postal workers.”

Mason demands fair play on energy bills

31 Mar 2009

The Glasgow East Member of Parliament, John Mason, is giving his backing to calls for the UK Government to ban power companies from overcharging customers with pre-payment meters.

Although it tends to be less well off households that pay for energy by way of a prepayment meter, research from the National Housing Federation calculates that British Gas, EDF and Scottish & Southern Energy will overcharge their 1.7 million UK prepay customers by £8.6 million every month over the next year.

John Mason, who represents the East End in the House of Commons, believes that the UK Labour Government should pass new laws to force the power companies to charge their pre-payment meter customers on the same rate as the people who pay their power bills every quarter.

Speaking earlier today (Tuesday), Mr Mason said:

“This is an important issue in the East End, as thousands of people in our area pay for their electricity through pre-payment meter.

“Until recently, just about all of the power companies charged pre-payment meter customers at a higher rate than anyone else. Given that it is often less well off folk that pay for their power this way, that situation was little short of sick.

“Some companies, such as E.ON, Scottish Power and npower, have now equalised the charges which they make to their prepayment meter customers with those who pay by quarterly bill. But some firms are still dragging their heels. If necessary, new laws should be passed at Westminster to force the power companies to act.

“Over the next year, 1.7 million pre-payment customers in the UK will be overcharged. This effectively takes from the poor and gives to the rich. Putting an end to this ‘Robin Hood in reverse’ could save my constituents’ thousands of pounds.”


• The text of Early Day Motion 918, which John Mason is supporting, is as follows:

EDM 918 – NATIONAL HOUSING FEDERATION AND PREPAYMENT METER CUSTOMER: That this House welcomes Government assurances that, if necessary, legislation would be introduced to outlaw the overcharging of prepayment meter customers; notes that E.ON, Scottish Power and npower have equalised charges which they make to their prepayment meter customers with those who pay by quarterly bill, but that British Gas, EDF and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) continue to charge their prepay customers more; further notes that the National Housing Federation calculates that British Gas, EDF and SSE will overcharge their 1.7 million prepay customers by £8.6 million every month over the next year, with British Gas charging its prepayment customers £77 more over 2009 than those on quarterly bills, SSE charging £38 more and EDF charging £19 more; refutes the claim by Ofgem that it has been successful in its campaign to stop this overcharging; congratulates the National Housing Federation on championing the cause of some of the most vulnerable people on low incomes; and believes it is time for the Government to introduce legislation to equalise prepay bills with those charged to people on a quarterly basis.

East End MP welcomes reports that “Writing is on the wall” for GHA

27 Mar 2009

John Mason, SNP MP for Glasgow East, has welcomed reports that Scottish Government ministers are in discussions with senior Glasgow councillors with a view to reducing the role of GHA (the Glasgow Housing Association Ltd.).

The East End MP was a leading figure in the campaign against the transfer of the city council’s houses to GHA in 2003, when he served as Leader of the Opposition at the City Chambers.

Speaking earlier today (Friday), Mr Mason said:

“These discussions appear to be at an early stage and there are no firm proposals in the public domain at the moment. Having said that, I am delighted that the SNP Scottish Government and the City Council seem to be looking at this vital issue.

“GHA was set up specifically to bring about second stage transfer, whereby it would dissolve itself into a large number of local community housing organisations. Progress up until now has been painfully slow, and if the Scottish Government and the Council can work to force the pace of change, that is great news.

“There are currently 21,000 homes across the city due to be transferred from the GHA to local control, and a significant proportion of these are here in the East End.”

Green-fingered children from Carmyle primary school rake in support from MP

25 Mar 2009

John Mason has visited Carmyle primary school to present pupils with a range of free gardening equipment so they can grow their own greens, as part of Morrisons supermarket’s ‘Let’s Grow’ campaign. The school is just one of over 18,000 from across the UK to get involved with the campaign.

Teachers will use the new tools and seeds to inspire millions of children across the nation: in this year alone the Morrisons ‘Let’s Grow’ campaign will see UK kids will grow nearly three quarters of a million radishes, 200,000 pumpkins and almost 2 million tomatoes! Across the nations of the Uk, Morrisons ‘Let’s Grow’ is helping kids develop a passion for growing their own fresh produce.

The campaign has captured the imagination of the public, with over 39 million vouchers redeemed by UK schools in exchange for gardening equipment. By the end of the spring growing season, UK schools will have taken delivery of:

4,750 greenhouses
3,703 pairs of wellies
16,463 pairs of gardening gloves
19,426 trowels
12,492 watering cans

Jean Miller of Carmyle primary school said: “We’re over the moon to get so much gardening equipment and the children can’t wait to get stuck in and put it to good use. This type of hands-on learning is really important for children’s development and its good fun too!”

John Mason said: “It’s great to see a local school embrace this opportunity – it’s a fantastic way of involving kids in learning about fruit and veg and that can only be a good thing.”

Lynne McGregor – Personnel Manager at Morrisons said: “The enthusiasm for the ‘Morrisons Let’s Grow’ campaign has been tremendous and we’ve had some wonderful feedback from parents, teachers and children. While it’s fantastic that the kids are looking forward to digging into the mud, there’s an important message here about engaging young people in healthy fresh food”.