Unemployment figures are a grim measure of recession, says Mason

17 Mar 2009

John Mason, the SNP spokesman on Work & Pensions, has expressed grave concern over the increase in jobless figures, amid reports from the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) revealing the ratio of jobs to applicants is exceeding 1 to 10 in many parts of the country.

Unemployment is set to exceed two million when the Office for National Statistics publishes its latest data tomorrow (Wednesday). Between October and December the UK jobless figure rose by 146,000 to 1.97 million, with this being the highest level since 1997.

Meanwhile, the STUC have published analysis which shows that the ratio of jobs to jobseekers is on average 1 to 10 across Scotland with some unemployment blackspots with an even higher ratio.

Commenting earlier today John Mason, the SNP MP for Glasgow East, said:

“The prospect of the UK jobless total passing two million is truly grim, and underlines the depth of the recession. These appalling unemployment figures underline the desperate need to get a grip on the economic crisis.

“In particular, the STUC analysis shatters Gordon Brown’s claims that there are plenty of jobs available for people who are prepared to look. We need to stimulate the economy, we need to create new jobs as well as protecting existing ones, and that means ditching irresponsible plans to slash public spending in Scotland.

“I have visited Jobcentre Plus offices and private recruitment companies in my constituency, and their staff are doing what they can to find work for people. But the UK Government must step up their action – and they should start by ruling out their senseless plan to cut Scottish public spending in the teeth of the recession.”

Mason backs ‘No Smoking Day’ in Glasgow East

10 Mar 2009

‘No Smoking Day’ (Wednesday 11th March) is encouraging smokers in the East End to take the first step and kick the habit. In its 26th year, No Smoking Day is encouraging smokers to quit, save thousands of pounds and take the opportunity to find out about the help and support available.

Glasgow East MP John Mason is supporting this year’s ‘No Smoking Day’. Speaking earlier, the SNP’s Work & Pensions spokesman said:

“No Smoking Day is a fantastic campaign to help and support smokers who want to stop smoking. I would encourage smokers in the East End, and throughout the city, to take the first step on No Smoking Day and give up cigarettes for good.

“There’s no denying that many parts of west central Scotland have a poor health record, and cigarettes are a major contributory factor. However, it’s not just your health that benefits – if you stop smoking today, within a month you are £170 better off as a result.

“Visit your local stop smoking service for help and advice on how to stop smoking and increase your chances of success by up to four times.”

Dan Tickle, Chief Executive of No Smoking Day, the charity behind the annual health awareness campaign, says, “Good luck to all smokers in Glasgow who are taking the first step to improving their health in the best possible way on 11 March. Stopping smoking is the ultimate lifestyle overhaul. You’ll feel fitter and healthier and have more energy and more money! Good luck!”

For more information about stopping smoking go to www.nosmokingday.org.uk

Strathclyde police numbers up by 339 since March 08

03 Mar 2009

The SNP MP for the East End, John Mason, has welcomed the latest figures on police officer numbers, which show that the Strathclyde force has enjoyed a surge in numbers since the first three months of 2008.

The new official statistics show that the number of officers in the Strathclyde Police area has gone up from 7,619 in the quarter ending in March 2008 to 7,955 for the three months ending on 31 December – an increase of 339 officers.

Speaking earlier today, Mr Mason, said:

“People in all of the communities that I represent will be delighted to hear that Strathclyde Police now has 339 more policemen and women on the streets than it did in March. After all, a visible police presence is important in terms of reducing crime and providing reassurance to the public.

“Wherever I go in the East End, people tell me that they feel reassured when they see police officers in their street, and that’s why recruiting extra officers is so important.

“When the last quarterly figures were published, I said that I thought there was even better news ahead in terms of police numbers. I’m happy to have been proved right, and I hope that the next recruitment statistics continue this positive trend.”

MP hits out at Post Office privatisation plans

26 Feb 2009

Glasgow East MP John Mason has rounded on Business Secretary Lord Mandelson over controversial UK government proposals to sell off part of the Royal Mail Group.

The Labour Government at Westminster is setting out legislation which will allow a private company to buy a 30% stake in the Royal Mail. It is believed that the Westminster Government intends to use the proceeds to plug the 5.9bn shortfall in the Royal Mail pension scheme.

Mr Mason believes that a sell off of even part of Royal Mail puts the Universal Service Order (USO) at serious risk. The USO is the mechanism whereby there is a standard price for posted mail regardless of where it is going from and to.

Speaking about the proposals John Mason said:

“Privatisation of the even part of Royal Mail tears up the public ownership principles under which the organisation operates.

“Royal Mail is unique in the way it can provide a universal service, which is particularly valued in areas where the private sector simply wouldnt be interested in running a postal service of the same standard.

“Royal Mail offers a door-to-door service that is hard to find in other countries and hiving off bits here and there to private business will leave that business model very vulnerable.

“The reason that Royal Mail struggles financially is because the Government have already allowed the private sector to run mail services. Unsurprisingly private business has started operating in the areas that are most profitable leaving Royal Mail to cover the much more challenging rural and remote deliveries.

“These decisions were taken with no regard to the consequences and now the Government are trying to pass the buck to the private sector.

“The SNP will continue to oppose these measures in Westminster and fight to protect the future of our rural postal services.”