East End MP joins Commons Administration Committee

25 Nov 2008

John Mason has become a member of the House of Commons Administration Select Committee.

The Administration Committee considers the services provided to MPs by the House of Commons. It also looks at services provided to the public by Parliament, including visitor facilities, the Parliament website and education services.

The Committee represents the views of MPs to the authorities that run Parliament. These include the overall supervisory body of the House of Commons, the House of Commons Commission. The Committee was established in July 2005 to incorporate the work of five former domestic committees: Accommodation & Works, Administration, Broadcasting, Catering and Information.

Mason calls for regulation of ‘sale and rent back’ agreements

24 Nov 2008

John Mason, the MP for Glasgow East, has tabled an early day motion in the House of Commons calling on the UK Government to take action to protect homeowners who enter into sale and rent back agreements.

A six-month investigation by the Office of Fair Trading recommended that the Financial Services Authority expand its remit by taking on the regulation of the sale and rent back sector, including ensuring that anyone considering sale and rent back is given access to independent financial advice. The investigation also called on the UK Government to clarify the position of those using sale and rent back scheme in terms of their eligibility for housing benefit.

Commenting, Mr Mason said:

“As the recession bites, families are feeling the pressure financially. With increases in food prices and rising bills, many homeowners are struggling to meet mortgage repayments and are turning to unregulated arrangements such as Sale and Rent Back agreements. I am involved witfh cases in Easterhouse and Shettleston where people have turned to these schemes only to experience problems later.

“While they might seem like a quick fix, they often create greater uncertainty in the long term as the rental outlay may only be fixed for a six month period. Action must be taken to regulate these agreements and promote understanding of their risks.

“I would strongly advise anyone who finds themselves in financial difficulty to call the National Debtline on 0808 808 4000 where they can access free and impartial advice.”

John Mason Takes Up Work and Pensions Role

21 Nov 2008

It has been announced that the Scottish National Party MP for Glasgow East, John Mason, is to take up his party’s Work & Pensions portfolio with immediate effect.

The East End’s representative in the House of Commons has shown a keen interest in this subject since he was sworn in on 6 October, having put down parliamentary questions on subjects such as pensioner poverty, the level of unclaimed benefits, and automatic benefit payment to those who are entitled.

Speaking about his new role, John Mason said:

“In my first speech to the House of Commons I said that I would judge all the Government’s proposals on whether they narrow or widen the gap between rich and poor. The struggle against poverty – both at home and abroad – is one of my priorities, so the Work & Pensions portfolio is a pretty good fit for me.

“Some progress is being made in making it easier for pensioners and others to claim the benefits to which they are entitled, and I welcome that. But there is much more work to do.

“The message I am carrying from the East End to Westminster is that we need real action to help families to meet their gas and electricity bills this winter. I will continue to push the UK Government for a VAT holiday on energy bills for all households.”

Victory for people power in saving post office card account

14 Nov 2008

Post Office signGlasgow East MP John Mason has welcomed the announcement that the Post Office will retain the Post Office Card Account (POCA) contract.

The decision had been subject to long delays since the summer, causing huge uncertainty for postmasters and their customers.

Across Glasgow, hundreds of people had signed up to show their support for the Post Office retaining the contract and that level of people power appears to have had an impact.

In recent days speculation had been rife that the contract had been awarded to Paypoint but the decision to allow the Post Office to continue supplying the service is long overdue relief.

Commenting on the decision the SNP’s John Mason said: “Local people can be rightly proud of the part they have played in putting pressure on the Government to allow Post Offices to continue providing this service.

“This decision has been long overdue and after the way in which the Post Office network has been treated in recent years by the Government this is at last some much needed relief.

“The uncertainty caused by months of delay in awarding this contract created a great deal of unnecessary worry for Post Offices, particularly as it comes in the wake of a controversial contraction of the Post Office network.

“There is still work to be done keeping pressure on the Government to actively promote the Card Account service to benefits customers an I will certainly be pursuing that issue.”