The week outside Westminster

Deposed Labour MP Anne Moffat had struck a deal to receive £30,000 a year for the rest of her life, then sought the Labour nomination.


• East Lothian MP, Anne Moffat was deselected. Her local party claimed she wasn’t up to the job. Moffatt accused party members of “bullying”. However, it has emerged that she “struck a secret and lucrative deal to retire on ill health grounds despite publicly fighting the party’s attempts to bar her from standing as a general election candidate”, reports the Telegraph.

It adds that, late last year, Miss Moffat “secured an agreement with the Commons authorities, that would see her handed up to £30,000 per year for the rest of her life … But the East Lothian MP did not reveal the existence of the arrangement during her ultimately unsuccessful fight against deselection by her constituency party.”

She had said “I’ve had ill health retirement secured since the latter part of last year. I didn’t know the details about how much money and so on, but I knew the medical grounds were being supported by the consultants, which in itself is pretty shocking for someone of 51 years of age … What I was not prepared to allow was them to push me. They were threatening me to take early retirement on health grounds or face deselection.”

Yet, when confronted about her secret deal, she claimed “It’s not just a case of accepting it now. I chose to do it before all this happened, but it was private and personal. It was only the fact I was threatened that made me think ‘I’m not going to let them get away with this’.”

Andrew Sharp, SNP candidate for East Lothian, was outraged, saying “Anne Moffat must now be totally transparent about this whole pension deal. It cannot be right that a parliamentarian should seek re-selection and re-election when they already have a deal in place for a £30,000-a-year pension on grounds of ill-health.”

News that Scottish Universities would receive a below inflation increase in funding caused anger for many. The Scottish Funding Council said it would “safeguard the stability of the sector”. The lecturers union dubbed it “disappointing, and a little embarrassing for the Scottish Government.”

• The Scottish Government got an extra £82 million as a result of the budget. “The right choice for Scotland” argued Jim Murphy. A “squandered opportunity” claimed John Swinney.

The Guardian pondered the SNP’s role in a hung Parliament.

• Alex Salmond told his party that “more Nats mean less cuts”.

• Figures showed that Scotland’s voluntary sector has seen a 4% rise in its total income.

• The First Minister announced that his Government would take action against Mephedrone.

• It was revealed that Scottish Primary Schools faced the first real terms cut in spending in a decade, as Labour announced radical plans to strip councils of their responsibilities for education.

• UK Europe Minister, Chris Bryant accused the SNP Government of not always representing Scotland’s interests.


• A document published by Welsh Labour sought to highlight divisions among the Conservatives over the future of devolution. “The truth is, when you take a long hard look at the Tory Party in Wales, they are still totally split about the idea of the Assembly”, claimed First Minister, Carwyn Jones.

• The Assembly Government was given an extra £48 million under the budget. Peter Hain concluded that it would “secure jobs and economic recovery and drive growth in Wales”. Plaid Cymru claimed the Chancellor’s measures would result in a 5% cut in spending on Wales. The Tories dubbed it all “political positioning”.

Labour’s Deputy Minister for Children, Huw Lewis outlined how to tackle Child Poverty in Wales.

• The BBC reported that Welsh Hospitals were short of 400 doctors as it emerged that it had the lowest number of GPs per head of population.

• Arthur Scargill called for Welsh pits to be reopened, declaring “We are in a complete social, economic and political mess. What we need is a complete reversal of policy.”

• The Conservatives announced that they would protect the Welsh budget for 2010/11 if they win the election. Plaid Cymru declared, “At long last the Tories have bowed to Plaid pressure and performed this U-turn on spending cuts.”

Peter Hain called for North Wales to host at least one of the Welsh leaders debate during the general election, a move supported by all parties.

• Welsh Universities faced a 2% drop in spending; Wales became the first UK country to introduce a ban on electric shock collars; Carwyn Jones celebrated his first 100 days in office.

• New measures were announced that Health Minister, Edwin Hart said “will help to further improve the care and support offered to people living with mental health problems.”

Northern Ireland

• Stormont gained an extra £33 million under the budget. DUP First Minister, Peter Robinson said he was pleased with the outcome.

• The DUP announced that none of its MPs or MLAs would be allowed to double job apart from Peter Robinson, claiming in a potential hung parliament, it was important the party leader remained in Westminster.

Lady Sylvia Hermon quit the Ulster Unionists in protest over her party’s alliance with David Cameron’s Conservatives.

• The Northern Ireland Executive hinted that it could ban Mephedrone “within weeks”.

• Sinn Fein called on the UK Government to publish the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday as Shaun Woodward suggested that publication could be delayed until after the election.

Westminster gave Stormont powers over policing and justice as the UUP surprised many in backing the SDLP’s Alban Maginness for the post of Justice Minister.

• Gordon Brown paid tribute to Ian Paisley’s “long and distinguished” career, as Dr Paisley made his final contribution in the House of Commons.

Quote of the Week

“Families will undoubtedly struggle with the stress and trauma that has now been reawakened due to the media intrusion and interest now being generated by the political posturing and manipulation surrounding release of Saville Report.”

Mickey McKinney, a spokesman for the Bloody Sunday Families in calling for counselling for families of those who died

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