Hoping for calm after weathering storms

The festive period saw some of the worst storms and flooding experienced in recent years.

People across the Borders were shocked to see the impact on Jedburgh and the surrounding areas of the storms during the last few weeks.

The gale-force winds which battered the whole country caused serious disruption to travel and services across our region – and for the 5,000 or so Borders properties that lost power, it was a difficult time.

Like other parliamentarians, over the holidays I spoke to senior officials at Scottish Borders Council regarding the clear-up efforts and the role of the emergency services, volunteers and local authority officers.

I joined with others in thanking everyone for their responses. I was also heartened by the general public response to the crisis and the way people looked out for their neighbours.

Let’s hope that the rest of the winter sees substantial improvement in the weather.

The Mesothelioma Bill

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos.

It is a “long-tail” disease – symptoms may not appear until decades after exposure – but when symptoms do appear, it is often rapidly terminal.

Earlier this week the Mesothelioma Bill passed its Report Stage in the House of Commons. This will ensure that newly-diagnosed victims of mesothelioma – the aggressive and fatal cancer caused by asbestos – will receive help for the first time through a new support scheme.

The aggressive and terminal nature of this disease, coupled with the fact that we’re approaching a peak in cases in the coming years, makes it imperative that we get this legislation in place as soon as possible.

The funding package will award more than £350million over 10 years to around 3,000 mesothelioma victims across the UK who have been prevented from claiming compensation because they cannot trace a liable employer or an employers’ liability insurer.

This Bill shows that we live in a compassionate and caring society.

I hope that the Government continues to do everything it can to ensure that nobody is exposed to asbestos today or in the future.