Gavin Newlands MP

Gavin Newlands MP was at Westminster on Wednesday to take a stand for women’s human rights defenders whose lives are at risk

Gavin Newlands MP

Newlands MP attended Amnesty International’s Annual Human Rights Day Reception on Wednesday (12 December) to show his support for women around the world who are being attacked, threatened and even killed for defending their rights.


The event – which Amnesty hosts annually to mark World Human Rights Day (10 December) – paid tribute to women human rights defenders around the world who dedicate their lives to fight for equality and justice, often at great personal risk. Human rights activists and MPs from across the UK attended and wrote messages of support to end the persecution of women rights defenders from countries including Iran, Indian and Venezuela, as part of Amnesty’s Write for Rights campaign.


This year, celebrations of World Human Rights Day also coincided with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Newlands commented following the event:


“It was great to join Amnesty International at their event last week, and it clear that remain the world’s leading champions for human rights.


“Human rights must never be taken for granted, and should instead be celebrated alongside the freedoms we have. We should use these to challenge injustice and abuse wherever it is found.


“Female human rights champions are particularly at risk globally. Women who take up activism are brave and the dangers that they face are desperately worrying.


“Amnesty’s Write for Rights campaign is evidence of the change that can be achieved when many people stand together for justice. I hope that my letter, along with those sent by others around the world will send a clear message to governments that human rights defenders must be protected.”


Women risking their lives to defend rights

The level of danger facing women activists around the world has reached crisis point. At least 3,500 human rights defenders have been killed since 1998 – an average of 180 deaths a year. This figure is increasing: the latest data shows that in 2017 at least 312 human rights defenders were assassinated, twice as many as in 2015. Women are particularly at threat as they often challenge the accepted gender norms and stereotypes in their society to protest against injustices, which often leads to them being portrayed as ‘criminals’, ‘terrorists’ or as a threat to ‘traditional values’.


Amnesty’s Write for Rights – the world’s biggest letter writing campaign – is this year supporting 12 women or groups of women around the world who are facing abuses for defending human rights. Attendees of Wednesday’s parliamentary event wrote messages of support to these women, including:



  • Atena Daemi, a young activist serving a seven-year jail sentence in Iran for peacefully protesting against capital punishment;


  • Geraldine Chacón, a 24-year-old human rights defender supporting disadvantaged young people in Caracas, Venezuela who recently served a 4-month prison sentence and could be re-arrested at any time;
  • Vitalina Koval, a prominent LGBTI activist in Ukraine who has been attacked and threatened by a far-right group; and
  • Pavitri Manjhi, whose attempts to protect her indigenous Adivasi community in India from being displaced by the construction of power-plants has led to her being threatened by local ‘strongmen’.




universal credit

Renfrewshire Councillors have approved £30,000 funding to Renfrewshire Food Bank to reduce the impact of Universal Credit.

universal credit

The proposals to give the food bank the money over a three year period were agreed at a meeting of the Council’s Leadership Board today (December 5).

The funding follows the introduction of Universal Credit in Renfrewshire in September 2018.

Administered by the Department of Work and Pensions, Universal Credit replaces Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits with a single monthly payment.

However, research by Trussell Trust has shown that there has been a 52% increase in demand at food banks in areas where the new system has been in place for 12 months.

Renfrewshire Council’s Convener for Finance, Resources and Customer Services, Councillor John Shaw, said: “The introduction of Universal Credit by the UK Government in other areas has put a lot of additional pressure on food banks with more demand from those most in need. This funding will help Renfrewshire Food Bank cope with any increased demand that may come, allowing it to continue supporting anyone in Renfrewshire that needs its help.”

Renfrewshire Council has provided the food bank with funding in recent years, working flexibly with them to provide extra money when needed from its Tackling Poverty Fund.

The Tackling Poverty Programme has been at the centre of many projects to help struggling families and households in Renfrewshire since launching in 2015.

The Healthier, Wealthier Children Service, which is funded by the programme, helped 219 families in Renfrewshire boost their household incomes by a total of £300,000 between April and September 2018. The service gives financial, debt and welfare rights advice to new and expectant parents and helps families check what benefits they are entitled to before and after the arrival of their baby.

The Tackling Poverty Initiative’s energy advice service, which provides support to people who need to reduce their energy bills, has also helped 177 households in Renfrewshire save a total of £49,220 since July 2018.

In March 2018 Renfrewshire Council announced £5million funding for the Tackling Poverty Programme over five years to deliver key projects and activities that will support people and families on low incomes.

Projects within the programme are designed to provide support for families that need it most, remove barriers to participation for children and young people, and support health and wellbeing for young people.

Councillor Shaw said: “The work that the Tackling Poverty Programme is doing is making a real difference to the lives of families in Renfrewshire who are struggling to make ends meet.

“This additional funding will ensure that these crucial services can help families in need in Renfrewshire for years to come.”






Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has called on the Tories to bring an end their disregard for parliamentary process, after the government was extraordinarily found to be in contempt of Parliament today.

MPs held Theresa May’s government in contempt over its decision to publish a summary rather than the full legal advice on the Withdrawal Agreement.

Responding to the vote, Newlands said:

“This is a Tory government that is facing crisis after crisis, and it has now found itself to be the first government in history to be held in Contempt of Parliament due to its dogged refusal to publish the full legal advice it has received on the Withdrawal Agreement.

“It has been two years since the EU referendum took place, and at every single turn the Tories have denied Parliament every opportunity to provide real scrutiny of its Brexit plans.

“This decisive defeat should show the Prime Minister that what is left of her government cannot continue to force Brexit upon us, it must stop trying to shirk the fight by dodging parliamentary process.”

gavin newlands mp

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, is scheduled to go head to head with Robert Skillen, the disgraced director of the now liquidated company HELMS. Skillen and HELMS are accused of miss-selling thousands of solar panels and Energy efficiency adaptations to households across the UK.

Shockingly, HELMS operated under the backing of the UK government, through its flagship Green Deal Scheme, households have been left struggling, burdened with unaffordable debts, faulty workmanship, and at times trapped from selling their homes.

gavin newlands mp

Newlands has previously called for Skillen to see the ‘inside of a courtroom’ after discovering his constituency of Paisley and Renfrewshire North has been affected by Green Deal miss-selling more than any other constituency in the UK. He and other MPs are calling for accountability and redress for their constituents. Gavin, after seeing first-hand the affect this has had on households in his constituency is determined to see resolution. So much so that, Skillen has recently appeared in the media, struggling to defend his actions.

Newlands and Skillen have both been invited to participate in a discussion on STV’s flagship current affairs program, Scotland Tonight, which will be taking place this Thursday (29th) at 10:30pm. The head to head will be centred on the accusations that MPs have laid on Skillen in parliamentary debates.

In anticipation of Thursday night’s broadcast, Newlands said:

“I am looking forward to challenging Skillen face to face. He has been incognito for some time now, in hiding, cowering away from any accountability.

“His company was responsible for severe financial stress and who knows what other problems, all so he could make a quick buck. He has used classic underhanded dodgy salesman tactics to deliberately miss-sell so aggressively that he may well have to face criminal charges.

“Skillen has been a blight on the communities that I represent. But make no mistake, his actions were enabled by a careless UK Government who were more concerned with positive PR than seeing a policy implemented properly.

“It is ultimately the UK Government in Westminster that is responsible for cleaning up this mess, I urge them to act now to provide immediate financial redress to my constituents and anyone else out of pocket thanks to Green Deal miss-selling.”

Gavin on Facebook:

MP Gavin Newlands


Yesterday, Gavin Newlands welcomes Renfrew activist Caroline McDonald to Westminster for a packed day of activities dedicated to getting more women involved in politics. The 50:50 Parliament Campaign aims to tackle the systemic gender inequality in represenatative politics with men still vastly outnumbering women in political chambers across the UK.

MP Gavin Newlands

MP Gavin Newlands with Caroline McDonald

Following the day, Gavin commented:

“Yesterday it was great to welcome Caroline McDonald from Renfrew down to Westminster to take part in a full day of activity with the 50:50 Parliament Campaign. We celebrated 100 years of women being able to stand for election, but unfortunately we still haven’t reached anything near equal representation. That’s why today I took part in #AskHerToStand Day & invited Caroline to Westminster.

“We need more women to stand for public office. At all levels in politics from the grass roots to Westminster we have two men for every one woman and that means that our debates, laws and institutions are missing the voices, experiences and talent of women who would make excellent representatives.

“I really hope the campaign inspires great women such as Caroline to stand for election to give us all better and more representative decision making.”

gavin newlands

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has taken his staff to be trained by leaders in the field of tackling bullying and hate crime towards disabled people. The MP and his staff are engaging with ‘I Am Me Scotland’ who are experts in changing attitudes and behaviours so that disabled and vulnerable people in Scotland feel safe in their communities.

gavin newlands

The leading charity is based in Paisley and tours Scotland to deliver its message and training to schools, offices, and other organisations. It recently won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Disability Hate Crime is one of the most under reported crimes in the UK, with an estimated 97% going unreported.  There are 1 million people in Scotland registered as disabled or with a long term illness. Many incidents go unreported.

This is for many reasons, such as fear of repercussion, unsure how to report incidents, worried about not being taken seriously and sadly many disabled people have come to accept abuse and harassment as part of daily life.

gavin newlands

During the training, Newlands commented:

“The training we did today was enlightening and you can clearly see the expertise that I Am Me have at their disposal. The stories we heard of bullying against those with disabilities chilled me to my bones; but it proved just how important the work that I Am Me do is.

“I would like to encourage anyone with a disability or who may be at risk to pick up a Keep Safe card, which they can keep on themselves at all times. These cards allow people to go into ‘Keep Safe Places’ to sit down, seek aid, or call the police. It has information like what people need to know about your health how you communicate, and who to get in contact with if you need assistance.

“I am also proud that my office has just became one of Renfrew’s Keep Safe Places, so if you need help, you can come in and we’ll do our best to keep you safe.”

Gavin Newlands MP has welcomed the findings of the UEFA GROW Report into impact of Scottish football.

Scottish football and the SFA are the focus of a UEFA study into the Social Return On Investment, after Scotland became the first country to begin the implementation of the SROI approach to football, following the recommendations of the UEFA GROW project. Using both quantitative and qualitative methodology, the study provides analysis of the overall impact that football has in Scotland, which is based on economic, social, and health measures.

UEFA’s GROW program offers tailored advice for national football governing bodies on the development of the sport. The SFA has been one of the first national bodies to undertake this partnership.

The study shows that collective participation in football is worth £1.183 Billion to the Scottish economy with over 780,000 people playing either casually, at an amateur, or at a professional level.

The study shows that Scotland receives significant tangible benefits from investment into football. Including £667 million in savings to the NHS, and a direct contribution of £212 million to the economy creating thousands of jobs.

It also finds that investment into girl’s and women’s football has paid off massively with excellent social benefits, as well results in the game itself- with the women’s team’s huge success in qualifying for the World Cup next year.

Newlands welcomed the findings of the report:

“Throughout my life I have witnessed first-hand the positive social impact that sport can have on our local communities. Football has the power to promote community role models, encourage an active lifestyle, and inspire the nation- occasionally.

I was delighted to read the UEFA’s GROW impact study, which was completed in partnership with the SFA. I believe that Scottish football fans will recognise the story that the data tells. Despite Scottish football’s reputation of division it is clear that it has clear social benefits, especially at the local level. This is thanks to countless community role models who organise kick-abouts, coach youth teams, and play for their amateur or junior teams.

“Scotland is a footballing nation, and we can be especially proud of our Women’s side who have qualified for next year’s world cup and are now ranked 11th in the UEFA rankings. The report shows that investment into football is able to provide returns on investment going well beyond sporting success and economic return. Football participation is good for our community wellbeing and our health.

“I encourage everyone who maybe hasn’t played in a while to get back out and have a kick-about – you never know at the current rate Scotland players are pulling out of the squad, you may get a call from Alex McLeish!”

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North has provided the opportunity of work experience for a lucky S4 pupil of Paisley Grammar School in order to gain an understanding of the work that an MP’s office does on a day to day basis.

From Monday until today, Paisley Grammar pupil, Adam Kean has performed work experience in the Office of Gavin Newlands MP in Renfrew. The 15 year old was very excited about the opportunity and looked forward to doing work experience that was a little bit different.

During his work experience, Adam helped with various office tasks, social media, and joined Gavin in meeting constituents to help with their issues across Paisley and Renfrewshire North.

During his last day in the office, Adam said:

“I’m really interested in the subject of politics and was looking forward to seeing what goes on in the work of an MP.

“The amount of things that go on in the background and the number of things that an MP and their colleagues get up to every day is extraordinary. The thing is, they do it so well and that is exceptional. My experience showed me that work to do with politics is actually more interesting than most people would think.”

Gavin Newlands MP enjoyed welcoming Adam into the office:

“It’s always great to see young people being proactive in learning about politics. Adam has been a great help in the office and I know he’ll go on to do great things whatever he chooses a career in in the future. I strongly encourage other pupils and young people to look for similar opportunities and make efforts to learn about politics, as ultimately, they are the ones with the biggest stake in the decisions being made today.”

Renfrewshire Raptors

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, spent Sunday afternoon meeting Renfrewshire Raptors for a fun afternoon of American Football.

Renfrewshire Raptors is a local American Football club open to everyone with an interest in the sport regardless of any level of experience. The club has been growing lately as more people have been signing up to get active doing something a little bit different.

Renfrewshire Raptors

Gavin Newlands is the SNP Westminster Spokesperson on Sport, commenting on his afternoon he said:

“I happen to be quite the fan of American Football which was why it was great to actually meet constituents who also enjoy the sport, and get to play a bit of it myself. I tend to take an interest in most sports, I even captained Paisley Rugby Club for a while before I became an MP.

Renfrewshire Raptors

“Renfrewshire Raptors are a great example of an active sporting community in our constituency, if you are interested in the sport I strongly encourage you to go along and get involved, who knows, you might surprise yourself!”

Renfrewshire Raptors

gavin newlands

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has met with local Living Wage accredited employers to discuss their approach to fair pay for a fair day’s work.

The Living Wage Foundation held a reception in Westminster this week to discuss its upcoming strategies and the need for the national adoption of a true real living wage beyond what the UK Government currently legislates for.

gavin newlands

Following this event Newlands met with representatives from the Heathrow Logistics Centre in Hillington, which is in Paisley and Renfrewshire North, to discuss the positive impact that that the real living wage has had on their staff.

Heathrow is one of a growing number of Living Wage accredited employers with operations in the constituency. Other accredited employers include; Renfrewshire Council, West College Scotland, Engage Renfrewshire, and the Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce.

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has welcomed the progress towards a real Living Wage:

“It is encouraging to see growing numbers of employers in my constituency offering a real living wage.

“The Tory Government’s so called ‘national living wage’ does not allow many people to meet their expenses and lead full and dignified lives free from financial stress. The Living Wage Foundation has been at the forefront of the campaign for a fair wage for all and has been tireless in challenging the UK Government’s poverty minimum wage.

“The Living Wage is good for workers, but it is also good for employers. Workers who are paid fairly for the work that they do are more productive and businesses benefit by reputation by being real Living Wage employers. Paying the Living Wage is in everyone’s interests.

“Scotland boasts the highest rate of employees paid the Living Wage anywhere in the UK outside the South East of England. The Scottish Government has been steadfastly committed to the Living Wage.

“The same cannot be said of the Tory Government. As well as the UK’s minimum wage being almost a pound lower than the real Living Wage, it doesn’t even apply to those below the age of 25. At this week’s budget, the Chancellor could have equalised the pay for under 25s. Yet he is happy for our young people to be paid significantly less than their colleagues, needlessly restricting their opportunities. Equal work should always mean equal pay.”

“The UK Government should look to the success in Renfrewshire, and raise the minimum wage in line with the real Living Wage, for all.”