Published: 18/10/2017 16:03 - Updated: 18/10/2017 16:11

Moray Tory MP misses welfare debate for football

Douglas refMORAY’S MP has been heavily criticised after he opted to referee a football match over voting on UK welfare benefit changes.

Douglas Ross is part of the team of officials in Spain this evening governing the Barcelona versus Olympiacos UEFA Champions League tie.

Choosing to be part of the fixture means he missed the opportunity to vote on an opposition day debate on Universal Credit.

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead believes the Westminster politician continues to make national headlines for all the wrong reasons and is "an embarrassment" to the local area.

He said: "There are people in Moray whose lives are falling apart as a result of Universal Credit and they deserve an MP who will turn up to Parliament for this crucial debate and vote.

"To be pocketing a salary of £75k a year paid for by the taxpayer and to then not show up for work so you can earn more money from your second job is not only arrogant, but extremely insensitive given that people applying for universal credit in Moray face being left without an income for weeks on end.

"If folk receiving Universal Credit don’t turn up to an appointment with the DWP they are sanctioned, yet our MP continues to fail to show up to work without consequence."

He added: "In the run up to the General Election, Mr Ross promised that he would cut out the midweek refereeing as he recognised his constituents were unhappy with him missing Parliament. It hasn’t taken him long to go back on his promise."

Mr Ross admits he understands why people are annoyed and disappointed.

However, he explained: "We have 12 Scottish Conservative back-bench MPs and not all would have been able to speak in this debate.

"The best way to raise local matters of concern is to continue writing to Ministers and meeting with them as I have been doing since my election. I have found this a far more productive approach that can be done out with the commons chamber."

The former Forres Academy student confirmed that, while away he is still available for constituents to email and call to discuss any matter.

He added: "I have previously been in written correspondence and held meetings about the mechanisms of DWP and the changes in the way in which benefits are being paid with the Secretary of State David Gauke and will continue to seek contact with him over these issues.

"To say I am not supporting people in Moray is simply not true."

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