Holyrood diary with Adam Ingram MSP

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A new poll out this week shows that the SNP’s commitment to protecting and improving the NHS is rated higher than any other party in the UK.

The poll – commissioned by Michael Ashcroft – asked respondents to rate on a scale of one to ten how important they consider protecting and improving the NHS to be to each political party. The SNP achieved a rating of 7.04 – the highest in the UK – compared to Labour who are on 6.69 and the Tories who are on just 5.30.

In government, the SNP has delivered real results for the NHS – introducing the legal Treatment Time Guarantee which has seen 98 per cent of patients – over 600,000 people - treated within twelve weeks, and recently announcing an additional £65m in funding for health boards across Scotland in the next financial year.

Our NHS is our most valued public resource – and this poll is confirmation that the people of Scotland recognise the strong action taken by the SNP in government to protect our health service from the impact of Westminster’s cuts and privatisation agenda south of the border.

The SNP’s record on the NHS is second to none – delivering real results on waiting times and staff numbers, introducing free prescriptions for all and protecting the NHS budget in the face of cuts passed down the line from Westminster.

Little wonder that the SNP is more trusted to protect and improve our NHS than Labour – who just this week voted along with the Tories to initiate another round of spending cuts and to put further pressure on our public services.

At the General Election in May it is vital that we send a strong team of SNP MPs to Westminster to serve Scotland and work to protect Scotland’s budget - and deliver more powers that will enable the Scottish Parliament to further protect and improve our NHS for the future.

I fully support the calls for a reduction in energy bills to reflect the reduced cost of wholesale energy and the fall in oil prices.

It is utterly unacceptable that we have fuel poverty in an energy rich nation like Scotland, especially given the schemes the Scottish Government has put in place to address it.

The 2013 Scottish House Conditions Survey shows that 39.1% of Scottish households were in fuel poverty. That is a horrendous figure, yet it would have been 11% if fuel prices had risen in line with inflation between 2002 and 2013, which demonstrates a fundamental failure of the UK regulated energy market.

The Scottish Government has called on ScottishPower, SSE, E-on, EDF, RWE/Npower, Centrica and Energy UK to ensure households and businesses benefit from the drop in wholesale prices.

The recent falls in wholesale energy costs and oil prices have not been reflected in our energy bills, and if the companies are not prepared to positively react to these changes and pass them on to consumers, then they must be compelled to do so.

My colleague SNP MP Pete Wishart, has called for the abolition of the House of Lords as an institution that is now beyond reform. Many attempts have been made over the years to bring democracy into the House of Peers – but the SNP are urging its abolition in the next parliament.

The House of Lords with its staggering 847 members, including hereditary peers and Bishops of the Church of England, is the most absurd political institution in the democratic world and it is right to describe it as an affront to our democracy.

What should concern us just as much as the embarrassment over its indefensible bloated size or the absurdity of its membership criteria - is its potential for and history of abuse, the total lack of accountability and its corrosive, distorting influence in our political life.

When we bypass democracy and leave the composition of a legislature up to politicians and party bosses there are very obvious concerns and we only have to look at the recent appointments to the House of Lords to see that this is a very real present danger. The temptation is that those politicians will simply be keen to stuff the place full of cronies whilst looking forward to gaining a nice little earner for themselves in their declining years.

The public have a right to demand better and we now need to just abolish the whole un-reformable place and put in place a democratic institution accountable to the electorate.