CHRISTMAS is meant to be a time of joy and for children it can be truly magical.

However, for far too many youngsters in East Lothian, it will be far from what it should be and the pressure upon their parents to try and provide for them will be severe. Yet it’s such a delight to see pleasure on young faces. For parents who will struggle to provide anything at all, it must be hard indeed. That just shouldn’t be and it’s cruel, but austerity is biting.

A briefing sent to me by the End Child Poverty Coalition disclosed that 21 per cent of children in East Lothian are in poverty.

This is by no means the poorest part of our land, and those figures are both staggering and shameful. It’s not just their Christmas that’s blighted but so are their life prospects. Christmas is a time for giving and it’s time we provided for all our children.

The report also showed that seven per cent of children in the county were affected by the two-child cap. That’s literally a sibling tax and forcing children and families into poverty. There’s a clear correlation across the land between its impact and its effect, which is child poverty. That’s shameful. The Tories are to be condemned for bringing it in, yet Labour are equally contemptible – bleating about it in Scotland yet supporting it in Westminster.

Last week in Parliament there was the disgraceful Rwanda bill. It’s an expensive and immoral charade that’s doomed to fail or at most address very few. Yet if we’re opposing immigration then we should surely be supporting families in Scotland and the UK. We’re an ageing population and children can be expensive. Supporting them collectively is always in our interests and this is just perverse.

Finally, HS2 has been abandoned. It was never coming to Scotland, but I enquired whether there would be any benefit for us through savings from its cancellation. Upgrading the East Coast Mainline is essential to allow for more trains and more frequent services. Yet again, though, there’s nothing for us, which is disgraceful.