Mark was elected as MP for Edinburgh North and Leith in 2001 and re-elected in 2005 and 2010.
He has campaigned very actively on a range of issues including climate change and the environment, debt and personal finance, road safety, international development, devolution and radical reform of Parliament.
Mark is an active member of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) - a House of Commons Select Committee which examines Government policies on the environment and produces independent reports which often set the agenda for change.
The EAC has produced reports on issues as diverse as green jobs and skills, air pollution, and deforestation.
In the last Parliament he was also a member of the House of Commons Modernisation Committee which looked at ways of modernising the way Parliament works to bring it closer to the people that elect it
Mark has always been a strong supporter of the Scottish Parliament and was a member of the Scottish Constitutional Convention which drew up the proposals for it which then took shape in the Scotland Act.
Up to May 2010, Mark was the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Debt and Personal Finance and continues to fight very strongly for action on issues like fuel poverty and debt.
He has worked closely on these issues with local groups like the North Edinburgh Fuel Poverty Action Group and believes that an important part of his role is to make sure that local peoples’ voices are heard in Parliament.
Mark supports increasing access to affordable finance through genuine basic bank accounts and a People’s Bank operated through the post office.
Throughout the credit crunch Mark condemned the greed and irresponsibility of those who ran the banking sector whilst speaking up to safeguard the jobs of ordinary counter and back office staff in Edinburgh.
For a full list of the All Party Parliamentary Groups that Mark belongs to click here.
Mark also belongs to the Labour and Co-operative group of MPs which he chaired in 2009/10. As an active member of the Co-operative movement, he has argued strongly for the remutualisation of Northern Rock and for the railways to be run in an open and accountable way.
Between October 2008 and May 2010 he served as the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Global Carbon Trading, working with Ed Miliband at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The aim was to ensure that the polluter pays by setting tight caps on the level of carbon emissions that countries and industries are allowed to produce.
He produced a major report on this in July 2009 and following that supported the former UK Government’s efforts to lobby for an ambitious agreement at Copenhagen in December of last year.
He also chairs the Edinburgh Community Energy Co-operative which is aiming to set up a local community sustainable energy scheme in North Edinburgh.
Mark has the distinction of achieving legislative success with two Private Members' Bills. In 2002 he successfully piloted the Employee Share Schemes Bill through Parliament and in 2006 he achieved success with the Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Bill.
In 2007/8, Mark worked with RSPB Scotland on another Private Members' Bill, to regulate potentially dangerous ship-to-ship oil transfers in coastal waters around the UK. This resulted in the introduction of new regulations by the last Government. There have recently been efforts by a few Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs to have these overturned and Mark is leading the battle to keep the new checks.
Mark won the Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Year award, presented by the road safety charity Brake, in 2003 and the prestigious PRASEG Parliamentarian of the Year Award in 2006 for his work in promoting renewable energy.
Before becoming an MP, Mark already served as Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council from 1986 to 1993, and was the Council’s Executive Member with responsibility for transport from 1999 to 2001.
During his term as Leader of the Council, he initiated Edinburgh’s biggest ever programme of housing regeneration and also played a leading part in the development of the Edinburgh Festival Theatre and the Edinburgh Tourist Board.
As Executive member for transport, he started the largest programme of 20 mph zones in any Scottish council. He also won £20 million extra funding from the Scottish Executive to promote road and pavement repairs, bus route improvements and safer routes for pedestrians and cyclists.
Earlier as the Council’s Convenor of Edinburgh Council’s Recreation Committee, he was responsible for building the Ainslie Park Swimming and Leisure Centre in Pilton.
Mark lives with his family in the heart of the constituency, and is an active member of a wide range of community organisations in his constituency, such as Friends of the Earth. He has belonged to the Labour Party and the Transport & General Workers’ Union for over 30 years.
Prior to being elected as an MP, Mark worked as an Advocate at the Scottish Bar. He is a graduate of the Universities of St. Andrews and Edinburgh.