Westminster Diary 23 January

On Monday a change to my usual routine allowed me to work from Inverclyde, a welcome opportunity to spend time with constituents. I got the evening flight to London and managed to catch the end of business in the Chamber.

Tuesday was dominated by my Select Committee. We took evidence from Lord Strathclyde about the relationship between the Houses of Parliament. Later, I was in the chamber for Treasury questions. Late afternoon was the constitutional policy group, followed by an extremely interesting presentation from the Parliamentary and Science Group entitled “Flood management, is it an oxymoron?” followed by a question and answer session. Last event at 7pm was a presentation from the SECC which I attended to remind them that Inverclyde is just a short trip away!

During Wednesday’s PMQs Angus Robertson nailed David Cameron with questions about the UKs arms trade to Saudi Arabia. The PM was distinctly uncomfortable, you can tell when he is struggling as he turns and talks to the speaker’s chair rather than the chamber. I then met the Electoral Commission to discuss the date of the EU referendum, which the UK Government want in June. The SNP believe that September is fairer given the expected date of the 23rd of June is only 7 weeks after the Scottish Parliament election. Later I signed the Holocaust ‘Book of commitment’.

Thursday’s Select committee was all about the Kids Company report, I would have liked the report to have gone further as it falls short of linking the Conservative Government’s Big Society to the failings of the charity but with 6 Tories, 4 labour and 1 SNP it was always an uphill struggle. I met up with senior management of EE to discuss broadband and took the opportunity to have a conversation about BT’s acquisition of the company and what this means for jobs in Inverclyde. Finally, I met with Dr Malcolm Torry, a leading light in the campaign for a Citizen’s Wage. We spent time discussing the pros and cons of the policy. Back home on the evening flight.

First thing on Friday was a meeting with constituents to address their concerns followed by visiting the RBS mobile service in Kilmacolm. I was less than impressed with the facility, it was late, poorly parked and not accessible to the elderly or disabled. To compound that, the ATM in the old branch was not working, again. Then I visited Inverclyde Association for Mental Health, I was hugely impressed with their work and ambitious plans for the future. Later I met some friends from Quarriers charity and handed over the donations from my office opening, which they attended. The last formal event of the day was a discussion regarding the refugees settling in Inverclyde. I hope to talk on this issue in Westminster on Wednesday. The evening was of course a Burns event, what else.