Westminster Diary 27 Feb

My first meeting of the week was with Katie Ghose, the chief executive of the Electoral Reform Commission. We had an interesting discussion about extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds, the timing of the EU referendum, single transferable votes (STV) and engaging the electorate in improving and taking part in the electoral process.

In the afternoon the Prime Minister gave a statement on the EU referendum. It was great fun to watch the Members on the Conservative benches not knowing whether to nod or shake their heads. Boris Johnson was like a child on the naughty step; grumpy and desperate to speak. Monday ended with an adjournment debate in the provision of emergency tow vehicles in the West Coast of Scotland. Some of the stories of near misses and vessels running aground, including a nuclear submarine, were terrifying.

On Tuesday my select committee took evidence from the High Speed Rail (HS2) executives and it was staggering to read the public submissions and see the many complaints regarding a frighteningly arrogant lack of engagement with the communities whose lives are most effected. I then spoke to the BBC micro:bit initiative about the scheme to encourage school pupils to get involved in computer coding, a subject very dear to my heart. Every secondary school in Inverclyde will have the opportunity to take part.

Tuesday afternoon I attended a briefing from the PHSO pressure group who wish to reform the ombudsman service. This is a classic case of people feeling that their voices are not being heard and ties in nicely with my select committees look at the HS2 railway. In the evening I attended a Westminster Hall debate on motability car scheme which will see over 30,000 people in Scotland lose their motability cars. Some terrible reports of people who are reliant on their vehicles having them removed. I closed the day with an Internal SNP Group meeting which are always interesting and informative.

On Wednesday I took the opportunity to talk in a Westminster Hall debate on biomass fuel. Locally we have private and public bodies using biomass boilers and we have West Coast Woodfuels supplying the wood chips. The issue had cross party support and hopefully will continue to make progress and help biomass secure a place in the mix of renewable energies we need to achieve our targets by 2020. That afternoon I attended the WASPI debate in the chamber and heard many passionate speeches in favour of a fair deal for those woman effected. Unfortunately it fell on deaf ears and the Government were unmoved.

Thursday morning was spent doing research in the House of Commons Library and the afternoon was taken up by another debate on European affairs. I travel back to Inverclyde on Thursday evening so I can attend constituency meetings on Friday.