Westminster diary w/b 9 May


The plan was to have a day dedicated to constituency work but those plans changed on Saturday morning when I was told I was needed in Westminster early Monday evening. So I only managed a constituency meeting (a follow up to the Aerotoxic syndrome debate), the Texas Instrument task force, a team meeting for my office (one year since I was elected) and then a catch up with Stuart McMillan MSP before heading for the 15:30 flight to Heathrow. The evening consisted of the energy bill (the sort we debate not the sort we pay) and the Immigration bill. Votes took until after 11pm and it was midnight before I walked back to my flat.


Turned out to be one of those rare days when I get a morning to catch up on all the reading I have to do and spend time researching projects that I wish to develop. In the afternoon I met up with representatives of the gambling industry who oppose fixed odds betting terminals. This was followed by an extremely interesting drop in session hosted by the British Endodontic Society. Root canal treatment was never this much fun. In the evening I attended an internal SNP group meeting.


Up at 5:30 to do the paper review on Talk radio at 7am. I thought I spoke quickly but Paul Ross has a machine gun delivery and so even on a slow news day we managed to rattle through stories. I attended the All Party Parliamentary Group for Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) where we were informed that the Guardian were running a story the following day that revealed the new cost of Trident renewal to be £205 billion. Ironically in the afternoon I met and listened to Setsuko Thurlow tell her story of being in Hiroshima on the 6th of August 1945 when it was the target of the first atomic bomb. Between these events I attended Scotland Questions and Prime Minister’s Questions.


I asked the Minister for Energy and Climate about the UK government’s lack of support (they are reducing tariffs) for the Biomass sector which indirectly employs 11,500 people. It is interesting to see what approach different ministers take. This one decided to play nice and try to placate me. She failed.

I had a conference call with IBMs director of government and regulatory affairs and their HR director regarding the redundancies in Inverclyde. I understand tough economic times can result in businesses having to make tough decisions and redundancies can occur but I stressed the effort and commitment made by IBM employees over many years to IBM and my dismay that although legally IBM are doing everything by the book, those being made redundant deserve better deals.

Business in the House finished early and we had the prorogation process which involves Black Rod banging on doors and the reading of acts in Norman French. This marks the close of parliament prior to the Queens speech next Wednesday. I managed an earlier flight home and attended the public meeting on the Community Empowerment Act in the Gamble Halls.


Surgeries and constituency work