Westminster diary w/b 23rd May

Monday

Following a weekend with dinners on Friday (Inverclyde Sports Awards) and Saturday (Morton Community) and an SNP internal meeting on Sunday evening, I was rudely awakened by my 5am alarm. Fortunately this week it was a beautiful morning and a welcoming start to the week. I had a briefing from the Minister for Defence, Michael Fallon, on the ‘counter Daesh progress’. M.O.D. briefings always leave me wondering what they didn’t tell me. The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was in Westminster to promote the campaign to stay in Europe along with Leanne Wood and Caroline Lucas. The FM then stayed on and attended our MP group meeting. Business in the house was around the Queen’s speech. I was taken during the urgent question on the EU referendum and asked both sides to campaign positively so as to encourage the electorate to engage. Early evening I went to a session informing MPs about the puppy trade and the lack of scrutiny that leads to such poor consumer protection and risks the welfare of the puppies. After that all that remained to do was attend a drop-in with Diageo GB entitled ‘Grain to Glass’.

Tuesday

My select committee took evidence from cabinet officers and the national audit office. We were scrutinising the financial reporting models and the financial advice given and maybe not listened to by the cabinet. I attended a round table briefing on the UN open ended working group on nuclear disarmament. It was interesting to hear of the 127 countries that have signed up and the way non nuclear countries are prepared to hold nuclear countries to account of their desire to develop Weapons of Mass Destruction. The all part parliamentary group on drug policy review reported back from the United Nations office on drugs and crime. They expressed the need to move towards an evidence based drugs policy.

Wednesday

I met with National Union of Students (NUS) who have grave concerns that people will be driven away from nursing as a career if the UK government replaces the nursing bursary with loans. Prime Ministers Questions managed to be devoid of both the Prime Minister and questions as George Osborne and Angela Eagle exchanged insults. Much more upbeat was a huge lobby event organised by Guide dogs for the blind, they are trying to improve accessibility for guide dog users in a campaign named ‘access all areas’. The all party parliamentary group on FOBTs was very well chaired by Carolyn Harris MP for Swansea East and I took the opportunity afterwards to get a quick update on the Swansea bay tidal power barrage. Last event of the day was a briefing entitled ‘The Syrian refugee crisis – are we getting it right?’ It was chaired by Lindsay Hilsum who you may know from Channel 4 news. Syrian refugees told us their stories. Real people with real problems which are not of their own making having to flee their own country with young children in tow. Votes were at 7pm.

Thursday

Started with an anxious wait to see if I was lucky in the ballot for a private members bill but unfortunately I was not. I had a chat with Scott Mann MP (North Cornwall) about computer coding opportunities for people with autism. There was an urgent question about the Brain family, currently being deported and a statement on the steel industry. I spoke in the debate on the Queens speech addressing economy and work. I highlight the lack of regeneration of industry in Inverclyde after the shipyards were closed. There were votes at 5. Then a rush for the 7:30 pm flight home. But I need not have bothered as it was delayed along with many others flights.

Friday

I had arranged dementia awareness training for myself and my team. I did a quick photo opportunity with Virgin Media in Kilmacolm and dropped in to see a constituent who had experienced a positive outcome from a case they brought to my office. In the afternoon my office reviewed the last year and planned the year ahead.

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