Westminster diary w/b 28th November


The Investigatory Powers Bill was passed without any of the one hundred amendments the SNP asked for. Today we are joined by Liberty for a discussion and photo opportunity to raise awareness of this insidious piece of legislation. My main business of the day is attending and talking in a debate which has come about as a result of an e-petition. The subject is funding for child cancer awareness. I take the opportunity to mention our local heroes, the Mowat family. I was hoping to attend an event on law enforcement and drugs but business forces me to stay on the estate.  


My Select Committee is having a private session where we put the finishing touches to our latest report. It has the snappy title ‘The future of the union, part two: inter-institutional relations in the UK’. It is an exhausting process going through a fifty nine page report line by line with ten other people when we quite literally argue over commas and replace ‘should’ with ‘where possible’. I have a raft of amendments which I think are pertinent and I manage to carry enough members with me to get all bar one included. There is a quick catch up with the Woman Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign in preparation for a debate on Wednesday and time to write a speech for the Chilcot debate too. The Scotland constitution group have time for a catch up meeting. 


I have a meeting with Matt Hancock (Minister of State responsible for digital policy in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport). I bring to his attention the fragmented and unsatisfactory broadband within Inverclyde. Too many premises, both domestic and commercial, suffer from an inadequate service. By continuing my dialogue with him I will be kept abreast of new possibilities and briefed on the changing relationship between BT and Openreach. Prime Ministers Questions (PMQs) is staggeringly boring. The Chilcot debate is of particular interest to me as if the motion is passed, then my Select Committee will be asked to carry out an investigation between the private and public information that was know but not revealed before Tony Blair’s government took us into the Iraq war. We are subjected to a barrage of abuse from the Blairites of the Labour Party because they want to protect their man (maybe because they think he is going to come riding back to their rescue) and from the Government benches because of our temerity to criticise a former Prime Minister and the machinery of Government. My speech gets cut to four minutes, I am not pleased. Labour and Conservative join together to deny any attempt to pass the motion.


I have a meeting with Amanda Campbell (Chief Executive Officer and Deputy Ombudsman). The Ombudsman provide reports to my Select Committee but they are also held accountable by the committee. Questions in the House are to the ‘Exiting the European Union’ department. It’s followed by business questions which are always more relaxed and can be entertaining as well as informative. I meet with representatives of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation for a very interesting discussion about drug policy and reform.


Early start to visit the local Royal Mail depot followed by a meeting with the management team of the Oak Mall. I visit Tesco to help with their food collection for the food bank and then I have surgeries in Greenock, Kilmalcolm and Inverkip.