Westminster diary w/b 12th December


Starts with another delayed flight but I still make it to Westminster by 10. The delay simply means in do my preparation in the departure lounge. I needed have bothered as despite standing for questions to the Secretary of State for Defence, I don’t get taken. I was looking to highlight the poor mental health of a lot of young recruits to the military and the increased chance of suicide in the under twenties.


My select committee is taking evidence from the Public Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) and also individuals that are critical of the PHSO’s work. It was a lively session and a few disgruntled members of the public were vocal in their criticism. My select committee in its wisdom decided to have a second evidence session this week so the afternoon is all about reading the copious briefing documents the magnificent clerks produce.


Starts with the Select Committee taking evidence from the electoral commission. It is slanted towards the European Union referendum but of course Scotland’s independence referendum is also discussed. Prime Ministers Question time lacks any real direction and was quite unremarkable. I attended a briefing on Biomass heating. There is a lobby group that suggests it’s not as environmentally friendly as it makes out to be. DRAX receive a lot of criticism but have wisely sent their experts too. Both sides put their case very forcefully which makes it extremely engaging. I sought clarification from the anti biomass lobby and they agreed with me that it’s about scale and proximity to the fuel supply that defines how carbon neutral it is. And along with responsible forestry and as part of a renewable strategy biomass has its place. I dashed from that to a round table event to discuss renal research. It was good to hear the progress being made. I then spoke in the chamber on the homelessness debate.


I was part of an interview panel to recruit staff based in Westminster and in the afternoon I attended and spoke in a debate in the chamber on the Universal Service Obligation (USO). The UK Government is showing a terrible lack of foresight, ambition and leadership in this area and if they don’t step up we will feel the effect in the years to come.


I attend the Private Members Bill (PMB) to ratify the Istanbul convention. This has never been ratified by the UK and is designed to protect woman from violence. As I write this I do not know the outcome of the debate. I would like to think it was passed and not talked out as previous PMBs have been.