Westminster diary w/b 16th January


Up before the larks and off to Westminster. My select committee has two sitting this week so the preparatory work doubles.

Monday morning is given up to reading briefings pertaining to the DVLA and the Ombudsman. Later I have a meeting with the writer Rachel Moran and we discuss the laws surrounding prostitution. Rachel supports the Nordic Model of prosecuting the purchaser and she makes a very powerful case for it. I recommend her book ‘Paid For’ to any adult who is interested in the subject. It is not for the faint hearted.


My Select committee is taking evidence from the department of transport and from the DVLA. The main issue is around suspending people’s driving licence because of a health condition and the time and process involved in the appeal process. This follows on from the PHSO report ‘Driven to Despair’. It’s a balance between reinstating someone’s licence in a timely manner but ensuring they are medically fit and not a risk to themselves and others.

I attend an extremely interesting talk on mindfulness hosted by Ruby Wax. I also signed the Holocaust Educational Trust book of remembrance. It is always good to remind ourselves what grows out of isolationism and xenophobia. And it grows slowly and it grows deep. The consequences are what we remember but sometimes the causes are lost in the mist of time.


My select committee business of the day is a pre-appointment hearing for the Health Board Ombudsman. A quick dash to the chamber for oral questions to the Secretary of State for Scotland. The peculiarities of the system mean that of the twelve questions taken only two are from MPs representing Scottish seats. The others are all Conservatives representing English seats and asking soft questions. In response to this I stand for questions on the chance the speaker will take me for a supplementary. He doesn’t. We then launch in to Prime Ministers Questions. Jeremy Corbyn gets slaughtered this week and the Prime Minister is in a particularly smug mood. She was brought to a shuddering halt when Kirsty Blackman (SNP MP for Aberdeen North) asked if any part of the Great Repeal Bill will be subject to English Votes for English Laws (EVEL). I grabbed a quick coffee with a visiting constituent and Kelvin Hopkins (Labour MP for Luton North). I attended a Westminster Hall debate on the closure of the job centres in Glasgow and attempted to ask the minister if this was just an opening salvo before widespread closures across the UK. But she refused my intervention because she was short of time. She then sat down with 6 minutes to spare. I have written to her looking for clarification. A quick meeting regarding hospice legislation and then a dash to the airport and the 20:30 home.


A day in the office including a very informative meeting with the Scottish Recovery Consortium. They left me two publications. The Recovery Workbook and Methadone Memoirs. I will be meeting up with them soon along with other addiction recovery organisations.


Starts with a meeting regarding local regeneration. I have hospital appointment which is always a good reminder of wonderful the vast majority of our NHS is and why we should fight to keep it. I meet with Warren Hawke to talk about the Morton community (and the chances of a play off finish). Then it’s my privilege to attend the Reach for Autism production of In Our World – A Day On The Spectrum. It’s at the Beacon and was written, produced and stars youths from Reach for Change. Just time for one last meeting. It’s a follow up from last years ‘save the bees’ campaign and it involves establishing a bee trail from Glasgow to Inverclyde.