Westminster diary w/b 30th January


Regular readers will be glad to know that through the power of thought I managed to clear London of fog and so this week’s flight was on time. My first meeting was with a researcher to commission work on the Nordic model for prostitution. This was followed up with a meeting with a constituent who had written to me regarding issues with HMRC. As he was in London it made sense to meet there. I had already planned to attend a one to one with Damien Hinds MP (Minister for Work and Pensions) but the announcement of the jobcentre closure in Port Glasgow brought a new impetus to the meeting. Interestingly I had put in for an Urgent Question on jobcentre closures and had been granted one for 15:30. Disappointingly it was not Damian Hinds who came to the chamber to answer my question and his replacement Caroline Nokes refused to say why no consultation had been done prior to announcing the closure. She also couldn’t say if a full quality assessment has been done. 

I also attended questions to the Secretary of State for Defence, where Michael Fallon is master at saying nothing. Maybe that’s why he got the job.  


I am a member of the All-party Parliamentary Group on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals and on Tuesday we published our report “Assessing the Impact”. During the process we took evidence from gambling addicts, bookmakers, gambling support groups, government ministers and academics. Hopefully the industry and government will take notice. I spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on immigration rules for spouses and partners. I then pursued more research on Universal Basic Income and drug reform. The afternoon was split between a meeting with Ofcom about broadband access and speeds and a meeting with a company that provide satellite solutions for broadband. In the evening I met up with colleagues to discuss a strategy around the impending jobcentre closures.  


My first meeting of the day was with a representative of ‘Dignity in Dying’. It’s a complex and often emotional discussion that is not currently at the forefront of the political agenda but it is one of those topics that goes round in a cycle and will come back again. It’s always good to keep up to date and keep learning. Prime Minister’s Questions is the usual nightmare for the Labour Party and their benches are getting thinner week by week. Angus Robertson questions the PM on the feasibility of a soft border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Apparently she sees no issue with this. That’s good to know going forward.  

It’s World Cancer Day today and they organise a very informative session covering a range of cancers. There are breast cancer awareness seminars coming to Inverclyde soon and I shall be promoting those in the near future. Later I have a meeting with GiveDirectly. They are an organisation that raises money and cuts out the middle men by funding people directly. They have been heavily involved in funding Universal Basic Income schemes and were keen to learn about a pilot project in Scotland. It’s a later night in the chamber than was expected as we are voting on triggering Article 50.  


I catch an early flight home and spend the day catching up on casework and organising Friday’s local surgeries. Unfortunately these days that involves liaising with the local police force to ensure my team’s personal safety. In the evening I attended a drug rehabilitation event in the Centre for Contemporary Arts on Sauchiehall Street Glasgow. It’s run by Recovering Justice and features speakers from Anyone’s Child, LEAP, Reform and Transform. It’s a hugely interesting evening and as these evenings often do I ended up holding an impromptu meeting with representatives from the charity Scot-Pep. It’s a challenging encounter but one we plan to repeat. 


Surgeries in Kilmacolm and Port Glasgow followed by a quick photo with Tommy (the clown) Armstrong to help highlight the fabulous work he does raising money for charity. Then it’s off to the bingo at Mecca followed by Greenock surgeries. Time for a meeting with the PCS unions about the planned closure of the jobcentre in Port Glasgow and end the day with surgeries in Inverkip.