Westminster diary w/b 6th March


The opportunity arose to stay in Inverclyde as there were no votes at Westminster. Naturally I took it. Constituency work is so important and never ending. I had a number of constituents that came to my office and I attended the inaugural meeting of the Inverclyde ‘A’ team Autism support group in Boglestone.


I pay the price for staying at home on Monday as my day starts at 4:30 a.m. My select committee starts at 9:15am and I make it with minutes to spare. We are finalising our report on the lessons learned from the EU referendum, the report will be published soon. I got lucky in the ballot for questions to the Justice Department. I took the opportunity to question the minister over the process that is seeing an increasing number of people losing benefits for around ten weeks and then being reinstated after appeal. These benefits can include Motability cars. I pressed him to consider not imposing the sanction until after the appeal process was exhausted and therefore not punish people who are winning their appeal. I attended a big lottery fund drop in session and was pleased to hear that following the events my office ran last year more applications from Inverclyde has been successful than previous years. We will build on this for future years.


My first event was the all party parliamentary group for the campaign for nuclear disarmament. We received a briefing from Dr Ian Fairlie on the links between civil nuclear power and nuclear weapons in the UK. His theories surrounding Tritium and its creation are very interesting. Prime Ministers question time constitutes Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn acting like a couple of badly behaved spoiled brats. This is really no way to run a country. But today they are just the warm up act for the Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond who for one day only thinks he is a comedian. The spring statement is poorly thought out and punctuated by surly jokes at the expense of everyone that isn’t a Tory. Of course the real joke is on the Tories as within hours of the budget statement it is clear that they have broken manifesto promises and hiked the tax on the self employed. To say it was met with a cool response from his back bench is a massive understatement. And one group that were openly less than happy were the Woman Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI). Once again they were ignored by the UK government. A contract broken and many comfortable lives in retirement ruined. I spoke in a debate on the advertising standards authority responsibility to broadband users. The claims being made by providers are dubious to say the least. In the evening I attended ‘Barefoot in Business’ as part of international woman’s day. It was an opportunity to talk with the makers of the documentary about female entrepreneurs in Uganda. There are lessons to be learned by us all.


I attended a fantastic lecture organised by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) in their London HQ. Its title is ‘Utopia for Realists’ and is presented by Rutger Bregman. It covers his plans for a shorter working week, Universal Basic Income and open borders. His influences range from Thomas More to Richard Nixon. More wrote his ‘Utopia’ in 1516 so it’s an idea 500 years in the making. I get a tea time flight home.


I have casework to catch up with. A meeting with the Ardgowan Hospice and a meeting in the council buildings. On Saturday I plan to visit the Inverclyde street pastors and watch the rugby at Twickenham.