Westminster diary w/b 13th March

Monday

I caught my regular 7:20 flight but instead of going straight to my office in Westminster I continued my journey to the Science museum in Kensington. It was my pleasure to attend and support the team from St Columba’s, Kilmacolm who were competing in the final of the ‘Ultimate STEM Challenge. Michael, Michael, Quinn and Lewis presented their project extremely well and received a commendation from the judges for the “scientific rigour of their experimental work”. I was back at Westminster in time for questions. I wanted to get in a question about Universal Basic Income but once again I stood in vain. I did have a spring in my step as earlier on Scotland’s First Minister had announced that she would be seeking a referendum which would allow the people of Scotland a choice on the kind of future they want. Meanwhile in Parliament the article 50 amendments didn’t take long and naturally the government drove any changes off.

Tuesday

My Select Committee inquiry is into reforming the House of Lords. I suggested scrapping and electing a second chamber which reflects all the countries and regions of the UK. I don’t object to a bi-cameral system it is just that our current second chamber is too big and too London centric. I attended a very interesting all party group on the 4th industrial revolution. It was interesting to hear the input from the likes of Hugh Millward (Director of External and Legal Affairs at Microsoft) with regard to where they see the jobs market going. I can only see a workforce that will be required to be flexible and adaptable in both their approach and working hours as artificial intelligence takes great strides forward. The Minister for Digital, Matt Hancock MP, was open enough to tell us that despite his position he is a descendent of a leading Luddite that’s smashed up the Cartwright looms. It seems there is always a threat to the workforce, perceived or otherwise.

Wednesday

The industrial theme continued and I met with the ‘Industrial Communities Alliance’. They have gathered the combined knowledge, experience and views of local authorities across the UK to create a strategy that they believe can revive British industry and create a high wage, high employment economy across the UK. Prime Minister’s Question time was in parts amusing but mostly the usual slagging match between the Prime Minister and leader of the opposition. I keep going in case I miss something. I feel I have invested a lot of time in this particular event but each week it’s the same dismal failure. I attended a debate on triggering Article 50 and the implications on Scottish devolution. In the evening I did an interview for the James Whale show on Talk Radio.

Thursday

My Select Committee had a private meeting to plan our approach to the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union and the consequences for the devolved administrations.

If we get the witnesses we want it could be both interesting and productive. My committee also presented our report on the lessons learned from the Chilcot inquiry. As a Member of the committee I was allowed to speak to the report. It is our tenth report and the work load shows no sign of letting up. I took part in a Westminster Hall debate on the closure of jobcentres.

Friday

First thing is another radio interview about the Scottish referendum. The strange thing is the SNP are accused of being obsessed by a referendum but the fact is the English based media are fascinated by it and want to talk about it. The rest of the day shall be constituency work, research and writing.

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