Firmly back in the old routine now and on the red eye to London City. My first meeting of the day is with Marc Etches the Chief Executive of Gamble Aware and we discuss gambling related harm. Next I meet Jonny Ross Tatem from the Buchanan institute to discuss their excellent publication ‘Putting Health First: A New Approach to UK Drug Policy’. Next it’s a Clydesdale Bank drop in event to meet David Duffy and talk about small and medium sized enterprises.
I am scheduled to talk on the Brexit aspect of the queen’s speech. I finally get to contribute at twenty past nine in the evening. I wait to hear the Foreign Secretary’s response and Boris responds as he always does. Like he is chatting to his pals at the Conservative club and everybody else is a fool. His lack of professionalism is only outweighed by his lack of self-awareness.
My first meeting is with Jonathan Kingsley in his capacity as the parliamentary and policy manager for Muscular Dystrophy UK. Amongst other things we go over the PIP assessment process that is resulting in so many people losing their Motability allowance. This meeting underlined what I already knew, that so many people are being unfairly deprived of their independence by a system that clearly doesn’t work. My last meeting of the day was with Declan O’Mahony who happens to be a Director of Motability. It’s fair to say he shares my concerns. But I am delighted that they are changing the rules with regard to removing someone’s car and plan to extend it to up to 24 weeks which should allow time for a full review and appeal process. Motability are taking the financial hit, not the government.
PMQs and a surprisingly upbeat Prime Minister given her disastrous election and grubby deal with the DUP. And just to make matters worse the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn was back to his monotonous worst. It’s one thing wowing an audience of festival goers at Glastonbury but it’s quite another holding your own at the ballot box. I am the Vice Convenor of the all party parliamentary group on fixed odd betting terminals and we reconvened for this parliamentary session all the more determined to force the government to impose a maximum two pounds bet per spin. It’s taking longer than we hoped but we will get there.
The morning started at 8:30am with an event hosted by the Trussell Trust to highlight the work they do and in particular their management of food banks. I was in the chamber for questions to the Department of Culture Media and Sport as question 9 was about fixed odd betting terminals. The plan was to get in on the back of that but the best laid plans of mice and men came unstuck as the speaker stopped at Question 8 and my plan was thwarted. Talking of mice, their big cousins the rats are still terrorising me in the yard behind my office that I cross to get to Parliament. I am sure they have grown since last week. I had a meeting with the transport policy team and we discussed aspects of transport from trains to space ports.
In the afternoon I attended a seminar with the title ‘Power and People in the UK Constitution’. It was attended and contributed to by representatives from the Electoral Reform Society, universities, local governments, MPs and various constitutional lobby groups. That may sound like a recipe for a long boring afternoon but in fact these seminars provide a platform for open honest discussion without political point scoring and as a result they are invigorating and rewarding. They motivate me to do my job better. There were votes at the end of the day on the Queens speech and I caught the 8:30pm flight home.
Busy day with constituents, the Inverclyde food bank, the Ardgowan distillery and Riverside Inverclyde. Busy and typical of the range and diversity that makes mine such a great job.