Westminster Diary w/b 4th September


Parliament does not sit until Tuesday but I have an event ‘Pathways to Statehood: Scotland and Catalonia’ at Saint Mary’s University in the evening so I went for a morning flight to London and got settled into my office again. The evening event is first class. It’s always good to hear an independent view of Scotland’s constitutional situation and the possibilities around it.


My first appointment is at a briefing from the Hansard Society on the ‘Repeal Bill’. The Hansard Society is a completely independent organisation from Parliament, not to be confused with ‘Hansard’ that record all the debates. They are non-political and are experts in the democratic process required to govern. They have put together suggestions to enhance the UK Parliament’s ability to process the Repeal Bill within the time constraints of Brexit. They also highlighted the dangers of the Henry VIII clauses and the complexity of the current process. I attended a round table event to discuss the possible outcomes of a Catalonian referendum. The general consensus, across all parties, was that if Catalonia voted to become independent, then Spain ultimately could not deny the democratic process and the UK would recognise Catalonia as an independent state. My last event was an internal SNP group meeting at which the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, walked us through the Scottish government’s ambitious Programme for Government. I am delighted that they have published such an ambitious programme including the feasibility of a basic income and a National Investment Bank.


I started the day with an in depth briefing of the Brexit process presented by the Hansard Society. I then attended a debate on solar panels. Later during PMQs it was clear that her role is taking its toll on Theresa May as she looked and acted like someone under a great deal of pressure. Jeremy Corbyn was not much better, his summer jaunt to Scotland seems to have worn him out. Following PMQs I attended the protest and lent my support to the public sector workers campaign to scrap the 1% pay cap. It has been scrapped in Scotland by the SNP government and the UK should follow. The National Shipbuilding Strategy was launched today. I was briefed the day before by Harriet Baldwin MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence Procurement) and I hope the new bidding process is beneficial to Ferguson Marine allowing them to break into the lucrative defence market. I attended a drop in event for the organ donation scheme and will continue to urge the UK government to once again follow the lead of the SNP Scottish Government and introduce a soft opt-out scheme.


Most of the day was consumed by a visit to the ‘National Problem Gambling Clinic’ where I was hosted by Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones. Visits such as these allow me to learn from experts and the plan is to host an event at Westminster focusing on gambling addiction and related harm. Addictions of many varieties blight the lives of far too many. Research and understanding of them as a health related issue is required and funding must be provided to allow it to take place. I caught the 20:30 flight home.


I held surgeries in Kilmacolm Community Centre, Port Glasgow Library, my constituency office in Greenock and the Inverkip Community Centre.