Westminster diary w/b 6th November


The morning and most of the afternoon was taken up by preparing for and attending the select committee on transport. Despite parts of transport being devolved there is still sufficient reserved to warrant close scrutiny. I am hopeful that the transport committee will investigate and report on freight haulage and in particular look at our port authorities. In the evening I am winding up on a debate on transport in the North. It’s a Labour debate so the North is the North of England. Performing such tasks is one of the roles of the third party and winding up can be fun as it’s a guaranteed slot, I don’t have to bob up and down and I get ten minutes. The down side is it ten pm before I am finished.


My day starts with the select committee on administration and the constitution. We take evidence regarding the effectiveness of the civil service. It was disappointing to hear that the civil service has difficulty recruiting senior personnel and retaining them. The civil service is going to be stretched to the limit during the withdrawal from the EU and senior civil servants in particular will be expected to handle a large workload. I had a meeting with BT and then with the SNP group leader. In the evening I was invited to an event on the charter of the forests in the Speaker’s rooms by John McDonnell MP the opposition Shadow Chancellor. We have a mutual friend in Guy Standing and an interest in basic income. The charter of the forests is about land ownership for the common good as was part of the Magna Carta eight hundred years ago.  


I am up at the crack of dawn to catch the red eye to Glasgow. I then drive through to Edinburgh to meet up with committee members to take evidence around Brexit and in particular clause 11 which deals with repatriation of powers from the EU. We talk to a host of people from academia, civil service and politicians. Part of the day was hosted in the Scottish Parliament but part of it has to be off site as a Westminster committee can’t legally act as a committee in the Scottish Parliament and vice versa. In the evening I have a working meal with a range of politicians from across the parties.  


Was very similar to Wednesday only with different witnesses and I managed to squeeze in a quick tour of the Scottish Parliament. It’s a building that I like more each time I visit it. The day in parliament ends at five, unfortunately it’s a very slow drive home due to traffic. In the evening I hosted an event with Tommy Sheppard MP at the Beacon.  


I have a joint meeting with Stuart McMillan MSP and Scottish Enterprise followed by a meeting about Scottish housing. I drop in to the Inverclyde Association for Mental Health new building on Mearns Street to discuss the new Greenock Health and Care Centre. I have an interview for a documentary about basic income in Scotland and then a meeting with Scottish renewables.

On Sunday, I shall be laying wreaths at the war memorials in Well Park and at the Cross of Lorraine.