Westminster diary w/b 20th November


I caught the seven twenty am flight and after catching up with emails, along with Norman Lamb MP, I had a meeting with representatives from ‘Anyone’s Child’. This group are members of the public that have suffered through the loss of life, ill health or prosecution of a loved one in connection with the current UK drug laws. We met them as a precursor to debate later in the week on drugs harm. I had the great pleasure of meeting up with Ricardo Baptista Leite and Rita Carmo Ferreira. I met them in Portugal earlier this year. Ricardo is an MP in the Portuguese parliament and along with Rita is organising and encouraging a network of parliamentarians to promote the end of HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis and Tuberculosis. In the afternoon I met with representatives of a pharmaceutical company that are promoting a version of buprenorphine which is used to treat opioid addiction. The afternoon was completed by my transport select committee which has a fixation with all things trains. The evening finished with votes just after nine pm.


My Select Committee on the administration and constitution started the day with an investigation into the civil service and its recruitment policy. I attended a debate on pension age which of course covered women against state pension inequality (WASPI). I also went to an event to mark 50 years since Winnie Ewing was elected to Westminster. It is particularly poignant as Winnie is a resident of Inverclyde now. I then attended an event hosted by ‘Addaction’ which is a support service for alcohol and drug addiction. They have a fantastic web chat application on their website for anyone needing to discuss alcohol or drug issues. The day finished with five votes, each takes fourteen minutes. The last vote was at nine forty one pm precisely. 


It’s budget day. That means the media descend on Westminster and security is ramped up considerably. It’s the one day when prime Ministers Question time is simply the warm up. I watched the budget from the tea room. This means I get a seat and can hear what’s being said. It also means I can judge the reaction from the Conservatives who, like me, have opted for the more civilised location. They are a very divided bunch. I spoke in a debate with the title ‘human and financial costs of drug addiction’. It was well supported and mostly well informed. There is support across the parties for Heroin Addiction Treatment rooms. I attended the alcohol health alliance ten year anniversary before speaking at a rally against fixed odd betting terminals. I found myself agreeing with Ian Duncan Smith who opposes these machines and is also calling for a two pound maximum stake. It was an early night and so I was home by eight pm. 


We had an informal meeting of the Public administration and constitution committee to discuss clause eleven of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. Sounds dry but it was fascinating. I then met up with pupils from Clydeview Academy who were touring Westminster as part of their London trip. I was scheduled to speak on a debate on bullying immediately after so I took the opportunity to pick their brains on the subject. I used their feedback in the debate. I caught the six pm flight home. 


I had a meeting with the builders Taylor Wimpey regarding a housing development In Kilmacolm. I visited St Columba’s High school to do a question and answer session with pupils and the met up with Inverclyde’ Street pastors to hear about their on-going work. My last engagement of the week was at Notre Dame High School this hear about their involvement in the UNICEF initiative ‘2017 outright campaign’ which focuses on children’s rights and specifically child refugees.