There is no urgent business to get me out my bed at 5am so I take the opportunity to work in my constituency office during the morning and catch a lunchtime flight. I am in Westminster for 14:30 which allows me to read my Transport Select Committee briefs and spend some time with the committee clerks regarding a particular case I want the committee to look at. The select committee sits at 16:30 and takes evidence from witnesses affected by the recommendations to change the criteria for drivers of community transport organisation (CTO) vehicles. Followed by evidence from those who are making the recommendations. With an ageing population CTOs are proving an invaluable service to a growing market place. In the evening I attended an event to promote the United Kingdom’s major ports. It is always beneficial to hear from other MPs about issues that we share an interest in. I have to admit I am envious of some of the financial investment that other ports have received free m both Scottish and UK governments. We have a wonderful opportunity to make more of our ports in Inverclyde and we should not settle for second best.
My select committee on administration and the constitution took evidence from legal experts Michael Carpenter and Professor Nicola McEwen regarding the complexities and nuances in clause eleven of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. That’s not as dry as it may sound. Clause eleven will determine how many of the one hundred and eleven powers that are currently under European Union jurisdiction that potentially can be devolved to Scotland, are devolved to Scotland. As soon as the committee meeting ended I made a hasty exit to the chamber as I had a topical question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I urged the UK government to fund a basic income project so they can make evidence based policy, as is being done in Scotland. The Chancellor and his ministers seemed baffled by the prospect and failed to answer my question. I attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on prostitution where we discussed the decriminalisation of the purchasing of sex. This is a worrying concept that was put forward at the TUC congress and TUC woman’s conference. Wisely it was voted down at both. The TUCs stance is that prostitution is abuse, not work. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on drugs policy discussed the uses of cannabis both medicinal and recreational. It is an area where research is growing, people’s attitude is changing and we need to be prepared so we can legislate responsibly. In the evening I attended the launch of the VoltFace report ‘Back Yard’. It is an investigation into the feasibility of establishing drug consumption rooms.
I started the day at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malawi. Inverclyde has a lot of connections with Malawi including a number of schools that have paired with a school in Malawi. Through this group I hope to be able to help these Inverclyde organisations. Prime Ministers Question time was a battle between the deputies. Damien Greene replaced the PM and Emily Thornberry replaced the leader of the opposition. It was a rather muted affair. I spoke in the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) debate which we took to a vote and won! The UK Government now has twelve weeks to respond. In the evening I hosted Strathclyde University Constitutional Law students.
Happy St Andrew’s Day. Unfortunately, I woke with a raging sore head, runny nose, tickle cough and aching joints. I had my flu jab a few weeks ago but this is obviously man flu which is much worse. I drag myself in for a meeting but it’s a lost cause. I head for a two pm flight.
I start the day helping out at the Tesco foodbank collection followed by constituency surgeries in Greenock, Port Glasgow and Inverkip. In the evening I attend the official opening of the Greenock Burns Club room at the Customs House Quay.