Written Question – Home Office [31/01/2018]

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the accuracy of the finding of the European Monitoring Centre for Drug and Drug Addiction of June 2017 that there are 13 drug consumption rooms in seven cities in Spain. (125198)

Tabled on: 26 January 2018

This question was grouped with the following question(s) for answer:

  1. To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the oral contribution of Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office of 17 January 2018, Official Report, HC 406WH, what the evidential basis is for the statement that Spain has only one drug consumption room. (125196) Tabled on: 26 January 2018

Answer: Victoria Atkins:

The Government views the evidence provided by the European Monitoring Centre for Drug and Drug Addiction as a valuable and reliable source of information on drug misuse in reporting countries.

The report of June 2017 found that there are 78 such facilities across Europe, including 13 in Spain. The Government does not recognise the statement that there is only one drug consumption room in Spain and the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office made no such claim during the debate on 17 January.

The answer was submitted on 31 Jan 2018 at 14:59.

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Oral Question – Renewable Energy [30/1/2018]

 

Ronnie Cowan MP

For the first three quarters of 2017, renewable electricity generation in Scotland was 19% greater than in the same period in the previous year. Scotland is on track for a record year of renewable generation in 2017. Will the Secretary of State commend the efforts of the Scottish Government in this area, and, in particular, the new target to have 50% of Scottish energy needs covered by renewables from 2030?

Claire Perry MP (Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth)

Scotland benefits from some fantastic geographical advantages that mean that it is a world leader in many of these things, but it is, of course, UK bill payers across the nation who are investing in the introduction of renewable energy, whether that is in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Westminster diary w/b 22nd January

Monday 

The main event on Monday was the second reading of the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill. It’s a wide ranging bill and was always set to go through unopposed but it provided me with an opportunity to talk about an area that wasn’t in the bill but should be. Financial services providers don’t have a ‘duty of care’ to customers who become ill. I am proposing that they should. I focused on those that have cancer but the need is not exclusive to them. It was a gentleman that had pancreatic cancer that brought this to my attention and Macmillan Cancer have been keeping me up to date. The premise is really quite simple, if you are diagnosed with cancer your bank or building society should be duty bound to provide a flexible product that does not discriminate against you. It’s an amendment that has cross party support and hopefully will have its day. 

Tuesday 

My Select Committee on public administration and the constitution took evidence from three law professors about devolution and exiting the European Union. It sounds like the start of a bad joke but there was a Scots man and Irish man and Welsh man. It was interesting to hear their perspective of how badly the exit is going. The word crisis was used. Later I met with a representative of Kidney Research UK. He explained to me in great detail how Brexit was damaging the life sciences in Scotland. There are three main areas of concern. We lose European Union funding, we don’t conform with European Union regulations and we lose European nationals that lose the right to live in the United Kingdom. Already long term projects are under threat and foreign nationals are leaving. Finally I attended the Westminster Hall debate on the national shipbuilding strategy.  

Wednesday  

The first item in the House of Commons chamber was questions to the Secretary of State for Scotland. He was pushed time and time again to explain why clause 11 had not been amended to devolve repatriated powers from the European Union to Scotland. His excuse is that he ran out of time. Prime Ministers Questions was a dull affair and increasingly missable. I hung around as I was scheduled to raise a Point of Order immediately after PMQs. I was slightly delayed as there was an urgent question. I then got to raise my point of order which I used to point out that the minister had been wrong to talk down the effectiveness of drug consumption rooms and had misled the house. The Speaker responded that it was a difference of opinion. It is not it’s a misrepresentation of the facts. 

Thursday 

Unusually I had a Thursday in the constituency and I used it to meet with a range of constituents in the morning and met with council officers in the afternoon. In the evening I attended a Burns night in Port Glasgow Town Hall with Paul Kavanagh better known as the Wee Ginger Dug. 

Friday 

I responded to constituent emails and read over paperwork in-advance of next week’s Select Committee meeting and debate on Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

 

Child Poverty in Inverclyde

It’s deeply disheartening to learn that over 25% of children in Inverclyde are living in poverty.  As Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) said, there can be little doubt the UK Government’s policy of maintaining the benefits freeze despite rising prices is a major contributor to the emerging child poverty crisis. 

The Tory Government’s continued obsession with a policy of austerity and cutting the welfare budget is only serving to punish the most vulnerable people in society, including children.  

This contrasts with the Scottish Government who are taking action to address child poverty through a number of schemes such as providing free school meals, introducing the baby box and increasing the number of childcare hours available.   

Alongside this, the £750 million Attainment Scotland Fund is an initiative focused on supporting pupils from the local authorities of Scotland with the highest concentration of deprivation, including Inverclyde.

The Child Poverty Strategy sets out what the Scottish Government will do to reduce the levels of child poverty in Scotland, and to ensure that as few children as possible experience any type of socio-economic disadvantage.

There is only so much the Scottish Government can do to mitigate Westminster’s blinkered approach. It is time the Tories dropped their ideological approach and instead developed evidenced based policies. Until they do, the most vulnerable in our society will endure the most hardship.”

 

Macmillan Cancer – Duty of care

Ensuring people have access to the right help and advice as soon as possible is essential in stopping financial problems escalating.  It is well known that being diagnosed with a health condition, such as cancer, can come with a huge and sudden financial impact. 

Research by Macmillan Cancer Support found that 4 out of 5 people with cancer are impacted financially by their diagnosis, being, on average, £570 a month worse off as a result.

If financial service providers had a legal duty of care towards their customers, it would give people confidence to disclose their diagnosis, knowing that they could trust their bank to act in their best interests.

I have now written to HM Treasury to urge the Government to look closely at this issue and ensure the Financial Conduct Authority bring forward their discussion paper before Brexit and begin the process now of ensuring financial providers provide a duty of care to customers who are suffering with cancer.

Hansard link to speech – https://goo.gl/xEZica.

 

Written question – Defence [15/01/2018]

Question: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the Answer of 9 December 2015 to Question 19392, how much his Department has spent on studies to support whether to refurbish or replace the existing Trident warhead design to date. (122607)

Tabled on: 15 January 2018

This question was grouped with the following question(s) for answer:

  1. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the Re-entry Systems Options project has concluded its work. (122687) Tabled on: 15 January 2018

Answer: Guto Bebb:

As of the end of the last financial year (March 2017), the Ministry of Defence had spent £100.7 million on studies to inform the decision on whether to refurbish or replace the existing warhead.

This figure consists of £93.7 million on technology studies to support refurbishment of the current system and explore options for a potential future warhead and £7 million on studies to support the decision whether to refurbish or replace the existing warhead.

Studies related to Re-entry Systems Options to determine the best approach to be taken are continuing.

The answer was submitted on 23 Jan 2018 at 17:43.