Westminster diary w/b 15th January


Early start and a busy with a long busy day ahead. A 7:20 flight means I get to my office around 9:30. This allows for some last minute preparation for my first select committee of the day. In the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) we discuss the handling of government contracts. It is particularly relevant with the collapse of Carillion. I get the feeling the cross examination is far too cosy and the civil servants are not being held to account.

I rush to the second select committee of the day which is transport. It takes three hours but is an extremely open and frank discussion about a new (the North West) runway at Heathrow. The UK Government is pushing ahead seeking agreement for a new runway but very little information exists around, the added air pollution, noise pollution, flight paths or upgrade required to the surrounding infrastructure.


I was mostly confined to my office writing a speech and doing research for two debates on Wednesday. It is on days like these that I appreciate having a good quality office within the Westminster estate, not all MPs are as fortunate. I am kept up-to-date with the weather in Inverclyde and can only sympathise as although it is cold in London there is no snow. I take time out to attend a drop in event on the campaign for £2 stake for Fixed Odd Betting Terminals.


I attend and speak in a debate on ‘County Lines’. This is the practice where drug dealers recruit children to act as couriers. It is child slavery enforced by violence and fear and I welcome the opportunity to speak out against it. Prime Ministers Question Time was a dismal affair. I attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on New Psychoactive Substances (NPS). We heard presentations from Manchester and Wrexham Police. This was a suitable warm up for my debate on Drug Consumption Rooms (DCRs) later in the day and I was glad to see that the police representatives stayed on to attend my debate. What should have been a one hour debate was interrupted twice by votes in the main chamber (ten votes to be precise) and therefore it took three and a half hours. I have the support of Scottish MPs from Labour, LibDem, Conservative and the SNP to introduce DCRs but the UK Government is completely intransient and ill-informed in this issue. Unlike some of the people with drug addictions that the UK Government is turning their back on, I shall live to fight another day.


I was pulled out the hat for a topical question at transport so I take the opportunity to ask the secretary of state for transport what effect Brexit will have on the Ocean Terminal in Greenock as it continues to be an important part in the supply chain from Scotland to rest of the world. We are after all an island and our sea routes need protected.


I have a site visit with Stuart McMillan MSP and Scottish Water to discuss Scottish Water’s £2.8 million investment which will alleviate the flooding problems in and around the Oak Mall Shopping Centre. I have a range of constituency meetings including one focusing on Disability Confident and my last appointment of the week is a visit to the Inverclyde Centre for Independent Living in Gibshill.