Westminster diary w/b 22nd January


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. 


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.  


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. 


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. 


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).