Westminster diary w/b 29th January


I spent the morning in my constituency office catching up on casework and in the afternoon I attended the launch of the International Space School Educational Trust at the University of the West of Scotland. The event covered the work carried out in the space stations in particular the medical research. I was particularly pleased to see the work being done on tissue growth as it was a discussion I had with Kidney Research just the week before. I also got to meet a real life astronaut Mike Foale. Mike has spent more than 370 days in space and taken part in 6 space walks.


I pay the price for not traveling last night by starting the day at 4:45 am. The benefit is that I am on the estate in plenty of time for my select committee on public administration and the constitutional affairs. We took evidence from Lord Burns about the proposal to reduce the House of Lords to 600 members. The report contains no justification for 600 members and retains the 90 hereditary peers and 26 bishops. Needless to say it was an interesting exchange. I had to leave early as I had a question in the chamber to the minister for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy. I was on the papers as question 22, so I was never going to get taken. My question was around renewable energy so I stood on an earlier question on the same topic and got taken. The games we play! There was an urgent question on Personal Independent Payments (PIP), I stayed for that as I was speaking in a debate the following day and wanted to gauge the minister’s commitment to current policy. In the evening I attended the Parliamentary Space Committee winter reception. It was not as engaging as Monday’s event at UWS.


I spoke in the PIP debate. It was very well attended and almost everyone attacked the callous process currently in place. Everyone except the Scottish Tories that came to heckle and intervene and then left without attempting to add anything productive to the debate. This is a routine they have fallen into and even their English colleagues are getting a bit fed up with their constant negativity. I attended a drop in session with Centrica revolving round business competitiveness in Inverclyde. Prime Minister’s Question time was bereft of the Prime Minister and therefore the leader of the opposition. This gave David Lidington and Emily Thornberry an opportunity to shine. They didn’t. What was very interesting was a discussion with representatives from the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. The Baltic and Nordic states can be great friends and trading partners to Scotland. It was a pleasure to listen to their aspirations for their own small Northern Europe countries. A busy day continued with a private briefing session from John Manzoni, chief executive of the civil service and permanent secretary at the cabinet office, about the collapse of Carillion. I finished the day with an evening reception organised by Citizens Advice Scotland.


It was my privilege to host and sponsor an event for World Cancer Day (Sunday 4th February). Cancer research has major concerns over funding and also sharing research post Brexit. Sorting out the laws around drug regulation has to be a priority for the negotiation team. This echoes information I received from Kidney Research recently. Life sciences are hugely important, not just for jobs but for the future diagnosis and treatment of many major illnesses.


Was a very busy day with constituency surgeries and a meeting with the Scottish Drugs Forum regarding the use and availability of Naloxone.