Prime Minister’s Question Time

As people are aware, Prime Minister’s Question Time is the main focal point of the weekly parliamentary business in the House of Commons. 

It’s an ideal opportunity for people to watch parliamentary proceedings and see questions being put to the Prime Minister from across the chamber.

My automatic allocation of two tickets for Prime Minister’s Question Time falls on both Wednesday 18th April and Wednesday 11th July and if any Inverclyde constituents are in London and would like to attend then please contact my office.  The tickets will be allocated on a first come first serves basis.

http://www.parliament.uk/visiting

 

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World Kidney Day 2018

I welcome World Kidney Day 2018 and this year’s theme of Kidneys & Women’s Health: Include, Value, Empower.  As vice-chair of the parliamentary group I am happy to both promote and raise the profile of the importance of our kidneys.

The Scottish Government is to legislate for an opt-out scheme for organ donation which I welcome.

I would encourage people to consider adding their name to the Organ Donation register.

For more information please visit – http://www.worldkidneyday.org/2018-campaign/2018-wkd-theme.

Organ Donation Scotland website – https://www.organdonationscotland.org.

 

Westminster diary w/b 26th February

Monday

A morning flight for London and my first event is Home Office questions. I am trying to get a question raised on medicinal cannabis. I have been in contact with the mother of Billy Caldwell who receives a prescription for medicinal cannabis to help control his seizures and I am trying to help the family of Alfie Dingley achieve the same outcome. Hopefully they will see sense sooner rather than later. The transport select committee discuss rail infrastructure. It is mostly devolved but it is always of value to hear about issues and solutions across the UK. The All-party parliamentary group on Catalonia heard from an independent group that acted as observers at the Catalonian elections. There feedback was interesting and highlighted the use of the media to the detriment of the independence movement.

Tuesday

My first meeting was as part of a joint select committee. Public Accounts and Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs combined to take evidence from the senior managers at Carillion. It amazes me that as they ran down the employee’s pension fund (deficit of £500 million), left suppliers unpaid (£2 billion) and now over 1,000 people are being made redundant they still managed to pay executive bonuses of over £4 million. Which because they changed the rules can’t be clawed back. My next meeting is with the head of government relations for SAP (computer software solutions and consultancy business). On the back of the Carillion crash they are looking to provide a procurement platform for government contracts and beyond. A quick but informative gathering of the Scottish Constitution group was followed by a meeting with the First Minister. I finished the day with an evening event hosted by Babcock.

Wednesday

I attended the Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal before Prime Minsters Question time. I am one of the judges in ‘Your UK Parliament Awards’ along with the Speaker of the House John Bercow. The level of entrants is extremely high and we eventually settle for winners of each of the five categories. A number of local schools took part in UK Parliament Week and I see it as an opportunity to engage young adults in the democratic process. It is not all about parliament and includes community activism and social mobility. In the evening I attended a dinner hosted by the Industry and Parliament Trust titled ‘Powering the Future of Electric Vehicles’. I am sure there are many of you that remember the launch of the embarrassing Sinclair C5 in 1985. Thankfully electric vehicles have come a long way in recent years. The challenge ahead is to have an infrastructure that supports them.

Thursday

The first event of the day is Transport questions. Given the weather in London and the red weather warning across central Scotland most of us are already thinking about transport but primarily how to get home. We are finding it hard if not impossible to secure any guaranteed passage. The rest of the day is consumed by meetings and definitely no fun in the snow.

Friday

Due to the weather I was detained in London and so all my appointments in Inverclyde were cancelled. My apologies to all those that I had to let down. I spoil myself with a day of reading Johann Hari’s latest book ‘Lost Connections – uncovering the real causes of depression and the unexpected solutions’. It is thought provoking and I hope to get Johann up to Inverclyde sometime for a speaking engagement.

Tele column – 2nd March 2018

When Hunter S Thompson said “A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstances” he was undoubtedly talking about Jeremy Corbyn. When it comes to Labour’s position on Brexit it is fair to say, that just like regrets, they have had a few. Before the EU Referendum Labour policy was to support continued membership of the EU. They were a party split and amongst their ranks there were a few ‘Leave’ advocates including Gisela Stuart, Dennis Skinner and Kate Hoey but not Jeremy. However, after the EU Referendum Jeremy issued a three line whip for Labour MPs to vote in favour of triggering Article 50. Ahead of the General Election their manifesto included an ambiguous commitment to the “benefits of the single market” rather than “membership of the single market.” After the General Election Senior Labour figures have expressed a variety of different views on Brexit. They include, negotiate access to the single market, but not membership (Corbyn). Retain single market membership during transition period (Starmer). Retain single market membership permanently (Watson). Then they declared being open to the possibility of a formal single market membership, but added, access is the most important issue (Corbyn again). Then the UK should prioritise full access of the single market (Corbyn, yes him again). Soon after the Sunday Herald reported that Ian Murray would bring a motion to Scottish Labour conference, calling on members to support the UK “remaining permanently in the European single market and customs union.” And at the time of going to press, Labour have declared their support for the UK being in a new, permanent customs union with the EU. They also expressed support for a “new and strong relationship with the single market”, but not membership. And that is definitely, finally Jeremy Corbyn’s position. But he is a man that once chaired the all-party parliamentary group on the campaign for nuclear disarmament and changed his mind to facilitate becoming leader of his party. As Groucho Marx once said “These are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others.”