This was my first day back at Westminster since the death of my partner, Linda, and it was always going to be difficult. I prepared for it, almost like a first day at school. Shining my shoes, laying out clothes and packing a bag the night before. Fortunately it was a day short on confrontation and spent listening and learning instead. I met with Marc Etches from Gamble Aware to talk about a range of ways to address gambling related harm, including a statutory levy on bookmakers and restricting advertising target audiences. The Select Committee on Transport took evidence on ‘Mobility as a Service’. MaaS is designed to join up different methods of transport to allow a person to utilise a combination of bike, car, bus, ferry and train to plan their journeys with a central payment method along the line of the system currently available in Helsinki. I attended a debate in the chamber on the effect of Brexit on haulage permits and trailer regulations.
I dropped in on an event organised to highlight Scotland’s Declaration on Human Rights. This event highlights it is 70th years since the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Select Committee on Public Administration and the Constitution took evidence on the methodology and scrutiny behind the pre-appointment process within Whitehall. In the chamber there was an urgent question on the murder of civilians in Palestine and a vote on the recommendations from the Leveson inquiry.
Started with oral questions to the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the cabinet office. I bobbed for a question. I was going to ask him to explain how he claimed to be preserving the integrity of the United Kingdom while he refused to acknowledge the Scottish Parliament vote that was supported by all parties except the Tories, not to a pass a legislative consent motion regarding Brexit. But as I was not selected, we shall never know. In the afternoon I attended an extremely interesting event that explained how the island of Orkney has become a centre for excellence for renewable energy. Orkney has overcome many obstacles to achieve this but they used an island mentality of getting on with the job and recognising the community value that their hard work has brought to fruition. I sat in on the latest Brexit debate on customs. It’s truly frightening how poorly prepared the United Kingdom is for leaving the European Union and it won’t be cabinet ministers that suffer it will be the ordinary citizens of the entire U.K. When so many manufacturing companies work with the ‘just in time’ process that means any interruption to their supply chain will grind production to a halt, we need to get customs regulations agreed across the European Union now.
I had been given the heads up that the U.K. Government were going to announce a change to the betting limits on fixed odd betting terminals (FOBTs) so I was planning on being in the chamber to hear the news and possibly talk to the statement. As it turned out I was given the privilege to respond from the front benches by the SNP. This change to set the maximum bet at £2 per spin is extremely welcome and it was achieved by cross party cooperation. I worked hand in glove with Carolyn Harris (Labour) and Ian Duncan Smith (Conservative) to get this through and my hope is that we can continue to work together to reform gambling policy and improve the support provided for those affected by gambling related harm. I bumped into Gordon Brown (ex-Labour Prime Minister) at the airport. I was going to remind him that he said in April 2015 that Labour would never lose Inverclyde to the SNP but the poor man looked miserable enough without me annoying him, that and the fact he had two armed guards at his side.
I have meetings with West College, a visit to the site of the new demolished Inverkip power station and meetings with constituents. And finally can I just thank everyone who has helped and supported me during a most difficult time, especially my office team, my friends and my family. Love and respect.