Westminster diary w/b 21st May


My first event was the All-party parliamentary group on prostitution. We were launching a report with the title ‘Behind Closed Doors’. It deals with the sexual exploitation of woman trafficked across Europe to be abused in pop up brothels. The event include a speech from an incredibly strong, articulate and brave woman named Mia De Faoite. Mia survived prostitution and campaigns to promote the Nordic model which will decriminalise the seller and prosecute the purchaser. It’s a model I fully support and it was good to have an SNP colleague, Ash Denham MSP, also speaking at the event. I nipped into the chamber for questions to work and pensions. Most of the afternoon was spent in the transport select committee discussing the intercity east coast rail franchise. 


I started the day taking evidence from Andy Street, the mayor of the West Midlands, in front of the select committee for public administration and constitutional affairs. He wants more powers devolved to the West Midlands post Brexit and even pursued the idea of the West Midlands staying in the customs union. He recently wrote a damning article describing the potential pitfalls to the supply chain for manufacturers after we leave the E.U. I then left the parliamentary estate to chair an infrastructure event in the Royal Aeronautical Society. In the afternoon I was briefed by the Minister for Defence Procurement, Guto Bebb MP. His brief covers shipbuilding so it was a lively discussion. I then had a meeting with the Minister for Sport, Tracey Crouch. This was a follow up to the announcement that the UK Government intends to set the maximum stake on fixed odd betting terminals at £2. We are now discussing the timeline for implementation. My last event of the day was a reception for Heathrow Airport where my colleague Alan Brown MP spoke.  


I had a meeting with Highways England with my transport select committee hat on. We discussed major infrastructure programmes including a new tunnel under the M25 to accommodate the proposed new runway at Heathrow. I spoke at an event discussing the future of gambling in the U.K. It was good to see that some bookmakers attended the event and are prepared to engage with a programme of socially responsible gambling. I then ventured into the House of Lords to speak at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on drug policy reform. The focus on medical cannabis is becoming so time consuming that we agree to support the setting up of an APPG solely dedicated to medical cannabis. This frees up the existing group to focus on drug related harm and support. 


I stood for topical questions on Transport and asked the Secretary of State if the bidding process for the eastern railway franchise, which has failed three times now, would include a clause to consider prosperity weighting. This is an idea the ministry for defence is considering for future defence contracts. I covered this in my column in yesterday’s edition. I stayed in the chamber just long enough to respond to the public accounts select committee report on Carillion. It still disappoints me that after three profit warnings the U.K. Government were still awarding Carillion contracts worth billions of pounds. It would appear they had adopted the attitude that Carillion were too big to fail and therefore more tax payer money was used to attempt to offset a cash flow problem which eventually brought them down. 


First day of recess. Most of the day was spent on constituency casework however I managed to squeeze in a catch up with the local DWP and a council group meeting to discuss local development plans.