My flight was delayed after I got to the airport so I utilised the time to catch up on the pile of reading that never seems to get any smaller. Despite the delay I was on time for the transport select committee where we took evidence around Mobility as a Service (Mass). As a concept it works and has many benefits. Lessons can be learned from Helsinki but the cooperation between private business and state owned organisations will be crucial as will the cooperation between the countries and regions of the U.K. The rest of the day was spent preparing for the EU (withdrawal) Bill which will be debated over the next two days.
The day started with the Select Committee for public administration and the constitution. We were giving due consideration of our next report on civil Service responsiveness. The first decision was to change the terrible name of the report! It examines the working relationship between Whitehall civil servants and government departmental ministers. I attended a Westminster Hall debate on the elimination of hepatitis C. I was glad to hear that needle exchanges and drug consumption rooms were considered. The spread of Hep C is greatly reduced within the drug injecting community when these facilities exist. I attended a briefing on the war on drugs from an ex special operations member from the USA. It was a scary call to come down hard with the full force of the armed law enforcement officers. He clearly had a personal vendetta and I managed to disagree with practically all his conclusions. Then we had the farcical European Union withdrawal bill debate. When the bill was first in the commons we were consistently told that there would be plenty of time to debate it once it came back from the Lords. The Lords laid down 196 amendments. The entire bill was allocated six hours today and six tomorrow. Devolution was restricted to 15 minutes and when it came down to it the minister talked it out. This was a flagrant disregard for the devolved powers and an abuse of the Parliamentary process. We raised a series of points of orders to gain clarification.
I started off at the Transport select committee where we once again appraised the UK Government response to our report on the airport National Policy Statement (NPS). For those that follow the Heathrow expansion debate, it isn’t finished yet. Then onto PMQs which turned into an event to remember. Despite following parliamentary procedure to the letter, the SNP group leader was sent from the house and barred from returning for the rest of the day. I along with all my SNP MPs present walked out of PMQs in solidarity. We did not walk out on parliament. We continue to fulfil all our roles as MPs. Our protest is against the UK Government and how Westminster has legislated on devolved Brexit matters, without meaningful debate and despite the Legislative Consent Motion (LCM) from the Scottish Parliament being withheld. In the evening we returned to take part in the archaic voting process that Westminster loves so much.
I attended questions to the Brexit Secretary followed by business questions. The Secretary of State for Scotland then came to the House to make a statement about the EU (Withdrawal) Bill and devolved powers. It was extremely insipid and didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. As a result the SNP requested an emergency debate on the Sewell convention under statutory instrument 24. That debate was granted and will take place next Monday. I caught the 18:15 flight home.
I attended and spoke at a carer’s event as part of Carers Week. The theme this year is supporting carers to be healthy and connected. In the afternoon I had meetings at River Clyde Homes and Police Scotland. In the evening I went to the Notre Dame High School musical.