Westminster diary w/b 18th June


I injured myself playing football on Sunday in a match against Afghanistan refugees so after the red eye flight I had a quick visit to Saint Thomas’s accident and emergency. They confirmed a torn cartilage and damaged ligaments. Westminster is not a good place to work when walking is painful. I hobbled in to the chamber for an urgent question on medical cannabis. I wrote about this in yesterday’s edition of the Tele. Fortunately the speaker allowed me to express my desire to speak by waving my order papers from a seated position. The SNP secured a three hour debate on the Sewel Convention and I managed to get a short sharp speech on the record. The recent disrespect for the Sewel Convention is the latest of many such actions perpetrated on the people of Scotland by this Conservative Government.


I started the day with our group AGM. Apart from a couple of vacant positions being filled it was business as usual. The stability of the group is important but it doesn’t happen without rigorous debate and self-examination. I attended the annual general meeting of the All-party Parliamentary group on Fixed Odd Betting Terminals. I remain vice chair supporting the fabulous Carolyn Harris (Labour – Swansea East). We already have an agreement from the government to reduce the maximum bet to £2 on FOBTs but the treasury are, as expected, attempting to delay the implementation until April 2020. Back in the chamber the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, made a statement on drugs licensing. The government have been dragged kicking and screaming to the table on this issue and still seem perplexed as to what they should do or why their drugs policy review last year was so widely scorned. In the evening I took part in a Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) podcast along with Thangam Debbonaire MP (Labour – Bristol West) and Crispin Blunt MP (Conservative – Reigate).


Today was dominated by probably the worst performance from Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) that I have witnessed. I often wonder why the Prime Minister, amidst her Brexit debacle and Conservative party in fighting still manages to hang on to her job and then you see who is opposite her at the despatch box. Ian Blackford called on the Prime Minister to condemn the action of Donald Trump’s administration in relation to separating children from parents in refugee camps. We have all seen these truly horrific scenes of children in cages. She didn’t condemn it. I was lucky to get a question in the ballot (3 in as many years) and I asked the Prime Minister how her proposed panel of experts would decide who could and who could not get medical cannabis on a one to one basis when 20,000 ( modest estimate) would apply on day one. And if she would consider medical cannabis being made available under prescription. She was swiftly handed a prepared statement that told me she was setting up a panel of experts. Well I knew that already. I now know why it’s called Prime Ministers Questions, because if it was called Prime Minister’s Answers she would be sued under the trade description act. In the afternoon I attended a rather poor briefing on medical cannabis.


First event of the day was questions to Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). I was not on the ballot paper but stood on the back of a question regarding gambling related harm. I was selected (I think my painful groans and grimaces may be a tactic I deploy in the future ) and I asked the Secretary of State to use his influence on the Treasury to force the implementation of a £2 maximum stake on FOBTs by the end of April 2019 and not as currently proposed April 2020. This was followed by a meeting with Heathrow airport. I caught a mid-afternoon flight and attended a community event in Kilmacolm regarding proposed housing developments. I finished the evening with a radio interview for Talk Radio’s James Whale.


Along with meeting constituents regarding their cases I met with Rape Crisis, Your Voice and the Ardgowan hospice. In the evening I indulged my guilty pleasure by attending the Clydeview Academy performance of the Sound of Music. On Saturday I shall be helping at the Coves Road reservoir clean up organised by Councillor Natasha Murphy. My contribution shall depend upon how mobile and pain free I am and on Sunday I am at the Great Get Together in St Mary’s Hall.