My first engagement of the day was with the select committee for transport. We mulled over the National Policy Statement regarding Heathrow. It’s fair to say the committee were less than happy with the government’s claims that they had reacted to twenty four of our twenty five recommendations, at least in part. After further scrutiny I could only see one recommendation fully implemented and seven that you could argue had partially been implemented. A committee that had a majority of support for Heathrow quickly turned against it. We took full advantage of the good weather and held the ‘Show racism the red card’ event outside on the green. In the evening Heathrow’s expansion was debated. Despite promises made to the Scottish Government I could not support the move. The environmental arguments against the new runway are overwhelming.
Today started with the select committee for Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs (PACAC) taking evidence from the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. The topic was leaving the European Union and devolved powers. It’s not just Scotland that could benefit from more powers, the larger regions of the midlands, Greater Manchester and Greater London Authority amongst others also see the benefits. It was interesting to hear the mayor say that he had regular meeting with the Brexit minister, David Davis, and his team. More meetings than Scotland’s first Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been granted. Anyone’s Child is an organisation set up by people who have been bereaved by the war on drugs. These are people who have lost a brother or sister, parent or friend to an overdose, drug related illness or even the violence around the production and distribution of illegal drugs. They have formed an organisation to change the laws to legalise and regulate drugs so as the power is taken away from the criminals and the purity of drugs can be guaranteed and monitored. I booked them a room so they had space to congregate and also as a space to retreat to during a long day. I attended their meet and greet and made a quick speech while photographs were snapped.
I also went to their evening event to hear speaker’s personal experiences. Hearing a mother talk of losing her daughter at fifteen years and nine months because the tablet she was sold was so pure it killed her and parents talk of losing two sons through heroin addiction because there was no place to turn or there boys would be arrested only firmed up my views that the current U.K. drug policy is hopelessly outdated and needs radical reform.
The inaugural meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on medical cannabis under prescription was interesting. After that I made a quick dash (or as quick as I can be with a torn cartilage) to the BBC studio at Millbank. I did an interview on BBC radio Scotland with Stephen Jardine around gambling related harm. I quick limp and I made it back for Prime Ministers Questions. I need not have bothered. I attended a drop in event that highlighted the difficulties with sleep in care and the battle for a decent hourly rate and back pay. In the evening I attended, with colleagues from other parties, a book launch for a new publication ‘Drug Wars’ by Neil Woods and JS Rafaeli.
I had an early start with an interview for the BBC on medical cannabis on the back of my question to the prime minister last week. The PACAC select committee took evidence regarding pre appointment hearings. We listened to the chairs of other select committees to hear their experiences in this role. There is a general feeling that pre appointment hearings are just a rubber stamp to place people in roles that won’t disrupt government. My last event of the day was to speak in a debate on the role of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACoBA). This is when ministers leave their post and take up jobs in the private sector. In theory ACoBA can advise them not to as they could be seen to be using their inside knowledge garnished as a minister to the advantage of one private company. In practice ACoBA has never advised against taking a position in the private sector. I was scheduled for the half eight flight home but still managed to speak in the chamber in the last debate of the day and make the quarter past six flight. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Patricia Gibson MP (North Ayrshire and Arran).
Meeting with constituents and local organisations including Caledonian MacBrayne, Mind Mosaic, and local representatives about the development of grass roots tennis (no pun intended) in conjunction with the Judy Murray Foundation.