I let the train take the strain on Monday morning. I took the 8:40 from Glasgow Central to London Euston. Its four and a half hours without interruption when I can read and prepare. I had a question on the order paper for the Department of Work and Pensions and the outcome is that they informed me that 1200 people had died while waiting for universal credit assessment and therefore received no payment. I then asked the minister to improve the process as currently if someone on universal credit dies at the end of their assessment period, it is presumed they died at the start and there is no payment for that period. The Prime Minister made a statement to the House, which was really an update on the latest European Council meeting. Not surprisingly we didn’t hear anything we didn’t already know.
The first item on my agenda was the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs select committee. We took evidence from cabinet minister Oliver Dowden who until recently was a member of the committee. The topic was pre-appointment hearings. It was interesting to hear how the government plans to improve both gender and ethnic minority representation in high profile public posts. But I wasn’t totally convinced. I am afraid that most of the top jobs are still the domain of the pale, male and stale brigade. We then ran through our report on ‘Carillion – report on public sector outsourcing’. I would have been happier if the report had highlighted the failings of the PFI schemes that have saddled so many councils around the U.K. with masses of debt to repay. Inverclyde’s in in the region of £9 million a year. I also think the report was light on the failings of Carillion itself. I had a number of internal meetings on strategy, policy and portfolios.
My first engagement was off campus at a local hotel where I was a guest speaker for the public policy exchange. The topic was ‘Tackling drug dependency and abuse’. It was a very well informed audience of people who work in this sector and it was extremely interesting. Unfortunately I had to leave and get back to Prime Minister’s Questions which was neither well informed nor interesting. I spoke in a Westminster Hall debate titled ‘Tackling demand for commercial sexual exploitation’. It’s a controversial subject but I favour the Nordic Model which decriminalises the selling of sex and prosecutes the buyer. There is no ideal solution but we could do a tremendous amount of good if we educated men to understand the violence and intimidation that the majority of woman are subjected to when they are being prostituted. If they acknowledged the human trafficking then maybe men would stop purchasing sex. The SNP opposition debate was on the ‘Claim of Rights for Scotland’. This affirms that the sovereignty of the nation of Scotland is with the people.
A busy wee day started with a question to the Transport Minister. I asked him about the readiness of the port authorities post Brexit. He assured me it would be alright on the night. I replied, in my role as infrastructure spokesperson, to a government statement on the construction sector deal.
To be fair the minister responded well to my questions and I look forward to see how much of the new money is allocated to Scotland. In keeping with being the third party, we have a duty to provide MPs for various roles. One of those is summing up debates. This allows members to speak so I summed up the debate on the ‘Future of transforming social care programme’ even though it was really an England only matter. I still managed to make the 18:15 flight home.
I had a meeting with EE and held constituency surgeries in Branchton, Boglestone and the Auchmountain Glen project.