Westminster diary w/b 16th July

Monday 

I met with representatives of the National AIDS Trust and we discussed the increased numbers of drug related deaths and within that AIDS related deaths in Glasgow and Scotland. One of the major reasons for the increase is the lack of safe drug consumption rooms. While needle exchanges are closing, more people are sharing needles and HIV along with Hepatitis C is spreading. The U.K. Government could change this but actually choose not to. I stood for questions to BEIS and asked if the U.K. Government would follow the Scottish Government’s lead and provide more attractive business rates to help stimulate business. I wasn’t alone in pursuing this line of enquiry but the short answer is that they won’t. We voted long into the night and we watched the Conservative and Unionist Party tie itself in knots as their MPs were threatened and bullied into backing Brexit amendments that they do not support.

Tuesday  

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Fixed Odds Betting Terminals met to decide our strategy to try and force the U.K. Government to implement the £2 maximum spin that they have committed to, next April and not later as they wish to. We then took evidence from people who had lost fortunes on FOBTs and parents of young men that had committed suicide after developing an addiction to these machines. No Minister from the treasury has ever listened to these people. This isn’t about taking tax from FOBTs, this is about reducing gambling related harm. The Treasury should put its calculator in its pocket and do the decent thing. I met with CapBal who are a company that are installing three battery storage devices in Inverclyde. An interesting project with potential for engaging in other renewable projects. 

Wednesday  

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on drug policy reform met for our AGM and plan the year ahead. I bobbed up and down at Prime Minister’s Questions to try and get in in the back of Alison Thewliss question about lack of U.K. Government support for safe Drug Consumption Rooms. But I didn’t get picked. Still it was good physiotherapy for my knees. I dropped in on the Marine Energy Showcase. It’s always refreshing to mingle with people who see the possibilities of renewable energy and work so hard to maximise its potential. The APPG for Medical Cannabis under Prescription provided a drop in session for other MPs and staff to become better informed in the debate. That was followed by a reception organised by the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) for those attending a drug policy reform event at Chatham House the following day. 

Thursday 

Today was one of those days when it is an absolute joy to be an MP. I spent the day listening and talking to parliamentarians from all over Europe and the USA to learn about their experiences of drugs, medical cannabis and psychoactive substances.

So many European countries are so far ahead of the U.K. and the 32 US states that have medical cannabis all have different approaches. We can learn and we can make this happen.

Friday 

Started with watching the Victoria Derbyshire Show on BBC where the discussion was on medical cannabis. I then had a catch up with Inverclyde Council officers and then up to Glasgow for a meeting with Robin McAlpine of the Common Weal. I attended a Basic Income workshop and at in the evening I attended a talk by Karl Wilderquist, organised by the RSA. My faithful reader will be familiar with Karl as I have previously heard him talk at the RSA in London.

 

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