Westminster diary w/b 23rd July


The main business of the day was a debate on strengthening the union. You couldn’t make this stuff up. In the previous weeks and months Westminster has ridden rough over the devolution settlement with absolutely no regard for the will of the people of Scotland. They failed to provide chamber time to debate the devolution aspects of the EU Withdrawal Bill but now they want to debate the strength of the union. It was a bun fight with Tory after Tory talking down Scotland and Labour resurrecting all the old myths around how Thatcher came to power. Blaming the SNP for their infighting and ineptitude in standing up for Scotland. Nothing has really changed. I had a catch up with Baroness Meacher regarding medical cannabis. Molly is one of those peers who give the House of Lords a good name. She is a cross bencher with a solid career in social work and a political conscience. In the evening I attended a showing o documentary on medical cannabis for children with cancer. It is called ‘weed the people’ and will be out Netflix in the Autumn. I returned to the chamber for the adjournment debate on ‘mamba’. I was concerned it was going to be an excuse to call for tougher sentencing and it was. I put the case for education and support.


The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee met to finalise our latest report around Brexit. It is published next Tuesday. We then took evidence in public on referendums. I had to leave before the end as I had a question on the order paper for the Secretary of State for health and social care. I asked the U.K. government would make drug policy reform a health based issue rather than an issue for the home office as it is currently. The basis for my question was the latest statistics that show the U.K. has 64 deaths per million because of drug related harm while Portugal has 3 per million. Portugal handed over its drug policy to their health department years ago. My last business in the house before summer recess was supposed to be a debate on gambling advertising aimed at children but unfortunately the debate was withdrawn. So instead my summary of the cost of the Wyfla nuclear power station was my last contribution.


First day of recess. Catch up with casework and then a trip to visit CVS in Cathcart Street. I was there to learn about the programme that has community link workers working in GP surgeries. It is a methodology that elsewhere has helped reduce the burden on GPS and given valuable support to patients too. It’s early days in inverclyde but all the signs are good. In the afternoon I met with Scottish Enterprise to learn about their investment levels in the area and their plans for the future.


Along with my caseworkers I met with representatives of Inverclyde Council to discuss the Scottish Welfare Fund and in particular discretionary payments. I visited a constituent at home to better understand the problems he has encountered with anti-social behaviour from youths in the area and I had visits to two of the excellent organisations we have locally that support children and young adults with autism. Both the Inverclyde A-team and Reach for Autism do a tremendous job and could always benefit from financial support.


I had a meeting with Taylor Wimpey regarding their proposals to build houses at Planetreeyetts in Kilmacolm and the rest of the day was consumed by casework. During recess I shall be meeting up with as many companies and organisations as I can but there will always be time to talk and listen to individuals that want to bring their cases to my office.