Last day in the constituency before the end of summer recess. Today was spent tying up loose ends and preparing to return to Westminster even if it is only for two weeks before the conference recess starts. And one again may I say recess is not holiday it is an opportunity to dedicate all my time to constituency issues and work that does not tie me to London. I caught the 18:50 flight and got to my flat at ten pm.
I attended a debate in Westminster Hall on the charges the government makes for registering children as British citizens. The charge is far more than the cost of administration and is clearly being run as a profit making process which is contrary to that in other countries across the globe. I had a meeting with GambleAware to catch up with the safer gambling campaign. We discussed online gambling, intrusive advertising, sports celebrities encouraging gambling and children being groomed as the next generation of gamblers. On that last topic I was horrified when a constituent brought to my attention the slot machines being sold by the toy shop Hamleys. They use real money and normalise gambling at a very young age. I wrote to Hamleys and asked them to remove them from their stores. I then met with Mentor. Their role is to provide education around drug issues. I sat in on an urgent question on the Windrush generation and finished my day at an extremely interesting event discussing ‘County Lines’. This is the process that involves drug gangs recruiting kids to act as couriers. Aside from MPs, most of those at the ‘County Lines’ discussion were serving police and crime commissioners. The phrase “we can’t arrest our way out of a drugs crisis” was used time and again. Even the Minister used it. And yet that is exactly what we are trying to do.
Today started with an internal meeting of the SNP Finance and Economy Team. I attend this in my capacity as spokesperson on infrastructure. Next up was PMQs. Particularly poor this week. The PM didn’t even dance for us. That was swiftly followed by a meeting with the Minister with responsibilities for gambling. She was extremely helpful and forthcoming. The main issue is getting the UK Government’s declared maximum stake on fixed odd betting terminals of £2 implemented next April and not allowing it to slip, as the treasury would like it to. I also brought the issue of Hamleys toy slot machine to her attention. I then spoke on behalf of the SNP in a debate on organised crime and the exploitation of children. As it turned out the focus of the debate was ‘County Lines’ and although this impacts every constituency in the UK there was not one member of Scottish Labour, the Liberal Democrats or Conservative and Unionists at the debate. Everyone that spoke highlighted the increase in violence, abuse and exploitation but despite the findings of the previous evening, the Minister for organised crime still wants to arrest his way out of this crisis. When will they listen?
I was on the order paper as question 11 to the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport. My intention was to seek clarification on the UK Government’s approach to gambling related harm. But some very long questions and equally long answers meant that my question was not reached. On the up side Hamleys wrote to me and told me they are withdrawing the offending toy slot machines.
Just time to write an article and get to the airport to catch my flight.
The first Friday of every month is local surgeries day and today I was at Port Glasgow library, Craigend resource centre and my constituency office. Sometimes surgeries can be slow but not today. It was an extremely busy day.