Westminster diary w/b 15th October


First event at Westminster was a briefing on the failing rollout of Universal Credit. A number of MPs whose constituencies have experienced Universal Credit for some time now, got together to share their experiences. This was in preparation for questions to the Secretary of State for the DWP. I bobbed for well over an hour in an attempt to ask a question but along with all my SNP colleagues I was ignored. All I managed to do was aggravate my already aching knees. Not a good start to the week. The statement on exiting the EU negotiations didn’t tell us anything we didn’t know and the behaviour in the chamber when the SNP spokesperson responded was appalling. It really was the self-entitled arrogant Tories and the SNPBAD labour at their very worst. I attended a strategy meeting on the course of action required to address the growing concerns relating to the use of synthetic cannabis in particular Spice and Mamba. Apart from Jeff Smith (Labour MP) and myself everyone just wants harder prison sentences. The evidence says that doesn’t work. I attended a debate on loneliness and its links to poverty.


I met with a Canadian company that produce medical cannabis. With the impending change of the law in the U.K. a number of companies that produce a range of products are lobbying hard to be allowed to supply the U.K. market. I was encouraged that their products covered a range of conditions and as they are already available in Germany they are BMP standard. I attended the back bench business committee to lend my support for a debate on the Equitable Life pension’s debacle.


Following on from a story in the press during the weekend I met with representatives of Gatwick airport who walked me through their plans to utilise an existing runway for additional takeoffs. Presently it is used to feed the main runway. This has been dubbed Gatwick’s “stealth runway”. They are prepared to invest a lot of money and it’s a long term project. The key to its success is likely to be an upgrade to the railway structure and surrounding roads. Scottish Questions was disappointing despite eight questions being allocated to the SNP. Usually that would have ensured fireworks but the Secretary of State for Scotland has obviously taken the stance that he is only accountable to his Westminster overlords and despite his title he didn’t actually answer any questions about Scotland, preferring to rubbish the Scottish Parliament and the SNP instead. Prime ministers questions was a poor affair too. The debate on Universal Credit that followed was a feisty affair. The DWP came under intense criticism. Most speakers were quick to praise the hard work of their local jobcentres and foodbanks but the fact that food banks exist is a damning indictment of the system. I had to leave early as I was the SNP representative on a Delegated Legislative Committee for civil aviation insurance post Brexit and yes, it was as interesting as it sounds. I caught the tail end of the debate in the chamber on social care funding and was pleased to hear that the Scottish Government funding is £157 per head greater than the rest of the United Kingdom. I intervened on the adjournment debate on ‘county lines’. Yet another example where the U.K. drugs policy is failing. The ‘hang them high’ brigade just don’t understand that we have tried that and it doesn’t work.


Because I stayed late last night for the adjournment debate I stayed over and had to get up at 5am to catch the red eye up to Glasgow. I attended a wonderful event at Your Voice where I met the folk behind the augmented reality comic that the local Syrian kids put together with a little help from Magic Torch and Police Scotland. The kids were brilliant and were happy to tell me how much they enjoyed last year’s pantomime at the Beacon. The rest of the day was spent dealing with constituents cases.


I had an interview with the Greenock Telegraph and a few constituents to meet. I also took some time to research and write my speech for the drugs policy debate I am leading next Tuesday in Westminster Hall. I hope it’s an event that stimulates new options. I know I have a number of suggestions for the Home Office minister to take on board. On Saturday I shall be attending the unveiling of the poppy commemoration in the Inverclyde Heritage Hub.