Westminster diary w/b 5th November


Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee took evidence from the Right Honourable Mark Harper MP. Mark was the Minister responsible for the Fixed Term Parliament Bill and the committee were seeking his insight into how elections can be forced during a fixed term. Next up was the All-party parliamentary group for Catalonia. This was my first opportunity to report back on my visit to Catalonian political prisoners and it was a privilege to have Sergi Marcen attending the meeting. Sergi is the Head of the Delegation of the Catalan Government to the United Kingdom and Ireland. He leads the bilateral relations between Catalonia and the United Kingdom and Ireland, focusing on economic interests, institutional relations, tourism and cultural promotion, as well as, helping the Catalan community living in these countries. I had a quick dash to make the Delegated Legislation on draft building societies legislation. This is another of the jobs that require to be completed before Brexit. They don’t take long but do tie up roughly twenty people.


Early start for the Westminster Hall debate on Reclassification of synthetic cannabinoids. I spoke against the motion as there is a mountain of evidence to suggest that, although it may feel good to lock up problematic drug users, it doesn’t improve the situation for anyone. I went to the drop in for Responsible Gambling Week and was pleased to hear that a number of people agree with me that a statutory levy on bookmakers should be imposed to fund support for those affected by gambling related harm. Following that I attended the All-party parliamentary group on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. It was particularly pleasing to have Tracey Crouch MP attend after her principled resignation the previous week over the implementation date of the £2 maximum stake. I was in the chamber to support Marion Fellows MPs ten minute rule motion bill for child maintenance changes. The following debate was to mark the hundred years since Armistice Day and the end of the First World War. I dropped in to the Scottish Renewables event and managed to catch-up with a few familiar faces. I caught the 19:30 flight home.


Back in the constituency as Westminster is not sitting for the rest of the week. I had meetings with constituents regarding a range of topics but mostly universal credit. The full role out in Inverclyde continues to cause damage despite the excellent work being done by the DWP and related organisations. In the afternoon I visited the Beacon to meet the writer, producer, musical director and actors from the new production ‘Lena’. The play tells the story of Lena Zavaroni and her path to fame and ultimately untimely death.


After catching up with a raft of paperwork in my office I did a question and answer session with pupils at the West College Scotland waterfront campus. A fifteen minute slot expanded to ninety minutes and it was very enjoyable to run through a wide range of subjects with such an engaged audience. And in the afternoon I did a radio interview for a Catalonian based organisation.


Was solely based around constituents enquiries and I engaged with a range of people on topics from cycling to Palestine. On Saturday, I shall attending Saint Giles Cathedral’s remembrance service as a guest of the French Consul General. That will be followed by a reception and a recital of Claude Debussy’s wartime work. On Sunday I shall be attending the service of commemoration at the Mid Kirk and shall lay wreaths at the Wellpark and the Cross of Lorraine.