Westminster diary w/b 19th November


First day of the Finance Bill at committee stage on the floor of the house but before that I attend the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee to take evidence from Andrea Leadsom (Leader of the House of Commons). It’s the role of the leader to ensure that Parliament and Government work together. Her opinion on this differs from mine. Too often ministers responding to debates come with pre-prepared statements and don’t respond to the arguments put forward during the debate. The rest of the day was consumed by the Finance Bill and votes. There were six votes and I got home at 23:30.


I spend the morning writing my speech for the afternoon. I am leading for the SNP on the Finance Bill and I have a new clause I intend to push to a vote. I want the government to commit to a review of the public health effects of gaming provisions and lay a report of that review before the house within six months of passing the act. I see this as holding the actions of the government to account. It also should allow organisations to feed into the review and have their voices heard. My speech writing is interrupted by a visit from Nicola Sturgeon (First Minister of Scotland) to update the group on Brexit negotiations. The debate is also delayed in starting but when it does the minister states in his opening remarks that he will not accept my new clause. This takes me back to the comments made the day before by the Leader of the House. Why debate if the governments mind is closed. To my utter amazement in his closing remarks he says he will accept the new clause. I would like to think it was down to my amazing debating skills but I tend to think the government is nearing exhaustion and didn’t have the stomach for a fight when I had so many back benchers across the parties supporting me. I shall take the win and become only the third SNP MP to amend UK law.  In the evening I attended an event at the Tate Modern hosted by YouTube. It was to promote people who had launched media platforms from You Tube, including teachers, business folk and musicians.


Prime Ministers Questions revealed nothing new. The Prime Minister reverting to her big book of standard responses to most questions. The most interesting exchange was between her and the DUP. Now that they are not supporting the government their relationship is becoming increasingly stressed day by day and vote by vote. In the evening attended the BACTA reception. BACTA is the trade association for the amusement machine industry and its supply chain. The guest speaker was the Right Honourable Tracey Crouch MP.


The Westminster Hall debate on WASPI was well attended by MPs. To accommodate the WASPI campaigners it was broadcast live into the main hall so everyone that had come could watch it live. An unexpected statement from the Prime Minister, on the progress of Brexit negotiations, meant I had to leave before the end to go to the House of Commons. The latest missive from 10 Downing Street is full of the meaningless political jargon that we have come to expect. Of particular interest to Scotland is the fisheries policy. At this late stage on fisheries it states in paragraph 73, “the Parties should cooperate” in 74 that phrase is repeated and in 75 it states that “the Parties should establish”. By now it should of course say “we have established and we have cooperated”. The vagueness and therefore dubious interpretations of the latest statement have not satisfied the Brexiteers one wee bit and so the show rolls on.


I started the day at a meeting with local councillors and then I attended the foodbank to catch up with their situation in the run up to the festive season. In the afternoon I visited my dentist for some root canal treatment.  On Saturday morning I hope to be able to speak at an SNP event in the Beacon.