Westminster diary w/b 10th December


All of today’s plans got wiped as the UK Government decided after three days of debate and 164 speeches that the next two days of debate would not take place and that the Meaningful Vote scheduled for Tuesday wasn’t that meaningful after all. The Select Committee for Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs met to consider our latest report. The timing of our report ‘Confidence motions and the Fixed Term Parliament Act’ could not have been better. As of Monday the future of the current Prime Minister, Government and Parliament were all tenuous. Erskine May (the big book of Parliamentary process) became very popular in the House of Commons library while the plotters and schemers huddled together in corridors and lobbies. Amidst the nonsensical rhetoric and political posturing, work did continue. I met with the Minister for Defence Procurement regarding the Type 31e frigate programme. Three consortiums have been given £4.5 million pounds each to bring forward a design. The winning design will then get the contract to build five type 31e frigates, each with a value of 250 million pounds. Ferguson Marine are represented in two of the three consortiums and I continued to lobby for them to be part of a winning bid.


I was in the chamber to support Norman Lamb’s ten minute rule bill, ‘Cannabis regulation and legislation’. The purpose of the rule is to facilitate a debate on the subject, unfortunately that opportunity was voted down. The SNP had a free vote but Labour were whipped to abstain. Why they won’t even debate the subject is beyond me. We then had a debate on the reason for cancelling a debate. This was not Westminster’s finest hour. As the evening drew to a close it was becoming clear that the Prime Minister was going to face a vote of no confidence from her own party. The process demands that 48 Conservative and Unionists MPs have to submit a letter asking her to resign. This number was reached with apparent ease. Whatever happened to ‘strong and stable’?


My day started at a Delegated Legislation committee. It was not contentious as it was simply moving existing laws regarding merchant shipping’s recognised organisations from the jurisdiction of the European Union to United Kingdom Parliament. There have been a host of these committees doing the same thing for hundreds of laws. All these laws that Brexiteers were so opposed to, have been accepted by the U.K. and nobody batted an eyelid. The Tory rebels got there vote but failed to remove their leader. The Prime Minister won by 200 to 117 votes and lives to stumble on. She has said she will not stand at the next election. Now all we have to sort out is Brexit! Because Westminster has become a moving feast we have regular briefings on the state of play at the procedures that may or may not be applicable. Westminster continues to prove that every day is a school day.


Disaster as I manage to pull out a temporary filling while flossing. It is a timely reminder that amidst the ruminations of constitutional legislation and having the privilege of participating and witnessing history unfold, everyday life goes on. It’s a slow day in the chamber and most of my day is given up to reading and writing. It’s another privilege of this job that affords me days like this. In the evening I attended a reception and private dining (as much as my lack of tooth would allow) with ex-President of the Government of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont. I got the badly named ‘sleeper’ train up the road.


Early arrival at Glasgow Central on the overnight train from London. Quick change of platform and down to Greenock. Home for a quick shower and change of clothes and my first meeting is with Peel Ports. Lots to talk about. I meet up with Citizens Advice Scotland. We need to ensure that money allocated to aid the roll out of Universal Credit which is being given to Citizens Advice still comes to Inverclyde despite the fact that we don’t have a Citizens Advice Bureau. In the afternoon I have a number of constituency meetings.