Westminster diary w/b 14th January


I started the week meeting constituents in my Inverclyde office. Ignoring all the roaring and shouting and far away from glare of the insatiable media, casework remains at the heart of a Member of Parliament’s job. It is humbling to listen to the stories of my constituents who confide in me and a source of great joy and pride when my office provides solutions to everyday problems. I caught a midday flight and had the unexpected pleasure of a conversation with Baroness Ramsay during the flight. She was employed in the diplomatic service or to be more precise MI6 and features in a book I have just read (The Spy and the Traitor). It was extremely interesting to hear her take on the accuracy of the book. In the house the Prime Minister made a statement on the Brexit agreement. There was nothing new in it.


The Select Committee on Transport took private evidence from representatives of the Rail delivery Group and Rail Freight Group. The questions were around Brexit and how well placed the UK is to handle either the deal on offer or a no deal. I was on the order paper for questions to the department for Health and Social Care. I pressed the UK Government to pass the prescribing of medical cannabis to doctors and the dispensing to pharmacists as the current set up is not working. My plea fell on deaf ears. I hosted an event for gambling awareness which was attended by over a dozen outside agencies and nearly 40 Members. It was a tremendous opportunity for them to network and build alliances that will be required as we attempt to address gambling related harm. At the end of the House sitting the Conservative and Unionist Government were thoroughly beaten by a humiliating margin of 230 votes as the Brexit deal was rejected. Finally, after months of cajoling the Labour party brought forward a vote of no confidence in the government.


I, along with my SNP colleagues met with the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP. She was down for talks with the Prime Minister and took time from her busy schedule to chat informally with the SNP group about a range of topics. Prior to the debate on the vote of no confidence we had Scottish questions during which the Secretary of State for Scotland talked down Scotland and our abilities. Nothing new there then. The Prime Minister struggled through Prime Minister’s Question but despite being beaten and on the ropes like a boxer who has been on the receiving end of too many defeats, the leader of the opposition never laid a glove on her. I attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Faroe Islands. It’s fascinating to learn how a small nation with so few resources and massive logistical problems can be such a success. In the evening the U.K. Government survived the vote of no confidence as we all knew it would. The DUP votes being crucial.


After the shenanigans of the last week it was back to business today. I summed up in a Westminster Hall debate on ‘Rail Infrastructure Investment’. It was based around a report by the Select Committee on Transport of which I am a member. A quick dash to the airport and I caught the early evening flight home.


I had a very busy morning with a mixture of meetings with constituents and organisations. In the afternoon I highlighted the increasing trend for companies to charge for using ATMs. Mid-afternoon I had a meeting with senior council officers and then attended the James Watt celebrations at Cowan’s corner.