Westminster diary w/b 21st January


Down to London for another dose of dexterous duplicity from a government in meltdown. Unfortunately this means I can’t attend the consultation on the plans for the old Inverkip power station which is still owned by Scottish Power. Ironically for a power company the proposals are bereft of any innovative energy ideas and instead amount to 650 houses a shop and a pub. This site deserves better, Inverclyde deserves better. At Westminster, the Prime Minister is explaining plan B which is remarkably similar to the A plan that got voted down last week. In fact it’s indistinguishable. I was the SNP representative on the Delegated Legislation Committee on the draft intellectual property. Unusually it was quite contentious and went to a vote of the committee. The UK Government won nine to eight.


The select committee on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs took evidence on the effectiveness of the PHSO (Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman). My office has received a large quantity of correspondence relating to cases, health and finance, where people have felt let down by the process. I was on the order paper for questions to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and I raised the matter of the imprisonment of Carme Forcadell (Speaker in the Catalan Parliament). The UK Government minister was not interested in explaining his position because as a minister in the Foreign Office apparently he has no view on democracy.


The Transport Select Committee took evidence from experts on Active Travel. In Inverclyde, we are fortunate to have Community Tracks providing bikes for member of the community, including myself. In doing this they are encouraging people to become more active and where possible replace small car journeys by cycling. The outcome of this is that Sustrans Scotland will be funding a cycle track (Route 75) that runs the length of Inverclyde with the aim to join it to similar routes in West Renfrewshire and North Ayrshire. Prime Minister’s Question Time

I attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group on suicide and self-harm where I heard a moving account of her son Jack’s suicide as a consequence of his gambling addiction, from Liz Ritchie. Liz and her husband Charles founded the organisation Gambling With Lives. Members had a security briefing in the late afternoon and it was disturbing to hear just how many MPs have been threatened at constituency surgeries. There is a measurable increase in this sort of behaviour and it is coming from the far right. 


I was due to attend the second sitting of the select committee on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs this week but it was cancelled. The Brexiteers on the committee have other fish to fry. Instead, I attended the Urgent Question on EU free trade agreements. The long and the short of it is, that with 64 days to go, none have been signed. I had my second Delegated Legislation Committee of the week. This one was on draft insolvency. These committees are part and parcel of the legislative process at Westminster but the burden of legislation that Brexit has brought has increased their frequency beyond anyone’s memory. To process all the statutory instruments that are required before Brexit on the 29Th March there will need to be 13 committees every sitting day. Given that each Committee ties up 17 MPs, a chair (also an MP), 7 clerks and a door keeper, they are proving to be extremely costly and time consuming. I summed up in a Westminster Hall debate on knife crime and stressed the importance of the violence reduction unit in Glasgow and the successes it has had. I managed into the chamber in time to hear the front bench speeches on appropriate treatment for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). I caught the 19:30 flight home.


I had meetings with staff at the local job centre followed by a catch up with senior council officers. The rest of the day was taken up with constituency meetings.