Business started with questions to the Department for Work and Pensions. I was not on the Order Paper so I bobbed furiously on the back of other people’s questions. My extreme bobbing was in vain as I failed to catch the Speaker’s eye. I had lodged an urgent question on the allocation of European Conference of Ministers of Transport permits (ECMT) to road hauliers but I was unsuccessful. The urgent question was on the contract awarded and subsequently cancelled to Seaborne for the provision of Ferries post Brexit. I had a cunning plan to squeeze in my question about road hauliers but once again the speaker chose to ignore me. I had yet another Delegated Legislation (DL) Committee. This one was on eco-design for energy-related products and energy information. In the evening I appeared on the James Whale show on Talk radio. I took the opportunity to finally explain that the U.K. has an allocation of 984 ECMT permits and there have been over 11,000 applications. Simple maths tell me that less than ten percent of the applicants will be able to continue to transport goods from and to the U.K. post Brexit if we have a no deal. With forty one days to go the U.K. Government continues to hide its head in the sand over serious issues with extreme consequences.
I met with MPs from the Conservative and Unionist Party, Labour Party and Plaid Cymru to show solidarity with the Catalan political prisoners. In the chamber the Prime Minister made another, very similar, statement about leaving the European Union. These matters are hugely important which makes it all the more disappointing that the conversation has not moved on in over 30 months. My second DL Committee of the week. This time it was draft judicial pensions and fee-paid judge’s pensions. I dropped in to see Digital Scotland to hear about the next phase of broadband rollout in Scotland. Inverclyde is well served already but there will always be room for improvement. I met the Parliamentary cyber security team to ensure that my office staff and I are doing everything we should to keep our data secure. I made a short speech outside Number 10 to Catalan protestors.
I met with representatives of pharmaceutical companies regarding the supply of prescription drugs after Brexit. Although many are manufactured in the U.K. most require ingredients from outside the U.K. The supply chain, as per my previous observations regarding the haulage industry, will be under extreme pressure. Prime Ministers Question’s has stagnated into a she says, he says affair. I attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on global security and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Late afternoon I attended my third DL committee of the week, the draft financial services contracts. One of the great things about this job is the wide variety of subjects that I get involved in but these DL committees really are stretching that theory to the limit.
First up were questions to the Department of Transport. I bobbed, I wasn’t taken. I am one of the judges in the UK parliament awards so I spent some time reviewing this year’s entrants. I have gone to some lengths to encourage people of all walks of life to engage with politics and politicians and these awards are a good vehicle to do that. The re-run of the E.U. Withdrawal Bill was debated in the chamber and votes started at 17:00. There were 2 amendments voted on but followed by the main business of the day and we had two interesting developments. The SNP amendment to extend article 50 was supported by 41 Labour MPs who ignored their party whips and the government lost their motion by 303 votes to 258. A hammering in anyone’s language. And so the Brexit debacle continues. The ’mother of all parliaments’ overseeing the mother of all farces. I arrived home at 22:50
I caught up with some casework and then attended the Inverclyde Alliance Tobacco Strategy update. I had meetings with constituents and street surgeries all afternoon. In the evening I finally got to a Burns Supper.