Gambling Related Harm

I welcome the measures being announced by the Gambling Commission today as further steps to address gambling related harm.  It must not be simple for people to create gambling accounts without necessary age verification and identity checks.

Yesterday, I met with the Secretary of State for Culture, Jeremy Wright MP and Minister for Sport, Mims Davies MP to discuss a number of issues relating to gambling addiction such as FOBTs, online advertising rules and the increased prevalence of young people gambling.

I will be proposing a resolution to the upcoming SNP Conference which seeks support for classifying loot boxes as gambling rather than gaming and urging the UK Government to follow the lead of Belgium in banning these in-game options.  If the UK Government do not take the necessary action then the powers should be transferred to the Scottish Parliament to allow it the opportunity to address the problem.

 

Written question – Gambling [07/02/2019]

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions his Department has had with the representatives from the betting industry on the implementation of a £2 maximum unit stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. (214598)

Tabled on: 30 January 2019

Answer:
Mims Davies:

Ministers and officials regularly meet with stakeholders to discuss a range of subjects, including the implementation of the stake reduction on B2 machines. Details of Ministerial meetings are published on a quarterly basis on gov.uk

The answer was submitted on 07 Feb 2019 at 16:19.

 

UK Parliament Teacher Ambassador Programme

Step One: Teachers’ Institute

The first step in becoming a UK Parliament Teacher Ambassador is to attend our unique 3-day professional development opportunity: Teachers’ Institute. During these days you will immerse yourself in the politics of UK Parliament with this unique professional development opportunity. Teachers of Government & Politics, Citizenship and related subjects, and other education professionals, can apply to experience an intensive, informative and unforgettable course based at the Houses of Parliament. UK Parliament covers your travel costs, residential accommodation and most meals. All resources, workshops and events are free of charge.

Teachers’ Institute offers:

  • A tour of the Palace of Westminster
  • The chance to watch debates in the chambers
  • Q&A with Members from both Houses
  • Informative sessions to improve delegates’ knowledge of Parliament and democracy
  • Activities that will help to develop classroom resources
  • All the resources you’ll need as a UK Parliament Teacher Ambassador
  • Networking opportunities

 View a sample Teachers’ Institute timetable.

Step Two: Work towards UK Parliament Teacher Ambassador Status

Once you return to your educational setting, you will commit to becoming either a bronze, silver or gold UK Parliament Ambassador through delivering assemblies, training and events to students and fellow teaching staff. Teachers’ Institute will have given you all the tools, now it’s your turn!

View our UK Parliament Teacher Ambassador Levels.

Step three: Receive your UK Parliament Teacher Ambassador Accreditation

After submitting a portfolio of evidence, you will receive either your bronze, silver or gold accreditation with an official certificate and badges for your website. You will also join our Teacher Ambassador community and benefit from a continuing partnership with UK Parliament Education.

How can I apply?

Apply here for our next Teachers’ Institute 1-3 July. Application close on Sunday 21 April.

For any enquiries please contact engage@parliament.uk

Written question – DWP [04/02/2019]

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many enquires her Department has received from Members of the Scottish Parliament in relation to constituency cases in the last six months. (214597)

Tabled on: 30 January 2019

Answer:
Justin Tomlinson:

The information requested is not available other than at disproportionate cost.

The answer was submitted on 04 Feb 2019 at 14:14.

 

Texas Instruments

I’m delighted the long term future of the plant and its workers has been secured and would like to praise the efforts of everyone involved in the TI Taskforce and in particular the site manager, Gerry McCarthy, who’s hard work has made this possible.

I know, through discussions, the Scottish Government have been working alongside Inverclyde Council to ensure continued employment at the site and as the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Derek Mackay MSP said this a positive outcome for the plant and workforce, and a strong endorsement for Inverclyde.

 

Westminster diary w/b 28th January

Monday

Midday flight to London is mobbed with elected and non-elected members. Despite the popularity of the flight to London City it is very rare that I find myself sitting beside another Member. This week was the exception with a row of four comprising Mhairi Black (seat, Lisa Cameron (seat), Gavin Newlands (seat) and me. The rest of the passengers drew a great sigh of relief. On arrival I attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Universal Credit. We had a briefing from Child Action Poverty and Unison which covered the 1.6 million households expected to move from legacy benefits onto Universal Credit this year. These households will not receive any transitional protection, even if they are substantially worse off. This will be tough in Inverclyde but thankfully our local jobcentre is at the forefront of modifying the system and lessons will be learned. In the evening the SNP group met with the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP. She updated us on Brexit negotiations and we worked up scenarios and voting procedures prior to tomorrow’s vote. With so many proposed amendments this can be a long drawn out affair. We were expecting votes on the immigration bill but the outcome was less sure as Labour dithered over their intentions and went from a one line whip to a one line whip tinged with desperation. Had they applied a three line whip then there is the possibility the UK Government would have been defeated. We then debated proxy voting but it proved uncontentious and it passed without division. I got back to my (very cold) flat just after midnight.

Tuesday

The morning was taken up by three events organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy reform. We discussed drug consumption rooms, county lines and drug safety testing. There a good number members from both the Lords and Commons there to listen to the expert testimony from police and crime commissioners, Neil Woods (drug squad cop, turned author) and a range of service providers. It was particularly good to see some MPs who have not previously engaged and are now becoming better informed about the issues. The big debate was of course the European Withdrawal Amendments. The behaviour of the Conservative and Unionist Party members towards Jeremy Corbyn MP and Ian Blackford MP was disgraceful. They acted like school playground bullies. Full of their own importance and self-righteous indignation. During the Prime Minsters speech the tory whips were clearly identifying sympathetic Labour members for the Prime Minister to take interventions from. Just another sign of the rudderless Labour Party, lacking leadership and devoid of ideas. At the end of the evening and after a rash of votes on amendments the Prime Minister had managed to produce the situation where she is heading back to Brussels to re-negotiate a deal she said was not up for re-negotiation with the European Union and Ireland already saying they want renegotiate. We shall do it all over again on February the 13th.

Wednesday

I started the day at the Select Committee on Transport where we took evidence on bus services. It seems around the UK we have similar problems. Bus companies can’t afford to run uneconomical routes and the cost of replacing buses after Brexit is frightening. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse the speaker was forced to lecture the Conservative and Unionist Party benches during Prime Minister’s Questions. Their rehearsed and coordinated barracking of Ian Blackford MP was disgraceful. In no other walk of life would grown men and women behave in this manner. The briefing from the CBI on delivering a roadmap to supercharge the UK’s digital infrastructure was more congenial and productive. It was also agreed that the UK Government’s aspiration of a 10Mb universal service obligation was not fast enough and Scotland’s ambition of 30Mb was appreciated. Business in the Chamber is slow so I take the opportunity to head home on a Wednesday which is unusual for me.

Thursday

I take advantage of an unexpected extra day in the constituency by meeting constituents and discussing a range of issues that affect their lives. This covers, funeral poverty, working in the EU after Brexit and medical cannabis. Parading around the green benches is one thing but the nuts and bolts of any MPs job is helping constituents with the issues that affect their lives. It’s not as glamorous but when we can help, it’s incredibly rewarding.

Friday

I held surgeries in Kilmacolm Community Centre, Port Glasgow Library, my constituency office in Crawfurd Street and finally in Gourock Library.

Written question – Treasury [01/02/2019]

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if his Department will take steps to evaluate all aspects of the 2019 Loan Charge and seek external evidence. (212404)

Tabled on: 24 January 2019

Answer:
Mel Stride:

The government chose to accept New Clause 26 during the passage of the Finance Bill, and will lay a report in line with the requirements of that New Clause no later than 30 March 2019. The report will include a comparison with the time limits for the recovery of lost tax relating to disguised remuneration loans.

The government also consulted extensively on the detail of the charge on disguised remuneration loans after it was announced at Budget 2016.

The answer was submitted on 01 Feb 2019 at 10:01.

 

Tele column 1st February 2019

On a cold wet miserable evening in Westminster we, once again, trooped through the voting lobbies in an attempt to shape the future of the U.K. I hope that history will look kindly on these attempts but it’s unlikely. The U.K. parliament voted to reject all amendments except an attempt to rule out a no deal and an intention to change the backstop proposal for the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. The proposals around the border will prove to be particularly sensitive as it affects the Good Friday Agreement. After two and a half years of posturing and prevarication the Prime Minister will now go back to the EU and attempt to remove the backstop and replace it with “alternative arrangements”. It’s worth noting that the EU and the Irish Government have already said they won’t re-negotiate. This may all seem like hypothetical nonsense but in the real world the money markets fluctuated as the amendments were voted on and it’s clear they don’t want a no deal. This mess has come about because of the inability of the U.K. Government to cooperate and consult with the devolved powers of the U.K. combined with their staggering arrogance toward the European Union. As we near the cliff edge, trade organisations have been voicing their concerns, this includes both road and rail freight, health service providers and food retailers. We are not there yet. We shall go through all of this all over again on February 13th. So all is not lost. As the father of the house, Ken Clarke said to me in the voting lobby (yes, Ken was voting with us) “are we planning on having a historic vote every week?” It certainly feels that way but this will end soon and as things are currently going, it won’t end well.