I have been taking part in the judging of the UK Parliament awards and the final paperwork was completed today. The parliamentary briefing on the Safer Gambling Advertising Campaign was a lively affair taking into consideration the views of many stakeholders. The campaign is targeted at men between the ages of 16 to 34 that already gamble twice a week. This demographic is recognised as having the greatest potential to experience gambling related harm.
The Prime Minister made yet another statement regarding the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union and explained the current plan. That is current as in Tuesday’s plan. It will change. I met with the Chief Executive of BACTA to get his take on the progress we have made regarding Fixed Odds Betting Terminals and how we can address gambling related harm in his area of expertise. My first delegated legislation committee of the week was ‘Energy Systems regulations’. The sifting committee had cunningly grouped five statutory instrument into one sitting. We out smarted them and considered them all at the same time thus saving hours of meaningless debate. The deputy Speaker gave the group a security update and that was followed by an SNP group meeting.
I met with Alok Sharma MP (Minister for employment). We dialled into the Inverclyde jobcentre and discussed support from Citizens Advice Bureau and funding of the ongoing support to roll out universal credit. Prime Ministers Question time and I had the joy of sitting beside Patricia Gibson the MP for Millport. PMQs is not the classiest of affairs and it was a rare joy to hear Ian Blackford welcome visitors from the Netherlands Parliament to the gallery, in their native tongue. They were clearly delighted. I dropped in to meet Ofcom and get an update on broadband speeds in Inverclyde. I know it’s not a great comfort if you are experiencing poor connection speeds but Inverclyde has 97% properties with 30mbit/s availability. And is better served than many communities. It has certainly improved since we managed to persuade major suppliers to invest in Kilmacolm and Inverkip. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm met with a pleasure group that are seeking to expose the algorithms that bookmakers use to stop people winning and at the same time encourage people who are losing. This will be the basis for our next enquiry. I dropped in to the Fairtrade fortnight reception to hear about the West African Fairtrade cocoa producers and how we can support woman’s economic empowerment in the sector.
My Select Committee on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs met to take evidenced from Sir Mark Sedwill, Cabinet Secretary and John Manzoni, Chief Executive of the civil service regarding Brexit readiness. It’s stunning how much legislation still has to be done and ironically I had to leave early to attend another Delegated Legislation Committee to push through more statutory instruments. The UK Government is now beginning to realise that this can’t be done in time and will take steps to push through legislation without any debate or scrutiny. We could have told them that a year ago. I spoke in the chamber on behalf of the SNP in the St David’s Day debate. It was an interesting event if only to hear so many of the MPs that represent Welsh seats raging against the Conservative and Unionist UK Government.
As ever the first Friday of the month was spent hosting surgeries throughout Inverclyde. In the evening I attended the Innerkip society dinner. There was no escaping politics with a table of councillors and council officers. On Saturday I plan to attend the AGM of the Coves Community Nature Reserve.