Westminster diary w/b 1st April


My first business of the day in the chamber was Questions to the Home Office. I bobbed but didn’t get taken. A lot of members expressed their concerns that there continues to be a rise in right wing extremism in the United Kingdom. We have to be careful to not feed the beast but at the same time highlight the concern. It doesn’t help when hard line Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg MP retweets the far right neo-nazi AfD (Alternative Fur Deutschland).


The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee took evidence from the United Kingdom Statistics Authority. The gathering of accurate data without political interference is vital to allow politicians to make good policy decisions. With that in mind there are grave concerns over how the retail price index and the consumer price index are developing. These indexes are used to guide pensions and inflation figures. I attended the UK Parliamentary Awards in the Speaker’s rooms. Earlier this year, I was a judge in this event. The award winners all managed to engage with parliament and elected members to raise awareness of specific issues in their communities. They were also actively seeking solutions. I met with a cycling lobby group to discuss the transport policy and the funding of cycling from a UK level as well as the requirements of Inverclyde.


I met with a range of organisations with concerns over the increase of Hepatitis C and HIV. While we discussed the UKs drug policy in general it was unanimously agreed that Drug Consumption Rooms were required and would have a beneficial effect on a range of drug related issues. I look forward to hosting a debate on drug policy reform at the SNP conference in Edinburgh later this month. The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, briefed all 35 SNP MPs on the Scottish Government’s plans regarding Brexit. Prime Ministers Questions was extremely dour. Despite the planned talks between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition they continue to act like two spoiled brats fighting over their toys. The continuing debacle over Brexit causes a great deal of disruption to the workings of parliament. Today, colleagues and I from across the House researched and prepared for a debate on the topic of ‘50 years of an at sea deterrent ‘. The debate was cancelled at the last minute as result of a vote that changed all the business for today. The non-political anoraks should skip to Thursday but for the rest of you this is a summary of what happened on Wednesday. The Bill, promoted by Yvette Cooper, requires the Prime Minister to bring a motion to the House of Commons to approve an extension to the Article 50 negotiating a period for withdrawal from the EU. Hilary Benn proposed an amendment to provide for another day of ‘indicative votes’ on Monday. SNP voted AYE and the vote was tied 310-310. The Speaker used his casting vote in line with precedent to maintain the status quo, so the amendment was defeated 310-311. At 7:00pm we had the second reading to allow the Bill to progress to the committee stage for amendments. SNP voted AYE and the Bill was carried 315 – 310. At 10:00pm we then had the ‘Committee of the Whole House’. There were a host of amendments and votes. At 11:00pm we had the third reading – to give the Bill final approval and send to the House of Lords. SNP voted AYE and the Bill was carried 313 – 312.


I was on the Order Paper for questions to the Department for Exiting the E.U. so I was guaranteed (if there is such a thing at Westminster) to be taken. I asked what consideration had been given to freedom of movement regarding Scotland’s requirements post Brexit. The answer was that Scotland is just a small part of the UKs consideration. An accurate and enlightening response. Says it all really. I met with a statistics company to gain insight into how they operate within the political world. We agreed that all good policy is based on an evidence based approach, I was slightly surprised that they so readily agreed that Scotland needs its own statistics agency. I quickly went into sales mode and promoted Inverclyde as the location. And just as I thought there was an air of normality descending we realised there was water was running into the chamber from a burst pipe around the area of the press gallery. The rest of the day was consumed by covering chamber and ancillary work as I was on the rota for the day. I caught the 19:35 flight home.


The first Friday of every month is a planned surgery day. I was at the Auchmountain Halls, my constituency office and Wemyss bay station where I met with many constituents. After the shenanigans of the last few weeks and knowing the expected workload for next week it was a real joy to spend time back in Inverclyde.