Westminster diary w/b 22nd April


I enjoyed a Monday holiday soaking up the good Inverclyde sunshine. I found some time to make promotional videos to encourage people to register to vote and use it in the proposed European Union elections on the 23rd May.


Early flight to London. Business is still sporadic at Westminster as the government works out how to utilise the Brexit extension. My main event was the Hydrogen showcase. I spoke with travel providers and learned the eye watering costs of hydrogen busses and filling stations. Large scale hydrogen conversion projects have the potential to significantly decrease carbon emissions but that potential requires serious funding if it is to come to fruition.


Prime Ministers Questions was the day of the second in commands as the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and Ian Blackford MP were all attending the funeral of the journalist L McKee who was murdered in Northern Ireland. PMQs was actually quite cordial for once, maybe because of the tragic circumstances around it. It was followed by a ten-minute rule bill that I had put my name to. The bill attempts to introduce a statutory levy on bookmakers to pay for gambling related harm. Currently a voluntary levy raises about 10 million pounds a year. A 1% levy would raise 140 million. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on gambling related harm took evidence from banks and software providers that are trying to make it easier for problematic gamblers to self-exclude. My last event of the evening was the All-Party Parliamentary Group on prostitution and the global sex trade. We heard from the Swedish ambassador how they had implemented the ’Nordic Model’ (decriminalise the selling of sex and prosecute the purchaser) and the effect it had on reducing prostitution and helping woman out of prostitution. The comparison to Germany where they have decriminalised both the purchasing and selling of sex could not be starker.


I spoke to the Urgent Question on Huawei in my capacity as SNP spokesperson on infrastructure. The prospect of the UK 5G telecommunications networks relying on Chinese technology from a company surrounded in espionage rumours and beholden to the Chinese state does not thrill me. I attended the Gambling Commissions report launch ‘National Strategy to reducing gambling related harm’. I was disappointed to hear the DCMS minister Mims Davis say that the Government still believes a voluntary levy is sufficient. I caught the 19:05 flight to Edinburgh as I am attending an inter-governmental forum at Holyrood on Friday.


I attended an Inter Parliamentary forum on Brexit along with members of committees from the Welsh and Scottish parliaments and on Saturday and Sunday I shall be at the SNP spring conference where I am moving a motion for the creation of a Scottish Statistics Agency and hosting a fringe event on developing drugs policy.