Westminster diary w/b 13th May


Business continues to be slow at Westminster so I took the opportunity to work in my constituency office in the morning and catch a later flight to London. Incredibly, at this point in time, when we are at the cusp of the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union business in the House lasted from 14:30 to 17:45. There are duties and responsibilities that drag me to London but in all honesty, there are days when my time would be better spent in my constituency.


Today started with the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee taking evidence about eating disorders and the Public health Ombudsman. The oral evidence was interesting, but the written evidence was harrowing. The lack of intervention and knowledge within the medical profession as a result of the lack of training is staggering. During a ten year training period the average GP in England will receive 2 hours training in eating disorders. It was a joy to then meet up with Ian Russell, Chair of the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland and hear about the long-term strategy for infrastructure that he is working on. Too often politicians are pulled into 5 year plans. So, to hear that he is developing a 30 year strategy at the request of the Scottish Government was encouraging. I dropped into the alcohol alliance Parliamentary reception and did an interview for Panorama. The minimum unit price, as part of broader strategy has been effective but there is a long way to go to improve Scotland’s relationship with alcohol.


I started at the end child poverty drop in where I was given the statistics on Inverclyde’s child poverty. 25% of children in Inverclyde are living in poverty and although that is far from the worst it is still a stark reminder of how far we have to go. I attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Bees. We are trying to encourage the development of pollinator strips. Fortunately, Inverclyde is already switched on to the need and we have excellent projects at Broomhill, Hector McNeil Baths and Belville Gardens leading the way. Prime Ministers Questions was a sorry affair of posturing with very little real engagement. I hosted a meeting with Ladbrokes Coral and was interested to hear their commitment to reducing gambling related harm. I remain unconvinced.


Up early to catch the tube then train to Heathrow as I am on the 8:55 to Stockholm along with cross party colleagues from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on prostitution. We are on a fact-finding mission to Sweden to investigate the Nordic Model. It is a hectic two days. Today we had briefings from the ambassador at large for combating trafficking and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.


An early start with an 08:00 meeting with the Swedish Police Authority. This takes up most of the day. One of the joys about these sort of events is the opportunity to meet experts in their field and mix with Parliamentary colleagues from other parties to seek out and find common ground on which we can work. Mia de Faoite is a survivor of prostitution and her knowledge, lived experience and intellect are hugely influential and a privilege to experience. She also has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Eurovision but nobody is perfect. I make my way home via the 18:05 Stockholm to Heathrow London and the 21:30 to Glasgow. I arrive home at 23:30.