Westminster diary w/b 29th April 2019


I attended the Poverty Alliance event on making Scotland’s transport system work for everyone. It was held in the Caledonian University in Glasgow. The main focus was the cost and availability of suitable public transport. It was a well-attended event with representatives from a wide range of stakeholders. Mobility as a service is an area that the select committee on transport has looked at and it is an ongoing concern that the costs of inclusion have historically prohibited the investment required. I caught a late afternoon flight to Heathrow. My day had included a train to Glasgow, a taxi to the airport, a flight to Heathrow and a train to Paddington. I decided it was time to put into practice what I had learned and so I walked to Westminster from Paddington.  


The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee took evidence from William Hague and Jack Straw. The subject matter was Parliament’s involvement in the process of deciding on military intervention. It was interesting hearing Jack Straw promote the idea of Parliament’s involvement with his background of ‘dodgy dossiers’ and the UKs involvement in the Iraq war based on non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Ironically my next meeting was about the UKs nuclear weapons programme. The main focus was on the cost of the programme which is eye watering but in my opinion those that support these particular weapons of mass destruction will be prepared to pay any amount of money as they genuinely think they are a deterrent. When you have been taught to live in fear it is very difficult to learn to trust. I attended an interesting lecture on net zero carbon building. There are many ways which we can embrace more environmentally friendly building methods but governments, including local ones, must take the lead. 


The Transport Select Committee took evidence from the Minister of state from Transport, Jesse Norman MP. The main thrust of the enquiry was active travel. The most popular methods being cycling and walking. He is always an enthusiastic and engaging witness that is prepared to fight his corner to support his brief. Prime Ministers Questions continues to be poorly attended and is frankly a meaningless exercise in public posturing. The Prime Minister chose to celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the 1707 treaty of unions (despite the fact it was signed against the will of the people of Scotland) and she failed to acknowledge International Workers Day. On the back of the recent protests by Extinction Rebellion a host of politicians that have never shown the slightest interest in the environment have had a sudden awakening and true to form the opposition day debate was on the climate change emergency. If we are going to address climate change it will take more than warm words at Westminster, we need serious and concerted investment in renewable energy and farming.

I travelled home in the evening.


I caught up with administrative matters in the morning and in the afternoon I carried out street surgeries. In the evening I attended the Inverkip and Wemyss Bay Community Council. It’s always good to engage with the grass roots issues that concern the citizens of inverclyde and community councils perform a vital job in that area.


My annual check-up with my GP confirmed the presence of a heart, so that’s good. The morning was taken up by constituency surgeries and in the afternoon I met with Kilmacolm residents association and Kilmacolm Community Council to discuss planned house building projects in the village.


Written question – Home Office [2/05/2019]

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent discussions his Department has had with faith leaders regarding the Tier 5 religious worker visa. (248722)

Tabled on: 29 April 2019

Caroline Nokes:

The Government wrote to faith leaders in December, setting out the detail of the changes made to the Tier 5 religious worker visa.

We are embarking on an extensive programme of engagement, in connection with the future immigration system, and will be talking to representatives from a range of faith and community groups. Officials also remain in regular contact with their representatives.

The answer was submitted on 02 May 2019 at 16:33.


Pension Credits

Inverclyde pensioners living on a low income with a partner of working age to urgently check their eligibility for Pension Credit and Housing Benefit and put in a claim before the UK Government changes the rules on 15th May.

The UK Government’s change, snuck out during the first ‘meaningful vote’ on Brexit in January, will see the right to claim Pension Credit and Housing Benefit – important tools in the fight against pensioner poverty – withdrawn from future claimants who happen to have a partner who hasn’t yet reached their own pensionable age.

Age Scotland are urging anyone who may be entitled to claim benefits to call the Age Scotland helpline on 0800 12 44 222 for a free benefit and entitlements check before 15th May.