Westminster diary w/b 24th June

Monday

Early morning flight to London. I have a meeting with a company that provide systems for diesel engines that enables them to also use liquid natural gas and therefore reduce their carbon footprint. In conjunction with the proposals at Hunterston for a power station they see the possibility to duel fuel diesel trains. The Prime Minister made a statement in the House on the European Council. As part of her statement she talked about the spirit of cooperation and consensus. I bobbed for a question and was taken. I asked if this new spirit could be extended to the devolved parliaments. The PM responded that it always had. Of course, we know that’s not the view of the devolved parliaments. In the evening I spoke on the panel of the Global Cannabis Partnership. There was a lot of talk about ethical growing, international financial opportunities, nationally recognised legislation but far too little about patients and their needs.

Tuesday

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee took evidence from two excellent witnesses, Hannah Vickers, CEO, the Association for Consulting and Engineering and Miles Ashley, Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, on the Government’s management of major infrastructure projects. I then spoke at an event organised by Anyone’s Child to highlight the terrible loss of life due to the current UK drug policy.

Wednesday

Less than one hundred Conservative and Unionist MPs turned up for Prime Minister’s Questions. Apathy combined with their internal party conflict has deemed the government incapable of even putting on a show of unity. Despite their small numbers they made one heck of a noise when Iain Blackford challenged the Prime Minister. They were so noisy that no one could hear Iain. This was brought to the attention of the speaker who then rebuked me for shouting out. This was disappointing as he didn’t rebuke the government benches for their part in the fiasco and it wasn’t me that shouted out. But I took one for the team. I attended the climate coalition lobby and the immigration debate before catching the 18:20 flight home.

Thursday

I delivered contact details to constituents and held street surgeries. I do this on a regular basis but it’s always nicer when the sun is shining as it was today.

Friday

I have an interview on gambling and its relationship with Scottish football followed by one of my regular catch ups with Laura Reilly of Belville Gardens. As part of National Care Home Day, I visited the Crown Care day centre.

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LEAP UK Podcast ahead of UN International Day Against Drugs and Illicit Trafficking

Anyone’s Child, Transform Drug Policy Foundation, and Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP UK) organised a roundtable podcast including both MPs and family members from Anyone’s Child to discuss the topic of drug policy reform.

The Journey of Drug Policy Reform: Anyone’s Child:

Acast https://aca.st/f3f4de

iTunes
https://apple.co/2FsQUqW

Spotify
https://spoti.fi/2WVH72R

 

More Accessible Rail Journeys in Inverclyde

In 2018, 8725 people used a Disabled Person’s Railcard in Inverclyde, compared to 4353 in 2015.

Everyone in Inverclyde should have the opportunity to travel by train and I welcome the increase in uptake of people using the Disabled Persons Railcard. 

I’m pleased to work with the rail companies to raise awareness of the discounts offered by the Disabled Persons Railcard and hope more people will benefit from big savings that can be made.

The Disabled Persons Railcard offers 1/3 off adult rail fares for travel on the National Rail network in Great Britain for people with a disability that makes travelling by train difficult. If travelling with another adult, they will also get 1/3 off their rail fare. There are no time restrictions on the Disabled Persons Railcard, so you can use it to get a discount on tickets at any time of the day. For more information on the Disabled Persons Railcard, please visit https://www.disabledpersons-railcard.co.uk/

 

Westminster diary w/b 17th June

Monday

I attended the Inverclyde Alliance ‘Every Child Every Chance’ event in Port Glasgow Town Hall. The focus was tackling child poverty. There were excellent speeches and it was good to see councillors from Labour, Conservative, SNP and Independent all in attendance. In the afternoon I was in Edinburgh at the Gambling Commission launch of its National Strategy. I have issues with the Gambling Commissions funding model but this report is a good one and it recognises the need for a statutory levy on the gambling industry. Making it statutory allows the providers of support for gambling related harm, along with those developing education, to make long term plans. I am increasingly using trains to travel and once again I managed to leave Edinburgh and be in my flat in Greenock in two hours.

Tuesday

Today was a day reserved for constituency work. I also carried out street surgeries in the area.

Wednesday

With the increasingly debilitating Brexit process now being compounded by the Conservative and Unionist Party leadership race, I am attempting to squeeze meaningful work into fewer days at Westminster. With that in mind I left at 5:30am for the 6:30am flight. In amongst a plethora of meetings I also had a question to the Secretary of State for Scotland and asked if he agreed with the Duchy of Lancaster when he said that a review of the intergovernmental process could wait until the end of the year. He neither confirmed nor denied it. The Prime Minister is looking better now that she has an escape route for herself planned and was skating through PMQs until Ian Blackford called out Boris Johnson as a racist. When the predictable outcry came from the Government benches, Ian doubled down and listed the racist remarks that had been made. Confronted with that information it is impossible to defend Boris but his Conservative colleagues tried. After the dog fight that is PMQs I was pleased to support some more placid canine friends. I hosted a room to help support guide dogs for the blind. I took the opportunity to meet with owners of the working dogs and puppies in training. My last event was a roundtable discussion and podcast hosted by UK LEAP and Anyone’s Child. The focus of the discussion was the progress of the drug policy reform lobby and the path forward. My journey home did not go well as there was major disruption on the tube and my flight was delayed. To cap it all the M8 was shut and I had a detour via Bishopton. I got home at 23:15. I look upon it all as experienced living for my role on the transport select committee!

Thursday

The morning was spent catching up with case work and in the afternoon, I did the Inverclyde Bothy Walk. Active travel is becoming more and more mainstream and designing transport systems that can integrate safe walking and cycling are important for our health and our planet.

Friday

I joined the teams from Inverclyde Bothy in Gourock railway station and Community Tracks for a cycle through Inverclyde. The purpose was to review the proposals for the route being supported by Sustrans. Looking at pinch points and obstacles. In the afternoon I caught up with Craig Berry of the Common Weal. I often reach out to academics and think tanks for a non-partisan take on issues and I have also contributed to the Common Weal over the years. In the evening I attended the Kilmacolm Civic Trust 50th Anniversary celebration at Windyhill, the Charles Rennie McIntosh house. On Saturday, I shall be supporting the Wemyss Bay Train station open day and on Sunday I shall be attending some of the ‘Great Get Together’ events around Inverclyde.

Tele column 21st June 2019

I do not know how many members of the Conservative and Unionist Party live in Inverclyde. The only reason I am curious is that it will be up to them and their fellow members to decide who is the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The front runner is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson a man who, when it suits him, does not shy away from the limelight and as a political operator that approach has been successful for him. But as PM you need to be available all the time. You can’t hide away when it suits you. And that should worry us all. When put on the spot Boris has been found lacking. He was recently described as “a charlatan, a liar, bigot, peddler of racism, philanderer and serial embarrassment as London Mayor and Foreign Secretary”. And it’s hard to disagree as he has been sacked twice for dishonesty, described black people as “piccaninnies”, compared Muslim women to Bank Robbers and gay men as “bum boys”. During his tenure as Foreign Secretary he compared Francois Hollande, then French President, to a prisoner of war guard. He also suggested that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been training journalists in Tehran. Nazanin is still in custody in Iran. He failed miserably to define the UKs position over the Ukraine and when pushed to resign over Heathrow, he felt is safer to take a trip to Afghanistan. And when it comes to Scotland his opinions and judgement have been appalling. He famously said “a pound spent in Croydon is of far more value to the country from a strict utilitarian calculus than a pound spent in Strathclyde”. And while he was editor of the Spectator he was responsible for publishing a poem that described Scots as “tartan dwarves” who were “polluting our stock” and suggested that Scotland should be turned into a “ghetto” with the inhabitants (described as vermin) submitted for “extermination”. As Boris himself said “I have discovered myself, there are no disasters, only opportunities. And indeed, opportunities for fresh disasters.” Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson a disaster in waiting. Thank goodness we have an alternative government in Scotland and an alternative path to follow.

Written question – Business [20/06/2019]

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that restaurants are prevented from making deductions from money left for staff by diners. (265553)

Tabled on: 17 June 2019

Answer:
Kelly Tolhurst:

Through the Good Work Plan we have committed to legislate on a range of areas to enhance workers’ rights, including to ensure that all tips left to workers go to them in full.

We expect over a million workers to benefit, many of whom are in low-paid jobs. Consumers will have reassurance that the money they leave in good faith is going to the staff, as they intended.

We have been working closely with stakeholders and across Government to prepare this legislation, and will lay measures to implement the Good Work Plan in Parliament as soon as possible.

The Good Work Plan set out an ambitious programme to take forward 51 of the 53 recommendations made in the Taylor Review. We have already implemented key commitments, with Parliament recently passing secondary legislation we brought forward to increase workers’ rights and protections, and improve transparency for workers, from day one.

The answer was submitted on 20 Jun 2019 at 10:03.

 

Guide Dog lobby of UK Parliament

Today, more than a hundred guide dog owners from across the country converged on Westminster Hall in Parliament to share their experiences of being turned away by businesses because of their dog. At the event, the MP for Inverclyde spoke to guide dog owners about the lasting impact of these refusals.

It is against the law to refuse access to a disabled person accompanied by an assistance dog except in the most exceptional circumstances.[1] Despite this, a new Guide Dogs survey found that three out of four (76%) assistance dog owners had been turned away because of their dog.[2]

Taxis and minicabs were the worst offenders – experienced by 73% of those reporting refusals in the last twelve months. Refusals at restaurants (54%), newsagents (42%) and high street shops (36%) were also common.

[1] EHRC, Assistance Dogs: a guide for all businesses

[2] Guide Dogs survey of 421 assistance dog owners, April 2019