Westminster diary w/b 1st July


I met with Liz Karter in Portcullis House to discuss gambling related harm therapy. Liz is an expert in this area and we had a long and informative conversation. The big five bookmakers have bowed to pressure and have offered to increase their contributions to offset gambling related harm. The offer is much more than they currently pay but it’s not mandatory and it’s still not enough. However now that there will be more money available the conversation is about how best to use that money. I was in the Chamber for questions to the Department for Work and Pensions and I hoped to get in in topical questions but it didn’t happen.


I sat in on the Scottish Affairs Select committee session as it was taking evidence from people I know in the drug policy reform movement. It was a fascinating session and received a lot of media coverage. The witnesses are experts that have travelled into Westminster to provide evidence at the request of the committee so it was extremely disappointing to watch some committee members spend the session on their mobile devices reading. Sitting on two select committees I often search for information during a session if its not in the briefing but that’s not what I was watching unfold during this session. It was disrespectful and totally unwarranted. In the afternoon I again took on the role of observer and watched the Health Select committee take evidence from a different set of witnesses on the same subject. It was not as good a session. In between these sessions I replied to a government statement on the big 5 bookmakers proposal to offer more money, but not mandatory, for gambling related harm. I described it as a bribe.


The Select Committee on Transport took evidence on pavement parking. It is set to be banned in Scotland but enforcing it in areas where the roads are too narrow for emergency services, when cars are not parked on the pavements is going to be problematic. Prime Ministers Questions was a dour uninspiring affair. I met with Henrietta Bowden-Jones to discuss her opinions on how gambling related harm should be funded and provided. She is an expert in this area and already runs a clinic in Fulham. We also discovered a mutual appreciation of art. I dropped in to an event hosted by Scottish Water to hear about their role in renewable energies. I was heartened to hear how much they knew about Inverclyde and our possibilities for hydro power. My flight was delayed but I made it back home for 10pm.


I met with constituents in the morning and spoke to Radio Clyde regarding William Hill and the proposed closure of several bookmakers. In the afternoon I delivered contacts details to local houses and held street surgeries.


I started by meeting BayWa, they are the new owners of Forsa Energy’s renewables business that was located at Pottery Street. The afternoon was consumed by surgeries in my constituency office.