Greenock Telegraph 13th September 2019

The dictionary definition of prorogue is to ‘discontinue a session of (a parliament or other legislative assembly) without dissolving it’. This week at Westminster it was more akin to a toddler standing in the corner screaming, with their fingers in their ears. The UK parliament has been shut down to stop debate. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has thrown his toys out his pram and decided that he doesn’t want to talk to anyone about the UK leaving the European Union. So, there will be no debates, no votes, no select committee, no standing order 24, no urgent questions, no statements, no questions to secretary of states. And as a result, nothing that resembles a democratic parliament in the UK. This is a gross misuse of power and an affront to democracy. The Prime Minister tried to deflect from this by offering a General Election but please be absolutely clear that was a trap that fortunately nobody fell for. A General Election could have resulted in a Conservative and Unionist (possibly in coalition with the Brexit Party and DUP) taking us out of the EU with no deal. Had Labour been a cohesive party they could have backed an election with the aim of winning it but clearly, they are a party in turmoil and have no chance of winning a General Election. The SNP will vote for a General Election when the time is right. I am expecting one sometime in the Autumn but in the current political climate nobody honestly knows. All I can ask of you is that you make sure you are registered to vote and when the time does come please use it.

Brexit – letter to Inverclyde residents

Dear Inverclyde residents,

As you will know, the last week at Westminster has been challenging and a battle over which direction the United Kingdom will take. The UK Government have indicated they are comfortable crashing out of the European Union without a deal. This would be devastating for both Inverclyde and Scotland as a whole. Ultimately, any form of Brexit would be damaging for Inverclyde. Crashing out of the EU with no deal would not only breach Scotland’s vote to remain, including the two thirds of Inverclyde voters who voted so, but would also push the UK into a recession, threatening 100,000 Scottish jobs, and inflicting lasting harm on living standards, public services and the economy.

That is why I was one of the MPs who’s started a legal action aimed at preventing Boris Johnson shutting down parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-49251511.

SNP MPs have voted consistently against no deal and Parliament has rejected a no deal three times this year. Alongside this, my SNP colleagues and I supported the Letwin-Cooper process in March to avoid a no deal, and we did the same again with Benn’s Bill which has become law.

If Boris Johnson wants an election, he must obey the law and take a no-deal Brexit off the table. It is beyond belief that the Prime Minister is disrespecting democracy by shutting down parliament and railroading through an extreme Brexit against the will of parliament and the people.

The SNP is ready for a General Election. We stand ready to bring down the UK government and give Scotland the chance to stop Brexit and to decide its own future.

Yours sincerely,

 

Ronnie Cowan MP

Member of Parliament for Inverclyde

Written question – medical cannabis [09/09/2019]

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many prescriptions for medical cannabis have been issued on the NHS since the rescheduling of cannabis based products. (284234)

Tabled on: 02 September 2019

Answer:
Jo Churchill:

NHS England and NHS Improvement are using extant systems to monitor use of the newly rescheduled unlicensed cannabis-based products for medicinal use in England. In England, these systems monitor the number of items dispensed and associated costs in primary care and the volume of products used and associated cost in secondary care. NHS England and NHS Improvement Controlled Drug Accountable Officers are also collecting local intelligence in both the National Health Service and independent sector.

The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) is only able to provide information on prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines that have been prescribed and submitted to the NHS Business Services Authority. It does not hold information on prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines which have been issued but not fulfilled.

The following table shows the number of items for Nabilone and Sativex (licensed cannabis-based medicines) and unlicensed cannabis-based medicines that were prescribed on a NHS prescription, dispensed in the community and submitted to the NHS Business Services Authority for reimbursement between November 2018 and June 2019.

Month Licensed cannabis-based medicines Unlicensed cannabis-based medicines
Nabilone Sativex
November 2018 46 175 2
December 2018 49 181 1
January 2019 44 167 2
February 2019 36 159 1
March 2019 51 171 2
April 2019 49 156 2
May 2019 59 176 2
June 2019 47 187 0
Total 381 1,372 12

In addition to the above, 185 patients have accessed Epidiolex/Epidyolex though the manufacturer’s (GW Pharma) early access programmes ahead of a licensing decision by the European Medicines Agency.

The answer was submitted on 09 Sep 2019 at 16:20.

Westminster diary w/b 2nd September

Monday

Last day of recess before heading back to Westminster. I met with the new management of the Oak mall and was heartened to hear about their plans to consolidate their investment in Inverclyde. High street retail has changed almost beyond recognition and we must move with the times. Combined with the announcement of £3 million pounds being spent to reinvigorate West Blackhall street, including £1.5 million from Sustrans Scotland, hopefully that area of the town is on the up. To achieve its potential, it will need to benefit from the cruise ship traffic and the new reception centre for cruise ships will help that. On that note it is good to see Inchgreen in operation building the floating pontoon for cruise ships to berth at. I travelled to London on a late flight with some colleagues including Dr Phillipa Whitford who despite being in a wheel chair having broken her ankle was required to travel to take part in important votes.

Tuesday

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gambling Related Harm met to prepare for an important evidence session the next day. In the chamber there were two government statements. The Prime Minister bumbled through a statement about the G7. I am not one for the pomp and ceremony of Westminster. I am comfortable with a less formal approach but to work effectively certain codes of conduct and levels of professionalism are required. It is not just my observation that the current Prime Minister has none of these abilities. His statement was a disgrace. The Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove then delivered a statement on leaving the E.U.   I attended an event arranged by Transform Drugs in conjunction with the APPG on Drug Policy Reform. Speakers from Canada and Massachusetts outlined the routes they had taken to legalise cannabis. It is worthwhile noting that if you travelled from Alaska down to Guatemala every country or state you travel through has legalised cannabis. Importantly, in different ways to suit their own local concerns and needs. When Washington D.C. voted to legalise cannabis, 242 out of 243 districts said yes, the other said no, by nine votes. In the chamber there was a Standing Order 24 debate on the E.U. withdrawal. It is designed to protect the UK from leaving without a deal. The government opposed it but lost. They also managed to lose their majority and remove the whip from 21 rebel MPs. The Leader of the House, Jacob Rees Mogg lounged about on the front benches following his Prime Minster’s lead showing utter contempt for the proceedings. Their public schoolboy, superior than though arrogance is now openly on display at every opportunity.

Wednesday

Prime Minister’s Question Time. The Prime Minister was so appalling bad that he made the leader of the opposition look good. He blustered, bumbled and even tried to bully his way through but it was clear to everyone that we have a Prime Minister who is incompetent and incoherent. In the evening the bill to ensure we don’t leave without a deal passed its next stage and headed up to the House of Lords. All things being equal it shall return on Monday for the 3rd reading and ten go for Royal Assent. In an attempt to thwart this the government called for a general election. Under the terms of the fixed term parliament act they need two thirds of all MPs (434) to vote for this motion and they only got 298. I did not vote for a general election currently as it was only a means to an end. When the time comes, I shall vote for a general election.

I acknowledged the spirit of inventiveness and ingenuity that these times call for by wearing my James Watt tartan tie which was gifted to me by the Provost of Inverclyde Council.

Thursday

After all the shenanigans of the past two days business was slow. I did get taken during an urgent question on HS2 and asked if the government could confirm that HS2 is still planned to extend to Scotland as this was the original plan when it was announced in January 2009. He couldn’t confirm this despite the parliamentary under Secretary of State telling me it would in a Westminster Hall debate last July. I caught the 20:35 flight home.

Friday

In the morning I had meetings with local traders and the GMB trade union. In the afternoon I had surgeries until 5pm.