Westminster diary w/b 3rd February


No need to rush to Westminster so I catch a midday flight. It’s a routine day. After the turbulent years since the 2017 election this Parliament is threatening to be too predictable. It is Monday so the chamber sits until 10pm then we vote and the government wins. It’s a debate on the agriculture bill and despite SNP, Labour, Plaid Cymru, Independent, Green Party, Liberal Democrat and Alliance all combining to vote for the Labour amendment we can’t get close to the 318 Conservative and Unionists votes. That is worrying given that this UK Government seriously needs to be scrutinised on every vote.


I sit in on Foreign and Commonwealth questions but don’t get taken. I take the opportunity to attend an evidence session in the House of Lords. The Gambling Industry Committee chaired by Michael Grade is taking evidence from GVC (Ladbrokes and Coral), William Hill, Bet365, Sky Betting and Gaming, Paddy Power Betfair and the Betting and Gaming Council. It strikes me that all the concessions they say they are making are the changes that the All-Party Parliamentary Group on gambling related harm have demanded they make. The gambling industry still needs dragged and kicking to the table if we are going to reduce the harm. In the evening there are three votes on the NHS. Normally the SNP and Plaid Cymru would not vote as it is defined as ‘an EVEL division’. English Votes for English Laws was created by David Cameron the day after the Scottish independence referendum to stop MPs that don’t represent English seats voting in matters that only concern England. Truth is the SNP never did anyway but on this occasion the vote will determine the finances of the NHS and therefore there should be a knock-on effect to the Barnet formula consequentials. We vote but our votes are not included in the count. This is the first time that we have been excluded from voting on a matter that potentially affects Scotland.


I am picked up by a taxi at 6:45 to take me to broadcasting house (BBC) for a string of radio interviews on Medical Cannabis provision. It slightly embarrassing as the driver tells me the interviews are now taking place in Millbank studios, he drops me off four hundred yards from my house. And on the same say the BBC announced a rise in the TV licence! The interviews went well and I am struck by how non combative the interviewers are compared to the national stations. Prime Ministers Question time is once again restricted to 30 minutes. I think the new format is better. After that I drop in to meet parents of children with epilepsy that are trying to gain access to Medical Cannabis on prescription. Many are part of an organisation End Our Pain. Sixty MPs signed their letter to the Prime Minister. The numbers are increasing but we still have some way to go.


I spend the day in my constituency office. Even in this day of email and social media there is always a lot of paper correspondence to catch up on.


In the morning I have surgeries in my constituency office and then in the Oak Mall. In the afternoon I have a meeting at Inverclyde Council Health and Social Care Partnership and then the Basic Income Hub to catch up on the proposed pilot basic income projects in Scotland.