Westminster diary w/b 2nd March


I took advantage of a slow day at Westminster to stay in Inverclyde and catch up with local organisations including Financial Fitness. Many local organisations that do magnificent work are constantly on the lookout for funding. Financial Fitness is one of them. It was good to get up to speed with their needs prior to my meeting with the National Lottery scheduled for later in the week. In the afternoon, I attended the Oxfam led event hosted by Your Voice to investigate inequality and poverty.


The downside of staying in Inverclyde yesterday is the 5am alarm today. I am in Westminster for 9am and there is a whiff of alcohol in the air. Not from the many bars on the estate but from the hand wash that is being supplied to discourage the spread of the corona virus. There is a quick get together of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee (PACAC) as we reform with a new Chair and many new Members. Its primary purpose is to clear the paperwork required. I head across the city with several MPs from other parties to sit in on a briefing in the National Problem Gambling Clinic. It was interesting and informative to hear from the experts in clinical support. I am back in time to drop in on the National Lottery Community Fund event and the Maritime UK drop in session. My next event is new to me. Rather than take evidence I am giving evidence to the Gambling Industry Committee in the House of Lords. It is chaired by Michael Grade and it was an intense but enjoyable process. Late afternoon and I am hosting a GambleAware event in the Members dining room. I break out to attend a briefing on the corona virus from the Secretary of State for Heath and the chief medical officer. Once completed I returned to the GambleAware event. I finish my day in Parliament with an internal SNP meeting.


PACACs first evidence session is with the commissioner for public appointments. It’s a good introduction to the new members and a chance to grill Peter Riddell again. Prime Minister’s Questions lacked any real substance and I went from that to the cross-party group for CND. I then met with representatives of the Institution of Civil Engineers to discuss infrastructure. The wonderful WASPI women were in Portcullis House so obviously I dropped in on them. I glad they are holding their campaign together and continuing to hold the U.K. government to account. The cross-party parliamentary group on drugs, alcohol and justice heard from the select few that were allowed into the UK government drug policy summit in Glasgow. The view was it was a highly politicised event and the dismissal of DCRs as part of the solution was guided by ideology rather than evidence. I caught the 19:45 fight home.


I finally got time to read Dame Carol Black’s ‘Review of Drugs’. I didn’t find anything new in it, but I guess I am not the target audience. Until the UK government starts listening to the experts, we will continue to fail to address the misuse of drugs and the associated harm and costs, financial and health, to society. Throughout the day my office continued to receive abusive calls regarding the suspension of the out of hours GP service. I wonder if the people who fuel the anger understand that it is often the people that serve the community that they are placing in this position. I wonder if these keyboard warriors consider the consequences of their actions at all.


I met with Ian Maxwell, the Chief Executive of the Scottish Football Association to discuss the SFA’s relationship with the gambling industry. I held surgeries in my constituency office in the afternoon and in the evening was a guest at the Innerkip Society Dinner.