Westminster diary w/b 20th September


In Westminster before 11:00 and straight into a meeting with colleagues as we try to unpick the UK government cabinet reshuffle and now that the dust has settled its obvious that some ministers that we had invested considerable time in to produce a working relationship have moved to other departments or been moved out. Now that I am at Westminster, I am back to the pre-COVID methods of communicating with my office team via Teams. We cover casework with an emphasis on the social welfare aspects. Later on, I have a briefing from an expert on the Online Safety Bill as I would like to feed into the committee on the gambling safety angle. In the evening there are four votes on the Social Security (uprating of benefits) Bill and one vote on the Elections Bill which ended at 20:49. It’s worth noting that I am not recorded as voting on New Clause Two as I was acting as a teller.


Unusually for a Tuesday I don’t have a select committee meeting. So, I had a long lie and a big breakfast! No I didn’t. I used the time to meet with a representative of the cruise ship industry for an update prior to tomorrow’s debate on the contribution of the cruise industry to the economy. I then wrote my column for the Greenock Telegraph and my speech for tomorrow. I had a group meeting with councillor colleagues in the early evening, followed by the same with my MP colleagues.


Straight into Westminster Hall for the debate on the contribution of the cruise industry to the economy. While acknowledging the value of the industry I also brought them to task over their carbon footprint. I know they have a net zero target of 2050 but that is not ambitious enough.

In the chamber for Prime Minister’s Questions. And unusually it was good. Maybe because the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition were not there. Instead, Dominic Raab was chief apologist for the Conservative and Unionist government and Angela Rayner led the cross examination. Angela did an excellent job and landed punch after punch on the deputy Prime Minister exposing his lack of knowledge of the hardships facing people across the UK because of the welfare cuts and rising costs being inflicted upon us all. The cross party, cross platform group on Universal Basic Income had a meeting for the co-chairs. The group does a great job in engaging with all levels of government on this topic. In the evening I met with colleagues to discuss common interests.


I had a very interesting meeting with representatives of Scottish Renewable energy sector. It was primarily about the Transmission Network Use of System (TNUoS) and the impact that has on the energy industry. I am perplexed as to why, as we transition towards net zero, Ofgem (the energy regulator for Great Britain) are enforcing geographical charges on energy generators and suppliers. This inhibits development and creates a great deal of uncertainty in the business. We should be doing everything we can to encourage clean green renewable energy, not placing obstacles in their way. The vast majority of countries in Europe do not charge anything for the cost of installing and maintaining their energy transmission systems. I caught up with Scottish Government advisers to discuss the changing face of gambling legislation. It is a fully reserved matter, but it is always good to have these discussions to help me understand the mood within Holyrood. I will also be looking to include something in the next programme for government. I managed to get home for 19:00 just in time to take part in a local planning meeting with colleagues.


I shall be helping a local company KSB Controls promote a product that I have bought from them to help the air quality within my office. As we transition out of COVID it is important that when people are in my office I have created the best working conditions that I can. This product is part of that. I visited Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) in their refurbished offices in Port Glasgow and I had a call with the local DWP to plan for the end of furlough and the end of the £20 uplift in Universal Credit. Along with increasing energy prices and the oncoming winter we need to ensure that people do not need to choose between heating and eating.