I bobbed for over an hour trying to catch the speaker’s eye so I could ask a question of the housing minister. I wanted to raise the issue of unsuitable insulating glazing units currently being sold in the UK, which undercut the superior quality ones that meet all the standards. I didn’t get taken but, more out of frustration than anything else, I took my appeal to social media and miraculously I received a written answer on Wednesday. I shall be liaising with local window manufacturers to see what can be done.
PACAC (Public administration and constitutional affairs select committee) took evidence from academics and journalists regarding the use of FOI (Freedom of information) requests. There is real fear that the U.K. government is withholding responses to FOI through the use of a Clearing House within the Cabinet Office. Nobody knows who is in the Clearing House and so judging their motivation is open to conjecture. Journalists feel they are being targeted which goes against the ‘applicant blind’ protocol. I met up with the Multiple Sclerosis Society to discuss a new approach to neurology services. And I took the opportunity to question them about their stance on medical cannabis as I have two debates next week on that subject.
I dropped in on the campaign to ban plastic in wet wipes. The number of wet wipes that wash up on our beaches is appalling. They have replaced cotton buds as the most common piece of detritus.
PMQs was back to its usual Punch and Judy standard. It was at its busiest for some time because it was the opening act for the Budget. A packed chamber is not a healthy working environment at the best of times and an increasing number of MPs are contracting COVID. Despite a recommendation for staff at Westminster to wear masks, for some unfathomable reason, MPs are not. There is no logic behind this. It is arrogant and sends out the wrong message. MPs should not be exempt from our obligations.
The main parts of the budget were published in the newspapers prior to any announcement in the chamber. This attracted the wrath of the speaker’s office and not for the first time. Just like MPs not wearing masks, this U.K. government’s contempt for protocol that ensures legislation is brought forward in the correct manner is clear for everyone to see. It should not be deemed acceptable. Ministers have resigned for less. The budget was big on promises, a lot of which won’t materialise until 2023! But most of the budget was smoke and mirrors, giving with one hand and taking with another. It will leave millions of families worse off. I spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on the Dame Carol Black review of drugs policy. It was a decent debate but unfortunately the UK government still does not understand the issues and only the minister spoke from the government side. It’s a shame as Carol Black said the UK “Government faces an unavoidable choice: invest in tackling the problem or keep paying for the consequences”. It would appear they are happy to pay for the consequences.
In the evening I met with RenewableUK to discuss the direction of travel that renewable energy suppliers are taking. These events afford me the opportunity to promote Inverclyde to the senior members of the leading companies in the UK and abroad.
I was in the chamber to hear Alison Thewliss MP articulate the real outcome of the previous day’s budget. The reality is that those in most need of help will not be getting it any day soon. Instead, we have a budget that will leave millions of people worse of. Some forecasters are predicting the cost of living could rise at its fastest for 30 years, but never mind the Chancellor of the United Kingdom is making champagne more affordable!
I visited Trade Right International to find out how they had got on during the pandemic and took the opportunity to buy more hand sanitizer for my office dispensers. While up at the Lynedoch Street Estate I visited Rory at The Whisky Chairmen to learn about new ventures and the kickstart programme. While it is good to get to meet more people in Inverclyde again, I am careful to apply all the relevant recommendations to protect myself and those I am visiting.
All things being well, Saturday morning should be a litter pick morning.