A very busy week ahead and it doesn’t get off to a good start as I try to access the parliamentary estate using my Oyster card. Things improve with a briefing from the Post Office about access to cash. We have a number of issues around post offices still to be resolved in Inverclyde. But I do have an ongoing dialogue with the Post Office and retail outlets.
I spoke in the budget debate which today is addressing the Levelling Up fund. The major question is why we need to level up. Why is there such a disparity in the levels of wealth and opportunities across the U.K.? Why are the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer? Don’t get me wrong. Inverclyde will apply for levelling up funds because we have paid into Westminster for years and it’s time, we got something back. The debate was not as productive as it could have been as inexcusably the minister responding on behalf of the government refused to take interventions, saying she was short of time, waffled for long periods and then sat down with 8 minutes still on the clock. Back benchers bobbed for 4 hours to get 4 minutes to speak, ministers should be more respectful of the privileged position they hold.
Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs select committee (PACAC) took evidence from Nigel Boardman following the publication of his report on the Propriety of governance in light of Greensill. It’s clear that something is very wrong within the civil service and cabinet when lobbyists can be appointed to advise on important matters at the highest level. I dropped in on the Evidence Week event where I received briefings on geothermal energy, sodium batteries, carbon capture and AMR in the environment. I attended the drop in event on medical cannabis for kids. Because of an increase in Covid cases at Westminster a number of events were cancelled or curtailed. Fortunately, we managed to limit the numbers and work on a rota to highlight this issue. I joined parents who were handing in a letter to number 10 Downing Street asking for Medical Cannabis under prescription for their children. Shame that it has to come to this. I took part in the adjournment debate that started a wee bit later than usual as it was preceded by votes on the budget.
I took part in the non-contentious delegated legislation committee on the Green Gas Support Scheme. If we are going to meet our net zero targets then it will take a mixture of clean green renewable energies to take us there and green gas (biomethane by anaerobic digestion) can have a part to play. There was a debate emanating from the Committee on Standards regarding the behaviour of Owen Paterson MP. It was a sorry affair and the government voted to retrospectively amend the code of practice and ultimately save him from being thrown out of Parliament. It was Westminster and its cronyism at its worst. I summed up in a Westminster Hall debate on medical cannabis under prescription. At 19:00 we voted on the nuclear energy bill.
I was front bench lead for transport questions and therefore got to ask two questions of the Transport ministers. I asked about active travel and electric buses. Both require massive investment to encourage a more active and more environmentally friendly society. I met with Richard Ratcliffe who is on a hunger strike to protest against the wrongful arrest and imprisonment of his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran in 2016. The foreign office have dithered and delayed over this case for five and a half years. Nazanin should be released and returned to her family immediately. In the afternoon I led on my debate on the chamber on the use of medical cannabis for the alleviation of health conditions. Access to medical cannabis will someday be the norm, we need to confront the obstacles that exist today and clear the path for better access tomorrow.
I spoke to three local schools, Port Glasgow High, Saint Patrick’s primary school and Saint Columba High, about my job as an MP and encouraged them all to get involved in designing and building their local community and beyond.
On Saturday, I am attending COP26 and visiting Tesla cars.