Westminster diary w/b 1st November

Monday

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.

Tuesday

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.

Wednesday

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.

Thursday

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.

Friday

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.

Written question – Gambling [05/11/2021]

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what her planned timetable is for commencing trials of a single customer view for online gambling; and whether she has discussed those trials with gambling operators. (65451)

Tabled on: 28 October 2021

Answer:
Chris Philp:

The Gambling Commission has worked closely with the Information Commissioner’s Office to understand how a single customer view can be delivered in compliance with all relevant data protection requirements. The Information Commissioner’s Office recently published a report confirming it should be possible under data protection law for data to be shared safely and securely between online operators to help prevent gambling related harm. The report does not comment on how any single customer view should work in practice. We expect the industry to prioritise the trial of its planned single customer view solution as a next step and will continue to monitor developments closely.

The answer was submitted on 05 Nov 2021 at 15:05.

Written question – Gambling [05/11/2021]

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of Public Health England’s review of the evidence on gambling harms, published on 30 September 2021. (65449)

Tabled on: 28 October 2021

This question was grouped with the following question(s) for answer:

  1. To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether a gambling ombudsman could be established without primary legislation; and what plans she has for establishing such an ombudsman. (65533)
    Tabled on: 28 October 2021
  2. To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether she has assessed the available data on gambling and gambling harm; and if she will bring forward proposals to fund the collection and assessment of those data through a statutory levy. (65534)
    Tabled on: 28 October 2021

Answer:
Chris Philp:

The government launched its Review of the Gambling Act 2005 on 8 December with the publication of Terms of Reference and a Call for Evidence. The Review is wide-ranging and aims to ensure that the regulation of gambling is fit for the digital age. The Call for Evidence included questions on the need for changes to the system of consumer redress, the appropriate mechanism for recouping the societal and regulatory costs of gambling and on barriers to high quality research. We will publish a white paper setting out our conclusions and vision for the sector in due course, and this will include an indication of how any changes will be implemented, whether by legislation or other means.

Public Health England’s review will be a valuable contribution to our Gambling Act Review and we are considering it carefully. Alongside the Review, we will work with the Department of Health and Social Care and key stakeholders to address the knowledge gaps identified in the evidence review and improve data collection more broadly.

The answer was submitted on 05 Nov 2021 at 15:05.

Greenock Telegraph 5th November 2021

The discussion around global warming, climate control, greening energy, greening transport, greening everything really, has gathered pace. And it’s great to see the people of Inverclyde contributing. There are a range of initiatives from the Clyde climate forest and the investigation into saving and restoring peatland to cycle tracks and recycling, that are helping to improve our green credentials but also Importantly indicate our changing mindset.

Across Inverclyde litter pickers are transforming areas and developing into a network of responsible citizens that now don’t just pick up litter, they recycle what they can too. Progress is being made and we should be proud of that, but I have to confess I was slightly annoyed when I read about an energy scheme in Clydebank. Star Renewable Energy provide groundbreaking sustainable heating solutions for district heating systems. Queens Quay is a £250 million regeneration of a former shipyard in Clydebank into houses, leisure facilities and amenities and at its heart is a £20 million state of the art energy centre. It is the first large scale water sourced heat pump scheme of its kind in Scotland. And I am annoyed because five years ago I suggested such a scheme for Inverclyde. Star Energy came to Inverclyde at my invitation and explained to Inverclyde council what they could do. But the council were not interested. Hopefully with a new emerging positive mindset we will be better placed to grasp such opportunities next time they come knocking on our door. In the meantime, well done Clydebank.

Written question – gambling & loot boxes [04/11/2021]

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether the Government has a timetable for announcing the regulation of loot boxes; and whether that regulation will required primary legislation. (65450)

Tabled on: 28 October 2021

Answer:
Julia Lopez:

We ran a call for evidence from September to November 2020 to examine concerns around loot boxes in video games. The government is continuing to evaluate the evidence received from over 30,000 responses to the call for evidence, along with an independent Rapid Evidence Assessment commissioned from the InGAME research and innovation centre. Additionally, we have continued a dialogue with the games industry to develop effective and proportionate solutions in response to issues identified from the evidence. The government response outlining planned next steps is due to be published in the coming months.

The answer was submitted on 04 Nov 2021 at 09:35.

Written question – Drug possession [04/11/2021]

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many convictions there have been for (a) all drug possession offences and (b) possession of cannabis under sections 5(1) and (2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 in each year since 2011. (64654)

Tabled on: 27 October 2021

Answer:
Kit Malthouse:

The Ministry of Justice has published information on convictions for all drug possession offences and possession of cannabis offences in England and Wales, up to December 2020, available in the ‘Outcomes by Offence’ data tool, which can be found here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/987715/outcomes-by-offence-2020.xlsx

For convictions for possession of any drug under sections 5(1) and (2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, follow the steps below.

  • Select the following in the Offence filter:
  • ‘92D.01 Possession of a controlled drug – Class A’,
  • ‘92D.02 Possession of a controlled drug – Class B (excluding cannabis)’,
  • ‘92D.03 Possession of a controlled drug – Class C (excluding cannabis)’,
  • ‘92D.04 Possession of a controlled drug – unknown class’,
  • ‘92E.01 Possession of a controlled drug – Class B (cannabis)’ and
  • ‘92E.02 Possession of a controlled drug – Class C (cannabis)’
  • The number of convictions will be found on Row 24.

For convictions for possession of cannabis under sections 5(1) and (2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, follow the steps below.

  • Select the following in the Offence filter:
  • ‘92E.01 Possession of a controlled drug – Class B (cannabis)’ and
  • ‘92E.02 Possession of a controlled drug – Class C (cannabis)’
  • The number of convictions will be found on Row 24.

The answer was submitted on 04 Nov 2021 at 17:34.