I dialled in to the Inverclyde Alliance meeting and raised my concern that when drug consumption rooms are made available, as surely they will be, that Inverclyde will not be in a position to argue for one. The preparation needs to be done now. I was in the chamber for education questions. The Erasmus scheme benefitted Scotland by £22.6 million and has, since Brexit, been promised only £8.3 million as a replacement via the Turing scheme. The UK Government does not see this as an issue. I met with a company that provide home care in Inverclyde to discuss their place within the local health care provision sector. The day’s business was squeezed by an urgent question and three statements. I bobbed for over an hour but wasn’t taken such is the way at Westminster. In the evening we debated the Armed Forces Bill consideration of Lords Amendments.
My select committee met to read through and agree our imminent report on the Elections Bill. It is no secret that items such as voter Id and the opportunity for people to vote independently have been divisive. As it stands neither the Welsh nor Scottish government will be granting a legislative consent motion. We then took evidence from the electoral commission. I pressed for clarity on the accuracy and visibility of donations and expenditures during elections and referendums, particularly given the rise of digital campaigning. In the chamber we debated and voted on the Nationality and borders bill report. New clause 52 caused concern within the Conservative and Unionist ranks as there was a mini uprising against the government. But they managed to suppress the revolution and will continue to impose hefty immigration fees on commonwealth soldiers and their families who want to live in the UK at the end of their military service. That’s a disgrace, these people have put their lives at risk to fight in the UK armed forces. They should not be penalised for wanting to live in the United Kingdom. I had a very interesting meeting with a company that manufacture house insulation from Hemp. It’s an environmentally friendly product and currently made in Scotland.
Life within Westminster and the surrounding Whitehall is becoming more ridiculous each day as Tory rebels continue to refuse to wear masks but bleat on about Covid disrupting their lives. And this week we heard the relevant minister refuse to confirm that the UK will respect the Human Rights Act. Meanwhile the Prime Minister threw his staff under a bus after details of parties during lockdown last year spread and media staff joked about it. I met with Link to discuss the campaign for access to cash and we focused on the roll out of cash to the penny from retail outlets. I had an interview with a journalist from the publication 1919. We discussed access to medical cannabis. Prime Minister’s Questions started with the PM saying how appalled he was by his staff’s behaviour. He was pressed to resign by the SNP, but he hasn’t and his remorse looks more and more like crocodile tears. I briefly attended a gambling harm awareness event organised by Gambling with Lives but it was interrupted by a plethora of votes.
I bobbed for questions to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), to my great delight I was taken on the first question and I pressed for funding to encourage farmers to diversify into growing Hemp. This should not be confused with any hallucinogenic drugs. The Hemp plant can be grown and harvested for the manufacture of environmentally friendly cloth, insulation, building bricks and biodegradable plastic. It is a planet friendly plant and should be grown on an industrial scale.
I met Quarriers, virtually, to discuss the work of the charity and in the afternoon, I had another of my frequent school visits (under covid restrictions) to talk to and take questions from modern studies pupils. My last meeting of the week was with Peel Ports to discuss all things relevant to them and Inverclyde. In the evening I attended the stage production of the radio production of the famous film ‘It’s a wonderful life’.