Westminster diary w/b 24th January


I am on the rota today which means I need to be available to cover anything that comes up. Prior to the chamber sitting I have an interview from a journalist based in New York but originally from Aberdeenshire. The subject matter is substance use in Scotland, and we have a wide-ranging discussion. The first business of the day is questions to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. I bob on the back of a couple of questions about levelling up but don’t get taken. Not in a mood to take no for an answer and seeking clarification on the criteria and timescale of levelling up funding round two, I bob for topical questions and get in. Michael Gove’s answer was less than informative, and I shall pursue him further. We need clarity to enable Inverclyde to bid for local projects. The opposition day debate is led by the SNP and amidst all the distractions of Boris’s birthday parties we debate the cost of living. With the cost of food, fuel, energy all increasing the UK give should be protecting the most vulnerable in society but sadly we still protect the richest before the poorest. We called on the UK government to take immediate action with a package of measures to boost incomes and reverse rising poverty. The Liberal Democrats, Alba and the SDLP all voted with us, Labour abstained. The last vote was at 20:37.


My select committee takes evidence from academics and lawyers regarding the coronavirus act – two years after it was created. The lessons learned are that no country got it totally right, but Norway and New Zealand got it better than most and definitely better than the UK. When we legislate in haste gas, we did at the outset of Covid’s, it’s hard to legislate well. Therefore, rather than a two-year sunset clause (when we can debate keeping, changing or dropping parts of legislation), we should have much shorter ones and therefore speedier reviews. Three months is about right. And the finished legislation should be clear and understandable. There were two urgent questions. First on the Prime Minister’s latest party revelation. Presumably he recognised this one as a party because he had a cake with candles and people sang Happy Birthday to him. Then a question on Ukraine. It’s a worrying situation that we can’t allow to escalate.


Prior to Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) I was on the panel for Five Live’s politics show. Nicky Campbell is the host, and we covered the disgraceful behaviour of the Prime Minster throughout the pandemic, the increase in the cost of loving and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. It was a lively discussion with listeners phoning in their questions. PMQs was a bit too lively for the speaker who continually had to remind Conservative and Labour MPs to quieten down so questions and answers can be heard. The lack of meaningful debates at Westminster is shocking and so I took the opportunity to come home early. There is always plenty to do in Inverclyde.


I spoke with some local sports clubs about the availability of appropriate facilities. My playing days are over, but I love my sport and have never doubted the benefits to mental health that sport can provide. It’s not all about the mainstream sports and we need to see how we can accommodate the sport of choice for all.


I had meetings with ‘The Shed’ and ‘Man On’ and in the evening I was at The Beacon to watch Interiors. It’s a production by Vanishing Point and I am glad to see this world-renowned artist led theatre company are now located in Inverclyde.