Westminster diary w/b 21st February


It would be fair to say the flight or at least the landing on Monday was interesting. Storm Eunice was desperately trying to blow us onto runway 2 at Stanstead which was unfortunate as we were trying to land at the City Airport. Wind swept and interesting I made it into my Westminster office in time to meet up virtually with all my team and plan the coming week. I was in the chamber for question to the department for defence, once again no SNP members were on the order paper. I am beginning to think they don’t like us. We had the latest of a series of statements in the house on the unfolding situation in Ukraine. There is a sense of anger and frustration that we have stood back and watched the situation in Ukraine deteriorate over the years and now find ourselves on the brink of military involvement. In the evening President Putin made a very long rambling statement in an attempt to justify the situation.


I had a pre-meeting meeting (they are always the best) with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Labour, Paul Sully MP. We discussed the Post Office network, access to cash and the Horizon scandal. That was followed by the official meeting with others to discuss the Post Office action plan. Mr Scully seems to get it but as always, the Treasury will have the final say. I visited a drop in to get briefed on the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill organised by Speed Up Britain. The All- Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Sexual Exploitation had our final evidence session on pornography. These sessions have been brutal to sit through and the last one was no exception.  I had to leave before the last witness as I had to vote but I made sure my office was represented as it was a survivor of trafficking giving her testimony and they deserve to be heard.


Early start as the reading material gathered during the week is already taking over my desk. I was in the chamber at the start of business as I wanted to ask a question to the department for Women and Equalities. I bobbed on questions 1, 3 and 11 but was not taken. I was going to ask about the online safety bill and the government’s desire and ability to create a legal framework to prevent and address the harms associated with the production and consumption of pornography as this has been proven to be a major factor in fuelling violence against women and girls. Prime Minister’s Questions were boorish and suffer because of that. Caroline Lucas MP was barracked by the Conservative and Unionist benches and struggled to be heard as she pressed the Prime Minister on any Russian interference in UK elections. I then had a very constructive meeting with Maree Todd MSP to discuss gambling related harm support and education in Scotland. 


My select committee met to take evidence from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid. We are reporting on the ‘Coronavirus Virus Act two years on’. The act was made in haste to allow guidelines to be followed but the required laws by enlarge already existed in the Public Health Act 1984 and the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. We are focusing on the emergency legislation framework, ahead of the Act’s inbuilt sunset clause coming into effect on 25 March 2022. This will enable the Committee to ultimately make recommendations about whether the Act should be extended, the processes by which Parliament should be able to scrutinise any such extension, and reflection on the passage of legislation at pace to respond to emerging crises. The crisis in Ukraine weighs heavy on us all and the potential outcomes are truly frightening. As the Prime Minister takes to his feet to make his latest statement on the unfolding situation, Russian troops are closing in on Kyiv and the UK, NATO and a host of stakeholders are seemingly bereft of ideas as to how best influence the outcome. 


I have an early morning brief on Ukraine and then a meeting with Michaela Jones from the Scottish Recovery Consortium to discuss drugs policy. The afternoon is consumed by casework.