Westminster diary w/b 28th February


Upon arriving at Westminster, I am told that I can’t access my office at 53 Parliament Street as a gas leak has closed the building. We are decanted to work out of the Commons library and the committee room number ten. It is not great because we have no printers and no privacy. I have a zoom meeting with a cross party group to discuss the Welsh ‘basic income pilot’. I am not happy with the term but as a proposal it should help fund a group of carers and provide them with the opportunities akin to a form of basic income. I am in the House for questions to the Home Office and bob for a question. Unlike my two previous attempts I am taken. I press the Secretary of State to implement a legal framework to prevent and address the harms associated with the production and consumption of pornography. The minister agrees to a meeting. I am afraid the bon accord didn’t last long as some of the questions from the government benches around crime and drugs were well off the mark and got the reception they deserved. The continuing theme of the Conservative and Unionists treating parliament as their personal playground continued as the secretary of state then made what could only be described as a statement on the situation in Ukraine. Normal convention would require pre sight for opposition spokespersons and the opportunity to be questioned by members. Neither of those happened. This caused a great deal of anger. After questions, there was a statement from the Foreign Secretary and a debate on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. The day finished with four votes at midnight.


My first event of the day was health and social care questions. I bobbed on a question on pharmaceuticals being prescribed to children. But and this is how Westminster works, because the question on the paper came from an MP on the opposition benches, I can be taken until someone from the government benches has asked a question. Nobody from the government benches bobbed for a question, so I didn’t get taken. The Speaker saw my obvious frustration and took me at topicals. I pressed the Secretary of State for Health to fix the anomaly that discriminates against people who can’t afford to pay for private prescriptions for medical cannabis. My select committee took evidence from Michael Gove MP and I questioned him on various topics, including vote Id, parliamentary scrutiny and devolved powers. I also took the opportunity to have a quick chat about levelling up funding for Inverclyde.


I met with the Transform Drugs Policy Foundation to discuss their upcoming white paper and also their input to the Home Affairs select committee enquiry into drugs policy. Independent experts are always valuable contributors to select committee reports. Prime Minister’s Questions was fairly muted as much of the debate revolved around the current situation in Ukraine. I attended a drop in with Openreach to talk about their continuing rollout of broadband in Inverclyde and discuss the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill. And before I headed home, I dropped in to meet campaigners and lend my support to my colleague Patricia Gibson’s bill to extend bereavement leave.


I visited the mobile post office that is servicing Wemyss Bay and Inverkip. The Postmaster has taken on the service to support communities where there are no post offices. Ideally, we would all like fixed permanent Post Offices and so going forward, I shall be monitoring the success of this venture. It has only recently been introduced and was being well used in both locations that I visited. I have received correspondence from a number of constituents regarding the situation in Ukraine and it continues to cause great concern. My office is liaising with the relevant authorities to ensure we have a realistic understanding of a rapidly evolving issue. And when required we are helping families with loved ones caught up in this crisis.


The morning was taken up by the administrative tasks required to allocate next year’s budgets to run my constituency office and employ my staff. In the afternoon I met with BayWa to discuss on shore wind and wind farms in Inverclyde.