Westminster diary w/b 14th March


I worked from my constituency office mostly on casework, but I took time to attend the Inverclyde Alliance Board meeting. Regular updates always make my offices involvement easier, and it is great to see such a body of people working away, mostly in the background, for Inverclyde. I caught a teatime flight and was in the House until just after midnight.  


My select committee took evidence from two previous Independent Advisors on Ministerial Standards. The evidence was based around the Prime Minister, his use of the ministerial code and his ability to appoint the Independent Advisors. I was shocked that there was so little formal engagement between the Prime Minister and his advisors.


Questions to the Secretary of State for Scotland was a very mute affair, maybe because of the 11 preordained questions, MPs representing Scottish seats were only allocated one question. MPs from Redcar, East Devon and Watford were given questions but only one out of fifty-nine MPs that represent Scotland was selected. The process is a lottery, so I am not suggesting this was done deliberately but on the one occasion that is specifically designed to hold the Scottish Office to account, I am at a loss as to why so many MPs that don’t represent Scottish seats feel the need to apply.  Prime Minister’s Questions were taken by the deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab MP, as the Prime Minister was in Saudi Arabia rubbing shoulders with his new money men. The deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner was not as effective as she usually is. I look forward to her contribution as she relishes her outings at the despatch box but this week, she was wide of the mark. Ian Blackford concentrated on 48 Ukrainian orphans that the Home Office red tape is stopping from coming to Edinburgh. His message resonated more. I sat on a Delegated Legislation Committee to discuss electricity supplier payments, it was non-contentious. Without a doubt the highlight of the week was the news that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been freed after six years in an Iranian jail and was on her way home. I have met with her husband Richard a few times over the years and his strength and love have been crucial in getting this result.


The All- Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm at an extremely useful meeting with representatives of many sporting bodies. Most represent sports that gambling firms offer gambling products on but don’t pay anything back to the sport. For example, Golf. The gambling industry will rake in a lot of money from people gambling on events like the British Open but there are no fees charged by the golfing bodies and therefore none of that money makes its way back into the sport. We are looking at a Fair Return scheme that means sporting organisations receive a fee without having to advertise the gambling firms. I made it up the road in time to attend ‘Lena’ at the Beacon Arts Centre. I first heard a read through in November 2018 and it was fascinating to see how the production has evolved since then. It was a very entertaining evening, congratulations to the Beacon and Feather Productions.


I met up with the Royal Society for the Arts. I am a fellow of the RSA but don’t have enough time to contribute as much as I would like. I met up with CVS Inverclyde, primarily to engage with the support available for Ukrainian refugees locally.  I then had a meeting with a company to discuss electronic vehicle charging points infrastructure.