Westminster diary wb 23rd May


A change to the usual routine as I was in Edinburgh at the Scottish Parliament.  My select committee had four meetings scheduled with, John-Paul Marks (Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government), Angus Robertson MSP (Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture) and two committees, the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture committee and the Finance and Public Administration committee. These exchanges were informative and form part of an ongoing investigation into inter governmental relationships. By late evening I was in Westminster and the striking difference between both parliaments was uppermost in my mind. While Holyrood offers a vibrant, bright, clean, sharp, professional working environment, Westminster is dark, dirty, stagnant and through its architecture and demeanour promotes an environment of entitlement, class and privilege.


I bobbed on justice questions and was taken early. I think the speaker felt guilty about not taking me last week. Maybe not. I asked about the removal of pornographic material from the internet where consent had not been given or had been withdrawn. Technically this is a Home Office issue but to resolve it will require them, Justice and DCMS. I am covering my bases, so nobody has an excuse to say I didn’t ask them. The rest of my day was taken up by writing articles that hopefully will appear in the Tele over the coming weeks.


I attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gambling. This group is closer to the bookmakers than the gambling related harm APPG and the minister responsible for the gambling act white paper was addressing them. I was a spy in the camp. It was actually quite constructive and it’s clear that within the APPG that some have a better understanding of the harm related issues than others. I rushed from there to sit in the audience for the Home Office select committee taking evidence on drugs policy reform. The first panel was Councillor Joanne Harding and Maggie Boreham (Public Health Team at Hackney Council).  They were both excellent. Very well informed and engaged in their subject matter. The second panel was Dame Carol Black with whom I agree on some aspects but not others. We had a small chat at the end of proceedings. I look forward to the committee’s report. I was in the chamber in time for Prime Minister’s Questions, but it was a sorry affair. Immediately after it was over the Prime Minister made a statement to the house on the back of the Sue Gray report. I bobbed and was taken, my lucky week, I impressed upon the Prime Minister that after my constituents had taken responsibility for their actions by following the Covid guidelines and in doing so had helped to protect our community he should be ashamed of his behaviour, attending parties at number 10. But he doesn’t get it and probably never will.


I visited The Trust at their Devol industrial estate site. It was good to catch up with Angela Spence and Duncan McNeil. The Trust offers tremendous opportunities to many people in this are and I sincerely hope they continue to be a force for good for many years to come. I attended a quick- photo opportunity to help promote the Inverclyde Literati campaign to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic. The focus is around local sports teams and encouraging them to use reusable bottles for their water.


I had a catch-up meeting with Skills Development Scotland and in the afternoon I met with Adfam, the national charity tackling the effects of drinking, drug use or gambling on family members and friends.