Although my morning at Westminster was free, I kept to my usual routine and got down the road nice and early. Celebrity spotting at the airport this week consisted of Lewis Capaldi. He is a regular traveller and comes over as a very grounded guy, nothing pretentious about him. On the other hand, at Westminster the Conservative and Unionist Party are falling over themselves to seem important as a pending vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister looms. But before that I meet up with Peter Krykant and his Overdose Prevention Van. We had a very good briefing from Drugs Science, and I shall continue to lobby the UK government to allow Drug Consumption rooms to be opened.
In the evening the 148 Conservative and Unionists MPs declared that they had no confidence in their own leader. 211 said they did, and so he survives. But that result was worse than similar votes against, Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Theresa May and eventually they all resigned. It is worth repeating that 148 MPs that work with the Prime Minister and have access to him, that have watched him operate in public and private do not have confidence in him.
I was in Westminster Hall for a debate on the need for a smart statutory levy in the forthcoming white paper on the gambling act reform. I have to confess that I am getting nervous about this and sincerely hope that the UK Government do not fudge this paper and try to water down the very clear requirements. I retreated to my office at 53 Parliament Street to write a speech for a debate on the Football Index collapse and while I was doing that an unidentified package was blown up outside my office close to the Cenotaph. I expect it was somebody’s lost souvenir, but it is a timely reminder to me that the men and women of the security services remain vigilant at all times while I am allowed to get on with my job free from threats or intimidation and all MPs owe them a great deal of thanks. I met with a leading UK-based manufacturer of natural and pure CBD active pharmaceutical ingredients for early clinical trial research and drug development. As we progress the debate regarding the benefits of the hemp plant it is important to identify the market-place and the best people to supply it. The debate on the Football Index collapse followed shortly after and it was interesting to note that the usual cohort of MPs that speak out against gambling reform were noticeable by their absence. I am sure they too have constituents who were robbed by this Ponzi scheme. Walking back to my office I bumped into a brass band and the Princess Royal. Nothing surprises me about Westminster.
At the request of parents that have lost family members to suicide through gambling harm I attended a debate on ‘Government action on suicide prevention‘ and took the opportunity to include their loved ones in the discussion. An estimated 4% to 11% of all suicides are related to gambling addictions. I pressed the minister to liaise with DCMS to ensure that suitable regulations are coming forward. PMQs resembled a chimpanzee’s tea party as the 148 Conservative and Unionists MPs that don’t have any confidence in their Prime Minister pretended they did by being very loud and annoying. I attended a drop in to support the call for the UK government to ratify the Istanbul Convention on violence against women. The UK Government have indicated that after ten years they are moving to do so but with reservations on certain clauses, which is deeply concerning. I was in the Chamber to support my colleague Patricia Gibson MP as she read the riot act to the UK Government over the flaws in the Levelling Up Bill. Most of the Conservative and Unionists had grown tired of the sound of their own voices by this point and had left.
My select committee took evidence from Lord Pickles on the propriety of governance in light of Greensill. This was our third session, and a report will be produced.
Today was a day for constituency meetings. I met with Inverclyde Council officers regarding the Shared Prosperity Fund, then representatives of Titan Spirits. I then had a tour of the Glebe building with local stakeholders. I finished the day at a meeting of local councillors and elected members.