Westminster diary wb 4th July

Monday

I was on the panel of the Ayesha Hazarika show on Times Radio on Sunday evening. It was a decent chat with myself, a Labour, a Conservative and a newspaper editor. Not surprisingly we discussed the pending Scottish independence referendum. What was surprising was the amount of social media abuse I received because I said it was the democratic right of the people of Scotland to decide their own constitutional future. In contrast the main event for me at Westminster today was the debate on assisted dying. Although strong views were expressed by those for and against, both sides were respectful of the others input. What was clear was that if we are to move towards assisted dying then the legislation must provide the necessary safeguards to prevent coercion. It’s a tough ask but one part of an MPs job is to legislate, and we shouldn’t shy away from that. I believe to deny the choice for a dignified end of life is an abdication of that responsibility. We had six votes late in the evening.

Tuesday

My select committee took evidence from eminent experts in international law regarding the interpretation and implementation of international treaties. It is complex and nuanced but in the hands of such experts as Professor Richard Gardiner (academic and former legal adviser to the Foreign Office) and Penelope Nevill (Twenty Essex chambers and representing the Bar Council) it is incredibly interesting. International treaties are reserved to Westminster and the UK government can stop the Scottish Parliament from passing legislation that they feel is incompatible with international obligations of the UK. The Home Office has a dedicated facility set up in Portcullis House to help process passport and visa applications. I took four cases to them in person and hopefully managed to progress them all. I dropped into a medical cannabis event to talk to growers based in Scotland and pharmaceutical companies developing medicines. I met with Quentin Wilson to discuss electronic vehicles and also managed a quick chat about synthetic fuels. He is not a fan.

Wednesday

I started with a meeting with an organisation (UNITE) that funds and delivers vaccination programmes around the world. They are doing amazing work to reduce the spread of many infectious diseases and are supported around the world by politicians of many different parties. Prime Ministers Questions was the ultimate display of denial by a Prime Minister whose own cabinet were abandoning him left, right and centre. As quickly as he could appoint replacements, they were resigning too. The Conservative and Unionist government is a complete and utter shambles. I dropped in to support my colleague, Stuart C McDonald’s private member’s bill for Neonatal Care paid leave and I did a walking interview with Dr Alex Prior of London South Bank University to discuss the parliamentary estate and the effect it has on the mindset of those that work there.

Thursday

I met with people from Glasgow Council for Voluntary Sector to discuss their approach to providing support for people with gambling related harm. As always funding such posts is difficult. And I discussed the growing CBD marketplace with retailers in the Oak Mall. There is a massive amount of confusion around such products. And we need to clearly define the difference between novel food products and medical cannabis. The revolving door at Downing Street continued today and the reputation, or what’s left of it, of the UK government took another hammering as chaos ruled the waves. The Prime Minister stays in post despite what he has said, and a summer of discontent ensues. Meanwhile, the ruling party will be consumed with inner turmoil and self- serving manoeuvres. It really is Conservative and Unionism first and the UK facing austerity and turmoil pushed to the side to take care of itself. They want all the power and none of the responsibility.

Friday

I visited the Holiday Inn Express to meet with hotel management, the company behind the support of the asylum seekers and the asylum seekers themselves to better understand the issues we face while providing a safe haven for many young men fleeing oppression and wars but being faced with suspicion here in Inverclyde.