Westminster diary wb 11th July

Monday
After a beautiful weekend in Inverclyde when warm weather means walking, eating outside and going on the Waverley, the Monday work reality is a very hot sticky London. Lots of happy tourists and lots of grumpy people like me in suits. I brighten my day by taking passport cases to the Home Office pop-up location where they are fast tracking passport and visa cases. We have had a very good success rate by taking on the issues from a number of angles.


Tuesday
My select committee took evidence from the ex-Prime Minister, Sir John Major. It was centred around the ethics and propriety of the current Prime Minister and his cabinet. Sir John was scathing in his criticism of the abuse of the ministerial code, the undermining of the electoral commission, the weakening of the voting franchise and the behaviour of the Prime Minister and his apologists. He also bemoaned the dearth of talent in the current Conservative and Unionist party, nostalgically citing the abilities of Michael Heseltine, Douglas Hurd and Ken Clarke. I was in the chamber for the debate and votes on the Online Safety Bill. The bill has just finished its committee stage and the amendments and new clauses were based on the outcome of fifty hours of deliberation at committee. I put my name along with Dame Diana Johnson MP (Labour) on new clause 7 which was designed to give anyone the right to have pornographic images of themselves removed from the internet if they had either never given consent or had withdrawn consent. Unbelievably, the Conservative and Unionists opposed it. They have opposed every attempt to improve the bill, but this was the lowest point for me.


Wednesday
Prime Minister’s Questions may have been his last as the government have brought forward a vote of no confidence in themselves. This is their ploy to get the Prime Minister out before September. He seemed relaxed and enjoyed the knock about, unlike the speaker who was extremely vexed by the Alba MPs who both got chucked out for refusing to sit down. They will be suspended for five sitting days and will be unable to vote against the government on Monday. I had a meeting with representatives of the British Ports Association. We covered all aspects of Inverclyde’s waterfront. Hot on the heels of successful passport cases I attended the Home Office passport pop-up location again with a couple of new cases. When we get to recess, we will miss this facility.


Thursday
Today, I am hearing that the Online Safety Bill may be pulled from the government timetable. I am hoping this is because they have realised it is nowhere near as good as it should be. But I have my doubts. I did an interview on gambling, highlighting the soon to be announced ‘any day now’ white paper on gambling reform and talking about advertising in sport and the Football Index, which was no more than a ponzi scheme licensed by the Gambling Commission.


Friday
I caught up with the council’s health and social care department regarding the arrangements that are in place for the asylum seekers at the Holiday Inn. The firm responsible for the dispersement centre praised Inverclyde Council’s support and were very impressed with the interaction from the communities and voluntary section. And in the afternoon, I visited the Trust at 7 ½ John Wood Street to learn about the Pantry scheme.