Westminster diary wb 31st October


Normal service (or as normal as Westminster ever is) has been resumed. I am in the Chamber for questions to Department for Work and Pensions. I bobbed on topicals and was taken so I raised the matter of DWP staff working consistent overtime to qualify for enhanced holiday pay but their employers now saying that they have no definition of ‘regularity’ and therefore no mechanism to calculate what amount should be paid. The minister asked me to write to her. I shall and I shall include the letter her department sent to me. Votes on the genetic technology precision breeding bill ended at 10pm. One noticeable incident was the behaviour of Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the United Kingdom. When declaring her objection to an amendment from the Green Party, she screamed NO, numerous times and took on the appearance of a two year old having a tantrum at bedtime.


My select committee took evidence from Duncan Hames from Transparency International U.K. on the ‘Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and the Trade Union Administration Act 2014’. It was not as dry as it sounds as it really boils down to who can lobby government with impunity and how transparent any lobbying should be. I met up with the founders of Intractable Epilepsy. They are a charity that raises money for medical cannabis for children that are suffering from forms of epilepsy that don’t respond well to mainstream medicine. I am proud to be a trustee of the charity and shall continue to work on their behalf to raise awareness of their cause and bring pressure to bear on those in power who can resolve the issue. I attended a cross parliamentary group on medical cannabis and heard very good speakers including those from Police Scotland.


Prime Minister’s Questions. The Prime Minister refused to answer Ian Blackford’s question if he would increase benefits and pensions in line with inflation, as he promised to do when he was chancellor. Instead, he placed that responsibility on the shoulders of the new chancellor. Remarkable that promises made as chancellor, just a few short months before, can be sidelined when that chancellor becomes Prime Minister. Today was an opposition day debate and it was the SNPs turn. Quite correctly we focused on Independence and the economic argument. My speech centres around the attitude that unionists have that Scotland as a nation is just too small and that we are better sharing financial levers with Westminster. Not an attitude shared in any other independent country in the world. Scotland small? Not something Hugh McDiarmid agreed with, so I quoted his poem of that title. We voted on the debate at 7pm.


It was an early start to get home. I caught the 5:45 underground at Westminster and touched down in Glasgow airport at 08:00. This allowed me to catch up in my inverclyde office with local matters pertaining to housing and transport. 


I had meetings with local councillors and parliamentarians. In the evening I attended local mental health charity Man On in my capacity as a trustee.