Westminster diary wb 14th November


Travel chaos due to fog in London. Flights are cancelled and therefore trains are over booked. This is compounded by issues south of Peterborough and many commuters either arrive very late or cancel their trips and travel tomorrow. I am in the former category. I utilised my waiting time by starting to read the latest book from Darren McGarvey, The Social Distance Between Us, which is a follow up to his debut novel Poverty Safari. It’s reading well so far, and I think it will be a valuable resource to stimulate and inform the discussion around the much needed societal reforms.


My select committee took evidence on lobbying. It is a grey area that needs tighten up as currently the register only requires disclosure that lobbying has taken place and not who has been lobbied, for what purpose and in whose behalf. There is also an issue over who has do declare that they have been lobbied, but that should all be covered in detail once we produce the report. I had a very interesting meeting with Voltface to discuss emerging medicines, including medical cannabis, psilocybin and ketamine. Other countries are progressing with trials, including their use for post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia but the U.K. is lagging behind. I dropped in to hear what Green Pastures are doing to help with the homelessness situation and attended a briefing on energy and the challenges facing us all this winter. Finally, I met with Openreach to catch up on all things broadband and their current rollout of ultrafast in Inverclyde. We discussed the poles that are once again increasing in numbers, the problems with wayleaves and their desire to decarbonise their fleet.


I met with Tenacious Labs to discuss the potential for a cannabis industry with all its complexities and opportunities. A properly regulated industry could employ thousands in growing hemp and supplying an industry that is hungry for the raw product to make insulating panels, clothes, biodegradable plastics and many other products. In the chamber Scotland Questions was a sorry affair with a Secretly of State that is biding his time before going to the House of Lords. Prime Minister’s Questions was also underwhelming as the PM is in Bali at the G20 conference, so it was a day for the deputies. Despite being pushed time and time again by Angela Rayner and Kirsten Oswald on the financial chaos that we are experiencing, the deputy PM, Dominic Raab, parroted, covid, Ukraine and recession but steadfastly refused to say the word Brexit. It’s as if the word has been removed from the English language and yet it’s the cause of so many of our current problems. I went to an access for cash drop in to hear from about community banking. I shall be pursuing LINK for details and suitability for Inverclyde. I then heard from Penny who has survived pancreatic cancer. It’s a cancer that has little research and is rarely diagnosed early. She is one of the lucky ones to have survived. Next up in varied day was a meeting with the Cruise Line International Association to discuss decarbonisation of the marine industry, a possible tourist tax and issues around a universal permission to travel. I had votes at 18:00 and then a hasty journey to the airport to catch a flight and got home at 23:00.


As part of U.K. Parliament Week, I visit schools in Inverclyde to engage pupils in the democratic process and do question and answer sessions with them. First up today was Port Glasgow High where I met with students studying politics and then the student council. In the afternoon I went to talk to Saint Patrick Primary school P7, they questioned me relentlessly on a range of subjects, after which I had to lie down in a darkened room for a while.


I continued my school visits today and went to Clydeview Academy and Saint Columba Gourock. My last appointment of the week was with the Green Action Trust to discuss the action required to tackle the nature and climate crisis.