Westminster diary wb 21st November


I bobbed during questions to the department responsible for Levelling Up funding. It never does any harm to keep mentioning Inverclyde. I pressed for a date and also chanced my arm by pulling up the Secretary of State, Michael Gove for making nonsensical critical remark about Ferguson Marine. I won’t stand idly by and hear the workforce criticised when they are doing an outstanding job. They are turning the yard around under the new management and we should recognise and defend that. They will be in a good place to bid for appropriate work, be those ferries or freighters. The main business in the Chamber was the Autumn Statement and as that carried over on to the next day there were no votes at the end and therefore I left the estate early at 9pm. It rarely happens but after a 6am start it’s always welcome.


My select committee took evidence from both the Welsh and Scottish Governments. We were interested in their involvement in trade deals and international treaties. Unfortunately, we heard the same old story of a lack of respect and engagement from Westminster. There is a defined three tier system that should be utilised but isn’t. We have created all the tools then put them in a box in a locked cupboard and thrown away the key. Meaningful engagement relies on respect and trust being shown by the U.K. gov to the devolved powers and that is lacking.

The APPG on Choice at the End of Life is always a hard listen but it was good to hear evidence from those involved in shaping legislation in the Isle of Man, Jersey, France, the USA and in Scotland. There is much we can learn from others.


I was at the Supreme Court for announcement that Scotland can’t have a referendum. No surprise, it was the expected legal outcome that served to highlight that the matter as to how Scotland or any constituent part of the U.K. can hold a referendum is a political one not a legal one. Parliament legislates, if it changes the law then the Supreme Court would rule differently.  PMQs was heavily weighted toward the SNP as we had eight questions. Not surprisingly we pushed the Prime Minister to see what the democratic route for a referendum was in a voluntary union. He couldn’t answer. There was an Urgent Question on this subject and one of the most interesting contributions came from Colum Eastwood SDLP when he said,

“A former Member of Parliament for Cork City once said: ‘No man has the right to fix a boundary to the march of a nation. No man has the right to say to his country, ‘Thus far shalt thou go and no further’.  Of course, this Parliament no longer has a Member for Cork City, because Charles Stewart Parnell was right. This United Kingdom is clearly not a partnership of equals—that has been made absolutely clear today—so when will the Government publish clear criteria for how the people of the north of Ireland can leave it.”

It’s not for me to tell the people of Ireland what to do but it is interesting that the Supreme Court ruling effects the constitution of the entire U.K., including Northern Ireland and Wales. A democratic deficit that must be addressed. I was on a delegated legislation committee on telecommunications. It was not controversial, but I took the opportunity to go on the record and raise my concern around dark money from outside the U.K. lobbying for change to U.K. law. As has happened in this case. I voted at the close of the day caught the 20:30 flight and was home by 22:30


I have an early start as I am speaking at a gambling education event in Edinburgh. Therefore, I caught the 6:28 from Gourock and got to Edinburgh at 8:30. The conference was interesting and a great opportunity to network. I hope to bring a short documentary on gambling addictions made my Martin Paterson to Inverclyde for public viewing.


I held surgeries in Port Glasgow library and the Branchton community centre in the morning and had a meeting with Robbie Drummond, Managing Director of Caledonian MacBrayne in the afternoon.