Westminster diary wb 28th November


I had a meeting with Paul Scully, gambling minister at Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. He is the latest minister to be tasked with producing a white paper on gambling. There have been nine in four years, maybe one reason why it has taken so long. It was a robust encounter and views were exchanged. I await the outcome. I attended the Scottish Gas drop in event to hear from them and their engineers how to stay warm this winter. Fuel poverty is an issue that will be new to many but just as Covid highlighted many people’s precarious employment status, this winter will highlight the cost of fuel and the difficulty many households will have staying warm. I went to a meeting with Park Home Residents to hear their issues regarding unscrupulous landlords, increase lease fees and prepaid meters. With two such parks in inverclyde it’s a local issue that needs addressing. Fortunately, I don’t have any bad reports on landlords at these sites. I met with ex cabinet minister Kit Malthouse to discuss drugs policy reform. Safe to say we agreed on nothing.


My select committee took evidence from the Rob Behrens CBE, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Amanda Amroliwala CBE, Chief Executive Officer and Deputy Ombudsman. The main thrust of the event was their annual scrutiny, but I took the opportunity to also press on the delays in agreeing compensation to the WASPI women. I dropped in to meet the National Lottery and get an update on who in Inverclyde has received funding. The APPG for Nordic and Atlantic councils was very interesting and once again I hear about trust, respect and consideration for other countries. This time from the ambassador to the U.K. from Iceland.


Prime Minister’s Questions was a race to the bottom with Conservative blaming Labour and vice versa. The problem with this is that nobody takes responsibility and so issues are not addressed. Immediately after there was an Urgent Question on the Prime Minister’s ethical adviser. The last two have resigned and finding a new one is proving difficult. I suggested that the issue may be that the PM appoints his own adviser, the PM decides which ethical issues will be investigated by his self-appointed adviser and the PM then decides what action will be taken based on the outcome of the report. Maybe the advisers feel constrained in their role? I had a briefing from the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations and Volunteer Scotland on the Cost of Living Crisis. The role of the voluntary sector and volunteers in Scottish society is vital. Inflation and the resulting cost-of-living increases are creating a long-term and deepening crisis that impacts voluntary sector organisations, staff and volunteers. I then had a hectic two hours covering the APPG on cannabis products, APPG Faroe Islands, APPG Iceland and finally an event to highlight National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society which was attended by Alasdair Davie, a physiotherapist from Inverclyde Royal Hospital.

I got home to Inverclyde at 23:30


I dropped in to talk with the postal workers from the Communication Workers Union who are on strike today to highlight their dispute over pay and conditions. We all appreciated our posties during Covid, we should stand in solidarity with them now. I took advantage of the drop in facility in the Greenock town hall to get my Covid booster jag. I was in and out in five minutes. Great service. The afternoon was consumed catching up with correspondence from constituents on an extremely wide range of topics.


I had two main events. I met with Tesco management to discuss their winter food collection for local foodbanks and River Clyde Homes to hear about their refreshed Five Year Corporate Plan. I took the opportunity to engage with the senior management from both River Clyde Homes and Home Fix Scotland.