Westminster diary wb 27th March


The day started with questions to the Department for Levelling Up. They will administer the Investment Zones finances therefore following our success in attracting 19 million pounds of levelling up funds to Inverclyde, I was keen to register Inverclyde in their psyche again. The government then made a statement about banning nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas. This has all the makings of a fiasco. They have given no thought to the industries that use nitrous oxide and seem to be more concerned about the detritus left behind in parks than addressing the issue of why young people are using this drug. It’s another knee jerk reaction to drug use and this one will simply make matters worse. Even former cabinet minister Kit Malthouse can see the issues arising, namely driving the consumer into the arms of the illegal market. In the evening, I did a one hour broadcast for Independence Live. I like the way they give young musical talent a chance to showcase and develop their skills by giving them slots on their shows.


My select committee is investigating the future of government estate. We took evidence from Alex Burghart MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office, Steven Boyd, Chief Executive of the government property agency and Ravi Chand, Director at Cabinet Office for government property. Our main concern is the cost and practicality of the U.K. government’s estate. Backed by a Conservative Party manifesto pledge to move 22,000 civil service job out of London, the U.K. government has opened outposts in Darlington, Wolverhampton, Glasgow and a few other places. We are examining the financial benefits of such a move and trying to ascertain if it creates better governance or not. In the afternoon I met with YGAM to discuss the education they provide to stop kids being harmed by gambling.


I met with a delegation from Brazil. They were from the Krenak indigenous community that have seen their livelihood and culture destroyed by the Mariana Dam Disaster. Over 700,000 people has their livelihood destroyed and the river has been irreparably damaged. I attended a vaping information session run by the industry. They are keen to promote vaping as a tool to help people stop smoking and they too have concerns over packaging aimed at children and the one-off disposable vapes that children are using. The laws need changing to regulate the industry better. I then hosted a call on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Industrial Hemp. I brought together industry experts to discuss how we can help the industry develop. Prime Minster’s Questions was a day for the deputies and the Deputy prime minister, and his opposite number enjoyed their moment in the limelight. The exchanges were longer than usual. Much of it was about the pitifully low number of convictions for the crime of rape. Mhairi Black for the SNP pressed the government on the seemingly large number of their MPs who were prepared to sell themselves to organisations for large fees, while still remaining MPs. Their greed and lack of scruples is a blight on the reputation of most MPs and only serve to alienate the public from political life.


A later night in the Chamber than was expected meant I stayed over and started my journey home on the 5:30 am tube out of Westminster. By 9am I was in Greenock which was fortunate as I had a busy day. I was afforded a tour of the new Greenock Ocean Terminal and I was extremely impressed by what I saw. The size and scale of the building, the flexibility in its layout, the empathetic positioning alongside the cruise ship docking pontoon, all lead me to believe that this building will be great addition to Inverclyde and the local economy. In the evening, I attended the Inverclyde music service which for twenty five years has been building musical excellence in Inverclyde schools. Tonight’s concert was a fitting tribute to all the hard work that has been put in over the years.


I visited HMP Greenock. I have huge reservations about the plans to spend money to make to and mend this prison and shall continue to press the Scottish Government to build new suitable premises in Greenock. The living and working conditions are not appropriate for this day and age. I attended the visitor centre at Cornalees to hear about Rig Arts involvement with Clyde Muirshiel Park. The Inverclyde Shed was officially opened today, and I was pleased to be there to see the fantastic facility. And to finish off the working week I went to listen to Darren McGarvey in the Beacon. I shall be back on Saturday to see Kidnapped in the big theatre.