Greenock Telegraph 18th June 2021

The U.K. is used to getting nil points in the Eurovision Song Contest. Gone are the days of my youth when Lulu, Sandie Shaw and Bucks Fizz were the most popular contestants and foreign package holidays in Italy and Spain were the aspiration of countless families. Cannelloni and Paella were experienced in late night restaurants in the balmy continental heat. We were truly immersing ourselves in being European, but now that has gone. We have turned our back on Europe in the search for Britishness. In the vain attempt of re-establishing an empire that the sun set on a long time ago. Opportunities for export and import have gone, student exchange and travel restricted. And make no mistake the U.K.s diminished status in Europe is also reflected in a shrinking role in the world’s stage. This week the U.K. lost its seat on the International Court of Justice for the first time since 1946.  And while the G7 summit was hosted in Cornwall it increasingly looks like G6 plus one. Isolationism isn’t a good look and it’s the one the U.K. is increasingly clinging to. Some effects of Brexit will be more obvious than others and over time we can get used to most things, but we should be told the truth about where we stand. Asking the citizens of the UK to believe in the fictitious imaginings of Boris Johnson’s rambling mind and put their faith in his delusions is a step too far. Blurring fact and fiction has become a feature of the current UK government, hot on the heels of Matt Hancock acting unlawfully, Michael Gove has been found guilty by the High Court of breaking the law. So when they tell you everything is going to plan and there is nothing to worry about, be careful, and while you are making your mind up, my heart won’t be going boom bang a bang, and I won’t be anyone’s puppet on a string.  

Written question – Covid-19 [11/06/2021]

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of providing covid-19 vaccinations to (a) UK cruise ship employees and (b) other UK seafarers working in UK waters. (2346)

Tabled on: 17 May 2021

Nadhim Zahawi:

The Department of Health and Social Care alongside the Department for Transport continues to assess how the Government can best support the vaccination of UK cruise ship employees and other UK seafarers working in UK waters. The UK Government encourages all eligible cruise ship employees and seafarers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in line with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice.

We are working closely with DfT, the Devolved Administrations and NHS England and Improvement to ensure that operational challenges in vaccinating these groups are mitigated so all those who are eligible can access the vaccine in an efficient and convenient way.

The answer was submitted on 11 Jun 2021 at 15:45.

Written question – gambling [07/06/2021]

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 24 May 2021 to Question 2347 on Gambling: Advertising, whether the Government has an evidential basis for the absence of a causal link between (a) exposure to gambling advertising and (b) the development of problem gambling. (7862)

Tabled on: 26 May 2021

This question was grouped with the following question(s) for answer:

  1. To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effect of increases in (a) gambling advertising on levels of gambling and (b) gambling on levels of gambling-related harm. (7863)
    Tabled on: 26 May 2021

Mr John Whittingdale:

The government launched the Review of the Gambling Act 2005 on 8 December with the publication of a Call for Evidence. As part of that we called for evidence on the benefits or harms of allowing gambling operators to advertise and will consider carefully any evidence of links between advertising and gambling related harm. The call for evidence closed on 31 March and received approximately 16,000 submissions from a broad range of interested organisations and individuals. We are currently considering the evidence submitted and aim to publish conclusions by the end of the year.

Professor Per Binde’s 2014 literature review, conducted for the Responsible Gambling Trust (now GambleAware), explored five possible mechanisms by which gambling advertising could impact problem gambling behaviour:

  1. Stimulating a current gambler’s gambling behaviour to an extent that it becomes problematic;
  2. Inducing a non-gambler to start gambling in a way that quickly becomes problematic;
  3. Inducing a non-gambler to start gambling in a way that eventually becomes problematic;
  4. Maintaining or exacerbating existing problem gambling behaviour; or
  5. Creating a positive societal attitude (particularly amongst young people) towards gambling.

Of these potential impacts, Binde’s review found empirical evidence only for the fourth. While this research found evidence that advertising may adversely impact problem gamblers’ efforts to cut down, it did not establish a causal link between exposure to advertising and the development of problem gambling.

The answer was submitted on 07 Jun 2021 at 10:46.

Greenock Telegraph 4th June 2021

Following the announcements by the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Inverclyde will be looking forward to a further loosening of the restrictions that we have lived under for over fifteen months as we move to level 1 on Saturday the 5th June. The major differences between Levels 2 and 1 are within the hospitality, leisure and entertainment sectors. They have suffered more than most during the pandemic and it’s gratifying to see them take this next step to full recovery.

This good news is as always tempered with caution. We are not back to normal and despite the fact it has been said a thousand times, we need to proceed with caution. As a mark of respect for the 215 people who died in Inverclyde and their friends and families, we can’t just pretend this never happened and we must do what it takes to ensure we don’t experience another wave of Covid. Why am I so cautious? Because there have been people throughout the period of the pandemic that think rules apply to other people. And there are unfortunately too many people that live their lives with no regard for others. Cocooned in their selfish ‘planet me’ convinced that they can do what they want, when they want and there will be no consequences. This attitude caused problems as we went into lockdowns and it will cause problems as we emerge. Are they the same people that throw the detritus of fast-food takeaways out their car windows, or the people that leave their empty bottles and rubbish strewn across the local beaches? It’s hard to tell but the attitude is the same. That which says, ‘I can make a mess and somebody else will tidy it up after me’.

There are signs that during lockdown we have developed a growing respect for our environment, more people are appreciating what we have on our doorstep but with that comes the responsibility of looking after it. I hope that the personal responsibility that the vast majority of people have shown during Covid translates into our attitude towards our own communities and environment and that together we can protect them and nurture them for ourselves and future generations to come.