Westminster diary w/b 19th June

Monday

Parliament has not yet got back up to speed following the aberration of a General Election and so I took the opportunity to meet with constituents in my office during the morning and catch a later flight to London. Offices are still being allocated and so to make a potential move easier I did a quick spring clean and threw out all unnecessary paperwork that I had acquired over the last two years. In the evening I attended a law enforcement against prohibition event which featured the comedian Marcus Brigstocke. He spoke about his addictions and his approach to dealing with them. I particularly struck by his food action. Any preconceived notions I had of a man binging on cream cakes were quickly dispelled as he recounted stories of eating food from bins while crying inconsolably. Eating disorders can often be conveyed as a physical thing when they are serious mental health issues.

Tuesday

There was no business in the chamber today as we are waiting for the Queen’s speech tomorrow. I managed to catch up with Paul Flynn and Kelvin Hopkins. They are both Labour MPs who both enjoyed comfortable victories. Despite our different parties we have always worked well in committee together and it was good to see those two old war horses back. In the afternoon we had the internal SNP group meeting and elected our new group leader.

Wednesday

My walk into Parliament is usually a relaxing stroll lost in whatever music I have chosen that day but when there are armed and unarmed police officers at every corner, roads are closed and passes are being checked well before entering the building it’s clearly not just another day. The extra high-visibility security in place for the Queen attending parliament just seems to add to the excitement for many of the guests who, given the extremely hot weather, have chosen bright colourful summer clothing. Many are, just like the Queen, en-route to Royal Ascot. Prince Phillip is indisposed and so the Queen allows Prince Charles to sit on the throne beside her. He does look distinctly uncomfortable and as one observer put it “it’s like bring your child to work day”.

We debated the speech (as we shall do next week too) and at ten pm there was an adjournment debate on the cost of phone calls to the DWP. The social welfare system is as we all know in a terrible state and the UK government would do well to consider the social security bill brought forward by Jeanne Freeman MSP in the Scottish Parliament as a better way forward. Only this week the high court in England described the UK government policy as ‘causing real harm’ for ‘no good purpose’.

Thursday

The morning gives me the opportunity to work on articles for politics home and house magazine before getting a midday flight home. Unfortunately it is delayed and I use the time at the airport to catch up on some reading. In the evening I attend an SNP planning meeting.

Friday

The morning is consumed by paperwork and administration and in the afternoon I have meetings with River Clyde Homes regarding constituents housing issues. My last meeting of the day is with senior council officers. Over the weekend I shall be attending the P1 powerboat events.

Westminster diary w/b 17th April

Monday

I utilised the last morning of recess to catch up with office and administration work and in the afternoon I attended the launch of the SNP council manifesto.

Tuesday

I caught an earlier than usual flight as my select committee started at 9am. The weeks after recess are always busy we have a few outstanding reports waiting to be published. These include ‘lessons learned from the EU referendum’ and the snappily titled ‘MANAGING MINISTERS’ AND OFFICIALS’ CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: TIME FOR CLEARER VALUES, PRINCIPLES AND ACTION’. The former was to be presented to the house on Thursday and so we completed the read through and made the final few amendments. The latter has been delayed at my request as I wanted to get the ex Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, in front of the committee to give evidence. In theory ex cabinet ministers can’t take up appointments in positions where their ministerial experience and contacts would give anyone an unfair advantage. The process is that ex cabinet ministers wishing to take up business appointments must request permission from ACoBA (Advisory Committee on Business Appointments) to take up the position. They can then be refused. In practice they are never refused. Mr Osborne now has six jobs. I was wanting to ask him how he manages to have five jobs as well as commit the necessary time to perform his duties as an MP? But we shall never know as events quickly overtook us. We had been informed the Prime Minister was making a statement at 11:15 outside 10 Downing Street. The rumours were about her health or Northern Ireland but as we now know she was going to announce a snap General election. I was in a room with 5 Conservatives and 2 Labour MPs, nobody foresaw the announcement. With that statement our little cloistered world was turned upside down. In the evening our usual SNP group meeting was attended by the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon and it’s fair to say everyone was very focused on the job at hand.

Wednesday

My diary is changing by the minute as events are cancelled and other hastily arranged. All outstanding business has to be concluded or it falls when Parliament is dissolved. My committee meets twice and we finalise our reports for presenting to the house the following day. In the light of the previous day’s events, questions to the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, were entertaining and Mr Mundell was even more nervous than usual. But he was the only the warm up man for Prime Minister’s questions during which Theresa May defended her decision to call an early election despite parliament having a 5 year fixed term. PMQs was followed by a debate about having an election. The Fixed-term Parliaments Act was put in-place to give stability and to prevent political opportunism. However, the Prime Minister has circumnavigated this Act and decided it was in her self-interest to seek a general election.

Thursday

I am in the House for business questions which is followed by questions to the leader of the house, traditionally these sessions are much more relaxed and even entertaining and given that everyone was in demob mode that’s how it turned out. I then spoke to the report on ‘Lessons learned from the EU referendum’. There was major disruption on the underground so I was just glad to get to the airport in time to catch my flight home.

Friday

I start by updating my office team on the process around the snap election. It is not just my job that is on the line. As of the 3rd of May I am no longer an MP and representing myself in any way that looks like I am is illegal. So there are restrictions imposed on me and my office but we still need to handle all outstanding cases. Even without an MP the need for one remains. I have a prearranged meeting with the Chief Executive of Inverclyde Council and a few constituency meetings in my office. As has often been said, that was the week that was.

Westminster diary w/b 27th March

Monday

It is an early start to the week as I walk past the huge array of flowers that adorn the main gates. They have been placed there by well-wishers following the atrocity of the previous week. Westminster continues to be a tourist attraction, work place and a secure haven thanks to the selfless commitment of the many police and security personnel that, day in day out, put member’s safety before their own. We are forever in their debt.

By the luck of the draw I have a question to the minister for the department of work and pensions. I choose to highlight the ignorance in withdrawing Motability cars from claimants while their appeals are on-going. Upon a successful appeal, cars are re-instated but the inconvenience of being without during the appeal process should not be underestimated and is unnecessary.

Tuesday

My Select Committee is reviewing the House of Lords and bi-cameral systems in general. We shall also be asking the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer (George Osborne) to come in front of the committee so we can question him over the jobs he has taken on since leaving the cabinet but remaining as an MP. I had a meeting with PCS to discuss the rationale behind the closure of Job Centres. I attended an Irlen awareness event. I hope to progress this with the help of local autism groups as the conditions are often linked. I then went in front of the back bench business committee along with Norman Lamb MP (Lib Dem) to plead our case for a debate on the war on drugs. Finally I attended the white ribbon campaign and was interested to hear the support from other groups with regard to the Istanbul Convention.

Wednesday

I dropped in on a Parkinson’s Awareness event and then went to Prime Ministers Question time. It was always going to be a long day for the Prime Minister as immediately after PMQs was the Brexit statement. Members can stand for questions pertaining to any statement and on this occasion we did. One hundred and thirteen of us. Eventually after bobbing I got to ask when the Scottish Government would have the opportunity to add some meat to the bones of the statement which was no more than clichés and platitudes.

I sat in on the emergency debate on ‘changes to the Personal Independence Payment’ and finished the day at the All-party Parliamentary Group for Scottish Sport. I met with Sport Scotland and the lawn tennis association to discuss an indoor complex in Inverclyde.

Thursday

A morning of reading and writing, including an article on prostitution for Politics Home was followed up by an afternoon with my constitution team. Personally I am trying to wrap my head round how, powers returned from the European Union that are in areas devolved to Scotland will be effected by the Sewell convention and Henry VIII clauses. I would like to think they won’t be but nobody will give me that guarantee.

Friday

Back in the constituency for a meeting with council officers regarding regeneration. This sits nicely with my later meeting with Scottish Enterprise on the same subject. Other constituency meetings complete the day.

Westminster diary w/b 13th March

Monday

I caught my regular 7:20 flight but instead of going straight to my office in Westminster I continued my journey to the Science museum in Kensington. It was my pleasure to attend and support the team from St Columba’s, Kilmacolm who were competing in the final of the ‘Ultimate STEM Challenge. Michael, Michael, Quinn and Lewis presented their project extremely well and received a commendation from the judges for the “scientific rigour of their experimental work”. I was back at Westminster in time for questions. I wanted to get in a question about Universal Basic Income but once again I stood in vain. I did have a spring in my step as earlier on Scotland’s First Minister had announced that she would be seeking a referendum which would allow the people of Scotland a choice on the kind of future they want. Meanwhile in Parliament the article 50 amendments didn’t take long and naturally the government drove any changes off.

Tuesday

My Select Committee inquiry is into reforming the House of Lords. I suggested scrapping and electing a second chamber which reflects all the countries and regions of the UK. I don’t object to a bi-cameral system it is just that our current second chamber is too big and too London centric. I attended a very interesting all party group on the 4th industrial revolution. It was interesting to hear the input from the likes of Hugh Millward (Director of External and Legal Affairs at Microsoft) with regard to where they see the jobs market going. I can only see a workforce that will be required to be flexible and adaptable in both their approach and working hours as artificial intelligence takes great strides forward. The Minister for Digital, Matt Hancock MP, was open enough to tell us that despite his position he is a descendent of a leading Luddite that’s smashed up the Cartwright looms. It seems there is always a threat to the workforce, perceived or otherwise.

Wednesday

The industrial theme continued and I met with the ‘Industrial Communities Alliance’. They have gathered the combined knowledge, experience and views of local authorities across the UK to create a strategy that they believe can revive British industry and create a high wage, high employment economy across the UK. Prime Minister’s Question time was in parts amusing but mostly the usual slagging match between the Prime Minister and leader of the opposition. I keep going in case I miss something. I feel I have invested a lot of time in this particular event but each week it’s the same dismal failure. I attended a debate on triggering Article 50 and the implications on Scottish devolution. In the evening I did an interview for the James Whale show on Talk Radio.

Thursday

My Select Committee had a private meeting to plan our approach to the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union and the consequences for the devolved administrations.

If we get the witnesses we want it could be both interesting and productive. My committee also presented our report on the lessons learned from the Chilcot inquiry. As a Member of the committee I was allowed to speak to the report. It is our tenth report and the work load shows no sign of letting up. I took part in a Westminster Hall debate on the closure of jobcentres.

Friday

First thing is another radio interview about the Scottish referendum. The strange thing is the SNP are accused of being obsessed by a referendum but the fact is the English based media are fascinated by it and want to talk about it. The rest of the day shall be constituency work, research and writing.

Westminster diary w/b 6th March

Monday

The opportunity arose to stay in Inverclyde as there were no votes at Westminster. Naturally I took it. Constituency work is so important and never ending. I had a number of constituents that came to my office and I attended the inaugural meeting of the Inverclyde ‘A’ team Autism support group in Boglestone.

Tuesday

I pay the price for staying at home on Monday as my day starts at 4:30 a.m. My select committee starts at 9:15am and I make it with minutes to spare. We are finalising our report on the lessons learned from the EU referendum, the report will be published soon. I got lucky in the ballot for questions to the Justice Department. I took the opportunity to question the minister over the process that is seeing an increasing number of people losing benefits for around ten weeks and then being reinstated after appeal. These benefits can include Motability cars. I pressed him to consider not imposing the sanction until after the appeal process was exhausted and therefore not punish people who are winning their appeal. I attended a big lottery fund drop in session and was pleased to hear that following the events my office ran last year more applications from Inverclyde has been successful than previous years. We will build on this for future years.

Wednesday

My first event was the all party parliamentary group for the campaign for nuclear disarmament. We received a briefing from Dr Ian Fairlie on the links between civil nuclear power and nuclear weapons in the UK. His theories surrounding Tritium and its creation are very interesting. Prime Ministers question time constitutes Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn acting like a couple of badly behaved spoiled brats. This is really no way to run a country. But today they are just the warm up act for the Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond who for one day only thinks he is a comedian. The spring statement is poorly thought out and punctuated by surly jokes at the expense of everyone that isn’t a Tory. Of course the real joke is on the Tories as within hours of the budget statement it is clear that they have broken manifesto promises and hiked the tax on the self employed. To say it was met with a cool response from his back bench is a massive understatement. And one group that were openly less than happy were the Woman Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI). Once again they were ignored by the UK government. A contract broken and many comfortable lives in retirement ruined. I spoke in a debate on the advertising standards authority responsibility to broadband users. The claims being made by providers are dubious to say the least. In the evening I attended ‘Barefoot in Business’ as part of international woman’s day. It was an opportunity to talk with the makers of the documentary about female entrepreneurs in Uganda. There are lessons to be learned by us all.

Thursday

I attended a fantastic lecture organised by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) in their London HQ. Its title is ‘Utopia for Realists’ and is presented by Rutger Bregman. It covers his plans for a shorter working week, Universal Basic Income and open borders. His influences range from Thomas More to Richard Nixon. More wrote his ‘Utopia’ in 1516 so it’s an idea 500 years in the making. I get a tea time flight home.

Friday

I have casework to catch up with. A meeting with the Ardgowan Hospice and a meeting in the council buildings. On Saturday I plan to visit the Inverclyde street pastors and watch the rugby at Twickenham.

 

Westminster diary w/b 27th February

Monday

Quick hospital appointment and a rush to the airport means a harassed start to the week but the afternoon turns out be extremely worthwhile and rewarding as my select committee finally signs off our reports on the Chilcot inquiry and the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA). In theory ACOBA must be approached by ex-cabinet ministers if they wish to take up a private position within twenty four months of leaving their cabinet position. ACOBA can rule that it is inappropriate to use information gained in a ministerial position for private gain. For example George Osborne ex-Chancellor of the exchequer recently joined a private financial company and gets paid a reported £400,000 a year. ACOBA could have said that is wrong but they didn’t. They never do. They have never turned down an application. Hopefully our report will push Parliament to change the rules.

Tuesday

Starts with the second sitting of my select committee and it’s a cracker. It is spent talking with senior political advisers about Brexit. A lot, if not most, of my conversations these days incorporate Brexit in some shape or form but having the opportunity to seek the considered opinion of the people advising the folk at the top table is too good an opportunity to miss. By now we will all be familiar with the phrase ‘Hard Brexit’. This phrase is designed to indicate something that is not smooth and painless. I believe we will have to come up with something else to do justice to the process we are about to go through. Maybe a debilitating gut wrenching omnishambles of a Brexit is more appropriate.

For some light relief I meet up with representatives of a mobile communications company. The discussion is around the emergency services network. I drop into a lobbying event for the Eve Appeal. It’s called ‘Make Time for Tea’. The Eve Appeal specialises in funding ground-breaking research into gynaecological cancers, including ovarian cancer, and Make Time for Tea is a way to raise awareness but also raise vital funds for further research.in the evening I meet up with Ian Hudghton SNP MEP to get the inside track on Brexit discussions in Brussels.

Wednesday

I start the day by meeting representatives of the Association of British Travel Agents. We talk at length about cruise ships and yes, Brexit. There are concerns about all the unknowns regarding passengers from European Union countries and the potential difficulties they will now face. Just as we are building a healthy footprint of tourists it would be a shame if we make it more difficult for them to visit Inverclyde.

I attend a photo opportunity to highlight the ESA cuts which I covered in yesterday’s column. I stand for questions at Scotland questions but don’t get taken. Prime Ministers Questions is a shambles for Jeremy Corbyn and once again it falls on Angus Robertson to scrutinise the Prime Minister. In the late afternoon I host a CND event designed to encourage the UK Government to attend the UN negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. I attended a Westminster Hall debate on the role of fathers in the family unit. In the evening I spoke at an event in Waterstone’s bookstore on Tottenham Court Road. The topic is drug reform. As I leave the event at about ten in the evening I am appalled and saddened by the number of homeless people huddled in doorways.

Thursday

My main meeting of the day is with a property development company that own a large percentage of Spango Valley. It’s a wide ranging conversation about the possibilities and costs involved in redeveloping such a large site.

Friday

First appointment is with the Chief Executive of the council. Then it’s off to the annual general meeting of Inverclyde Association for Mental Health followed by surgeries in Greenock, Gourock and Wemyss Bay.

Westminster diary w/b 20th February

Monday

A midday flight allows me to catch up with office administration before heading to the airport. The main business of the day is an unusually busy Westminster Hall debate. It’s about the state visit of President Trump and needless to say emotions are running high. After that I take in the parliamentary science group briefing on broadband. It’s extremely interesting and the scientists were united in their belief that better broadband speeds should be available now and especially in rural areas.

Tuesday

The day starts with my select committee which held a closed door meeting with senior advisers and professors of law regarding the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. It is safe to say that they share my dismay that we have no plan and a growing awareness that the clock is ticking. The potential damage is extremely concerning. Following on from my parliamentary science group event the day before, I spoke in a debate on rural broadband. The only member taking part that can’t see the problem is the government minister responsible for digital.

Wednesday

I had business off site regarding commercial radio and the licensing policy. I met with the All Party Parliamentary Group for fair fuel. And I attended a briefing on a greener UK. The Woodland Trust is one of the thirteen UK environmental organisations that have recently come together to form Greener UK, with the aim of ensuring the UK’s environment is protected and enhanced as we leave the European Union.

Thursday

A day given up to reading and research. I met up with Rachel Moran to hear about the recently changed laws in both Northern Ireland and the Republic regarding prostitution. Rachel has campaigned long and hard on this subject. She doesn’t sugar coat the subject matter and I always come away better informed.

Friday

Is a busy day at Westminster. I am there for the report and third reading of the SNP Bill, preventing and combating violence against woman and domestic violence. We fully expect the usual Conservative back benchers to try and obstruct the bill and as I write this at 9:38am the games have already started.

 

Westminster diary w/b 30th January

Monday 

Regular readers will be glad to know that through the power of thought I managed to clear London of fog and so this week’s flight was on time. My first meeting was with a researcher to commission work on the Nordic model for prostitution. This was followed up with a meeting with a constituent who had written to me regarding issues with HMRC. As he was in London it made sense to meet there. I had already planned to attend a one to one with Damien Hinds MP (Minister for Work and Pensions) but the announcement of the jobcentre closure in Port Glasgow brought a new impetus to the meeting. Interestingly I had put in for an Urgent Question on jobcentre closures and had been granted one for 15:30. Disappointingly it was not Damian Hinds who came to the chamber to answer my question and his replacement Caroline Nokes refused to say why no consultation had been done prior to announcing the closure. She also couldn’t say if a full quality assessment has been done. 

I also attended questions to the Secretary of State for Defence, where Michael Fallon is master at saying nothing. Maybe that’s why he got the job.  

Tuesday 

I am a member of the All-party Parliamentary Group on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals and on Tuesday we published our report “Assessing the Impact”. During the process we took evidence from gambling addicts, bookmakers, gambling support groups, government ministers and academics. Hopefully the industry and government will take notice. I spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on immigration rules for spouses and partners. I then pursued more research on Universal Basic Income and drug reform. The afternoon was split between a meeting with Ofcom about broadband access and speeds and a meeting with a company that provide satellite solutions for broadband. In the evening I met up with colleagues to discuss a strategy around the impending jobcentre closures.  

Wednesday 

My first meeting of the day was with a representative of ‘Dignity in Dying’. It’s a complex and often emotional discussion that is not currently at the forefront of the political agenda but it is one of those topics that goes round in a cycle and will come back again. It’s always good to keep up to date and keep learning. Prime Minister’s Questions is the usual nightmare for the Labour Party and their benches are getting thinner week by week. Angus Robertson questions the PM on the feasibility of a soft border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Apparently she sees no issue with this. That’s good to know going forward.  

It’s World Cancer Day today and they organise a very informative session covering a range of cancers. There are breast cancer awareness seminars coming to Inverclyde soon and I shall be promoting those in the near future. Later I have a meeting with GiveDirectly. They are an organisation that raises money and cuts out the middle men by funding people directly. They have been heavily involved in funding Universal Basic Income schemes and were keen to learn about a pilot project in Scotland. It’s a later night in the chamber than was expected as we are voting on triggering Article 50.  

Thursday 

I catch an early flight home and spend the day catching up on casework and organising Friday’s local surgeries. Unfortunately these days that involves liaising with the local police force to ensure my team’s personal safety. In the evening I attended a drug rehabilitation event in the Centre for Contemporary Arts on Sauchiehall Street Glasgow. It’s run by Recovering Justice and features speakers from Anyone’s Child, LEAP, Reform and Transform. It’s a hugely interesting evening and as these evenings often do I ended up holding an impromptu meeting with representatives from the charity Scot-Pep. It’s a challenging encounter but one we plan to repeat. 

Friday 

Surgeries in Kilmacolm and Port Glasgow followed by a quick photo with Tommy (the clown) Armstrong to help highlight the fabulous work he does raising money for charity. Then it’s off to the bingo at Mecca followed by Greenock surgeries. Time for a meeting with the PCS unions about the planned closure of the jobcentre in Port Glasgow and end the day with surgeries in Inverkip.

 

Westminster diary w/b 23rd January

 

Monday 

Red eye to London is delayed by fog but it gives me the unexpected opportunity of a natter with the First Minister who is also heading to London. Eventually my flight takes off but it is diverted to Stansted. One train and two tube journeys later I arrive in Westminster. What is normally a three and a half hour journey door to door has turned into a seven hour journey. I am just in time for a TV interview in my office before heading to the chamber. There is an urgent question about a test of the Trident nuclear missile system that went wrong. I stand for questions but it’s obvious given the pecking order of front bench, spokesperson, select committee and so on that I am not going to get picked. So I leave it to my colleagues to question the Secretary of State for Defence. It’s clear from the offset that he is adopting the “I know nothing stance”. He refuses to shed any light on the incident.  

Tuesday  

My select committee is taking evidence from Rupert Soames regarding the relationship between private company’s and the outsourcing process of government contracts. I don’t think he is suitable witness as his company gains to benefit so much from the existing process that he is hardly likely to criticise it. We then rubber stamp the appointment of the next United Kingdom Statistics Authority chair. The Secretary of State for Brexit, David Davis, is making a statement about the triggering of article 50 on the back of the supreme court’s ruling that it must be voted on by parliament and also that the Sewell convention which was defined to encourage the UK parliament to respect the devolved administrations can be totally ignored. I stand for questions and after two hours and forty five minutes I get to ask the Secretary if he will seek meaningful discussions with the Scottish Government that reflect the desire of the Scottish electorate to remain in the EU. I then attend a drop in event to support the Machrihanish bid to become a space port. It’s not as tenuous as it may seem with an existence runway and clear air space heading out to the Atlantic. I am then given a briefing on the situation in Stormont and the pending election in Northern Ireland. I do an interview with Talk Radio about Brexit, article 50 and a second Scottish independence referendum.  

Wednesday  

I have very interesting meeting with EE as they map out their plans to provide improved mobile coverage across Inverclyde. Work on upgrading their existing masts is on-going. Prime Minister’s Question time is very poor and Jeremy Corbyn takes a hammering yet again. He even sent his condolences to a family whose son had been shot in Northern Ireland when he is in fact alive and still fighting for his life. The rest of the day is consumed by drop-ins and meetings and I manage to attend a Burns supper in the evening. 

Thursday 

All day is given up to research and preparation. Working in my office is a strange experience as unlike most jobs there is a TV on the wall and it is on constantly. I work with one ear tuned to the news programmes and throughout the day there is speculation about the meeting between Theresa May and Donald Trump. Within Westminster the rumour is that Labour will impose a three line whip and force all their MPs to vote to trigger article 50. As I am leaving for the airport this is confirmed. Tulip Siddiq MP is the first to revolt and announce her resignation from the shadow cabinet. 

Friday  

I have a meeting with the Inverclyde Drug and Alcohol Partnership. We have a number of remarkable organisations who provide much needed services for people with drug or alcohol addictions. My role is to be aware of the issues and possible opportunities that arise that can be utilised locally. These meetings are always informative and help me enormously.

I have a visit to Inverclyde Academy to talk about Westminster and the process of engagement. Followed by a meeting to discuss hydro schemes and flooding in Inverclyde.

The rest of the day is taken up with casework. In the evening I am writing a speech for an event on Saturday in Fife on universal basic income.

 

Westminster diary w/b 16th January

Monday

Up before the larks and off to Westminster. My select committee has two sitting this week so the preparatory work doubles.

Monday morning is given up to reading briefings pertaining to the DVLA and the Ombudsman. Later I have a meeting with the writer Rachel Moran and we discuss the laws surrounding prostitution. Rachel supports the Nordic Model of prosecuting the purchaser and she makes a very powerful case for it. I recommend her book ‘Paid For’ to any adult who is interested in the subject. It is not for the faint hearted.

Tuesday

My Select committee is taking evidence from the department of transport and from the DVLA. The main issue is around suspending people’s driving licence because of a health condition and the time and process involved in the appeal process. This follows on from the PHSO report ‘Driven to Despair’. It’s a balance between reinstating someone’s licence in a timely manner but ensuring they are medically fit and not a risk to themselves and others.

I attend an extremely interesting talk on mindfulness hosted by Ruby Wax. I also signed the Holocaust Educational Trust book of remembrance. It is always good to remind ourselves what grows out of isolationism and xenophobia. And it grows slowly and it grows deep. The consequences are what we remember but sometimes the causes are lost in the mist of time.

Wednesday

My select committee business of the day is a pre-appointment hearing for the Health Board Ombudsman. A quick dash to the chamber for oral questions to the Secretary of State for Scotland. The peculiarities of the system mean that of the twelve questions taken only two are from MPs representing Scottish seats. The others are all Conservatives representing English seats and asking soft questions. In response to this I stand for questions on the chance the speaker will take me for a supplementary. He doesn’t. We then launch in to Prime Ministers Questions. Jeremy Corbyn gets slaughtered this week and the Prime Minister is in a particularly smug mood. She was brought to a shuddering halt when Kirsty Blackman (SNP MP for Aberdeen North) asked if any part of the Great Repeal Bill will be subject to English Votes for English Laws (EVEL). I grabbed a quick coffee with a visiting constituent and Kelvin Hopkins (Labour MP for Luton North). I attended a Westminster Hall debate on the closure of the job centres in Glasgow and attempted to ask the minister if this was just an opening salvo before widespread closures across the UK. But she refused my intervention because she was short of time. She then sat down with 6 minutes to spare. I have written to her looking for clarification. A quick meeting regarding hospice legislation and then a dash to the airport and the 20:30 home.

Thursday

A day in the office including a very informative meeting with the Scottish Recovery Consortium. They left me two publications. The Recovery Workbook and Methadone Memoirs. I will be meeting up with them soon along with other addiction recovery organisations.

Friday

Starts with a meeting regarding local regeneration. I have hospital appointment which is always a good reminder of wonderful the vast majority of our NHS is and why we should fight to keep it. I meet with Warren Hawke to talk about the Morton community (and the chances of a play off finish). Then it’s my privilege to attend the Reach for Autism production of In Our World – A Day On The Spectrum. It’s at the Beacon and was written, produced and stars youths from Reach for Change. Just time for one last meeting. It’s a follow up from last years ‘save the bees’ campaign and it involves establishing a bee trail from Glasgow to Inverclyde.