Westminster diary w/b 9th September

Monday

Up at the crack of dawn to catch a red eye to London. A British Airways pilots’ strike was causing a deal of disruption but thankfully my flight was unaffected as I needed to be on the estate early. It’s another day of making history at Westminster. In truth every day at Westminster seems to be a day when uncharted waters are being negotiated but this one turned out be a cracker. Prior to the chamber sitting at 14:30 I have an internal SNP MP briefing meeting. An event that used to take place once a week is becoming more like a daily affair. Things are changing so quickly, and the opportunities change shape by the hour that regular discussion is required. I then have the select committee for public affairs and the constitution. We have Mark Sedwill and John Manzoni in front of us. They are the two most senior members of the civil service, the impartial civil service that support the cabinet office and prime minister’s office regardless of their own political views. I can’t help but think that must be incredibly hard at the best of times. Performing that task in today’s political climate takes great skill especially when there are people like Dominic Cummings sacking special advisers to the Exchequer. We asked about the legality of prorogation and the behaviour allowed during purdah. They are as you would expect consummate professionals extremely skilled in answering all questions. The same can’t be said of the current bunch running the UK government. And so to the chamber. At 7:15pm we had a Standing Order No. 24 motion: Prorogation and disclosure of communication. The motion proposed by Dominic Grieve including a ‘Humble Address’ requiring publication of documents related to the Government’s decision to prorogue parliament, and on no-deal planning under Operation Yellowhammer. The SNP voted AYE and the motion was carried 311 – 302. At 00:18 (on Tuesday morning): There was a motion that there shall be an early parliamentary general election. Proposed by the Prime Minister under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act. The SNP abstained and although the motion was carried 293 – 46, this did not meet the threshold of two-thirds of all MPs to take effect under the Act. I abstained because this is a trap being set for a General Election under terms that suit the no deal Brexiteers. For the record I would welcome a General Election and when the time is right, I shall vote for it. I didn’t hang around for the ceremony to prorogue Parliament, instead I left the building and walked through the crowds of protesters that were still there at 1am and continued to my flat. Sleep came easy.

Tuesday

Everything has changed so it’s a scramble for transport home. The BA strike continues so it’s 18:30 before I can catch a flight. I spend my days writing, reading and catching up on correspondence.

Wednesday

I spent the morning talking to traders in Kempock Street and was impressed by their approach to the High Street of the year awards. Many units are now displaying posters and I am looking forward to the judges visiting on the 17th. Fortunately, I am not in charge of the car parking arrangements. In the afternoon I caught up with constituents and was delighted to be informed by one that we had won his case on Universal Credit and his payment has been reinstated and he had received over £2,500 in back payments. These victories for constituents are a huge part of an MPs job and each one is received with great joy. I took the opportunity to attend the SNP councillors group meeting which enhances my understanding of local issues and the machinery of the council. In the evening I attended the Inverclyde Historical Society for at talk on the British Constitution by Jim Carmichael. It was extremely interesting, and I hope to attend some future talks.

Thursday

A day consumed in the office with constituent’s cases and catching up with local organisations. Unexpected recess is easily reallocated to local people and events.

Friday

I had one of my regular meetings with the local jobcentre. In a professional capacity I am not seeking employment elsewhere. In the afternoon I went up to Captain Street to the Inverclyde men’s Shed where they use their experience and skills to the benefit of the local community. I had surgeries later in the afternoon.

On Sunday, I shall be doing the Alzheimer’s memory walk along with Stuart McMillan MSP.

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Westminster diary w/b 2nd September

Monday

Last day of recess before heading back to Westminster. I met with the new management of the Oak mall and was heartened to hear about their plans to consolidate their investment in Inverclyde. High street retail has changed almost beyond recognition and we must move with the times. Combined with the announcement of £3 million pounds being spent to reinvigorate West Blackhall street, including £1.5 million from Sustrans Scotland, hopefully that area of the town is on the up. To achieve its potential, it will need to benefit from the cruise ship traffic and the new reception centre for cruise ships will help that. On that note it is good to see Inchgreen in operation building the floating pontoon for cruise ships to berth at. I travelled to London on a late flight with some colleagues including Dr Phillipa Whitford who despite being in a wheel chair having broken her ankle was required to travel to take part in important votes.

Tuesday

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gambling Related Harm met to prepare for an important evidence session the next day. In the chamber there were two government statements. The Prime Minister bumbled through a statement about the G7. I am not one for the pomp and ceremony of Westminster. I am comfortable with a less formal approach but to work effectively certain codes of conduct and levels of professionalism are required. It is not just my observation that the current Prime Minister has none of these abilities. His statement was a disgrace. The Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove then delivered a statement on leaving the E.U.   I attended an event arranged by Transform Drugs in conjunction with the APPG on Drug Policy Reform. Speakers from Canada and Massachusetts outlined the routes they had taken to legalise cannabis. It is worthwhile noting that if you travelled from Alaska down to Guatemala every country or state you travel through has legalised cannabis. Importantly, in different ways to suit their own local concerns and needs. When Washington D.C. voted to legalise cannabis, 242 out of 243 districts said yes, the other said no, by nine votes. In the chamber there was a Standing Order 24 debate on the E.U. withdrawal. It is designed to protect the UK from leaving without a deal. The government opposed it but lost. They also managed to lose their majority and remove the whip from 21 rebel MPs. The Leader of the House, Jacob Rees Mogg lounged about on the front benches following his Prime Minster’s lead showing utter contempt for the proceedings. Their public schoolboy, superior than though arrogance is now openly on display at every opportunity.

Wednesday

Prime Minister’s Question Time. The Prime Minister was so appalling bad that he made the leader of the opposition look good. He blustered, bumbled and even tried to bully his way through but it was clear to everyone that we have a Prime Minister who is incompetent and incoherent. In the evening the bill to ensure we don’t leave without a deal passed its next stage and headed up to the House of Lords. All things being equal it shall return on Monday for the 3rd reading and ten go for Royal Assent. In an attempt to thwart this the government called for a general election. Under the terms of the fixed term parliament act they need two thirds of all MPs (434) to vote for this motion and they only got 298. I did not vote for a general election currently as it was only a means to an end. When the time comes, I shall vote for a general election.

I acknowledged the spirit of inventiveness and ingenuity that these times call for by wearing my James Watt tartan tie which was gifted to me by the Provost of Inverclyde Council.

Thursday

After all the shenanigans of the past two days business was slow. I did get taken during an urgent question on HS2 and asked if the government could confirm that HS2 is still planned to extend to Scotland as this was the original plan when it was announced in January 2009. He couldn’t confirm this despite the parliamentary under Secretary of State telling me it would in a Westminster Hall debate last July. I caught the 20:35 flight home.

Friday

In the morning I had meetings with local traders and the GMB trade union. In the afternoon I had surgeries until 5pm.

Westminster diary w/b 22nd July

Monday

Down to London to witness the last few days of Theresa May’s tenure as Prime Minister. Security around the estate has increased and temperatures are soaring as London experiences a heatwave. It’s going to be an uncomfortable week in many ways. I recorded radio interviews on the topic of overdose prevention centres for Global Radio.

Tuesday

The select committee on Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs took evidence from the Electoral Commission as part of our ongoing inquiry into electoral law. We also discussed our future programme and I am hopeful that Citizens Assemblies will be considered. I know committee members have very different views on this subject and that usually results in a robust inquiry and a balanced report. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Catalonia met with representatives of the Catalonian independence movement. I only mention that as I have kept all my contact with them in the public domain. On such occasions I am usually followed and photographed by somebody from the Spanish authorities. I have no idea why they would do such a thing but recently disclosed papers have contained my name and photographs of me at events. The big news of the day was that Boris Johnson was the new leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party.

Wednesday

Questions to the outgoing Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, was a lively prelude to the big show later that day. Mr Mundell swore his allegiance to the incoming Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. It was a futile attempt to hang onto his job and everyone could see that. Prime Ministers Questions was mobbed. For the first time in months the Conservative and Unionist benches were full to overflowing. They came to bury Theresa not to praise her. They had no shame as they applauded her out of the chamber. The same people that plotted and planned to remove her from office, stood and clapped as she went. The hypocrisy and shallowness of politics really comes to the fore on such occasions. The day then became a feeding frenzy for political hacks predicting and reporting on the coming and going of cabinet members and advisers. To say that thing went from bad to worse would be the understatement of the year. I escaped the madness on the 20:35 out of London.

Thursday

The relative calm and, as always, abundant grounded common sense of my constituency office was a welcome oasis of sensibility this morning. In the afternoon I had a couple of meetings in Glasgow including one with Derek Mackay, Finance Secretary of Scotland. The latter meeting involved representatives from the Scottish Government, trade unions and local elected members. The topic of discussion was Ferguson Marine. It was heartening to hear the Scottish Governments commitment to safeguarding the jobs at the yards.

Friday

I had meeting with three local businesses covering a range of issues. Today is the first day of recess and so I shall be working out of my constituency office until parliament sits again on the 3rd of September. Recess affords me the opportunity for to catch up with local businesses, organisations and individuals and I look forward to taking that opportunity over the next few weeks.

Westminster diary w/b 15th July

Monday

I was on the order paper for questions to the Home Office.  I asked about the process that EU residents, many of whom have been in the U.K. for years, are having to go through to try and remain in the UK after Brexit. SNP MPs highlighted the case of Lizanne Zietsman, who has returned to South Africa after the Home Office ordered her to leave Britain. Lizanne has lived on the Isle of Arran since April 2015. She ran a sandwich shop with her husband. The local community supported her campaign to stay and despite a petition signed by more than 17,000, people the Home Office refused her leave to remain. The process is clearly flawed but the UK Government can’t see that or won’t admit to it.

Tuesday

My morning started with the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs select committee taking evidence on electoral law reform. It Is not as dry a subject as it sounds, especially when you consider the funding issues around the LEAVE campaign in the EU referendum and the possibility of a General Election on the horizon. I caught up with the members of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Global Sex Trade and we discussed how to take forward our campaign to introduce the Nordic model in the UK This involves prosecuting the purchaser but decriminalising the seller. I spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on drug services. It was especially significant today as the latest drugs related deaths statistics had just been released. Scotland and Inverclyde are both particularly hard hit. While everyone that made a speech asked for a health-based approach and a change in the law to facilitate Drug Consumption Rooms (DCR), the minister responding maintained the UK government stance that DCRs encourage use. A view not shared by any country that has introduced them.

Wednesday

I started my day with an 8am breakfast meeting along with Virgin Airlines. They were keen to discuss aviation and the climate crisis while promoting a third runway at Heathrow and their allocated slots. I see a contradiction in that, but it is just the start of an on-going discussion.  Appropriately my next event was the select committee for Transport and we took evidence from the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling.  That was followed by Prime Minister’s Questions. The leader of the opposition challenged the Prime Minister on the government’s climate record and she responded by accusing him of failing to stamp out racism in the Labour party. PMQs did not improve after that. The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Drug Policy Reform (DPR) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) at which point I was overloaded with acronyms. The group shall continue to pursue its campaigns for compassionate policies that treat problematic drug use as a health issue.

Thursday

The day started with Transport Oral questions. I bobbed but wasn’t taken so didn’t get the opportunity to ask what action the UK Government was taking to reduce toxic emissions from HGV and LGVs. I met up with representatives from GamCare. They provide training, help and support around gambling related harm. They are funded via the gambling commission who in turn are funded by a voluntary levy from the gambling industry. We disagree on a few issues but we agree that a voluntary levy is not good enough and that to allow continuity and long term support a statutory levy is a must. The late afternoon was taken up by votes and I caught the 19:35 flight home.

Friday

My office combined with Stuart McMillan MSPs office and we helped at the clean-up of the Murdieston Dam. In the afternoon I met with the Head of Policy & Public Affairs at BT Scotland. We discussed, 5G, Universal Service Obligation & EE in Inverclyde. My last meeting was with REACH for Autism.

Westminster diary w/b 8th July

Monday

It’s going to be a long week at Westminster and its starts with my 5am alarm. Most of the day is taken up by meetings and briefings and the voting started at 5pm and lasted until 8pm wit a short break when a debate broke out.

Tuesday

I start the day with debate on Active Travel. It’s a Westminster Hall debate but better attended than the main chamber. This is becoming a feature at Westminster. I make the case for cycling and walking while stressing the need for government investment. I dropped in to the Scottish Select Affairs Select Committee to listen to Joe Fitzpatrick MSP give evidence on drugs policy. Joe is the Scottish Government minister with that responsibility. I have to leave early as I have a meeting along with Carolyn Harris (Labour MP for Swansea East) with Lord Michael Grade. He is chairing a Lords Committee on gambling related harm and we are sharing our evidence gathered from our All-party parliamentary group. I then catch up with Joe in my office to share our views and discuss policy reform.

Wednesday

The Transport Select Committee had a closed door review of our future programme and our impending meeting with the Secretary of State. That is followed by Prime Minister’s Questions. It is till notable for the sparse attendance of the government MPs and there sudden support for their Prime Minister now that they have forced her out. The All-party parliamentary group on gambling related harm took evidence from clinical experts and members of GamCare around the funding and provision of support for people with gambling addictions. I then spoke in another well attended Westminster hall debate. This one was on HS2. Ten billion pounds spent, ten years since it was first announced and not one mile of new track. It’s an infrastructure project that has gone massively wrong.

Thursday

I have an 8:30 meeting with representatives of William Hill. While I am pursuing a mandatory levy on bookmakers and I am critical of some aspects of the gambling industry, I am always open to hear their views and their solutions in areas that we agree. This was followed by an internal trading course run with House of Commons staff. These courses are extremely well prepared and are part of on-going training to make sure that MPs are good employers and that we understand our role and the responsibility it brings. I finish the working day by talking in a debate in the main chamber on 20 years of devolution. It was a good debate but rather tainted by the usual suspects that make their speech and then feel the need to constantly intervene on others. This takes time away from the speakers at the end of the list. So for that reason I refused all interventions.

Friday

A beautiful sunny day in inverclyde and I took advantage of that by holding street surgeries and distributing contact details to households.

 

Westminster diary w/b 1st July

Monday

I met with Liz Karter in Portcullis House to discuss gambling related harm therapy. Liz is an expert in this area and we had a long and informative conversation. The big five bookmakers have bowed to pressure and have offered to increase their contributions to offset gambling related harm. The offer is much more than they currently pay but it’s not mandatory and it’s still not enough. However now that there will be more money available the conversation is about how best to use that money. I was in the Chamber for questions to the Department for Work and Pensions and I hoped to get in in topical questions but it didn’t happen.

Tuesday

I sat in on the Scottish Affairs Select committee session as it was taking evidence from people I know in the drug policy reform movement. It was a fascinating session and received a lot of media coverage. The witnesses are experts that have travelled into Westminster to provide evidence at the request of the committee so it was extremely disappointing to watch some committee members spend the session on their mobile devices reading. Sitting on two select committees I often search for information during a session if its not in the briefing but that’s not what I was watching unfold during this session. It was disrespectful and totally unwarranted. In the afternoon I again took on the role of observer and watched the Health Select committee take evidence from a different set of witnesses on the same subject. It was not as good a session. In between these sessions I replied to a government statement on the big 5 bookmakers proposal to offer more money, but not mandatory, for gambling related harm. I described it as a bribe.

Wednesday

The Select Committee on Transport took evidence on pavement parking. It is set to be banned in Scotland but enforcing it in areas where the roads are too narrow for emergency services, when cars are not parked on the pavements is going to be problematic. Prime Ministers Questions was a dour uninspiring affair. I met with Henrietta Bowden-Jones to discuss her opinions on how gambling related harm should be funded and provided. She is an expert in this area and already runs a clinic in Fulham. We also discovered a mutual appreciation of art. I dropped in to an event hosted by Scottish Water to hear about their role in renewable energies. I was heartened to hear how much they knew about Inverclyde and our possibilities for hydro power. My flight was delayed but I made it back home for 10pm.

Thursday

I met with constituents in the morning and spoke to Radio Clyde regarding William Hill and the proposed closure of several bookmakers. In the afternoon I delivered contacts details to local houses and held street surgeries.

Friday

I started by meeting BayWa, they are the new owners of Forsa Energy’s renewables business that was located at Pottery Street. The afternoon was consumed by surgeries in my constituency office.

Westminster diary w/b 24th June

Monday

Early morning flight to London. I have a meeting with a company that provide systems for diesel engines that enables them to also use liquid natural gas and therefore reduce their carbon footprint. In conjunction with the proposals at Hunterston for a power station they see the possibility to duel fuel diesel trains. The Prime Minister made a statement in the House on the European Council. As part of her statement she talked about the spirit of cooperation and consensus. I bobbed for a question and was taken. I asked if this new spirit could be extended to the devolved parliaments. The PM responded that it always had. Of course, we know that’s not the view of the devolved parliaments. In the evening I spoke on the panel of the Global Cannabis Partnership. There was a lot of talk about ethical growing, international financial opportunities, nationally recognised legislation but far too little about patients and their needs.

Tuesday

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee took evidence from two excellent witnesses, Hannah Vickers, CEO, the Association for Consulting and Engineering and Miles Ashley, Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, on the Government’s management of major infrastructure projects. I then spoke at an event organised by Anyone’s Child to highlight the terrible loss of life due to the current UK drug policy.

Wednesday

Less than one hundred Conservative and Unionist MPs turned up for Prime Minister’s Questions. Apathy combined with their internal party conflict has deemed the government incapable of even putting on a show of unity. Despite their small numbers they made one heck of a noise when Iain Blackford challenged the Prime Minister. They were so noisy that no one could hear Iain. This was brought to the attention of the speaker who then rebuked me for shouting out. This was disappointing as he didn’t rebuke the government benches for their part in the fiasco and it wasn’t me that shouted out. But I took one for the team. I attended the climate coalition lobby and the immigration debate before catching the 18:20 flight home.

Thursday

I delivered contact details to constituents and held street surgeries. I do this on a regular basis but it’s always nicer when the sun is shining as it was today.

Friday

I have an interview on gambling and its relationship with Scottish football followed by one of my regular catch ups with Laura Reilly of Belville Gardens. As part of National Care Home Day, I visited the Crown Care day centre.

Westminster diary w/b 17th June

Monday

I attended the Inverclyde Alliance ‘Every Child Every Chance’ event in Port Glasgow Town Hall. The focus was tackling child poverty. There were excellent speeches and it was good to see councillors from Labour, Conservative, SNP and Independent all in attendance. In the afternoon I was in Edinburgh at the Gambling Commission launch of its National Strategy. I have issues with the Gambling Commissions funding model but this report is a good one and it recognises the need for a statutory levy on the gambling industry. Making it statutory allows the providers of support for gambling related harm, along with those developing education, to make long term plans. I am increasingly using trains to travel and once again I managed to leave Edinburgh and be in my flat in Greenock in two hours.

Tuesday

Today was a day reserved for constituency work. I also carried out street surgeries in the area.

Wednesday

With the increasingly debilitating Brexit process now being compounded by the Conservative and Unionist Party leadership race, I am attempting to squeeze meaningful work into fewer days at Westminster. With that in mind I left at 5:30am for the 6:30am flight. In amongst a plethora of meetings I also had a question to the Secretary of State for Scotland and asked if he agreed with the Duchy of Lancaster when he said that a review of the intergovernmental process could wait until the end of the year. He neither confirmed nor denied it. The Prime Minister is looking better now that she has an escape route for herself planned and was skating through PMQs until Ian Blackford called out Boris Johnson as a racist. When the predictable outcry came from the Government benches, Ian doubled down and listed the racist remarks that had been made. Confronted with that information it is impossible to defend Boris but his Conservative colleagues tried. After the dog fight that is PMQs I was pleased to support some more placid canine friends. I hosted a room to help support guide dogs for the blind. I took the opportunity to meet with owners of the working dogs and puppies in training. My last event was a roundtable discussion and podcast hosted by UK LEAP and Anyone’s Child. The focus of the discussion was the progress of the drug policy reform lobby and the path forward. My journey home did not go well as there was major disruption on the tube and my flight was delayed. To cap it all the M8 was shut and I had a detour via Bishopton. I got home at 23:15. I look upon it all as experienced living for my role on the transport select committee!

Thursday

The morning was spent catching up with case work and in the afternoon, I did the Inverclyde Bothy Walk. Active travel is becoming more and more mainstream and designing transport systems that can integrate safe walking and cycling are important for our health and our planet.

Friday

I joined the teams from Inverclyde Bothy in Gourock railway station and Community Tracks for a cycle through Inverclyde. The purpose was to review the proposals for the route being supported by Sustrans. Looking at pinch points and obstacles. In the afternoon I caught up with Craig Berry of the Common Weal. I often reach out to academics and think tanks for a non-partisan take on issues and I have also contributed to the Common Weal over the years. In the evening I attended the Kilmacolm Civic Trust 50th Anniversary celebration at Windyhill, the Charles Rennie McIntosh house. On Saturday, I shall be supporting the Wemyss Bay Train station open day and on Sunday I shall be attending some of the ‘Great Get Together’ events around Inverclyde.

Westminster diary w/b 10th June

Monday

I attended the sod cutting ceremony at the new Scottish Government funded NHS clinic which is being built on the site of the old Wellington Academy. It doesn’t come cheap at over £20 million pounds but it will be a welcome replacement for the existing facility opposite the West station. I took the opportunity to have a meeting with Jeanne Freeman MSP (Cabinet Secretary for Health) and we covered a range of issues.

Tuesday

I caught an early flight which ensured I got to Westminster for a 9:30 start to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs select committee. We were taking evidence on managing major projects. The U.K. Government does not have a good track record with major infrastructure projects and there seems to be a reluctance to learn from failure. Primarily due to their reluctance to admit they failed and supported by political expedience. I made my way to the Chamber to listen to debate on TV licences being paid for by over 75s. Another example of the U.K. Government attempting to divest itself of responsibility. I met with representatives from the People’s Post Code Lottery. They have concerns around the capping of their income and that they would be adversely hit by a statutory levy on gambling companies. The People’s Post Code Lottery is a charity and so don’t pay tax but they do pass on a higher percentage of the money raised to good causes than other gambling organisations.

Wednesday

Mike Russell MSP (Scottish Government Brexit Minister) briefed the SNP group on the current state of play regarding Brexit brexit and the plans afoot to develop citizens assemblies in Scotland. I am particularly pleased that citizens assemblies are on the political agenda. The example that Ireland has produced could go a long way to providing a template for a Scottish version. I met with Charles and Liz Ritchie whose son Jack committed suicide as a result of his gambling addiction. They started a charity called Gambling with Lives and have very quickly built it to be a source of excellent research and a powerful lobby group for reform, education and support. Prime Ministers Questions was again poorly attended by the governing party as the Conservative and Unionist party are too deeply entrenched in inner party conflict to actually get on with doing the job they were elected to do. The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling Related Harm took evidence from a number of witnesses including the CEO of Camelot.

In the evening all 35 SNP MPs voted on an opposition motion to suspend standing orders on Tuesday 25th June to allow a backbench bill to be taken as the first item of business – with the presumption the bill would prevent the UK Government from allowing a ‘no deal’ scenario. This is similar to the mechanism used in April by Yvette Cooper MP and Oliver Letwin MP to take control of the parliamentary agenda. The motion was defeated 298 – 309. Which was a great shame as 8 Labour MPs voted against their own party.

Thursday

I chaired a symposium on Infrastructure, accountability and meeting the needs of users. It was arranged by the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum and held in the Caledonian Club out at Hyde Park. It was particularly interesting to hear from experts from France, Switzerland and those representing the freight industry in the UK. After a quick walk in the pouring rain I made it back to Westminster where I had a meeting with John Coates the CEO of Bet365. This was part of the ongoing investigation into gambling related harm and the responsibilities the gambling industry has.

Friday

Today started with a meeting with Louise Hunter from Creative Inverclyde. It’s always good to meet people who believe that this area can and should be represented on a bigger stage. We need to encourage others to have the confidence to invest in Inverclyde. I then drove up to Whitelee Windfarm for a tour of the control centre and windfarm site. In the evening I attended Notre Dame High School’s production of Les Misérables. On Sunday I shall be supporting the Port Glasgow 10k run with my good friend Cappy the Cat.

Westminster diary w/b 3rd June

Monday

I spent the last day of Whitsun recess in my Greenock office dealing with constituency cases and reading briefing papers for the coming week. To be honest there were not many as business is so light at Westminster. First Brexit and now the Conservative and Unionist party leadership campaign have brought progress to a halt. The usual method of progressing bills is by voting. A successful vote ensures the next step in the process takes place. We haven’t voted since the tenth of April.

Tuesday

I got a morning fight down to Westminster and embarked on a series of meetings regarding the provision of medical cannabis. Most notably I catch up with End Our Pain. Together we are trying to develop a safe and legal way that parents of children with severe epilepsy can access Bedrolite.   Currently if you can afford private medicine and the cost of purchasing the medicine you can get it but not everyone can afford the tens of thousands of pounds that are required.

Wednesday

Prime Minister’s Questions is only notable because the Prime Minster, Leader of the opposition and SNP Westminster Group Leader are all absent while attending the D-Day commemoration events. Noticeably Emily Thornberry MP would stand in for Labour but more in fighting led to here being demoted and replaced by Rebecca Long-Bailey MP. Rebecca is seen by many as a possible successor to Jeremy Corbyn MP. A great deal of PMQs was given up to the concerns that the NHS will be traded after Brexit and ultimately privatised. Even though Scotland’s NHS is devolved this is of great concern, not just because I would hate to see England have its NHS privatised but the less UK government money spent on it means less for Scotland through the Barnett consequentials and public procurement is not devolved which a real worry. I had a meeting with the General Medical Council so as I can learn more about the guidelines for prescribing medical cannabis. It was a very informative meeting. I attended a debate in Westminster Hall on Universal Credit and Debt. This should be debated in the main chamber but was dumped in the lesser chamber. It was massively over-subscribed and was even interrupted for a vote in the main chamber where there was a small fraction of MPs compared to Westminster Hall. The matter was covered by English votes for English laws so I didn’t vote. I got the 18:20 flight up the road.

Thursday

A day of reading and writing. These tend to be welcomed days in amongst the frantic goings on at Westminster but recently they are becoming more frequent, so I undertake street surgeries in the afternoon and had a quick catch up with the hardest working McEleny (Marie) in the mobile Alzheimer’s van in Cathcart Square. I would also like to say how sad it is to hear of the death of Sean Caulfield who worked so hard and brought so much to the local Alzheimer’s organisation. His sudden and tragic death at such a young age is a great loss.

Friday

I had constituency surgeries in Port Glasgow in the morning and Greenock in the early afternoon. I also undertook street surgeries and attended a charity quiz night in the evening.