Tele diary w/b 25th February

Monday

I have been taking part in the judging of the UK Parliament awards and the final paperwork was completed today. The parliamentary briefing on the Safer Gambling Advertising Campaign was a lively affair taking into consideration the views of many stakeholders. The campaign is targeted at men between the ages of 16 to 34 that already gamble twice a week. This demographic is recognised as having the greatest potential to experience gambling related harm.

Tuesday

The Prime Minister made yet another statement regarding the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union and explained the current plan. That is current as in Tuesday’s plan. It will change. I met with the Chief Executive of BACTA to get his take on the progress we have made regarding Fixed Odds Betting Terminals and how we can address gambling related harm in his area of expertise. My first delegated legislation committee of the week was ‘Energy Systems regulations’. The sifting committee had cunningly grouped five statutory instrument into one sitting. We out smarted them and considered them all at the same time thus saving hours of meaningless debate. The deputy Speaker gave the group a security update and that was followed by an SNP group meeting.

Wednesday

I met with Alok Sharma MP (Minister for employment). We dialled into the Inverclyde jobcentre and discussed support from Citizens Advice Bureau and funding of the ongoing support to roll out universal credit. Prime Ministers Question time and I had the joy of sitting beside Patricia Gibson the MP for Millport. PMQs is not the classiest of affairs and it was a rare joy to hear Ian Blackford welcome visitors from the Netherlands Parliament to the gallery, in their native tongue. They were clearly delighted. I dropped in to meet Ofcom and get an update on broadband speeds in Inverclyde. I know it’s not a great comfort if you are experiencing poor connection speeds but Inverclyde has 97% properties with 30mbit/s availability. And is better served than many communities. It has certainly improved since we managed to persuade major suppliers to invest in Kilmacolm and Inverkip. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm met with a pleasure group that are seeking to expose the algorithms that bookmakers use to stop people winning and at the same time encourage people who are losing. This will be the basis for our next enquiry. I dropped in to the Fairtrade fortnight reception to hear about the West African Fairtrade cocoa producers and how we can support woman’s economic empowerment in the sector. 

Thursday

My Select Committee on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs met to take evidenced from Sir Mark Sedwill, Cabinet Secretary and John Manzoni, Chief Executive of the civil service regarding Brexit readiness. It’s stunning how much legislation still has to be done and ironically I had to leave early to attend another Delegated Legislation Committee to push through more statutory instruments. The UK Government is now beginning to realise that this can’t be done in time and will take steps to push through legislation without any debate or scrutiny. We could have told them that a year ago. I spoke in the chamber on behalf of the SNP in the St David’s Day debate. It was an interesting event if only to hear so many of the MPs that represent Welsh seats raging against the Conservative and Unionist UK Government.

Friday

As ever the first Friday of the month was spent hosting surgeries throughout Inverclyde. In the evening I attended the Innerkip society dinner. There was no escaping politics with a table of councillors and council officers. On Saturday I plan to attend the AGM of the Coves Community Nature Reserve.

 

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Tele diary w/b 11th February

Monday

Business started with questions to the Department for Work and Pensions. I was not on the Order Paper so I bobbed furiously on the back of other people’s questions. My extreme bobbing was in vain as I failed to catch the Speaker’s eye. I had lodged an urgent question on the allocation of European Conference of Ministers of Transport permits (ECMT) to road hauliers but I was unsuccessful. The urgent question was on the contract awarded and subsequently cancelled to Seaborne for the provision of Ferries post Brexit. I had a cunning plan to squeeze in my question about road hauliers but once again the speaker chose to ignore me. I had yet another Delegated Legislation (DL) Committee. This one was on eco-design for energy-related products and energy information. In the evening I appeared on the James Whale show on Talk radio. I took the opportunity to finally explain that the U.K. has an allocation of 984 ECMT permits and there have been over 11,000 applications. Simple maths tell me that less than ten percent of the applicants will be able to continue to transport goods from and to the U.K. post Brexit if we have a no deal. With forty one days to go the U.K. Government continues to hide its head in the sand over serious issues with extreme consequences.

Tuesday

I met with MPs from the Conservative and Unionist Party, Labour Party and Plaid Cymru to show solidarity with the Catalan political prisoners. In the chamber the Prime Minister made another, very similar, statement about leaving the European Union. These matters are hugely important which makes it all the more disappointing that the conversation has not moved on in over 30 months. My second DL Committee of the week. This time it was draft judicial pensions and fee-paid judge’s pensions. I dropped in to see Digital Scotland to hear about the next phase of broadband rollout in Scotland. Inverclyde is well served already but there will always be room for improvement. I met the Parliamentary cyber security team to ensure that my office staff and I are doing everything we should to keep our data secure. I made a short speech outside Number 10 to Catalan protestors.

Wednesday

I met with representatives of pharmaceutical companies regarding the supply of prescription drugs after Brexit. Although many are manufactured in the U.K. most require ingredients from outside the U.K. The supply chain, as per my previous observations regarding the haulage industry, will be under extreme pressure. Prime Ministers Question’s has stagnated into a she says, he says affair. I attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on global security and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Late afternoon I attended my third DL committee of the week, the draft financial services contracts. One of the great things about this job is the wide variety of subjects that I get involved in but these DL committees really are stretching that theory to the limit.

Thursday

First up were questions to the Department of Transport. I bobbed, I wasn’t taken. I am one of the judges in the UK parliament awards so I spent some time reviewing this year’s entrants. I have gone to some lengths to encourage people of all walks of life to engage with politics and politicians and these awards are a good vehicle to do that. The re-run of the E.U. Withdrawal Bill was debated in the chamber and votes started at 17:00. There were 2 amendments voted on but followed by the main business of the day and we had two interesting developments. The SNP amendment to extend article 50 was supported by 41 Labour MPs who ignored their party whips and the government lost their motion by 303 votes to 258. A hammering in anyone’s language. And so the Brexit debacle continues. The ’mother of all parliaments’ overseeing the mother of all farces. I arrived home at 22:50

Friday

I caught up with some casework and then attended the Inverclyde Alliance Tobacco Strategy update. I had meetings with constituents and street surgeries all afternoon. In the evening I finally got to a Burns Supper.

Westminster diary w/b 4th February

Monday

Business continues to be slow at Westminster as the government is completely incapacitated by the prospect of leaving the European Union. I utilised my time away by holding extra meetings with constituents. Until Westminster sorts itself out, if that is possible, then I shall be making plans to spend as much time in Inverclyde as I can and use that time constructively.  

Tuesday

Paying the price for not travelling down yesterday and caught the red eye to London. Despite a slight delay due to fog I was in Westminster by 9:30 and started the day with the select committee for Transport. We took evidence from the road haulage industry regarding Brexit. This was a follow up session to a previous one where we took evidence from the rail haulage industry. It’s an accurate reflection on the evidence provided that the haulage industry has been dreadfully under-represented in any withdrawal discussions. There are a host of questions unanswered that need to be addressed if goods are going to flow back and forward unhindered. In the afternoon I had a meeting with the Minister of State for disabled people Sarah Newton. I updated her on four universal credit cases that my office are dealing with as they represent a cross section of typical cases. I attended the debate on Unpaid Work Trials brought forward by my SNP colleague Stewart M McDonald MP. And finished the day with an internal group meeting to keep us updated with all things Brexit. 

Wednesday

A second meeting of the Transport Select Committee was another private session. We took evidence from representatives of air traffic controllers, pilots and senior management from Gatwick and Heathrow about drones. This was prompted by the closure of Gatwick due to drones. It was an extremely informative session from experts in their field. I caught most of Prime Minister’s Question Time. It was the day of the deputies as the Prime Minister was otherwise engaged desperately seeking anyone that would back her Brexit deal. I had a meeting with the Secretary of State for Culture, Jeremy Wright MP and Minister for Sport and Civic Society, Mims Davies MP. The topic of conversation was gambling related harm. I am pressing them for a range of changes including advertising regulations, funding and the proliferation of ‘loot boxes’. As once again business collapsed early I caught an evening flight home. 

Thursday

Great start to the day with a cycle to work and meeting with the Inverclyde Bothy and Halfords to promote cycling in Inverclyde. Swift peddle back to my office for a range of meetings with constituents and organisations. In the evening I attended the community council meeting for Inverkip and Wemyss Bay. Amongst a range of issues discussed the biggest concerns were the proposed 650 houses on the old power station site and the state of the A78.  

Friday

I had a meeting with constituents to discuss employment issues. I then had one of my regular meetings with Police Scotland to review my and my team’s security. A quick catch up with Tommy ‘the clown’ Armstrong was followed by a meeting with River Clyde Homes management for an update and constituent cases. I ended the week with a meeting with Scottish Power to discuss their plans for the Inverkip Power Station site. We can do so much more with that site than just houses.

 

Westminster diary w/b 28th January

Monday

Midday flight to London is mobbed with elected and non-elected members. Despite the popularity of the flight to London City it is very rare that I find myself sitting beside another Member. This week was the exception with a row of four comprising Mhairi Black (seat, Lisa Cameron (seat), Gavin Newlands (seat) and me. The rest of the passengers drew a great sigh of relief. On arrival I attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Universal Credit. We had a briefing from Child Action Poverty and Unison which covered the 1.6 million households expected to move from legacy benefits onto Universal Credit this year. These households will not receive any transitional protection, even if they are substantially worse off. This will be tough in Inverclyde but thankfully our local jobcentre is at the forefront of modifying the system and lessons will be learned. In the evening the SNP group met with the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP. She updated us on Brexit negotiations and we worked up scenarios and voting procedures prior to tomorrow’s vote. With so many proposed amendments this can be a long drawn out affair. We were expecting votes on the immigration bill but the outcome was less sure as Labour dithered over their intentions and went from a one line whip to a one line whip tinged with desperation. Had they applied a three line whip then there is the possibility the UK Government would have been defeated. We then debated proxy voting but it proved uncontentious and it passed without division. I got back to my (very cold) flat just after midnight.

Tuesday

The morning was taken up by three events organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy reform. We discussed drug consumption rooms, county lines and drug safety testing. There a good number members from both the Lords and Commons there to listen to the expert testimony from police and crime commissioners, Neil Woods (drug squad cop, turned author) and a range of service providers. It was particularly good to see some MPs who have not previously engaged and are now becoming better informed about the issues. The big debate was of course the European Withdrawal Amendments. The behaviour of the Conservative and Unionist Party members towards Jeremy Corbyn MP and Ian Blackford MP was disgraceful. They acted like school playground bullies. Full of their own importance and self-righteous indignation. During the Prime Minsters speech the tory whips were clearly identifying sympathetic Labour members for the Prime Minister to take interventions from. Just another sign of the rudderless Labour Party, lacking leadership and devoid of ideas. At the end of the evening and after a rash of votes on amendments the Prime Minister had managed to produce the situation where she is heading back to Brussels to re-negotiate a deal she said was not up for re-negotiation with the European Union and Ireland already saying they want renegotiate. We shall do it all over again on February the 13th.

Wednesday

I started the day at the Select Committee on Transport where we took evidence on bus services. It seems around the UK we have similar problems. Bus companies can’t afford to run uneconomical routes and the cost of replacing buses after Brexit is frightening. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse the speaker was forced to lecture the Conservative and Unionist Party benches during Prime Minister’s Questions. Their rehearsed and coordinated barracking of Ian Blackford MP was disgraceful. In no other walk of life would grown men and women behave in this manner. The briefing from the CBI on delivering a roadmap to supercharge the UK’s digital infrastructure was more congenial and productive. It was also agreed that the UK Government’s aspiration of a 10Mb universal service obligation was not fast enough and Scotland’s ambition of 30Mb was appreciated. Business in the Chamber is slow so I take the opportunity to head home on a Wednesday which is unusual for me.

Thursday

I take advantage of an unexpected extra day in the constituency by meeting constituents and discussing a range of issues that affect their lives. This covers, funeral poverty, working in the EU after Brexit and medical cannabis. Parading around the green benches is one thing but the nuts and bolts of any MPs job is helping constituents with the issues that affect their lives. It’s not as glamorous but when we can help, it’s incredibly rewarding.

Friday

I held surgeries in Kilmacolm Community Centre, Port Glasgow Library, my constituency office in Crawfurd Street and finally in Gourock Library.

Westminster diary w/b 21st January

Monday

Down to London for another dose of dexterous duplicity from a government in meltdown. Unfortunately this means I can’t attend the consultation on the plans for the old Inverkip power station which is still owned by Scottish Power. Ironically for a power company the proposals are bereft of any innovative energy ideas and instead amount to 650 houses a shop and a pub. This site deserves better, Inverclyde deserves better. At Westminster, the Prime Minister is explaining plan B which is remarkably similar to the A plan that got voted down last week. In fact it’s indistinguishable. I was the SNP representative on the Delegated Legislation Committee on the draft intellectual property. Unusually it was quite contentious and went to a vote of the committee. The UK Government won nine to eight.

Tuesday

The select committee on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs took evidence on the effectiveness of the PHSO (Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman). My office has received a large quantity of correspondence relating to cases, health and finance, where people have felt let down by the process. I was on the order paper for questions to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and I raised the matter of the imprisonment of Carme Forcadell (Speaker in the Catalan Parliament). The UK Government minister was not interested in explaining his position because as a minister in the Foreign Office apparently he has no view on democracy.

Wednesday

The Transport Select Committee took evidence from experts on Active Travel. In Inverclyde, we are fortunate to have Community Tracks providing bikes for member of the community, including myself. In doing this they are encouraging people to become more active and where possible replace small car journeys by cycling. The outcome of this is that Sustrans Scotland will be funding a cycle track (Route 75) that runs the length of Inverclyde with the aim to join it to similar routes in West Renfrewshire and North Ayrshire. Prime Minister’s Question Time

I attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group on suicide and self-harm where I heard a moving account of her son Jack’s suicide as a consequence of his gambling addiction, from Liz Ritchie. Liz and her husband Charles founded the organisation Gambling With Lives. Members had a security briefing in the late afternoon and it was disturbing to hear just how many MPs have been threatened at constituency surgeries. There is a measurable increase in this sort of behaviour and it is coming from the far right. 

Thursday

I was due to attend the second sitting of the select committee on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs this week but it was cancelled. The Brexiteers on the committee have other fish to fry. Instead, I attended the Urgent Question on EU free trade agreements. The long and the short of it is, that with 64 days to go, none have been signed. I had my second Delegated Legislation Committee of the week. This one was on draft insolvency. These committees are part and parcel of the legislative process at Westminster but the burden of legislation that Brexit has brought has increased their frequency beyond anyone’s memory. To process all the statutory instruments that are required before Brexit on the 29Th March there will need to be 13 committees every sitting day. Given that each Committee ties up 17 MPs, a chair (also an MP), 7 clerks and a door keeper, they are proving to be extremely costly and time consuming. I summed up in a Westminster Hall debate on knife crime and stressed the importance of the violence reduction unit in Glasgow and the successes it has had. I managed into the chamber in time to hear the front bench speeches on appropriate treatment for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). I caught the 19:30 flight home.

Friday

I had meetings with staff at the local job centre followed by a catch up with senior council officers. The rest of the day was taken up with constituency meetings.

 

Westminster diary w/b 14th January

Monday

I started the week meeting constituents in my Inverclyde office. Ignoring all the roaring and shouting and far away from glare of the insatiable media, casework remains at the heart of a Member of Parliament’s job. It is humbling to listen to the stories of my constituents who confide in me and a source of great joy and pride when my office provides solutions to everyday problems. I caught a midday flight and had the unexpected pleasure of a conversation with Baroness Ramsay during the flight. She was employed in the diplomatic service or to be more precise MI6 and features in a book I have just read (The Spy and the Traitor). It was extremely interesting to hear her take on the accuracy of the book. In the house the Prime Minister made a statement on the Brexit agreement. There was nothing new in it.

Tuesday

The Select Committee on Transport took private evidence from representatives of the Rail delivery Group and Rail Freight Group. The questions were around Brexit and how well placed the UK is to handle either the deal on offer or a no deal. I was on the order paper for questions to the department for Health and Social Care. I pressed the UK Government to pass the prescribing of medical cannabis to doctors and the dispensing to pharmacists as the current set up is not working. My plea fell on deaf ears. I hosted an event for gambling awareness which was attended by over a dozen outside agencies and nearly 40 Members. It was a tremendous opportunity for them to network and build alliances that will be required as we attempt to address gambling related harm. At the end of the House sitting the Conservative and Unionist Government were thoroughly beaten by a humiliating margin of 230 votes as the Brexit deal was rejected. Finally, after months of cajoling the Labour party brought forward a vote of no confidence in the government.

Wednesday

I, along with my SNP colleagues met with the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP. She was down for talks with the Prime Minister and took time from her busy schedule to chat informally with the SNP group about a range of topics. Prior to the debate on the vote of no confidence we had Scottish questions during which the Secretary of State for Scotland talked down Scotland and our abilities. Nothing new there then. The Prime Minister struggled through Prime Minister’s Question but despite being beaten and on the ropes like a boxer who has been on the receiving end of too many defeats, the leader of the opposition never laid a glove on her. I attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Faroe Islands. It’s fascinating to learn how a small nation with so few resources and massive logistical problems can be such a success. In the evening the U.K. Government survived the vote of no confidence as we all knew it would. The DUP votes being crucial.

Thursday

After the shenanigans of the last week it was back to business today. I summed up in a Westminster Hall debate on ‘Rail Infrastructure Investment’. It was based around a report by the Select Committee on Transport of which I am a member. A quick dash to the airport and I caught the early evening flight home.

Friday

I had a very busy morning with a mixture of meetings with constituents and organisations. In the afternoon I highlighted the increasing trend for companies to charge for using ATMs. Mid-afternoon I had a meeting with senior council officers and then attended the James Watt celebrations at Cowan’s corner.

 

Westminster diary w/b 7th January

Monday

First day back at Westminster after the winter recess. It’s always good to catch up with friends and colleagues at Westminster after any break but there is a palpable air of disbelief and great concern hanging over the place now. The constant echoing of “happy new year” ringing round the halls sounded a little hollow, as at this moment it looks like anything but a “happy” new year. The Brexit vote had been delayed with the hope that the one and only deal that is on offer could be improved but it hasn’t so instead more time has been wasted. I was on the order paper for oral questions to the Department for Work and Pensions. I took the opportunity to raise a specific local Universal Credit case and the minister has agreed to discuss this with me. The reaction from some heartless folk in social media has been appalling. They have been very quick to jump to the wrong conclusions and sit in judgement on a person they have no knowledge of. There was an urgent question on some legal aspects of the European Union Withdrawal Bill. A great deal of the focus was on the awarding of a ferry service contract in the event of a no deal, to a company that has no ferries and has never operated any. The usual methods of scrutinising such contracts was waved under regulation 32 which can only happen in extreme unforeseeable circumstances. Given that the UK Government has admitted to having people working on scenarios for two years now I am more than surprised that they can’t reveal what the extreme unforeseeable circumstances are. It’s almost like they are incapable of following their own rules. In the evening I attended and spoke at the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Catalonia. The deputy speaker Josef Costa also spoke and the following day met with his counterpart at Westminster.

Tuesday

The Select Committee for Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs took evidence on the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), in-particular aspects gas of how the ombudsman handles complaints against the NHS in England and Wales. I had a private meeting Charles and Liz Ritchie whose son Jack tragically committed suicide as a direct result of his gambling addiction. Charles and Liz have launched an organisation (Gambling with Lives) to work as a pressure group to change the laws around gambling, gambling advertising and gambling education and support. I wish them well with this venture and I shall continue to give them as much support as I can. The end of the evening was dominated by one vote. The outcome is that the UK government will have to come up with a new plan within three days if the EU withdrawal deal is rejected next Tuesday.

Wednesday

My first engagement was a Delegated Legislation committee. This was mostly rubber stamping changes from the Finance Bill to improve the investment in the oil and gas sector. It doesn’t go as far as I would like but we have to work with what we have so I was t about to oppose the amendments.

Prime Ministers Questions was another poor event but that was made up for at least in entertainment value by the subsequent rash of points of order. For the best part of an hour the Conservative and Unionist Party and then the Labour Party ripped into each other over the legitimacy of the speaker allowing an amendment to the Withdraw Bill. Conservatives in particular were apoplectic with rage each adamant that they were right and anything else was a constitutional outrage. When I was leaving the chamber a very senior ex Conservative cabinet minister said to me “once again the only party that gained anything from that was the Scottish National Party”. He wasn’t wrong. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) met and changed our name to the APPG on Gambling Related Harm. This allows us to extent our areas of investigation. The FOBT campaign has moulder us into an effective campaigning group and we are not going to stop now.

Thursday

Due to the change in chamber business and the rescheduling of the meaningful vote, Thursday suddenly became very quiet. I took the opportunity to catch up on select committee reports. Sometimes, because I am on two select committees, it’s beneficial to take time away from Westminster and read up on the ongoing enquiries otherwise it can all rush past in a blur. I caught the four PM flight home.

Friday

I visited the newly opened dentist surgery in Kilmacolm. This is one of the latest ventures by Puneet Gupta. It’s great to see local people investing in local businesses. Last time I was there it was a bank. I never know which is more uncomfortable, a visit to my financial adviser or a visit to my Dentist. Given that they are both my daughters I should say they are both pain free and beneficial. In the afternoon I visited the police command and control centre in Govan.

On Saturday I shall be attending the beach clean-up at Lunderston Bay and then working on various town centre stalls where I am gathering signatures for a petition to halt the roll out of Universal Credit.

Westminster diary w/b 17th December

Monday

My early morning meeting got cancelled at the last minute so a quick reshuffle of the diary sees me grab the next flight to London. The first notable event in the chamber is another statement from the Prime Minister regarding the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. These increasingly regular statements remind me of the weather updates you see on the TV when the weather is particularly bad and everybody needs reassured but at the same time are being told to baton down the hatches. The most intriguing part of the statement was when in three sentences the Prime Minister changed position three times over the Irish border. “The backstop will not need to be triggered” was followed by “If the backstop were nevertheless to be triggered” which in the next line became, the EU would negotiate “a subsequent agreement that would replace the backstop”. It is that sort of muddled thinking that has got us in to the mess we are in now. Thankfully the select committee on transport was a more focused event. We are looking at ‘Active Travel’. It was interesting to hear how towns and cities are working towards increasing access for cyclists and pedestrians. There are more cars on the road now than ever before but we are using them less. The SNP Scottish Government recently announced an investment of £80 million annually in cycling and walking to encourage a greater shift towards active travel. This fits in nicely with work being undertaken in Inverclyde by Sustrans Scotland and Community Tracks. I should have been attending a reception in the Irish Parliament but events once again caused a change to planned business.

Tuesday

Jeremy Corbyn has lodged a motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister. It’s a complete waste of time as even if he were to miraculously win it, it is not a binding vote. To rectify the situation the SNP, Greens , Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru get together and lodge an amendment to completely replace the motion with a vote of no confidence in the government. That is compliant with the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011 section 2 and therefore the outcome of that would be binding. If the government lost that vote they would have 14 days to form a government that had the confidence of parliament and if not we would have a General Election. With the SNP running high in the polls it is an outcome I would welcome. Meanwhile the day job involves the Select Committee on Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs taking evidence on strategic leadership in the civil service. The SNP secured a debate on Brexit under the standing order 24 (SO24). The debate was oversubscribed and easily filled the time allocated to it. I attended a drop in event to promote the campaign for votes at 16.

Wednesday

The Labour motion was not taken and therefore our amendment falls. Overnight the SNP, Greens, Lib Dem’s and Plaid Cymru launched our own motion of no confidence in the UK Government. It remains to be seen if they are prepared to pick up the gauntlet. Prime Minister’s Questions started with each side wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and quickly descended into the usual exchange of abuse. The irony seems to be completely lost in that place. The rancour continued into a series of points of order at the end of PMQs after Jeremy Corbyn was accused of calling the Prime Minister a “stupid woman”. The speaker came under extreme pressure from Conservative and Unionist MPs. It is just the latest in a series of examples of the abuse that flows back and forward in the chamber, including two aimed at SNP members in the last week. I stayed for the Home office statement on immigration post Brexit. A sorry state of affairs that will leave Scotland worse off as was pointed out by my SNP colleague Stuart C McDonald MP when he said “these policies will make the UK poorer economically, socially and in terms of opportunity. They do not signify a ‘global Britain’ – but an inward-looking Tory government and a Prime Minister obsessed with net migration targets.” An SO24 request from Keir Stammer MP was delayed by thirty two minutes of additional points of orders. Including points of order saying why are wasting time with points of order. Westminster has finally descended into bedlam. The request was granted and the debate on leaving the E.U. with no deal took place. A quick dash to the airport and I managed to catch the 19:30 flight home.

Thursday

My early return from Westminster allowed me to meet with Home-Start Inverclyde to discuss how they help to provide children with have a happy and secure childhood with the aim to help them achieve their full potential. In the afternoon I visited the Amnesty International Photographic exhibition in the Beacon Arts Centre.

Friday

Constituency cases took up most of the day and after work I had a catch up with my SNP Councillor colleagues.

Westminster diary w/b 10th December

Monday

All of today’s plans got wiped as the UK Government decided after three days of debate and 164 speeches that the next two days of debate would not take place and that the Meaningful Vote scheduled for Tuesday wasn’t that meaningful after all. The Select Committee for Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs met to consider our latest report. The timing of our report ‘Confidence motions and the Fixed Term Parliament Act’ could not have been better. As of Monday the future of the current Prime Minister, Government and Parliament were all tenuous. Erskine May (the big book of Parliamentary process) became very popular in the House of Commons library while the plotters and schemers huddled together in corridors and lobbies. Amidst the nonsensical rhetoric and political posturing, work did continue. I met with the Minister for Defence Procurement regarding the Type 31e frigate programme. Three consortiums have been given £4.5 million pounds each to bring forward a design. The winning design will then get the contract to build five type 31e frigates, each with a value of 250 million pounds. Ferguson Marine are represented in two of the three consortiums and I continued to lobby for them to be part of a winning bid.

Tuesday

I was in the chamber to support Norman Lamb’s ten minute rule bill, ‘Cannabis regulation and legislation’. The purpose of the rule is to facilitate a debate on the subject, unfortunately that opportunity was voted down. The SNP had a free vote but Labour were whipped to abstain. Why they won’t even debate the subject is beyond me. We then had a debate on the reason for cancelling a debate. This was not Westminster’s finest hour. As the evening drew to a close it was becoming clear that the Prime Minister was going to face a vote of no confidence from her own party. The process demands that 48 Conservative and Unionists MPs have to submit a letter asking her to resign. This number was reached with apparent ease. Whatever happened to ‘strong and stable’?

Wednesday

My day started at a Delegated Legislation committee. It was not contentious as it was simply moving existing laws regarding merchant shipping’s recognised organisations from the jurisdiction of the European Union to United Kingdom Parliament. There have been a host of these committees doing the same thing for hundreds of laws. All these laws that Brexiteers were so opposed to, have been accepted by the U.K. and nobody batted an eyelid. The Tory rebels got there vote but failed to remove their leader. The Prime Minister won by 200 to 117 votes and lives to stumble on. She has said she will not stand at the next election. Now all we have to sort out is Brexit! Because Westminster has become a moving feast we have regular briefings on the state of play at the procedures that may or may not be applicable. Westminster continues to prove that every day is a school day.

Thursday

Disaster as I manage to pull out a temporary filling while flossing. It is a timely reminder that amidst the ruminations of constitutional legislation and having the privilege of participating and witnessing history unfold, everyday life goes on. It’s a slow day in the chamber and most of my day is given up to reading and writing. It’s another privilege of this job that affords me days like this. In the evening I attended a reception and private dining (as much as my lack of tooth would allow) with ex-President of the Government of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont. I got the badly named ‘sleeper’ train up the road.

Friday

Early arrival at Glasgow Central on the overnight train from London. Quick change of platform and down to Greenock. Home for a quick shower and change of clothes and my first meeting is with Peel Ports. Lots to talk about. I meet up with Citizens Advice Scotland. We need to ensure that money allocated to aid the roll out of Universal Credit which is being given to Citizens Advice still comes to Inverclyde despite the fact that we don’t have a Citizens Advice Bureau. In the afternoon I have a number of constituency meetings.

Westminster diary w/b 3rd December

Monday

A calm start to what was going to be a frenetic week. A group of six MPs and a couple of Members of the House of Lords found ourselves on the same flight and the same tube journey to Westminster. Normally we just get on with our own business. We exchange pleasantries but not much more but today the atmosphere is different and our phones are hot as rumour and counter rumour leak and are leaked from London. The only known business of the day is the Prime Minister’s statement after the G20 summit. It’s a statement so there are no votes but it does serve a purpose as the opening salvoes are fired across the government bows. However, they took no notice. They should have.

Tuesday

The UK government flip flop from charm offensive to hostile behaviour, rotating at hourly intervals. They are clearly in a spin and are desperate to assert their authority. The first vote of the day is a government amendment to a ‘Privilege Motion’ it has the title Contempt of House. The amendment seeks to remove the censure of contempt and instead refer the question of publication of legal advice, and the increasing use of the ‘humble address’ mechanism, to the Privileges Committee. The SNP voted against the amendment (so did two Conservative members) and we won 311 to 307. We then voted on the Privilege Motion (un-amended). The motion found Ministers in contempt of the House for refusing to publish the Brexit legal advice, and it ordered immediate publication of the advice. SNP voted AYE and the motion was carried 311 to 293. A point of order followed during which the government confirmed it would publish the legal advice the following day. There then followed an amendment to allow any motion brought to the House under section 13 of the EU Withdrawal Act to be amendable.  Currently the EU Withdrawal Act and Standing Orders only require a neutral, unamendable motion in the event of a no deal situation being declared.  SNP voted AYE along with 25 Conservative Members, and the amendment was carried 321 – 299.  The Business Motion as amended was then carried without division. Then the debate started. I wandered home at midnight leaving a few of my SNP colleagues still in the chamber waiting for their turn to speak.

Wednesday

Despite lots of noise from the benches Prime Ministers Question time was a dull affair. The government were still hurting from losing three votes the night before and didn’t come looking for a fight. I spoke at the Drugs, Alcohol and Justice All Party Parliamentary Group. This group is well represented by those in recovery and those providing the services. There are differences in opinion regarding how services are commissioned but a united belief that safe drug consumption rooms could make a valuable contribution. In the evening I attended a Saint Andrew’s Day event to promote Scottish produce. I was delighted that The New Chocolate Company and The Start-Up Drinks Lab both based in the Kelburn Business Park, Port Glasgow, had produce available. I can confirm that it went down very well.

Thursday

I was twentieth on the business papers for a question to Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and miraculously I was taken. I pressed the Secretary to respect the vote of the Scottish Parliament to reject the withdrawal bill but he chose not to. I spoke in the European Union Withdrawal Act debate. I even threw in a joke from one of Greenock’s favourite sons Chic Murray.  As penance I was in the chamber until eight pm.

Friday

Up with the sparrows in time to catch the Heathrow express and the 7:40 flight to Glasgow. I had a day of surgeries throughout the constituency and in the evening hosted an evening with Lesley Riddoch in the Beacon Arts Centre. Over 120 people took the opportunity to watch two short films about, Norway and The Faroe Islands and then take part in a question and answer session with Lesley. On Sunday I shall be taking part (I didn’t say running) in the Santa Dash organised by Tommy (the clown) Armstrong.