WHILE business at Westminster remains slow I am able to do more in Inverclyde. I take the opportunity to catch up with casework, which is the beating heart of any parliamentary office.

I had an interview on Universal Basic Income in the afternoon before attending a very well attended briefing from the company wishing to build a battery storage facility between the Pennyfern estate and the Cut.

I sensed a reticence to engage openly with those attending and a weariness about the pitch. If they want to be part of the Inverclyde community, they will have to do better than that. I was not impressed.

I caught the last flight down to London.


THE All-Party Parliamentary Group on Industrial Hemp and CBD products met to hear from the financial investors who wish to fund the industry.

We discussed the Home Office issues that are making it hard to invest, namely the Proceeds of Crime Act which encompasses the growing of hemp because it contains THC. It’s an example of a little knowledge being a bad thing.

I spoke in the chamber on the amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The UK Government wanted to reclassify nitrous oxide, which would effectively make it a criminal offence to possess it. This will make legal use of it complicated and it will criminalise more and more young people.

The existing laws, in the Psychoactive Substances Act, already give the police the power to arrest those selling it illegally. This change is just a knee jerk reaction to the come-down-hard-on-crime brigade when in actual fact it will make things worse.

Some Labour MPs spoke out very strongly against this change, but they were dissuaded from voting with the SNP and the government won the vote.


I HAD an early meeting with MPs from the Conservative and Labour parties to discuss the pending gambling white paper. Three of us then had a meeting with the minister responsible, Stuart Andrew MP. We need to have a concerted effort to get all the consultations completed and press this through parliament before we are further constrained by a general election.

The minister needs to bid for time to debate in the Commons and we need to get a move on. If we have a change of UK Government we could find ourselves back at the beginning again.

The new labour shadow minister is, to say the least, not known for her criticism of the gambling industry.

Scottish Questions was notable for the answer from the Secretary of State when he said he would not block the creation of a Drug Consumption Room. I attended the All Part Parliamentary Group on alcohol, drugs and justice to hear from voluntary organisations about their role. Funding is a huge issue and they often find themselves competing against each other. I caught a late flight home.


BACK in Inverclyde but off to Edinburgh. I went to the Scottish Parliament to have meetings with trade union representatives to talk about Ferguson Marine and then government ministers to discuss the progression of drug consumption rooms. This has been planned for some time and hopefully we can progress quickly, but it is not something we take lightly and the safety of staff and clients is paramount.


I STARTED the day with a beach clean-up organised by Stuart McMillan MSP.

We then hosted the National Lottery Heritage Fund in the Beacon. The aim is to get as many local organisations familiar with the application process and therefore boost the money being granted to Inverclyde.

In the evening, I attended the Icon awards in the Town Hall along with the Chamber of Commerce