It’s been an incredibly busy three months in Westminster. We have seen the start of a new parliamentary session, opened with the Queen’s Speech in May announcing a raft of new UK Government legislation and priorities.
The announcement included the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, a commitment to the Integrated Defence Review, and an intention to require photo ID for all voters. We also saw the introduction of the Nationality and Borders Bill, which breaches the 1951 Convention of the Status of Refugees and would grossly diminish the rights of people seeking refuge in the UK. I opposed this bill at its first and second reading, and will continue to do so.
As these bills are presented to parliament, it will be as important as ever to ensure government policy and legislation are fully scrutinised, and I look forward to playing my part in this.
Below you can find a summary of my activity in both the constituency and Parliament between April and June.
The team and I have worked as hard as ever to assist constituents on a variety of issues such as housing, immigration and health services to name just a few.
In May the Cambuslang BankHUB Pilot scheme officially launched, a partnership between the Post Office and high street banks to provide in-person banking services to the community. I was delighted to see the innovative new programme in person at the launch and encourage constituents to make use of its services.
In more exciting news for the community, the first phase of construction has begun at the new Clyde Cycle Park. It is wonderful to see a community led project have such success, and I understand that from September the space will be available for a programme of training and coaching for local cycling clubs.
Community Council meetings
- Cambuslang Community Council
- Blantyre Community Council
- Hillhouse Community Council
Constituency meetings and events
- Cambuslang BankHUB Official Opening
- Clyde Cycle Park construction launch in Cambuslang
- Cambuslang Jobcentre Plus visit
- Hypostyle and Springfield Properties, to discuss the proposed housing development on the Hoover site in Cambuslang
- Meeting with Drax to discuss the Daldowie Plant
- Scottish government ministerial briefing on GFG/Liberty Steel
- Cambuslang Rangers u21’s
- Logan Street, Blantyre Tenants and Residents Association
- Stonefield Area Tenants and Residents, Blantyre
- Tenants Information Service Project
- David Livingstone Project, Blantyre
- Scotland Malawi Partnership, update meeting
- British Parking Association, to discuss issues with Gemini Parking in Rutherglen
- First Bus, to discuss a constituent case
- Trussell Trust, to discuss the Hamilton District Foodbank
- Local community Policing Inspectors, to discuss anti-social behaviour issues within the constituency
- Industrial Cadets Bronze Graduation, young people STEM project
- Lanarkshire Carers
- Carers Trust and local carers, as part of Carers Week
- Gamcare, to discuss their integrated care system model
- Briefing from NHS Lanarkshire
- Vaslan Impact Report 20/21 Launch
- Covey Befriending
- Covey Befriending AGM
- Sail Autism
- Alzheimer Scotland
- Briefing by EveryDoctor on NHS privatisation
- Ask the Experts’ briefing on vaccines
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- Mental Health Rights Scotland
- Becoming a Disability Confident Employer event
- Scottish Football Museum at Hampden Park
- Tackling Online Abuse in Football
- Show Racism the Red Card
- Facebook, to discuss changes to ways of working
- Guide Dogs, to discuss the impact of e-scooters on people with sight loss
- Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals AGM
- British Travel Association, to discuss the Global Travel Taskforce report
- Meeting with airports to discuss the impact of traffic-light system for international travel
- Remembering Srebrenica to discuss Srebrenica Memorial Day
- Yachad UK, update on Israel and Palestine
Legislation & Policy
I have continued to actively scrutinise Government policy through participating in debates, asking oral and written questions, and writing to ministers in both the UK and Scottish governments. In June I was able to put a question to the Prime Minister at PMQs, an opportunity I took to press him on the issue of DVSA testing in Scotland. You can find a transcript and video link to my question below.
I was honoured to be selected in the ballot for Private Members Bills at the beginning of the parliamentary session. My draft bill, titled ‘Pension Schemes (Conversion of Guaranteed Minimum Pensions) Bill’ was presented in the House of Commons on 16 June and I’m looking forward to progressing it through the remaining stages.
European Scrutiny Committee
I sit on the European Scrutiny Committee, which has continued to meet weekly. In May the committee held an evidence session with The Rt Hon Lord Frost CMG on the UK’s new relationship with the EU, and in June it opened a new inquiry into the institutional framework of the UK/EU Trade & Cooperation Agreement.
- British Group Inter-Parliamentary Union roundtable with HM Ambassadors for Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine
- British Group Inter-Parliamentary Union virtual bilateral meeting with Austrian parliamentarians
- UK Government Minister on Levelling Up Fund
- Chair of the Local Government and Housing Select Committee to discuss EWS1 requirements
- Parliamentary briefing on the Levelling Up Fund
- Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on budget announcements
- Department for International Trade briefings on Free Trade Agreements and the UK steel industry
- Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and British Group Inter-Parliamentary Union on Myanmar
- Department for Health and Social Care, on vaccine deployment
- British Group Inter-Parliamentary Union briefing from Middle East Ambassadors to the UK
- Parliamentary Vaisakhi 2021 celebration
- Illegal sale of land in the Amazon rainforest event
- UK Trade Remedies Authority Launch
All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) meetings
Over the past three months I attended virtual meetings for a number of APPGs I am a member of, including:
- Ending Need for Food banks
- Photonics and Quantum
- Fire Safety and Rescue
- Gambling Related Harm
- Justice for Equitable Life Policyholders
- Frozen British Pensions
- Gaps in Support
- Night-time Economy
- Future of Aviation
- Parliamentary Human Rights Group
- Dignity in Dying
- Dying Well
- Social Science and Policy
- Cleaning and Hygiene Industry
- Gypsies, Travellers and Roma
- Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
- Britain – Palestine
- Ireland and the Irish in Britain
This quarter I’ve had the honour of participating in five debates spanning a range of topics:
May 18, Queen’s Speech (Affordable and Safe Housing for All): I had the opportunity to present my criticism of the Government’s plans for leasehold reform, which remain insufficient. (video)
May 27, World Press Freedom Day: I had the opportunity to participate in this Westminster Hall debate to mark World Press Freedom Day. I spoke of the attacks on free press by authoritarian governments world over, highlighting particular cases in Belarus and China. (video)
June 10, Aviation, Travel & Tourism: In this debate I highlighted the need for government support in the aviation, travel and tourism industries, which through the pandemic has seen a dramatic collapse in revenue. (video)
June 24, Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership: I had the opportunity to speak in this debate on the merits of UK access to the CPTPP. Although this would be beneficial in rebuilding trade after Brexit, I sought to highlight the potential costs involved and the need to ensure our high standards are maintained. (video)
June 30, Official Development Assistance and the British Council: I had the opportunity to participate in this debate following the UK Government’s cut in Official Development Assistance to 0.5% of the Gross National Income. I sought to highlight the impact on the British Council’s work in a number of specific countries, including Afghanistan and Malawi. (video)
April 13, Treasury (Urgent Question): I pressed the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the conversations between the Chancellor and David Cameron, and the subsequent allocation of public funds to Greensill Capital. (video)
April 15, International Trade: I asked the Department for International Trade what steps they are taking to ensure a level trading field for UK steel producers in relation to the EU and US import controls on steel goods. (video)
April 20, Ministry of Defence (Urgent Question): I asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Defence to confirm the confidence of his department in the Afghan national security forces’ ability to defend it’s government and people in light of the withdrawal of NATO presence in the region. (video)
May 24, Ministry of Defence: I pressed the Secretary of State for Defence on the cost of the UK nuclear warhead replacement project and if this funding will impact conventional defence programmes. (video)
June 14, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs (Urgent Question): I pressed the Minister of State for Asia on the Uyghur Tribunal, and asked whether the Prime Minister intends to highlight the horrific abuse of the Uyghur people in any dialogue he has with China. (video)
June 21, Education: I pressed the Secretary of State on the issue of sprinkles in English schools. Many expert stakeholders have called for Ministers to bring regulations in England in line with Scotland and Wales, where sprinklers are compulsory. (video)
June 24, Business of the House: I asked the Leader of the House of Commons to schedule a debate or statement on the execution of personal independence payment (PIP) reviews during the pandemic, which has been a persistent issue that has affected some of my own constituents. (video)
Asked April 13, Treasury: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of reducing Vehicle Excise Duty for cars initially priced in excess of £40,000 that are being resold second-hand.
Asked April 14, Women and Equalities: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what plans she has for the replacement of the recently-disbanded LGBT Advisory Panel.
Asked April 14, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his Turkish counterpart on the arrest of Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu.
Asked May 11, Housing, Communities and Local Government: To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to (a) simplify and (b) homogenise across local authorities the process of applying for business rates relief in respect of the Government’s £1.5 billion business rates relief fund for businesses in England outside of the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors which have been affected by the covid-19 outbreak.
Asked May 11, Housing, Communities and Local Government: To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what discussions he has had with businesses which have applied for Additional Restrictions Grant funding; and if he will apply lessons learnt from the administration of that scheme to the new £1.5 billion Business Rates Relief Fund for businesses affected by covid-19 outside the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.
Asked May 11, Treasury: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential economic effect on the wholesale sector of the length of time taken to allocate funding under the new business rates relief fund.
Asked May 11, Treasury: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department has plans to bring forward legislative proposals to provide support for business rates to businesses outside the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors that have been affected by the covid-19 outbreak.
Asked May 11, Treasury: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he we will meet with the Federation of Wholesale Distributors to discuss developing a business rates support system for businesses affected by the covid-19 outbreak outside the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.
Asked May 11, Treasury: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of including wholesalers in the guidance for local authorities on the administration of the new Business Rates Relief Fund.
Asked May 13, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will allocate sector-specific funding to bingo clubs.
Asked May 14, Transport: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department plans to publish the criteria being used for the traffic light system for reopening international travel including the assigning of countries to the amber list.
Asked May 14, Transport: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department’s traffic light system for reopening international travel will include an island policy to reopen routes to relatively low risk regions of nations as was implemented in Summer 2020.
Asked May 14, Transport: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an assessment of how the limited number of countries being given green light status during the covid-19 outbreak will affect the aviation, travel and tourism industries.
Asked May 26, Transport: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of reduced airline passenger numbers during the covid-19 outbreak on airport-based vehicle rental businesses (a) between March 2020 until May 2021 and (b) over the next six months.
Asked May 26, Transport: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the Government is taking to support airport-based vehicle rental businesses over the next six months.
Asked May 27, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of recent comments by the President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, urging the UK Government to take action on the flow of money to autocratic regimes via the UK.
Asked May 27, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Lithuanian counterpart on what steps (a) the UK Government and (b) NATO can take to assist in securing Lithuanian airspace in the aftermath of the recent hijacking of Flight FR4978 and kidnapping of Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich.
Asked June 7, Home Office: For what reason her Department continues to monitor asylum seekers’ usage of Aspen Cards.
Asked June 14, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what human rights issues and cases of concern he raised when he met Saudi officials during his visit to Saudi Arabia on 7 June 2021.
Asked June 14, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he raised the (a) assassination of Jamal Khashoggi and (b) the cases of detained Saudi activists (i) Abdulkarim Al-Khoder, (ii) Fowzan Al-Harbi, (iii) Dr. Mohammad Al-Qahtani, (iv) Mohamed Al-Otaibi, (v) Raif Badawi, (vi) Samar Badawi and (vii) Nassima al-Sadah, when he met Saudi officials during his visit to Saudi Arabia on 7 June 2021.
Asked June 14, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, which officials he met when he visited the Kurdistan Region of Iraq on 9 June 2021.
Asked June 14, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what human rights issues and cases of concern he raised when he met the President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Nechirvan Barzani, and his officials on 9 June 2021.
Asked June 14, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he made on (a) violations of freedom of the media and expression and (b) the cases of (i) Sherwan Sherwani, (ii) Ayaz Karam Brushki, (iii) Kohidar Mohammed Zebari and (iv) other arbitrarily detained journalists and activists when he met the President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Nechirvan Barzani, and his officials on 9 June 2021.
Asked June 14, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what human rights issues and cases of concern he raised when he met Iraqi officials during his visit to Baghdad on 8 June 2021.
Asked June 21, Transport: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an assessment of the viability of permitting e-scooter use (a) on roads, (b) on cycle lanes and (c) in other public spaces.
Asked June 23, Prime Minister: To ask the Prime Minister, whether he discussed human rights in Bahrain with the Crown Prince, the Prime Minister of Bahrain, Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa and accompanying Bahraini officials at their meeting on 17 June.
Asked June 23, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of implications for his policies of the UN Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict; and what steps the Government is taking to hold perpetrators of grave violations against children to account.
Asked June 23, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will make representations to the UN Secretary-General on the omission of the Saudi and Emirati-led Coalition in the UN Secretary-General’s annual list of perpetrators of grave violations against children.
Early Day Motions (EDMs)
In the last three months I have tabled six Early Day Motions:
EDM 1733: Cleaning up Cambuslang Campaign: That this House welcomes the creation of the Cleaning up Cambuslang campaign, set up to involve local residents in tackling the litter problem in Cambuslang; notes that at present the Cleaning up Cambuslang Facebook group has 110 volunteer members engaged in litter collection during daily walks; expresses its gratitude to local company, J Johnstone Plumbing and Heating, which has sponsored the campaign and purchased the first 15 litter picking sticks for the group; recognises the engagement of South Lanarkshire Council and local schools with the group; acknowledges the production of a joint strategy between Cleaning up Cambuslang and South Lanarkshire Council for uplift of waste collected; and urges local businesses and organisations in Cambuslang and its surrounding areas to consider sponsoring the Cleaning up Cambuslang campaign.
EDM 1743: Elevation of Knock Shrine to International Sanctuary of Special Eucharistic and Marian Devotion: That this House notes that Pope Francis has elevated the National Sanctuary of Our Lady of Knock in Knock, Co. Mayo, Ireland as an International Sanctuary of Special Eucharistic and Marian Devotion on 19 March 2021; acknowledges the contribution to this achievement of Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary, who initiated the petition to the Holy See for recognition of Knock as an international shrine, and Fr. Richard Gibbons, Rector of Knock Shrine, who has welcomed pilgrims and visitors from around the world since being appointed Knock Parish Priest in 2012 and plans to continue to do so in the future when international travel resumes; recognises the importance of this recognition for Irish Catholics and all Catholics around the world; and congratulates them on this momentous occasion in their ecclesiastical life.
EDM 8: Joseph Robertson-Ball: That this house congratulates seven year old Joseph Robertson-Ball from Rutherglen, who has just donated his hair to the Little Princess Trust after growing it out for three years; acknowledges the important work of the Little Princess Trust in turning real hair into wigs for children who have lost their hair as part of cancer treatments; recognises that besides donating his hair, Joseph has also raised £1145 for Cash 4 Kids through sponsorship; and thanks Joseph for his fantastic contribution to both those causes.
EDM 9: Cambuslang BankHub: That this House welcomes the opening of the BankHUB pilot in Cambuslang, which provides in-situ community banking services to the residents of Cambuslang and the surrounding area; welcomes the joint initiative of the Post Office, commercial banks, the Community Cash Pilot and Cambuslang Community Council in securing that scheme for the residents of the local community; encourages the residents of Cambuslang and the surrounding area to take advantage of that pilot scheme; and commits to working toward its extension beyond the present planned end of the scheme in October 2021.
EDM 62: Hannah Airlie and St John Ogilvie High School: That this House recognises the achievement of 16-year-old Hannah Airlie from Burnbank, South Lanarkshire, who has won second place in a UK-wide competition organised by Linklaters law firm; notes that the competition urged entrants to explore via presentation the question, What are the greatest opportunities and challenges businesses may face during a post-covid world?; acknowledges that Hannah is the only pupil from Scotland and one of only five pupils across the UK who qualified for the Grand Final of that competition, where she presented her thoughts before a panel of top lawyers from Linklaters; congratulates her on her second place position in the Grand Final and the £1000 award she has won for her school, St John Ogilvie High School; and wishes her the best of luck in all her future academic and career endeavours.
EDM 268: Srebrenica Memorial Week 2021: That this House notes that from 4 to 11 July 2021, the UK will mark Srebrenica Memorial Week with commemorations taking place in hundreds of schools, local authorities, places of worship, community centres, and police forces to name but a few, all of which bring the nation together in powerful acts of remembrance to mark the 26th anniversary of the Bosnian genocide; further notes the theme for this year is Rebuilding Lives, which will enable individuals to gain an insight into the challenges that those who survive genocide and ethnic cleansing face and how they have been able to overcome these challenges whilst encouraging others to think about our own responsibility in ensuring that prejudice does not take root in our communities; recognises the courage of the survivors who continue to be a source of inspiration, and who despite experiencing the very worst of humanity, have shown great strength and determination to rebuild their lives; and commends the work done by the charity Remembering Srebrenica who since 2013 have educated 130,000 young people on the lessons from Srebrenica, enabled over 1,800 community actions to take place right across the country each year, and have created 1,450 Community Champions who pledge to stand up to hatred and intolerance in their communities.