It was a very busy Thursday in the House this week, with the usual departmental oral question sessions followed by a number of Government announcements.
First we had questions to the Cabinet Office ministerial team, where I had the opportunity to put two questions to Ministers on two important topics. The first, about delivering civil service jobs outside of London, gave me the opportunity to ask whether plans for regeneration would lead to the department opening offices in my constituency.
During questions to the Minister for Veterans, I highlighted an ongoing case I have with one of my constituents still waiting for their military pension, more than a year after applying. The Minister confirmed he was aware of the case from my previous correspondence and committed to investigate it again. You can watch the oral question session on ParliamentTV.
An Urgent Question was then put to the Minister at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport about the newly published report on the Independent Fan-Led Review into Football Governance. I noted the suggestion that the longstanding ban on drinking alcohol in stands could be lifted and asked the Minister how the Government would mitigate any rise in anti-social behaviour as a result. You can read a transcript of my question in Hansard, or watch it on ParliamentTV.
Next up was the usual Business Statement from the Leader of the House. I asked the Leader to join me in congratulating the 8,500 people in Rutherglen and Cambuslang who walked a collective 118,000 miles for the ‘Beat the Street’ campaign, and asked whether he would schedule a debate on the benefits of exercise to our physical and mental wellbeing.
Following this, the Secretary of State for Defence gave a statement on plans for restructuring the armed forces. It was a very lengthy statement that covered a number of plans in areas such as innovation, strategy and personnel numbers. I pressed the Secretary of State to confirm that his plans will prioritise the safety of women soldiers, and asked what steps he will be taking to do so.
Finally, a Westminster Hall debate was held to mark International Men’s Day, which was on Friday 19th November. I was pleased to have the chance to give a speech in this debate where I spoke to a number of issues that men face stemming from social isolation. I spoke about the impact this can have on mental and physical wellbeing for all men, and particularly those from ethnic minority backgrounds. I also spoke about single fathers, and some of the difficulties they may face as a result of some outdated societal stigmas.
But most importantly, I drew attention to the excellent work being done by the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association, who provide relaxed and volunteer led spaces for men to come together and socialise. These Sheds have had an enormous impact on the wellbeing of men of all ages that have attended. You can read more about the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association on their website.