Last week started with Oral Questions to the ministerial team at the Department for Work and Pensions, where I took the opportunity to press the Secretary of State on media reports that morning, that the Department was cutting thousands of Jobcentre Work Coaches but keeping those at the lowest grade. You can read a transcript of my exchange with the Minister in Hansard, or watch it on ParliamentTV.
Later that day a Westminster Hall debate was held on Laboratory Animals & The Animal Welfare Act, which had been prompted by this e-petition. I made three interventions during the debate, stressing the need for legislative interventions preventing unnecessary animal experiments, which could be done through changes to the Act. I also highlighted developments in gene-based medicine, which is personalised through analysis of a patient’s DNA and could not be replicated through animal testing, and expressed my concern to the Minister that there is a lack of much needed oversight and accountability for these policies at the Home Office, where responsibility for this issue sits. You can watch the debate on ParliamentTV.
On Tuesday morning I spoke in another Westminster Hall debate, this time focusing on the Yazidi genocide perpetrated by Daesh. In my speech I urged the Government to acknowledge the atrocities against the Yazidis and Christians in the region as a genocide and spoke to some of the horrors faced by victims, like the 2,763 Yazidi women and children still missing after seven years. You can read a transcript of my speech in Hansard, or watch it on ParliamentTV.
In the afternoon, I participated in the Opposition Day debate on the Cost of Living and Food Insecurity, making two interventions. First I highlighted the huge increase in benefits sanctions implemented by the DWP, which increased fivefold in August 2021 compared with June. I also spoke to the unfair age-related levels of Universal Credit payments, which see young parents receive less than those above the age of 25, forcing children to grow up in poverty based solely on their parents age. You can watch the debate on ParliamentTV.
Thursday was a rather busy day, with two Backbench Business debates scheduled. At weekly Business Questions to the Leader of the House of Commons, I welcomed the Minister to his new position and informed him of the coming weekend’s event at Hamilton Accies football club for The Big Step challenge, a campaign to end all gambling advertising and sponsorship in football. The campaign is part of Gambling with Lives, a charity set up by families bereaved by gambling-related suicide to raise awareness of the dangers of gambling related harm. I asked him to schedule a debate on the upcoming White Paper on the Gambling Act and how those with lived experience can influence future legislation. You can read a transcript of my question in Hansard, or watch it on ParliamentTV.
If you would like to access support through Gambling with Lives, or are interested in learning more about their work, you can find their website here.
We then began a debate on UK-Taiwan Friendship and Co-operation, which focused on a range of policy areas such as trade and defence. In my speech I sought to illustrate the huge steps taken by Taiwan that have led to their rating as the number one democracy in Asia and the stark contrast with the authoritarian state of China. I also highlighted the economic value of trade between Scotland and Taiwan, who are the fourth largest importer of Scotch whisky. I called on the Government to support Taiwan’s future involvement with the United Nations as an active participant where they would have much expertise to offer. You can read a transcript of my speech in Hansard, or watch it on ParliamentTV.
This was followed by a debate on dementia research, a key health issue across the UK but also in my constituency, where the condition was the leading cause of death in women in 2020. I spoke about the contrast in funding for conditions like cancer and dementia, and how the funding of cancer research has allowed the scientific community to make huge leaps in treatment and subsequently, life expectancy. I also highlighted the excellent work being undertaken by the Glasgow Brain Injury Research Group based in the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, who are currently researching the link between repeated traumatic brain injuries (which can be incurred through sports like football and rugby) and later development of dementia. You can read a transcript of my speech in Hansard, or watch it on ParliamentTV.