MONDAY March 5
On Monday I responded for the SNP to Sajid Javid's statement on the overhaul of the National Policy Planning framework in England (although the announcements, such as they were, had been largely pre-empted by May earlier that day)
I offered him some suggestions for additional action based on the SNP government strategies and results but - well, see his response! Can't see why the Sec of State wouldn't at least be interested in hearing alternative approaches but even the mention of ending Right to Buy caused him to almost choke on his words as he spat out a response:
Some of our exchange featured on Radio 4's Today in Parliament that evening - although according to the BBC's reporter I was "not letting modesty get in the way of (my) question" - not sure why I should be modest about our Scottish Government's record in this area, while *always* acknowledging the need to do much more.
Tuesday morning was Scottish Affairs Committee and more evidence for our Digital Connectivity Scotland Inquiry - particularly interesting to hear from smaller organisations with imaginative solutions for our remoter rural areas that are already yielding good results.
In the afternoon, I co-hosted with other MPs an event for the Kennel Club, around the horrible electric shock dog collars. While their use has already been banned in Scotland after energetic campaigning by my colleague Ben Macpherson MSP, their sale can only be banned by Westminster as the powers to do this are still reserved. There seems to be some movement lately on this after huge numbers of the public have supported the call for stopping this barbaric practice. I understand a consultation and proposals for a ban are set to be announced shortly. Thanks to everyone who got involved in the campaign!
On Wednesday I got a question in to the Secretary of State for Scotland at Scottish questions:
Not much of a response to an entirely reasonable question as you can see!
Later on that day I spoke in a Westminster Hall debate entitled Local Museums, where I was very pleased to talk a little about the City of Edinburgh Council's wonderful Museums Service team which I had the great good fortune to work with in my time as Convenor for Culture and Leisure.
I also raised the drastic cuts of up to 40% central government funding to local authorities in England - several of the English MPs referenced this as having a severe effect on the services such as local museums that council services were able to offer.
Later that evening, along with other SNP colleagues, I attended a reception for Scottish Chambers of Commerce, having several fascinating discussions with a variety of business representatives from Scotland - and on the day before International Women's Day it was a real pleasure to catch up with the dynamic Liz Cameron its Chief Exec!
On Thursday at DEFRA questions I asked whether agricultural subsidies from Westminster after Brexit would be largely targeted towards food production; the Minister seemed a little confused by this, or perhaps he simply isn't ready to reveal the answer just yet. I have some concerns that Gove's supposedly 'green' plan will subsidise wealthy landowners such as shooting estates over the small farmers... something I'll be keeping a close eye on.
I then fronted for the SNP in a statement from the Home Office on the developing situation around Sergei and Yulia Skripal.
Finally I spoke in the International Women's Day debate in the afternoon. Here's my speech (or read transcript here):-
After the debate I managed to catch the 6pm train Thursday, home around 10.45pm.
Friday was a very busy round of constituency meetings, including an update with the Leith Theatre team - great to hear of all the very positive developments in that project including their plans for the extra million pounds they have received from the council.
Really looking forward to the 2018 Hidden Doors Festival too after their rundown of its programme too.
On Saturday morning I was at a busy Fairtrade event at Out of the Blue (thanks to Athol and Karen holding up the t-shirt below!) and a Big Brew Traidcraft coffee morning, kindly hosted by Anne Mackenzie (below). This involved delicious fairly traded food and tea and coffee and good conversation (political and otherwise!) with her guests. A bit of disappointment was expressed at supermarkets seeming to be slipping back a bit on their commitment to Fairtrade - fewer displays it seems, with less produce on offer. I'll be sure to raise this with supermarkets in the area.
Hope that gives a flavour of my work last week. I'm back down at Westminster but my Edinburgh office is staffed Monday to Friday and my drop-in surgeries are listed on this website as well as local press, posters and my facebook page ('like' the page to follow my daily musings!). Please get in touch if there's anything you want to discuss.