Last week’s Parliamentary recess was cancelled by the Prime Minister under the guise of the need to progress important Brexit business. As expected, it was little more than a PR stunt from a Tory Government driven by division and devoid of any effectiveness in or out with parliament.
City AM has since reported that the PR stunt cost taxpayers £400,000 – and there wasn’t even voting on Brexit bills.
Despite views to the contrary, recess is anything but a holiday for most MPs – it is time we use to meet with local groups and businesses. For me, it is also an opportunity to hold more surgeries in an area that covers Fort Augustus, Inverness and Nairn, to Laggan and everything in between.
Despite the Government’s unconvincing stunt, like many other MPs, I had to be in Parliament just in case of urgent votes, meaning travel plans had to be changed, meetings cancelled, advice surgeries rescheduled and visits to community groups delayed. Meanwhile, hundreds of staff including; security guards, caterers, cleaners and parliamentary aides had to change scheduled time off to be in Parliament.
And for what?
Instead of actually dealing with the Brexit crisis we face, the Government scheduled a series of general debates. Thursday’s business included discussions on the future of bell ringing and escalator stairways.
This ineptitude also extends to Ministerial departments. A point I made to the Leader of the House when I highlighted that MPs are regularly expected to wait several months for Ministerial responses to queries raised on behalf of constituents.
Similarly, four weeks ago, I raised the case of Denis Omondi, whose daughter has been refused a visa to come live with him and his wife, with the Prime Minister. At that time, the Home Secretary gave me his personal assurances he would look into the case. An assurance that didn’t matter for much when I had to raise the matter again, with the Scottish Secretary after Home Office staff couldn’t locate the paperwork last week. Thankfully, after my intervention the paperwork mysteriously reappeared – you couldn’t make it up.
Westminster is a shambles and worryingly it is those who most need our help who are bearing the brunt.
We can do better in Scotland with more powers.
In the meantime, even in between ridiculous debates on ringing debates, I will continue to make your voice heard on the issues that matter to you and your family.