A Week in Parliament

Michelle Mone

One of my colleagues, Stewart MacDonald made a reference on twitter to the effect that Baroness Mone of Mayfair, has hardly done any work in the House of Lords since she was ennobled. This produced an angry reaction with her labelling him an “SNP MORON” and observing she will be a peer for life, whereas he is just an MP who could lose his seat. She thus highlighted perfectly the ridiculous situation of someone being appointed a Lord for life, while MPs live and die by election results.

That someone from the East End of Glasgow, and allegedly proud of that fact, takes a title of “Mayfair” also shows the ridiculous nature of the Lords.

Trade Bill

I was relieved to see the end of the Trade Bill Committee. It is important work but with four bill sessions in one week, it is very time consuming when taking into account the necessary reading and preparation. Another Westminster quirk I have noticed is that when opposition parties table amendments, the Government without fail votes them down. However, sometimes the Government then brings them back as Government amendments at the next stage, claiming to have listened to the scrutiny of the committee. I have still to reach an understanding of the logic of not accepting first time round.

Additionally, both the Scottish and Welsh Governments have stated that unless the bill is amended then they will not give it permission to be enacted in the relevant parliaments. I challenged the Minster on this several times and he acknowledged how clear I was on this aspect and that he was listening. Yet, I still do not know what changes he is willing to bring given he voted all amendments down. Once again, I can reflect and think there must be a more efficient way of doing things.

Restoration and Renewal of Westminster

The Westminster Parliament has taken a decision to spend billions of pounds to refurbish the place. It is obscene amounts of money and for the other parties, all they cared about was whether the refurbishment should be undertaken in a shorter timeframe. Some argued that it would not be right to consider a new build parliament as new build projects always go over budget. They argued that we should not decant as more work will be identified as needing done and therefore the decant will end up being longer. So on one hand they argue refurbishment is cheaper and on the other they acknowledge it is so complex that issues will arise.  It is clearly a ludicrous proposition to completely refurbish the place working around MPs and staff and obvious that costs are better estimated for a new build compared to refurbishment. We also had the absurd position of a Tory MP arguing that the fire risk to the place is not as great as made out…due to all the asbestos in the building! It seems my wish of a museum open all day every day will not happen.

These thoughts were first published in the Kilmarnock Standard.