MY WEEK -
37th Edition
October 31st, 2016

Monday 24th October

My Column appears in The National every Monday, scroll down the right side to read the full article.
Photo: The National
On Monday afternoon I went to the weekly meeting of the SNP Westminster Economic Team meeting during which we discussed our strategy for the session of Treasury Questions the following day.

Following that meeting I went to the Chamber to listen to the Prime Minister's statement on her first European Council in Brussels as Prime Minister. Mrs May failed to convince the Chamber that she had been able to establish a fruitful dialogue with her European counterparts regarding Brexit. 

You can watch the session here :


Tuesday 25th October

On Tuesday morning, I went to an early meeting of the Treasury Select Committee. As part of the Committee's inquiry into the UK tax system, we heard evidence from a panel of representatives of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales, the Federation of Small Businesses and HMRC.

You can watch the session here:

 


The meeting of the TSC started and ended early to allow members to make their way and be on time for the session of questions to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I had the opportunity to ask the Chancellor about on RBS misconduct relating to small business finance.

You can watch my question here :


Following the session of Treasury questions, I appeared before the Backbench Business Committee during its weekly session to support my application for a debate on the creation of a permanent and sustainable resolution platform. 

An effective dispute resolution mechanism would not only provide a solution to the current RBS situation, but could be utilised to deal with other areas of bank misconduct. It would create precedents which would act as deterrents to future bank misconduct and ultimately change banking culture. 

The backbench business committee has agreed to have a debate on this topic and as Chair of the APPG on Fair Business Banking and sitting member of the Treasury Select Committee I will be leading that debate, along with my colleagues across the political spectrum, before the end of the year.

You can watch the session here:





Later that afternoon, I went to a private meeting for SNP MPs to listen to Professor Andrew Hughes Hallet, from the University of Saint Andrew, who was sharing his views regarding the economic implications of leaving the EU for Scotland. It was a fascinating session.

Wednesday 26th October

On Wednesday, I went to the parliamentary debate on Concentrix to support my SNP colleagues who blamed the Government to let that management disaster happen and put thousands of families into financial stressing times.

I then contributed to the debate on the Saudis' military intervention in Yemen, in order to urge the Government to use all diplomatic channels to convince the Saudis to halt immediatly their ruthless and barbaric bombing campaigns over civilians ares across the country.

You can watch my contribution to the debate here :
Following the debate in the Chamber, I went to the Swiss ambassador's residence for a dinner with members of the Swiss Banking sector to discuss the consequences of Brexit on the sector's operations in the UK and on the continent.  

Thursday 27th October

I write a column inthe East Lothian Courier every week, please scroll down the right side to read the article.
On Thursday morning, I went to the session of questions to the Attorney General to ask him about the government's ability to prosecute criminals following Brexit.

You can watch my questions here :




As soon as I got the opportunity to ask my question to the Attorney General and listen to his response, I went to the Treasury Select Committee meeting for a hearing with HRMC Chief Executive Jon Thomson on Concentrix.

You can watch the session here :

Friday 28th October​

I attended my Advice Surgeries today,  it is a treat to spend time in my constituency on such a beautiful day.
First stop was Bleachingfield in Dunbar 1pm-1.30pm, then on to St Andrews Blackadder, North Berwick 2pm-2.30pm travelling through Whitekirk and past Tantallon Castle with the Bass in the distance.  My final Surgery is in my Constituency Office, Haddington 3pm-3.30pm where I arrived to find the waiting area full of people.
Saturday 29th October
I was invited to join in the fun at the launch of the new Dunbar Music School at the Bleachingfield Centre on Saturday by founders Siobhan Grealy and Jacqui Preston.

This is a perfect time to launch the Music School, following hard on the heels of the Lammermuir Festival’s community production of Noyes Fludde, in which both Siobhan and Jacqui were involved. That involved a huge number of people of all ages, and created a real buzz in Dunbar.

The launch was going like a fair when I arrived, and children as young as four were experimenting with the violin, harp, cello, guitar, flute, French horn and keyboards. Very sensibly the drum kits had been installed in a soundproof room, where there was a long queue waiting patiently.

Bleachingfield is a great venue for a music school, right next door to Dunbar Primary. Though Siobhan and Jacqui emphasise that people of all ages are welcome – their oldest pupil at the moment is 72. They are both classically trained musicians, who have worked with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Guildhall School of Music respectively, and have assembled an impressive group of teachers.

Although the School is based in Dunbar, they hope to attract students from all over the county, and have plans for the formation of an East Lothian Youth Orchestra in the not too distant future. I’m looking forward to their first concert.
Following my visit to the exhibition on the Tranent – Cockenzie Waggonway at Port Seton Library in September, I took up Ed Bethune’s invitation to walk the Waggonway this week. Starting at the end of Sanderson’s Wynd, close to the old pithead,  we made our way to Tranent Parish Church, where we took the path down past the Battle of Prestonpans war memorial to Cockenzie Harbour.

It’s amazing how much of the route survives, either as pathways or tarmac road. And you can see, at Cockenzie House, how the garden wall is angled to accommodate the rails. It’s quite easy to imagine the loaded wagons making their way down the slope from the pit to the harbour, where coal was used to power the salt pans, and any surplus exported. Unfortunately we’ve lost the gin at Tranent, where horses operated the winding gear to bring the wagons back up again, but there are other examples in existence which show how it worked.

Dating back to 1722, the first of its kind in Scotland, this is such an important piece of early industrial history, that it deserves to be better known. I commend Ed Bethune and the Coastal Regeneration Alliance for their unstinting efforts to bring the Waggonway to the attention of the public. When do we get the book?

I look forward to seeing a replica wagon being installed at Cockenzie Harbour, and there’s a stretch of the Waggonway just begging to be restored. Of course I’ll give all the help I can with grant applications and further publicity.”

Sunday 30th October
I set time aside on a Sunday to write my article for The National.
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