We’re seeing some of the more ridiculous ways the British parliament chooses to run its business. Several times recently debates in the main chamber have finished early because the government couldn’t think of enough things that needed discussed. Then last week we had no fewer than eighteen votes one after another. In a normal parliament with electronic voting this would have taken about an hour. In the British parliament it took nearly four hours. During this time we couldn’t go and do any o serious work as it would keep getting interrupted every fifteen minutes or so. Scores of parliamentary staff were similarly affected. The cost of MPs’ salaries during those four hours came to about £100,000.
I took part in a Public Accounts Committee meeting whee we quizzed bosses at the DWP about changes they want to make to the way they assess the health and capability of people who claim benefits because of a disability or medical condition. One change the Scottish Government made as soon as they were put in charge of some of these benefits was to ban the use of private companies motivated by profit. I flagged up the fact that when they do surveys of either people who use the service or the staff who work there, every single measure I could find showed the new Social Security Scotland agency performing much better than the UK government’s DWP. The Scottish system is not perfect by any means but it has dignity, fairness and respect at its heart.
It was good to meet some of the workers from SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) at their family fun day at Bayview last week. There’s no doubt that most people’s mental wellbeing has taken some hard knocks in the last few years and SAMH works closely with the NHS and other public bodies to provide support to anyone who is affected by mental health problems. If you want to talk in confidence about your own mental health or the health of someone close to you you can call them on 0344 800 0550 (Mon – Fri 9 am to 6 pm except public holidays).
Sadly the weather took its toll on the SAMH fun day and some of the planned activities had to be cancelled or scaled back but it was still a day full of smiles which is what it was all about. Over the weekend I visited the Party on the Green at West Wemyss and the Markinch Mediaeval Fayre. It was good to see both events being well supported despite the weather.
During the parliamentary recess I’ll be holding advice surgeries in various locations across the constituency. Details will appear on my website www.petergrant.scot and my social media accounts, or you can phone my office on 01592 759335 to make an appointment.