I was fortunate enough to get a seat in the chamber to watch the historic address to MPs by President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. He spoke about the horrors inflicted on his people by Vladimir Putin’s forces. The next day the Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK answered questions from the Home Affairs select committee about what the UK government should be doing to help refugees from Ukraine. His answers seem to have finally shamed the government into action. The changes the government announced, are welcome but red tape has no place for those fleeing for their lives.
The Scottish Government 'super sponsor' scheme is now open for Ukrainian refugees. Scotland wants to welcome all those escaping the horrors of war and to help make the process easier and with dignity for those already traumatised. If you wish to offer accommodation please register here: https://www.homesforukraine.org.uk/ If you are seeking safety and a Scottish welcome please be sure to select the Scottish Government as your sponsor and an individual home will be provided upon arrival.
At the Public Accounts Committee I quizzed bosses at the Department for Health & Social Care about their annual accounts which were published earlier this year. The Committee were especially concerned at the huge amounts of money lost or wasted on the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). In the first year of covid the Department spent over £12 billion on PPE of which £8.7 billion in value was lost. This included £670 billion of PPE that was unusable and a further £2.6 billion that can’t be used in health or social care but which they hope somebody else might be able to use.
A couple of days later I spoke in a debate on the budget for the Ministry of Defence and again I pointed to some staggering wastes of public money. For example the contract for four new submarines is £1 billion over budget and the new “Queen Elizabeth” class aircraft carriers are £2,75 billion over. Meanwhile, over 25,000 armed forces personnel are living in accommodation that’s barely fit, or even unfit, for human habitation. Whatever else we may disagree on about defence, we should all agree that when somebody signs up, knowing that one day they may have to put their life on the line on our behalf, the least they deserve is a decent place to live during peacetime and the best possible equipment readily available if they ever have to go into combat. The Government is simply failing to provide that.
On a more positive note it was a delight to visit Wright’s K9 Security Services in Glenrothes and meet some of the stars who put the K9 into the company’s name. They included Quiz who once arrested an armed terror suspect using nothing but her teeth, and Storm who can sniff out sim cards (often thrown away by crooks trying to hide the incriminating evidence they contain). They asked me to point out that Allun and the other humans are quite important to the business as well.