My month as your MP: passports, sub contractors and the gambling industry
Covid finally caught up with me when I tested positive on Sunday morning. With the amount of time I spend travelling in various kinds of crowded metal boxes I’m surprised I’ve managed to dodge it for so long. Thankfully my symptoms are no worse than a nasty cold but I’ve had to cancel my travel to Westminster this week as well as my constituency engagements for the weekend. I had been looking forward to meeting with SGN at Methil for an update on their world leading work on hydrogen fuels. Hopefully we can get it rearranged soon.
I’ve managed to secure a meeting with a Treasury minister to press the government to take action to prevent local sub contracting businesses from losing money if their main contractor goes bust. The problem is that the customer doesn’t pay the sub contractors directly, they pay the main contractor. If the main contractor goes bust this money will be used first to payoff other creditors and often the sub contractors are left with nothing. I’m asking the government to put this money into a protected account so that is a major company goes bust, at least they don’t drag down dozens of local businesses at the same time.
I’ve seen two very different sides of the gambling industry recently. A couple of weeks ago I visited Club 300 Bingo in Glenrothes to chat to the Duty Manager and her staff and customers (not while they were eyes down obviously). They even let me be guest caller for a charity game that raised £70 for humanitarian work in Ukraine. It was obvious that everyone was there to met their friends and have a good time – very few people had any expectation of getting rich. Carol explained how the staff are trained to spot the first warning signs that a customer is getting in too deep, and the steps they take to prevent this. It’s sad that Bingo clubs that take this responsible attitude are losing business while other more insidious forms of gambling are raking in the money.
Last week I challenged both ministers and civil servants about the inexcusable delays to the government’s reform of the Gambling Act. 465 days after their consultation ended they still haven’t published even preliminary proposals. 500 people have taken their own lives during that time because of gambling debts and hundreds more will die if the government keeps on delaying.
I’m still getting calls for help from people whose holidays are at risk because their passports haven’t arrived. The Passport Office are saying you should allow 10 weeks before the start of your holiday but a lot of my constituents have done this and have still been left till the last minute before their passport arrived. I know of one family who were told to go to the airport and the Passport Office would send somebody with their passport! The government blame everyone but themselves. They completely failed to predict a big demand for holidays (and therefore for passports) when travel restrictions were lifted.