A Miscellany of Parliamentary Material From The Past Week

On a good day, there may be a million words spoken in the Palace of Westminster. Here are a very few of them, from the floor of the Commons. They are not always verbatim but are reliable. That is, reliably reported.

Robert Halfon (Con): The Education department has appointed 13 Attendance advisers, but we have 1.7 million absent children and 100,000-plus so-called “ghost children”.

Grant Shapps (Con): Professor Jay’s Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse heard from 7,300 victims. It processed 2 million pages of evidence and cost £184 million. £4.5 million is to be allocated to seven organizations to support victims.

James Murray (Con): The out-of-turn estimates will increase overall spending by £71.4 billion [with £60 billion sought by BEIS to implement the energy price cap].

Christopher Chope (Con): The Paul Ehrlich Institute (the German regulator for vaccine safety) tried to raise the alert that one in 5,000 vaccinated people experienced a serious side effect, such as heart muscle inflammation. It said that, statistically, every tenth person must expect a severe consequence from having a course of three or four vaccines.

Scott Benton (Con): More than 70% of successful deportation appeals are now based solely on Article 8 [the right to respect for private and family life’].

Rachael Maskell (Lab): 7.5 million people are on pre-payment meters.

Graham Stuart (Con): In the Scotwind auction, Scottish fields have been sold off cheap, netting £700 million, while New York garnered £4.3 billion for a quarter of what was on offer in Scotland.

Andy Slaughter (Lab): The briefing from the National Residential Landlords Association says that 70% of landlords could envisage operating without section 21. Kevin Hollinrake (Con): That means in effect somewhere between 20% and 30% of supply (of rented accommodation) might go overnight.

Alison Thewliss (SNP): The gas bill of the Toryglen Community Base has gone from £9,700 a year to £62,273.36.

Richard Fuller (Con): In 2019, almost 243,000 net additional homes were delivered.

Anne McLaughlin (SNP): 40% of those entitled to pension credit do not apply for it.

Damien Hinds (Con): The e-petition for verified ID to be required to open a social media account has almost 700,000 signatures.

Taino Owatemi (Lab): In the last four years in this country, £3 billion has been lost to online fraud and 60,000 offences relating to online sexual abuse and grooming have been committed.

Guy Opperman (Con): Google made $14 billion profit last quarter.

Paulette Hamilton (Lab): (Before Putin’s invasion) Ukraine grew enough food to feed an estimated 400 million people despite having a population of only 44 million.

Matt Vickers (Con): There is a street in Stockton where if someone travels from one end to another just five miles, they pass through two areas where the difference in life expectancy is 20 years. Those living in Yarm in my constituency can be expected to live until the age of 84, whereas those living in Stockton Town Center, and neighboring Stockton North, can expect to live only to the age of 64 – that is equivalent to the life expectancy of those living in Ethiopia.

Drew Hendry (SNP): Scotch whiskey exported to India attracts a tariff of 150%.

Robert Halfon (Con): New Spanish consumer laws will force big companies and utility firms to answer customer service calls within three minutes or face fines of up to £85,000.

Theresa Villiers (Con): [On revoking the retained EU laws] We do not know with certainty how many laws there are within DEFRA’s food, animal welfare and environmental remit because that has not been comprehensively counted on the Government’s dashboard. (Greener UK estimates 570 pieces of legislation in DEFRA. Estimates for the total number of laws to be examined by the end of 2023 fall between 2,500 and 2,700 – around five a day.)

Patricia Gibson (SNP): There have been four secretaries of state for education in the last year and nine out of 10 schools in England say they will run out of money this year. The dogs in the street know that the government is so unstable as to be unfit for purpose. Does today’s Secretary of State for Education agree with me and the hon. member for Christchurch (Christopher Chope) that the new Prime Minister will face an “ungovernable” and “riven” Tory party and that a general election is the only answer, otherwise things will go from very bad to much worse? Mr. Speaker: What does that have to do with education? I do not think it has anything to do with education, so let us go to Elliot Colburn.

Jim Shannon, DUP: Does the minister agree that human rights provisions must be included in the India trade deal and can he guarantee that no blind eye will be turned to human rights abuses for the sake of economic benefit? Greg Hands (Con): I think this government have a fantastic record of promoting religious tolerance and religious diversity abroad. (In English: No.)

mdi-timer 28 October 2022 @ 22:00 28 Oct 2022 @ 22:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Things Can Only Get Worse for Blackford & SNP

Back in March Ian Blackford was forced to deny resignation rumours, amid claims published by Politico that he was planning to step down because of infighting among the party’s MPs. Now, due to mistakes of his own making, Blackford is actually having to fight for his job. 

On Friday, The Mail published an exclusive that Blackford had been recorded at an SNP MP meeting directing his group of parliamentarians to throw their support behind Patrick Grady, who earlier in the week had been found guilty of sexual harassment and sentenced to two days suspension. The recording heard Blackford say MPs should give him their “absolute full support”. A long way from when he proudly tweeted in 2017 “I am happy to affirm SNP Westminster group will have zero tolerance of unacceptable behaviour”…

The next day The Sun published the recording, in which SNP MPs are heard applauding and saying “hear, hear”, along with interventions from Amy Callaghan and Marion Fellows, a junior whip who worked for Grady. Following the recording leak, the SNP’s Westminster chief whip finally pulled his finger out… and threatened the leaker with legal action.

After all this farce, Guido can confidently say this scandal is not going to abate anytime soon. The complainer at the heart of the Grady investigation told LBC this morning that he’s “considering his options and they include possible legal action.” 

It’s also worth remembering that Patrick Grady is not alone in being accused of sexual impropriety by the victim. Also in attendance at Blackford’s pro-Grady rally, Guido’s told, was one Patricia Gibson, who is herself under investigation by the Commons’ Independent Expert Panel for sexual harassment. Gibson’s currently attempting to appeal the decision against her, dragging the process out. Guido hears the complainant actually reported the Gibson incident to the chief whip the very next day, however he was too busy to deal with it. The chief whip when the incident was reported? Mr Patrick Grady…

Reminder: 1 in 5 SNP MPs Have Quit, Been Sacked, are Under Investigation or Suspended…

UPDATE: SNP MP U-Turns on Patrick Grady Support, Offers Full Apology

mdi-timer 20 June 2022 @ 12:04 20 Jun 2022 @ 12:04 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
SNP Westminster Staffer Tells Fellow Aides: “You are Not Safe Working for the SNP”

SNP’s Westminster turmoil continues after two senior members of their front bench were accused of sexually harassing a member of staff – Patrick Grady and Patricia Gibson.* A punchy email from the member of staff behind two-thirds of the allegations has now been leaked in which he wrote to SNP staffers “to let you know that you are not safe working for the SNP Westminster Group”:

“These concerns were raised with HQ, who have yet to approach any witnesses or even do anything other than get a statement over 2 months ago.

Two MPs witnessed the harassment by Patricia but she is still serving and neither witness has been approached. Why?

Ian Blackford knows about the Patrick Grady harassment, he’s still an SNP MP speaking on the SNP benches. Why?”

He ends the communiqué warning fellow staffers that they may be the “next to receive sexual harassment when you are expected to work on the Parliamentary Estate.”

The jaw-dropping email was not only sent by a serving member of staff, it was sent to Ian Blackford and Kirsten Oswald, CC’ing in members of staff. Incredibly, he continues working for the SNP…

*Ms Gibson says she will sue Guido if we name her. On what grounds we do not know.

mdi-timer 14 May 2021 @ 10:07 14 May 2021 @ 10:07 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
1 in 5 SNP MPs Have Quit, Been Sacked, Are Under Investigation or Suspended

This morning came the inevitable naming of the second SNP MP facing investigation for harassment against a member of staff: Patricia Gibson. Gibson is accused of “grabbing” the 22-year-old staffer’s hand, pulling at him, and saying “things like ‘You should come home with me'”. The naming of Gibson comes shortly after the naming of former chief whip Patrick Grady over harassment claims from two young male staffers. Intriguingly, according to The Herald, Gibson has been provided with information from MP witnesses – submitted as part of the investigation – which doesn’t sound compliant with a standard complaints process…

The sheer onslaught of SNP scandals prompted a look at the current parliamentary MP cohort, which is in a sorry state. Of the 44 MPs elected less than two years ago:

  • Two (Neale Hanvey and Kenny MacAskill) have defected to the Alba party
  • Neil Gray has resigned to fight for a seat in the Scottish Parliament
  • Neale Hanvey was elected as an independent after  being suspended by the party during the election for antisemitic social media posts
    • (He was re-admitted in May 2020 only to quit for Alba in February)
  • Margaret Ferrier was sacked after travelling to and from London with Covid, subsequently arrested and charged by Police Scotland in February
  • Joanna Cherry was sacked from the front bench for “unacceptable behaviour” in February
  • Drew Hendry was named by the Speaker and suspended from the Commons in December 2020 after stealing the mace during a debate
  • Patricia Gibson faces allegations of harassment
  • Patrick Grady has been suspended and faces two separate allegations of harassment

While this list excludes controversies that didn’t see repercussions – such as Douglas Chapman claiming the British Army was “attacking” Scots online – it totals 18% of the SNP’s 44-seats won at the last election. Guido can’t recall so many casualties from a single party in such a short space of time…

mdi-timer 21 April 2021 @ 15:27 21 Apr 2021 @ 15:27 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
SNP MP Claims Sturgeon Can’t be Anti-English Because her Granny is English

SNP MP Patricia Gibson raised some eyebrows in the chamber this afternoon when insisting that Nicola Sturgeon couldn’t possibly be anti-English – despite repeatedly threatening travel restrictions and the integrity of the UK’s internal market – because her granny is English. ‘Some of my best friends are black’…

Hat-tip: Sam Betz
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