Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Anne Begg's Week

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Week beginning 20th April - A day and a half in Westminster.
A shorter week than usual at Westminster as I had the funeral of a University friend, who died suddenly, in Edinburgh on Wednesday afternoon. This meant missing the Budget Speech and the frision of excitement that reverberates around the Chamber. However, I can't be in 2 places at once. Nevertheless, I still managed to have an incredibly busy week.
In the day and a half I was in Westminster I managed to pack in a huge amount. On Monday we agreed the text of our latest Select Committee Report on the Equality Bill which will be published next week. I also had an Adjournment Debate at the end of Monday's sitting on Pain Services in England. As there is no vote, my debate began just after 10 pm and I have to explain why a Scottish MP was talking about an English topic when pain services for my own constituents are the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament. It is because I am the Chair of the newly formed All Party Group on Chronic Pain.
Members of the Chronic Pain Policy Coalition were in the Gallery to hear the debate so I took them for a drink in Strangers bar afterwards. It was soft drinks all round - honest. The Minister who had replied to the debate, Ann Kean, also arrived so I was able to introduce them to each other. The members of the Coalition all went home very happy.
Tuesday began with another public evidence session of the Speaker's Conference with representatives from the 3 main parties. We were very topical as there had been a great deal in the weekend press about 'Smeargate'.
Later I grabbed a quick bite to eat with Frank Doran, MP for Aberdeen North, and one of my constituents, Professor Hugh Pennington, and then rushed over to the Treasury for a meeting on the Seafarers' Earnings Deduction with the Chief Secretary, Stephen Timms MP. I won't bore you here with all the technical details but feel free to e-mail me if you are interested and want to find out more.
It was then back to Portcullis House for a preview of the rough cut of the new YouTube video which the Speaker's Conference will be launching to encourage people to participate in our deliberations. I thought it was ten times too long so it will have to be cut quite a bit before it goes online. After that I had a meeting of the All Party Offshore Oil and Gas group with the Energy Minister, Mike O'Brien. Luckily there is a hairdresser in the House of Commons so I was able to fit in a quick hair cut before meeting with someone from POST, the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology, which is charged with making sure Parliamentarians understand scientific issues.
Of course there was also voting to be done before I was able to get home at around 10.30 pm, setting the alarm for 5.15 am so as to get up in time for the plane back to Edinburgh in time for the funeral.
It was then back to Aberdeen on Wednesday evening in time to get to a meeting of the Aberdeen Disability Action Group (ALDAG). On Thursday I had surgeries with constituents and Ann McKechin MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Scotland Office, came up to take part in a Women's Listening Panel with some of my female constituents and also came along to see the work of the credit union NESCU in Torry. It was then back down to London on Friday to speak at a Conference of the World Federation of Guild Guides.

A busy week in Westminster this week. Not as packed as a student's week, but still busy nonetheless. :P

On a side note is it just me or has the tiresome media habit of adding "gate" to the end of every situation in which something bad happens way past its sell by date. It's a cheap and simplistic way of artificially compressing complex issues into soundbites, and it serves no purpose except taking the strain of original thought and honest reliable reporting from the media.

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