ICE People's Choice Awards
This week started with a trip to the Institute of Civil Engineer's (ICE) People's Choice Awards. I was there in my capacity as a local MP to congratulate the engineers working on the Forth Road Bridge who won a public vote to receive this prestigious title. The award recognised the tireless efforts of the engineers who worked in inclement weather conditions to repair the bridge in less than a month. This particular award recognises what the public believes is the greatest civil engineering project over a 12 month period. I believe the engineers from the Forth Road Bridge are worthy winners and I congratulate them on their success.
BEIS Corporate Governance
This Tuesday morning we held another evidence session for our Corporate Governance Inquiry. This inquiry is focussing on executive pay, directors duties, and the composition of boardrooms, including worker representation and gender balance in executive positions. We were inspired to set this up by the failings we witnessed in our inquiries into BHS and Sports Direct and hopefully we will be able to make a robust set of recommendations on how to improve corporate governance to prevent scandals such as those from happening.
Nick Hurd and the Green Investment Bank
This week I also met Nick Hurd, the Minister for Climate Change and Industry, to discuss issues around the Green Investment Bank. Following on from this meeting I then sponsored a debate in Westminster on the subject of the sale and privatisation of the GIB. There has been a great deal of coverage in the media this week on a whole range of issues related to this institution and what concerns me is the possibility that 55 banking jobs in Edinburgh will be scrapped if the institution is taken over by a private company. I am also worried that the banks current role, where it provides funding for projects that cannot get money elsewhere, would be lost if the bank is sold. You can watch the whole debate using the link above, including my speech and the response from the Minister. I will be keeping an eye on this issue going forward and I hope the Government will begin to allay some of the concerns both myself and many of my colleagues have.
Article 50 debate
On Tuesday we also discovered, via a ruling from the Supreme Court, that the UK Government will have to consult parliament before invoking Article 50 and beginning the process of leaving the European Union. A number of my constituents have contacted me to ask how I will be voting when a bill comes before parliament next week on this issue. Along with all of my Scottish colleagues, except for the Scottish Secretary, I share concerns about Scotland leaving the EU. We must do what we can to hold Theresa May to account to make sure she does not have unlimited discretion to negotiate the Brexit deal that she wants as opposed to the one that the country needs. Over the next few weeks I will be doing what I can to hold the Government to account and to make sure they give Scotland assurances that they will properly consult the Scottish Government in the ongoing negotiations. The overwhelming majority of Scots wanted to stay in the EU, including most of my constituents, and that will be at the forefront of my mind as the parliamentary debates begin.
This week MPs also took time to remember the Holocaust, the horrific genocide of millions of Jews. This terrible atrocity still has the power to shock us even today. Over the last twelve months we have seen a number of democratic institutions come under threat and a great deal of rhetoric which threatens to inflame tensions across the world. There was no single event that led to the Holocaust, there was a steady erosion in liberal values and of democratic institutions which enabled this genocide. The lesson we must learn as we move into an increasingly polarised world is to combat hatred and prejudice whenever it rears its head. We cannot stand by and hope other people will step up and make sure the world is a safe place for everyone, we all must contribute.
Surgeries and Clydesdale Bank Update
At the end of the week I came back up to Edinburgh for surgeries in Ratho, Kirkliston and South Queensferry. After these were over I visited sheltered accommodation in South Queensferry to talk to some of the residents there about the problems presented by the proposed closure of the last bank in the area by Clydesdale. We discussed a number of issues ranging from mobility of the residents to a lack of internet skills which prevent them from moving to online banking. I will raise these issues with the bank when I have a meeting with management in the next few weeks and I will relay them back to constituents.