So the EU Withdrawal Bill was back in the Commons for Day 3 of the committee stage this week and, as promised, I’m writing to update you on what happened.
Before I talk about the Bill itself, you might be interested in the events of Monday’s Ways and Means debate. Ways and Means is a traditional term for taxes or other charges levied on the public in order to fund Government spending. And while not directly linked to the EU Withdrawal Bill, Brexit transcends everything. In an alternative attempt to get the UK to consider staying in the single market with access to the customs union the Labour MP for Edinburgh South, Ian Murray, had tabled an amendment that was selected for a vote.
I've been trying to get information on this for months. But still no clear answer as to how many civil servants are working on Brexit and how much it will cost.
I know how difficult it can be to not only keep up with what is happening as Brexit proceeds, but to understand the antiquated political systems that make up the UK parliament. So I will be sharing regular updates as the Bill makes its way through parliament.
As you may be aware, the Bill entered its committee stage this week in the House of Commons. That means MPs debate specific aspects of the Bill and can consider amendments that have been brought forward. While hundreds of amendments were tabled, only a few were selected for a vote.
I led a debate on the House of Lords - an out of date institution that's unrepresentative, undemocratic and in urgent need of reform. You can watch my full speech here.
All over Scotland last weekend families enjoyed watching the fireworks. The spectacle of fire and colour brought happiness to many – young and old. The same was true in Edinburgh. All over the city – and especially at Meadowbank – majestic displays thrilled the crowds.
But in a few parts of the city a tiny minority set out to cause havoc and intimidate local people. In a few places in north and east Edinburgh a small number used fireworks and fire not to entertain but to terrify. Local people imprisoned themselves in their homes for fear of going out. Cars were set alight and fireworks thrown at emergency services workers trying to protect the public. We’re lucky there weren’t even more serious injuries.
My monthly column in the Edinburgh Evening News was a good chance to go into a bit more detail on the fracking ban in Scotland. I'm delighted we've reached this point - if you feel the same have a read here.
I took part in the debate on devolved powers in Westminster Hall. Tory MP Stephen Kerr appeared to call this debate simply to have a go at the SNP.
So I wanted to set the record straight outlining some of the key achievements the Scottish Government have attained with their, limited, albeit devolved powers. And how they've helped Kerr's Stirling constituents. He didn't seem to like it but you can watch it here.
Long before I stood for election I opposed fracking and I’ve been very pleased to be part of the campaign against it over the past couple of years. So I was delighted by the announcement from Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Business, Innovation & Energy, in the Scottish Parliament earlier in the month, and the subsequent vote last week.
Fracking will have no place in Scotland’s energy mix.
On the back of the Scottish Parliament voting to ban fracking, I asked Theresa May to consider a moratorium in the rest of the UK. She's as out of touch on this as she is on so many other things.
I have never been prouder of our SNP Scottish Government than I was last Tuesday when the Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, made a statement to parliament on fracking. He was responding to a huge public consultation on the issue and he made it crystal clear that fracking would not be part of the energy mix in Scotland.
Not only was this the right decision but the manner in which the government arrived at its position was an exemplar in public policy making. Campaigners, including myself, have been trying to get a ban on fracking for years. But rather than rush into a decision the government has taken the best part of two years to research the evidence, and most importantly, ask the people what they wanted.
Long before I stood for election I opposed fracking and I’ve been very pleased to be able to coordinate opposition over the past couple of years.
So you’ll not be surprised to hear that I am delighted by the announcement that has just been made by Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Business, Innovation & Energy, in the Scottish Parliament.
Yesterday I got back from a holiday – the only time of the year where I switch off from the world. I turned on my phone to see with horror what was happening in #Catalonia.
The actions of the Spanish authorities were shocking. Images beamed around the world of police violence against young and old alike who simply wanted to cast a democratic vote. I’m in awe of the voters who remained peaceful and dignified throughout. The image of a Catalan policeman in tears as he protected their rights will stay with me for a long time.
I campaigned with local people against the closure of TSB’s Craigmillar branch. Nearly a year on from TSB closing the bank, the building is still lying empty. This will be costing them money and is no good for the community who have since had the bus to the closest bank rerouted and also seen the post office close.
I was delighted to attend the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Westminster launch of a new report on the illegal ivory trade across Europe, (Ivory seizures in Europe, 2006-2015), which found that the European Union is still a destination for illegal ivory, a major transit route between countries and a key exporter of antique ivory to South East Asian markets.
I fully support the campaign for greater protection for elephants which are being decimated for the ivory trade. Populations are at an all-time low with the species facing extinction due to the ivory poaching crisis which is killing at least 20,000 elephants each year.
I presented a petition on the system of obtaining permanent residence certification. As you can see here, members of parliament from other parties are clearly not as concerned about the difficulties facing many people trying to guarantee their right to live in the UK.