36th Edition
October 24th, 2016

Monday 17th October

Following three days of conference in Glasgow I'm on the train to London for another week at Westminster. On Mondays my regular column appears in The National Newspaper.
Photo: The National
George Kerevan: We need common ground in this era of political booby traps and division

I’ve been attending SNP annual conferences for 20 years. They are perfect sounding boards for assessing the mood of the membership and taking the political temperature generally. For instance, you could hardly see Nicola Sturgeon making her big conference speech on Saturday because of the veritable army of press photographers jostling each other to get the perfect picture. Of course, there are always plenty of snappers at these events but this year the media pack seemed bigger and more frenzied. Which tells me that – post-Brexit vote – the future of the Union is well and truly back on the political agenda.

There were also clear signs at this year’s conference that the party’s base has been re-energised by Brexit. You could see this in the high turnout of members and in the enthusiastic conference chat in the coffee bars and well-attended fringe meetings. There was a hunger to debate strategy and policy in a constructive manner, suggesting members think that the odds on achieving independence soonish have shortened considerably since June 23. For instance, at the Festival of Ideas sponsored by the Common Weal think tank – a kaleidoscope of lively meetings held simultaneously at the nearby Glasgow Science Centre – mostly SNP members gathered in significant numbers to debate what a future Scotland might look like.

You can access the full article here

Later that day, I went to the weekly meeting of the SNP Treasury Team to discuss our strategy for the next session of oral questions to the Chancellor which is happening today (Tuesday 25th November).

I went back to my office to start preparation of the two Treasury Select Committee meetings with Consumer groups and challenger banks on Tuesday and with the Chancellor on Wednesday.

I then went to the Chamber to support my colleagues in the debate on the Government Savings Bill. You can watch the session here, especially Ian Blackford’s great speech :

Tuesday 18th October

On Tuesday morning I went to the meeting of the Treasury Select Committee to interview a panel of representatives from consumer groups and challenger banks on the Competition and Market Authority’s report on competition, or lack thereof, in the banking sector.

You can watch the session here: 

In the afternoon, I went to the meeting of the Second Delegated Legislation Committee on Draft Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 2016. This meeting took place following the consolidation of Scottish Bankruptcy Law, which included the replacement of the 1985 Act, by the Scottish Government in Holyrood.

Wednesday 19th October

On Wednesday morning I went to Shoreditch Town Hall to give a speech at Crowdfest 2016. I discussed how traditional lending is increasingly being replaced by alternative forms of finance.
I then went to the session of Questions to the Prime Minister, which was particularly lacklustre this week.

Once again Angus Robertson MP, SNP Leader in the Commons raised the matter of the Saudi regime's bombing of innocent Yemeni civilians with British-built planes and British trained pilots. It was gratifying to see that the campaign finally forced the new administration of Theresa May to investigate what the Saudis have been doing.

You can watch the session here:

Following the session of questions to the Prime Minister, I stayed in the Chamber to take part to the first part of the SNP Opposition Day Debate on the Status of EU Nationals following Brexit.

I then went to the meeting of the Treasury Select Committee to interview the Chancellor. Among other questions, I asked him if he would support a separate EU trade deal for Scotland and he said he would oppose.
You can watch the session here:

Thursday 20th October

On Thursday morning, I have been elected Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking.

This cross party group is engaging with regulators, industry trade bodies, campaign groups, academics, professional advisors, civil society and colleagues to identify objectives—on both a voluntary level within industry as well as on a legislative level—that are both achievable and transformative for commercial banking relationships.

Following the recent revelations from the BBC and Buzzfeed of RBS’ systematic distressing of businesses, we applied for a Backbench Business debate in the Chamber on the creation of a sustainable platform for commercial financial dispute resolution.

An effective dispute resolution mechanism would not only provide a solution to the current RBS situation, but could be utilised to deal with other areas of bank misconduct. It would create precedents which would act as deterrents to future bank misconduct and ultimately change banking culture.

Later that day, I went to the Chamber to take part in the debate on the Government Industrial Strategy.

You can watch my contribution to the debate here:

Friday 21st October​

On Friday morning, I was in the Chamber to support my colleague John Nicolson MP for the presentation of his Private Member's Bill.  John’s bill aimed at de-criminalising men who were convicted of sexual offences (being homosexual) prior to 1967 and which are no longer offences.

Since John had been selected at the top of the ballot for Private Member's Bill, the first time for a SNP MP, there seemed to be a cross-party support for the Bill. However the Government decided to sabotage and talked out the Bill.

According to the government’s own media briefings, it did not want to be seen to hand “the SNP a victory”. 

You can watch John’s brilliant intervention here:
Saturday 22nd October
Back in Scotland catching up on mail and meeting constituents. Glad to be breathing some fresh East Lothian air after London!
Sunday 23rd October
Out and about in the county including lunch in North Berwick. Lots of mail to catch up on. 
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