The Scottish Parliament sits three days a week so I’m through in Holyrood from Tuesday to Thursday every week. Two of those mornings are taken up with Committee business and the rest of the time I’m largely either in the Chamber, meeting organisations and groups or undertaking work on behalf of constituents – e.g. drafting letters to Ministers or composing parliamentary motions and questions. I see my role as being here to serve my constituents and make a difference.
As MSPs, we have a selection of Parliamentary mechanisms at our disposal to use in campaigning on specific issues or helping constituents with a problem. These range from the excellent research services offered by the Parliament to ensure we are fully informed and armed with the facts, to the potential to introduce legislation, and a lot of others in between. I’m making use of all of these in the various campaigns I have underway (see Campaigns).
Most publicly, the theme based Portfolio Questions, where we have the opportunity to quiz the Cabinet Secretary or Minster directly in the Chamber, come round in a cycle – e.g. Health and Sport one week, Justice the next – and there’s a random draw to get to ask a question. I do seem to get drawn a fair amount of times and have asked questions on issues as diverse as blood contamination, health expenditure, homelessness, public transport and Brexit. In addition MSPs can ask a written question at any time and the relevant Minister is obliged to answer.
I also bid to speak in the Chamber debates when there’s a topic I’m particularly interested in and have spoken on a range of subjects including many times on the economy and financial matters, Lightburn Hospital, small businesses, refugees and credit unions. In September 2016 I brought a Members’ Business Debate to Parliament – which means I led a discussion on the desirability of including reusable nappies in the Scottish Baby Box – a campaign that succeeded with the pilots containing cloth nappies – kinder on the environment and the pockets of hard-pressed parents.
You can see some of my Parliamentary performances below, though most of the work is really done behind the scenes.