Column: School’s out as MPs pack up for summer break


THERE’S a ‘last week of term’ feeling about the Commons this week, with thoughts turning to holidays and a bit of a break after we finish tomorrow.

I’m looking forward to the parliamentary recess so I can spend more time in East Dunbartonshire and get my constituency office running properly.

It will also be lovely to spend more than three or four days in one place for a change!

I recently entertained my first constituency guests on the famous terrace at Westminster, overlooking the Thames.

The five S6 pupils from Lenzie Academy  Sarah Barrows, Yuelin Li, Lynn Milligan, Alex Baylis and Mark Tsang  came with their headteacher after they attended the UK finals of the Young Enterprise competition.

Their company, Evolution, has created a successful business by selling drawings of movie stills and running a healthy eating tuckshop at their school.

The resourceful team even got celebrities in on the act, with George Bowie from Clyde 1 going to Lenzie Academy for the launch of the tuckshop.

This dynamic and inspiring bunch will no doubt go on to even greater things.

Despite winding down for the summer, there are still plenty of debates and serious business going on.

Contributing to a debate on women’s pensions, I raised the issue of poor pension provision for women who take time out from their careers to care for elderly relatives or children. I argued that this is a hugely valuable contribution to society that should be recognised by proper pension entitlements.

I also experienced my first lobbying meeting with a Government Minister, as part of a cross-party delegation of Scottish MPs.

LibDem, Labour and SNP MPs got together to meet Don Touhig, under-secretary of State for Defence, to urge him to overturn the proposal to close the Aberdeen Meteorology Office and transfer the services to Exeter.

As well as Scotland losing out on specialist local knowledge and skills for weather forecasting, I also have constituents who would be affected, as they have been commuting to Aberdeen to work at the Met Office since their jobs relocated there when the Glasgow office closed two years ago.

AS a self-confessed Harry Potter fan, I was eagerly awaiting the next instalment of the magical adventure launched on Saturday.

Bright and early, I headed down to my local bookshop in Milngavie to buy the book, and have been sneaking chances to read the odd chapter when I can.

I also tabled a parliamentary motion praising Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, in particular in light of new research which confirms that the Potter series encourages children to read who usually would not, and improves the reading skills of children.

I’m not sure how many MPs have read the Potter books, but I think with all the serious debates and decision-making going on in the Commons, we could all benefit from a bit of time nurturing our creative side.

So I’ve recommended it as an entertaining read for MPs heading off on holiday


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