What a privilege it has been to be MP, for the constituency where I grew up, during this past year at Westminster. I have been working very hard for you locally, setting up my office in the Civic Centre East Kilbride and holding over 70 surgeries in five locations including East Kilbride, Strathaven, Stonehouse, Blackwood and Lesmahagow.
My office has to date assisted over 2200 constituents on issues that are important to them including health, welfare, pensions, tax and immigration detention. I have also made contact with dozens of local businesses and over fifty local projects to support their development. Local campaigns have included South Lanarkshire School Transport, Stay in EK (HMRC), Strathaven Old Town Mill, Birkwood Castle, South Lanarkshire Autism One Stop Shop, High Speed Broadband and development of EK Football Stadium.
As you will know, MPs spend Monday-Thursday of each week at Westminster. During my first year at Westminster, I have taken part in 89 debates which is “well above average” according to “They Work For You” website and compares with my predecessor having taken part in 18 debates during their last full year as an MP. I have sponsored debates on Autism Awareness, HMRC, Mental Health Provision for Veterans and Puppy Farming. I am now seeking a debate on justice via inquest for non-combat military deaths.
This year my focus will be to consolidate work undertaken and to build upon this. I am planning to open a sub office in a rural location to keep my election promise to you that I will be ‘the most accessible MP’ for all. As chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Disability, I will continue to press welfare issues, service provision, inclusion and equality. Steven Crabb Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is addressing our next meeting so please get in touch, as I want to present information from my constituents about your experience.
Given my background, I am delighted that we now have a dedicated Minister for Mental Health in the Scottish Parliament. I will continue to support the development of mental health services across the board as we must recognise that good mental health is vital to all of our lives. I plan to support these issues with our Scottish Government and also by chairing a new All Party Parliamentary Group on Psychology at Westminster.
Priority will also be given to building local business investment and international trade. I have therefore written to South Lanarkshire Council to request a position on their Task Force to fully support their work and my campaign that it must be ‘Here for Business’.
If you have any further ideas about the focus of my work then I want to hear from you. MPs are here to serve constituents and, as evidenced, that remains my firm commitment to you.