We have now reached the longest period of time where Northern Ireland has been without a government. We are in a limbo without local rule and Direct Rule from Westminster and as such projects are being delayed, investment is being left unspent and decisions are not being made.
Currently, MPs can only question the UK Government on the funding settlement to Northern Ireland. Unlike other departments we cannot ask Written Questions on the outcomes of schemes in place or the management of Northern Ireland by the Civil Service. This was put in place to ensure that Westminster respected the governance structures in Northern Ireland. But as we have been so long without a government there it is time that we were allowed to scrutinise Northern Irish Civil Servants activity.
I was disappointed that the Secretary of State would not entertain this idea and I will continue to press for it.
I was interviewed on Sky News this week to discuss my Bill to remove the remaining 92 hereditary peers from Parliament.
It is completely wrong that 92 people, of which only 1 is a woman, are given a seat for life in Parliament – able to make our laws, question our Ministers and lobby organisations – based on what their Great Grandfather did for a previous monarch.
During the interview we discussed the Viscount Thurso and how he has been able to regenerate himself three times to ensure that he keeps a seat in Parliament. He was first thrown out of the Lords as a hereditary peer when Labour reformed it in 1999. He then renounced his hereditary title to win a seat for the Liberal Democrats in the 2001 General Election. He then lost the 2015 General Election and miraculously rediscovered his blue blood again to gain a seat in the Lords once more.
The hereditary peers make a mockery of Parliament and I will continue to press for my Bill to see them abolished on the stroke of midnight on 31 December 2019.
I visited my local Ladbrokes shop in Flint to place a £50 charity bet on last weekend’s Grand National.
The Grand National is the world’s most famous steeplechase and is watched by an estimated 600million people across 140 countries. It is estimated that around half the entire UK adult population place a bet on the race.
The Grand National is one of those great sporting moments in the sporting calendar. I was delighted to visit my local Ladbrokes in Flint to meet staff and customers.
I was very happy to take the generous offer of a free £50 bet which I placed on Pleasant Company. The charity I had chosen for the donation was the Flint branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Sadly, Pleasant Company wasn’t successful on this run.
It is important that people remember that the occasional flutter at the bookies is all well and good but if you have ever had bet regret you should consider contacting the National Gambling helpline on freephone 080 8020 133 or visit www.begambleaware.org for help and advice on how to gamble responsibly.
The bungling of the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling MP, in securing a ferry contract in the event of a no deal Brexit has costed taxpayers £33million in legal fees.
As the UK Government have continued to provide no clear answers on the impact of awarding a ferry contract to a company without any boats I asked the Brexit Minister what other costs have been discovered. Additional costs may now occur because many of the contracts were drawn up with the 29 March date and not the new 12 April date.
Yet again I received no clear answer and instead received a comment that there is simply nothing to see here. I won’t stop pressing for complete transparency on how our money is spent.