As I write this column I am about to return to Westminster for a new term – yes it is like going back to school after a summer break – but the first week back is particularly important this year.
This week we will be debating the Refugee Crisis and the Assisted Dying Bill. If a picture tells a thousand words then the picture of little Alyan Kurdi spoke volumes and has changed public perception of the humanitarian crisis which is happening across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Much has already been written about this by people much more eloquent than I am but one quote stood out for me. Warsan Shire a Somalian poet said “No-one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.”
I have received hundreds of emails asking for something to be done to help the thousands of refugees affected. The Scottish National Party has decided to use our Opposition Day Debate on Wednesday to urge the UK Government to fulfil its moral and legal obligations on refugees. Alex Salmond our foreign affairs spokesperson said “David Cameron seems determined to do as little as he can get away with, when he should be doing as much as humanity demands.”
On Friday The Assisted Dying Bill, a Private Member’s Bill will be debated. This again has great public interest. I am reading emails and briefings both for and against and will listen carefully during the debate before I decide how I will vote. Every MP will vote according to their own conscience on this matter.
Although Parliament has been in recess since 22 July I have been using the time to make many visits across the constituency and to keep myself updated on the current issues affecting all of us here in Wishaw. I have had meetings with Police Scotland, the Welfare Rights Team at North Lanarkshire Council. SAMH (Scottish Action on Mental Health) Experience Counts and Information Service and Lanarkshire Links, which provide help and support for Mental Health service users and carers. All of these organizations provide help and support and are doing great work with people in Wishaw and beyond.