There’s a first time for everything, and when you take on something completely new, such as being the Member of the Scottish Parliament for Motherwell and Wishaw, that means a steady stream of first times. Not least is this article – the first of a regular column for the Wishaw Press, which I am delighted to have the opportunity to write.
The first issues that I raised in Holyrood were highlighted by tabling motions. They all dealt with constituency matters, and included taking up the funding issue for the upgrade of Clyde Valley High School, welcoming the new, state-of-the-art community hub opened in Gowkthrapple; and congratulating Wishaw on winning the Scottish Amateur Cup – a first for them!
Two weeks ago, I made my maiden speech in the Scottish Parliament, on the issue of borrowing powers. This is an important issue where getting it right will make it easier to build better schools, hospitals and public services. In my speech, I made it clear that I would judge policies based on how well they met the ambitions and aspirations of the people of Motherwell and Wishaw.
The scrutiny of Scottish Government finances is crucial to the task of making Ministers accountable for their policies and promises. At my first Finance committee meeting last week, it became clear how big a task that would be. The final report of the old Finance committee had recommended that the budget should be more detailed. This is something that I will pursue in the committee.
Also last week, I asked my first parliamentary question in the chamber. I wanted to know how much extra people are paying for the services that councils are being forced to charge for, because of the council tax freeze not being fully funded by the Scottish Government. Surprisingly, this information is not collected centrally, but I personally know people who are worse off, and I’m sure this is one that I will come back to.
The other firsts that will soon be here are my surgeries. These will be on the 8th July (and thereafter on the first Friday each month). For details, see the ad in that week’s Wishaw Press, or phone 01698 303040.
A lot of firsts, to which I must add my first priority, which will always be my constituents!