Summer Adjournment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:15 pm on 25th July 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling 3:15 pm, 25th July 2019

I am grateful to follow Mr Lewis. I was deeply impressed by what he said about antisemitism, and also about whistleblowing. I am the co-chair of the all-party group on whistleblowing. Just a couple of weeks ago, we produced a significant, I believe, report entitled, “The Personal Cost of Doing the Right Thing and the Cost to Society of Ignoring it”. In that report, we call for a review of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. It was passed 20 years ago and was groundbreaking at the time, but it is well past the date for it to be reviewed. The hon. Gentleman highlighted a case in point where the Act should be protecting whistleblowers but does not. The report also makes the case for an independent office for the whistleblower.

I was enlivened—I think the whole Chamber was—by the exciting, energetic and enthusiastic performance of our new Prime Minister earlier today. Had I taken my turn and bobbed for two and a half hours, I would have asked my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to commit to taking seriously the recommendations arising from the review that Lord Dunlop will produce later this year. It is very important for the sake of our Union that the United Kingdom Government update their structures and configuration to make them fit for the post-devolution Britain we live in.

I would like to raise the lack of any ministerial statement on the shocking rise in drugs-related deaths in Scotland, the highest per capita death rate in Europe. It is beyond my reasoning why Home Office Ministers were so reluctant to come here and make a statement on this important subject. I would like a meeting with the new Leader of the House to discuss how the Government respond to matters relating to Scotland in general. The sovereign Parliament of the United Kingdom must surely have an interest in all aspects of life in all parts of these islands.

Every Friday and Saturday, I spend time doing the thing I enjoy most about this job, which is speaking to my constituents, most frequently on their doorsteps. I am struck by the things that concern my constituents—not the things that fill up column inches of the national newspapers or the hours of ongoing, 24-hour rolling television news but the things that fill the columns of the Stirling Observer and the airtime of Central FM and Stirling City Radio. Those are the things my constituents care about, so let me mention some of them very quickly.

Since I was elected, I have been involved in a campaign to increase the number of Changing Places. Changing Places are toilets and changing facilities for people with a wide range of disabilities. They are fully equipped with showers, hoists and changing tables to make it possible for families caring for family members and others who suffer from severe disability to enjoy the facilities that we all—those of us who are able-bodied—take for granted. I opened a new Changing Places facility in my first few months as an MP, at the Blair Drummond safari park, working with Gary Gilmour, the manager there. It really brought home to me the effect that these facilities can have on individuals and the families who need them. They enable them to enjoy a day out without anxiety about the hygiene and care of the people they love.

I am working with Stirling shopping mall manager, Gary Turnbull, because it would like to have a Changing Places facility there. I am also working with the centrepiece of Stirling’s sports village, the Peak, and Active Stirling, because it would like a Changing Places facility, as well as with the McLaren Leisure Centre in Callander—led by its chairman, David Moore, and manager, Trish Thompson—which is planning a Changing Places facility soon. I want to pay tribute to the local area access forum, under the chairmanship of Robert Dick. It does so much to highlight these issues, and so much more, and I pay full tribute to it. I hope that Ministers will consider looking at policy on these issues. Why is it not required that these facilities are installed at motorway service stations and other key public facilities that make such a difference to the quality of people’s lives?

I pay tribute to Grant Wallace, a local driving instructor, and to local Councillor Martin Earl, who saved the Callander test centre from the clutches of the DVLA, which wanted to shut it down and save £2,500. Together with Mark Griffiths they came up with a novel solution so that Callander could retain its DVLA test centre and also make that saving. I also pay tribute to Valerie Brand from Buchlyvie, who managed to change the route of the C12 bus so that people in rural Stirling had access to a proper bus service, and to Donald and Alicja Fraser who set up a transport scheme in Killin to ensure that people could access appointments at hospitals and other far away medical facilities. Rural communities are often forgotten, but they should not be.

I would like to mention many other things, but one success story involves my constituent, Helen Bovill, who was concerned about the state of a public walkway. She got in touch with her councillor and her MP, and things changed. That is the kind of civic volunteering responsibility we have in Stirling, which makes it the greatest place in the United Kingdom to live.