IT HAS been a stormy start to the new parliament: minority government, Brexit negotiations and the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

These events have further proved the adage that “a week is a long time in politics”.

It is against the backdrop of these events that I rose to make my maiden speech and ask my first questions in the House of Commons.

In my maiden speech, I talked about Clackmannanshire – along with South Perthshire and Kinross-shire – highlighting the virtues of our constituency, explaining to the house that although Clacks is called the “Wee County”, it has the landscape, the people and the ambition to achieve so much more than its name implies.

At the same time, I acknowledged the challenges we face, issues such as investment, deprivation and social mobility.

It is to these challenges I will devote most my time and energy. I know that speeches and questions alone cannot solve unemployment or reverse/launch policy decisions, any more than playing politics with key issues will help tackle the issues facing our constituency and country.

Parliament may seem distant and dated, but as demonstrated by the government’s decision to fund the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Deal, and treatment for women travelling from Northern Ireland to England for safe and legal abortions, a real difference can be made.

One such issue is that of the public sector pay cap. The pay cap was brought in the wake of the financial crisis to help stabilise the nation’s finances and reduce the enormous debt payments the country was making, roughly £40billion per year in 2010 – more than Scotland’s entire annual budget.

Inflation dropped, roughly, from the end of 2011 to the middle of last year – but with inflation now creeping up again, the nation’s finances clearly must be balanced with fairness for public sector workers.

However, the vote in Westminster the week before last, was not a vote for the pay cap in Scotland. Most public services have been devolved since 1998 – and with them, the power to change public sector pay. Although the SNP have now indicated they want to review the cap, they have had the power to help key Scottish workers for years.

Meanwhile, pay decisions for the rest of the UK should be fully costed and addressed in the budget, not in short amendments to the Queen’s Speech.

I can understand why the SNP administration avoided this course action. It is expensive and despite receiving £500m-plus in additional funding from Westminster since 2010, it may still require moving resources from elsewhere. However, launching campaigns and attacks criticising Westminster when the power has been in their hands for years is disingenuous at best.

It is estimated that a 1 per cent increase in NHS pay would cost around £350m, so it is a major spending decision. However, we must clear about the impact of inflation on household budgets. The independent public sector pay bodies will report to the UK Government later in the year, so I will look forward to seeing their recommendations on pay - and I hope this an issue where Edinburgh and London can work together to get a better deal for Scotland and the whole of the UK.

Surgeries are now taking place across Clackmannanshire, please see details here:

Questions/concerns/issues – please email