I was born and grew up in Anniesland and went to the local primary school and then Shawlands Academy secondary school. I now live off Great Western Road in the constituency.
Prior to becoming a Member of Parliament I worked for BT for 31 years. I enjoyed a long running career with British Telecom, working my way up from an apprentice to management.
During this time I was highly active in the Communications Workers Union (CWU) and was West of Scotland chairman of the union Connect for three years, until elected to Parliament.
I have been the Member of Parliament for Glasgow North West since a by-election in 2000 following the death of Donald Dewar.
As a lifelong resident, from a family that has lived here for generations, I hope I am the best person to speak up for our area.
MY ROLE AS AN MP
In the Chamber
My job, first and foremost, is to represent my constituents in the House of Commons. There are many ways of doing this. I can speak in general debates, either in the House of Commons Chamber, or Westminster Hall. I can also lead debates either at the end of the day in the Chamber or in Westminster Hall. Occasionally I am able to introduce a Bill to Parliament. In September 2012, I introduced a Bill to increase the level of debt at which those on prepay energy meters can switch energy suppliers. This suggestion was adopted by Ofgem and now hundreds of thousands of customers are able to save money.
You can read my contributions to debates here.
Outside of the Chamber, I can find out information from the Government and press them to act through Parliamentary Questions. I can also table Early Day Motions (EDMs), which other MPs can sign up to, highlighting an issue.
Energy Select Committee
A key part of my work in Parliament is through sitting on the Energy and Climate Change select committee. I sit as one of the Labour members. We work to scrutinise the Government and we do this through going over legislation, such as the Energy Bill, for which we conducted pre-legislative scrutiny. We also conduct inquiries into issues relating to energy.
More information on the Energy and Climate Change committee is available here.
All-Party Parliamentary Groups
I am Co-Chair of the Music Group, having always had a love for music. We discuss issues facing the industry and hold events which allow other MPs to learn more about music in the UK.
I also Chair the Nuclear Group, due to my firm belief that nuclear energy is our best option in terms of tackling climate change. The industry in fast moving, and our group invites various companies in the industry, as well as Ministers and Shadow Ministers to provide briefings and information on what is happening.
I am Chair of the Shipbuilding Group in Parliament, as a good number of my constituents are employed in this industry at the Clyde shipyards. We have been lucky to have been awarded the contract for the new Type-26 Frigates and it is important we keep ourselves informed about new developments in this area.
My work on other committees
I sit on the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly. The mission of the Assembly is to promote cooperation between political representatives in Britain and Ireland. I sit on the Economic committee and we have recently discussed credit unions, which are popular in Ireland, and I would like to see more of them come to Glasgow.
I also sit on the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO, the military alliance between European countries, the USA and Canada. As elected representatives, we meet to discuss issues relevant to the organisation and influence decisions on Alliance security.
I am a member of the Chairman’s Panel and this means that I am often called upon to chair Bill committees, statutory instruments and Westminster Hall debates. This is an important role, in which I am acting on behalf of the Speaker. In these meetings and debates, I must remain neutral and keep any Party or Constituency concerns aside. In fact, I am usually called upon to Chair meetings that do not impact upon Glasgow North West. I must decide who speaks, ensuring both sides are heard fairly, and make sure all members play by the rules.
One of my roles in Parliament is the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Yvette Cooper MP, Shadow Home Secretary. My job is to find out what the Party thinks about Labour Party policies and keep our policy relevant to the whole party.
In the Constituency
I hold surgeries in the constituency most weeks (more information available here). These are opportunities for any constituents to come to me to discuss any personal or national issues they have. If you come to a surgery, please bring as much information along with you as possible, so we are able to help you in the best way we can.
Please note that I also make special visits to those constituents who are house bound or who have mobility issues. In these cases, please give the office a call to arrange an appointment.
What else we can do
Constituents are always able to phone my Glasgow office with any issues they may have. I will also respond to all email and postal correspondence by post. I get many people bringing various issues to my attention and provide a response. Please remember to include your address on all correspondence so I can send out a reply.
If your issue is regarding a UK policy area, I am happy to write to the Minister responsible on your behalf or possibly raise it in Parliament. I cannot, however, deal with issues that come under the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament (good examples of this are education, health and the judiciary) or Glasgow City Council (such as local infrastructure or housing). In these cases I will pass your query onto your MSP or Councillor.
I get hundreds of emails and letters per day, so please be patient for a response.
I spend my time in the constituency knocking on doors and finding out what matters to people. I also attend various events, with local businesses or organisations. I try and visit schools to help young people learn about Parliament. Big employers are also of great concern to me, and I try and visit these often to ensure workers are being treated fairly.
What do I do in recess?
The media likes to report that ‘MPs have a six week holiday during recess’. But, like many of my colleagues, while I may take a week off, I spend recess working in Glasgow, meeting with constituents, local businesses and organisations, or catching up on some of the paperwork. Recess is probably the best time to catch me up here, so feel free to give the office a call.