It’s been a controversial start to the new Parliament session.

Firstly, the UK Government brought forward legislation, labelled by many as the ‘anti-strike’ Bill, to give the UK Business Secretary power to set a minimum level of service which must be provided during strikes in relevant key sectors which could lead to striking staff being sacked if these are breached.

The Business Secretary claimed this was so that people would know that, if they call an ambulance it will have a predictable response time; however, he failed to mention that such guarantees are not currently reliable because of the workforce shortages in health and social care due to Brexit combined with 12 years of Tory austerity and pay erosion.

So, having clapped for nurses and key workers during the pandemic, the UK Government now threatens to sack them if they go on strike – hardly likely to improve recruitment to these essential sectors!

We then had the unprecedented action of the Scottish Secretary employing what is called a ‘Section 35 Order’ to prevent the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, from becoming law despite it having been supported by a clear majority of Parliamentarians in Holyrood, including MSPs from all parties.

The UK Government claimed they had concerns about its effect on UK-wide equality law but they didn’t raise any of those during the six years this legislation has been under consideration.

The published ‘Statement of Reasons’ was flimsy to say the least and half of them amounted to a rejection of legal differences north and south of the border – the basic principle of devolution!

I fully appreciate the Bill initiated a great deal of debate, but it follows similar reforms in many other countries, including Ireland.

Certainly, vetoing legislation that was passed by 2/3 of the democratically elected MSPs in the Scottish Parliament sets a dangerous precedent and highlights the hollow reality of Devolution.

Closer to home, we finally heard which areas of the UK will receive some of the much vaunted ‘Levelling-Up’ funds and it is extremely disappointing that North Ayrshire’s bid to invest in low carbon industrial development and transport has not received any funding.

The overall pot of money for ‘levelling-up’ is far less than what came to the UK through the EU Regional Funds and all local authorities received awards based on need without wasting time, effort and money bidding against other areas, only to receive nothing in the end.

Full analysis of the awards will show the extent to which the funds have been awarded for political reasons.

Given the growing local significance, it is always interesting to see the development of innovation and opportunity in Scotland’s Space sector and I was delighted to visit Thales in Glasgow to hear more about the incredible range of research they carry out in laser technology, digital sighting and image stabilisation.

Apart from the defence applications, such as those being utilised in Ukraine, this technology will be applicable in a broad range of sectors from safer inspection of off-shore wind turbines to laser communication between satellites.

The latter will allow the development of global data and communication satellite networks, with particular interest from countries like Canada as such networks will bring fast internet access to the remotest areas of the northern hemisphere.