Parliament resumed after the long summer recess on Monday. Whether its really necessary for us to have three months away from Westminster or not is doubtful, but perhaps less so at our end of the building than for the Commons, who have plenty to do in their constituencies. There is the argument that Members need the time to pursue their specialised interests such as visits abroad if they deal with foreign affairs, and of course there are the Party conferences in September.
Tuesday I spoke on the clauses dealing with alcohol abuse in the Policing and Crime Bill. There is a tacit recognition that the alcohol harm reduction strategy of 2003 isn't working, since all the indices of alcohol harm such as hospital admissions for alcohol-related causes are heading upwards, but as yet the Government refuses to admit that it was utterly mistaken to cast aside price and availability as the main levers that affect consumption.
Wednesday, the morning was occupied in Sub-Committee F taking evidence from the Minister who deals with immigration and asylum at the Home Office, Phil Willis MP, and two of his officials, on the Swedish EU Presidency's justice and home affairs programme. The transcript will be on the Parliamentary website in a few days' time
On Tuesday I was seen at King's by Mr M, the surgeon who did my last operation, about a persistent pain in my left side. He ordered a nuclear bone scan using technetium 99 (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_medicine), which I had this morning, and a CT scan next Tuesday, and prescribed Tramadol, an effective painkiller. I had already had an X-ray, which was clear, and a blood test, normal except for a gradual decline in haemoglobin since April 2006. Mr M is seeing me again next Friday to discuss the results of the tests and whether any further procedures are necessary. I thought it best to record the possibility, because in the meanwhile I'm going to avoid taking on any more engagements after that, just in case I have to cancel them.