This week in Westminster, I had the pleasure of welcoming my first Burnley constituents to the House of Commons, when Councillor Wajid Khan escorted a group of ladies from the community. They enjoyed the chance to tour the Palace of Westminster and soak up the historic atmosphere in this ‘Mother of all Parliaments’.
Each Wednesday in the House features Prime Ministers Question Time, however this week David Cameron was missing. He had spent most of the week in Europe trying to negotiate the terms of Britain’s membership of the European Union. Personally, I find it extremely puzzling and frustrating that he is, so far, refusing to tell Parliament what specific demands he is making on our behalf. Surely, if we don’t know what he is asking for, how can we know whether or not he has been successful and hold him to account? In his absence, George Osborne faced a barrage of questions on a variety of subjects, with Hilary Benn in fine voice, leading the team for the opposition.
Also on Wednesday hundreds of people gathered in Central Lobby to hold the Government to account on several issues relating to climate change. Amongst them were some of my constituents who were representing The Catholic Aid Agency for England and Wales. CAFOD understands that climate change affects the poorest people most and they are challenging the British Government and leaders around the world to take steps to reduce carbon emissions and to prevent climate change from pushing people further into poverty. I was most impressed by the commitment of the ladies I met.
I was pleased to attend a meeting with senior representatives from BAE systems in London this week. Not only is BAE a world leader in the aerospace industry, it also provides secure employment for a number of Burnley people at its Samelsbury site, so I am keen to support them in any way I can.
I returned to Burnley late Thursday evening to put the finishing touches to my new constituency office which is at 8 Keirby Walk. Getting the office ready has been a real team effort and I am grateful to everyone who has helped, especially the many local companies and suppliers who have assisted with decorating, blinds, carpets and signage. I particularly want to mention the Burnley based charity FEW (Furniture Education Worldwide) who have supplied the office furniture. Being able to put this recycled furniture to good use whilst also supporting this very worthwhile local charity, was personally very satisfying. I have now completed the task of assembling and organising my team, who will work at the new Burnley Constituency Office. We are all committed to offering a first class service to the residents of Burnley and Padiham, who deserve nothing less.
On Saturday, I was delighted that Peter Pike was able to officially declare the office open and ready for business. It is thirty two years since Peter was elected as Burnley’s MP and he is as interested in promoting the well-being of Burnley as he ever was.
At the time of writing, I am looking forward to meeting up with the representatives of the faith communities at the AGM of the much respected Building Bridges organisation.