Just when I thought it couldn't get any busier, in Westminster, I was drawn the 4th lot in the ballot for a Private Members Bill out of more than 400 other MPs. This means that in the Autumn I will get my opportunity to present a bill of my choosing to Parliament. Many thanks to the hundreds of people who have already submitted their suggestions to me about what the subject of this bill should be. There are so many areas of interest and important things that need to be done, that could form the subject of this bill, so i am now considering the suggestions, alongside some ideas of my own very carefully. Of course when I have made my decision, you will be the first to know.
This week I have joined the Parliamentary group on Autistic Spectrum Disorder. To date this group has done a lot to promote the understanding of Autism and focuses on such issues as educational provision and employment opportunities for autistic children and young people and I look forward to helping them extend this work further.
As you may will have read and seen on the news, the European Union was at the centre of parliamentary business this week and it has now been agreed that a referendum will take place to decide whether the UK should stay in the Union. I think we can all look forward to an interesting debate on this subject, however I do wish that the Government would allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote on the issue. In fact I am in favour of the permanent extension of the franchise to allow these young people to vote in all elections. it seems such a ridiculous contradiction to me that you can get married at 16, be a company director and pay tax, but you can't vote. The precedent, as you will remember, has already been set recently, when young people in this age group were allowed to vote in the Scottish referendum.
On returning to Burnley on Thursday evening, I was proud to attend the Burnley Business Awards Event at Towneley Hall. This is an opportunity for the business community of Burnley to comes together at an impressive event, organised by Burnley Council, to celebrate the many successes of local businesses. The evening was quite simply superb from start to finish, and I must give a special mention to the young people form Basics, who provided a high standard of entertainment on the night. Many I spoke to felt that it had been the best business awards evening they had ever attended, so the organisers at Burnley Council deserve a lot of credit. Well done to all concerned!
My busy schedule means that I only this Saturday got the chance to travel to Manchester by train via the newly opened Todmorden Curve. This of course is the service provided by Northern Rail, which complements the excellent Witch way bus service that has been in operation for years. Even though the train was packed, we did manage to get a seat and it was enjoyable experience with something of a party atmosphere! Everyone I spoke to on board seemed to appreciate Burnley's newest service, demonstrating that it is not only the business community that will benefit from this new service.
On Sunday, I was delighted to attend Burnley Mayor's Civic Service at the United reform Church on Bethseda Street. It was especially pleasing to see some of the junior members of the congregation taking such an active part in the service. After that, it was off to attend the Ightenhill Park Festival. This was a well-attended family event, organised by the friends of the park and supported by The Big lottery Fund. Thankfully the weather was kind to us and we had a fine day.