This has been another very busy and productive week in Westminster. It seems that every lobbyist and interest group wants to catch the eye of a New Member of Parliament to enlist another supporter to their cause, so invitations are pouring in to attend their briefings However, I am very mindful of the serious job that I was elected to do here, so have decided to accept invitations to only those events which have a genuine benefit to the people of Burnley and Padiham.
At the request of constituents, I have arranged to attend meetings related to several very important issues, amongst them support for older carers. For many years, I have been a regular attendee at the Senior Forum in Burnley and now I will be able to ensure that their voice is heard at the highest level. I was also honoured to meet the much respected former Prime Minister of Kashmir, Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chaudry, at the All Part Parliamentary Group for Kashmir and it was good to be able to raise the concerns of some of my constituents with him.
The State Opening of Parliament is a grand ceremonial occasion – and it was indeed a privilege to be there, but my excitement was tempered by the knowledge that it is also a very important political event, as it is the moment when the Government, courtesy of the Queen’s speech, reveal their plans for the next 5 years.
The Government has claimed to be championing working people, but there seems, so far, to be little detail about how this is to be achieved and, in particular, no mention of tackling low pay, which I know from the thousands of doorstep conversations I have had over the last few years, is a priority for many people in our Borough. So far, I remain unconvinced. Worryingly, there was also no mention of tackling the growing NHS waiting lists and no commitment to improve GP access.
It is said that the Government is planning instead, to repeal the Act on fox hunting. I know from my postbag that many of my constituents have very strong feelings against this on the grounds of animal welfare. It does indeed seem to be, not only a strange priority when so many families are looking to them take more positive action against the effects of harsh austerity measures, but also totally unnecessary, as the ban seems to be working well.
In constituency, I continue to receive a mountain of casework from constituents requesting my help to resolve a range of issues. It is very satisfying to be able to support people in this way and a very important part of my job which, judging from the feedback, is progressing well. I can’t wait to get my office open and establish regular surgeries to extend this process.
At the time of writing I am looking forward to taking part in the Padiham Whit Walk. This is a great annual tradition that dates from Victorian times. My mum has often spoken of her fond memories about taking part in these as a child, so I am very happy to carry on the tradition