Parliamentary recess has now come to an end and I returned to London on the 7th. During the recess I have had a packed schedule visiting businesses, service providers and community groups in all corners of the constituency. These visits have been both interesting and informative. Returning to Westminster felt a bit like a new term at school and of course I am not new anymore. I can now find my way around the vast parliamentary estate and I have learnt how to make best use of the systems of Government for the benefit of my constituents. This is vital because although London is 200 miles away decisions are made there every day that affect the lives of people in Burnley and Padiham. This week began with Urgent questions to the Prime Minister regarding the refugee crisis. David Cameron has refused to offer any British help to the refugees in Europe and it does seem ironic that the dead little boy that stirred public opinion and prompted Government action in the first place, had he lived would have been denied help in Britain. This seems very much out of step with the mood of the British people, if my mail bag is anything to go by. I am pleased that we are to offer help to the people in the refugee camps but I know I am not alone in wanting to know details of the numbers and timescale. At the moment the Prime Minister is refusing to say.
One important issue that has featured much this week is the treatment and care of cancer patients. In parliament I had two separate meetings with organisations specifically concerned with breast cancer and ovarian cancer. It seems to me that the two main concerns for all cancer patients and their families are: first early diagnosis and second availability of treatment. I welcome the Health secretary's promise of a guaranteed early diagnosis but other recent news regarding the withdrawal of funding for several specific cancer drugs does mean leave me feeling cynical about the extent of the Government’s commitment because there is little point In achieving an early diagnosis if the appropriate treatment is then withheld. In addition as someone who has always campaigned for more and better NHS services to be located at Burnley General Hospital I am pleased that there are plans to open a state of the art chemotherapy unit in Burnley. I will give my full support to this scheme which I know will make a huge difference to local people, many of whom currently have to travel Preston or Manchester for treatment. I am concerned though that we are now reduced to relying on charity contributions to deliver vital NHS services.
On Thursday evening I accepted an invitation for a whistlestop tour of Burnley's Beer Festival. The event, which is organised by East Lancs CAMRA has now become an annual fixture that is enjoyed by many. I would also just like to add that for anyone who hasn't been to the Mechanics for awhile it really is worth a visit. The recent refurbishments and the opening of the new Simply Classic Bistro have to be seen and experienced to be appreciated.