People often ask me about my working week in Westminster. I will be writing regular updates of my work representing you in Parliament. Here’s my first one!
This week, I arrived in Parliament on Monday and I was pleased to find I had been selected to ask two questions in the House in the coming week. People often don’t appreciate that to ask questions of Ministers on the floor of the House of Commons, an MP has to enter a ballot, then you are drawn out. So you don’t always get to ask a question every time.
Its the same in fact for Private Members Bills and Prime Ministers Questions. Once you are drawn, you can choose the question you ask, so I’m always focussing on asking questions that are most relevant to Redditch. Of course, an MP can try to speak in the House at other times, but there is luck involved in this too, sometimes, you get called by the Speaker and other times you don’t.
Naturally there are many other ways of getting things done as an MP though, such as meeting ministers, and putting down written questions, both of which I’ve done during my short time here.
As a new MP, I’ve been quite lucky in getting called a few times to speak, in questions and in debates, most notably when I questioned Jeremy Hunt on staffing levels in the Worcestershire Acute Trust.
My first question this week was on Brexit, and I asked Boris Johnson Foreign Secretary what the government is doing to ensure businesses in Redditch benefit from Brexit. I know from my surgeries that people have very different views on Brexit. We voted to leave, but I have heard from people who are worried that they will lose their jobs as a result. Its important that I work hard during this transition period and the government understands the challenges for local businesses, as well as the opportunities. Obviously, it will vary hugely depending on the business and their market.
My second question was focusing on encouraging better mapping of Redditch’s many footpaths, in turn to encourage people to make more use of our green ways and green spaces, to enhance health and wellbeing. As a keen walker and dog lover I know what a benefit it has on physical and mental health. I’ll be continuing this campaign.
But my main focus this week was understandably on the Alex and our health services. I held a debate in Parliament on the Alex and the Acute Trust. You can follow this link to watch the proceedings and read the full transcript.
It was a great opportunity to raise all the issues that people have contacted me about, and to get an answer from the responsible department. Even though we expected what the CCG was going to decide this week, as the new MP for the area, I’m still hugely disappointed. It goes against what people in Redditch wanted. I’m working very hard to do everything in my power to see the commitments made by ministers, the Trust, and the CCG delivered.
Wednesday saw the outcome of the CCG decision and I spent morning until night doing media interviews on this decision. This involved a lot of juggling between different journalists, TV studios and my work in the Chamber. The most stressful point came when I was in the BBC studio recording a piece for Midlands Today. I saw a watsapp message on my phone telling me I was next up to speak in the Chamber and to get there immediately! Luckily, the whips and Speaker are quite understanding of these sorts of things, so I was able to explain and reschedule. Thank goodness for watsapp.
My other focus this week was on Grenfell Tower. I was able to speak in a debate on this awful tragedy, which I know has affected us all here in Redditch as well. We’ve seen our local community come together to provide practical and financial support for the victims. People in Redditch have asked me to pass on their thoughts and prayers to the Grenfell victims.
As you will know, I’ve sought and received assurances that our Redditch Borough council owned buildings are safe.
On the same day, I was again fortunate to be called to speak in a debate on New Towns. As Redditch is a new town, we face a number of issues, that are common to other new towns. Working together with colleagues across all sides of the House, we agreed to form an All Party Parliamentary Group on New Towns. Collaborating with other MPs, from different parties, is much more effective in the House as it gives us a larger voice and ministers are more likely to listen and act.
One of the most pleasant and possibly surprising things about actually being an MP is getting to know well other MPs from different parties. Although we disagree fundamentally on policies, we need to work together to pass laws in the best interests of the country. And we all understand that regardless of party, we are primarily there to represent our constituents, and we have that in common. When we do debate policies, which we do robustly on the floor of the House, we do so in a respectful manner, and this is why you’ll always see us addressing each other as “Honourable Members”. I do like this tradition because it emphasises our values of public services to our communities rather than what divides us.
In my speech I highlighted concerns relating to planning, infrastructure, our local health services and how important it is to plan for the future population growth such as we expect in Redditch, and town centre regeneration.
The planning concern was brought home to me starkly back in Redditch yesterday, when I visited local residents in Web Heath who are directly affected by the new housing developments there. What the developers are doing is outrageous, in their disregard for the disruption to local people’s lives, and I will be contacting them forthwith.
If you want to see any of the details of my work in Parliament for you, please go to They Work For You website where you can search under my name and see everything that I’ve done.
You can also watch the debate on our health services (and other proceedings in the Commons) by going to Parliament TV, and searching under my name.
Finally, Hansard is available online. This is a service that records absolutely everything an MP says and again, its searchable.
Please get in touch with me by email if you have any questions on my work in Parliament. As a reminder, although I do read all the comments people put on my Facebook Page, I simply can’t reply to them all, and if you require a full and detailed answer, I ask that you email me on [email protected] where you will receive a reply. You can also fill out the contact form on my website.