Last week was very Westminster heavy!! A lot of questions, votes, speeches and process! Ugh! But some success. First success was getting the Transport Secretary to commit to using British Steel for HS2. Indeed he seemed to suggest in answer to my questions that 95% of steel used in the construction of this project will be UK steel.
It's fantastic that the Scunthorpe Telegraph is following this up with a campaign to make sure that it happens and that HS2 is built with British Steel. To sign the petition follow this link –
Second success was getting the Early Years Minister to commit to meeting local nursery providers to hear directly from them about their concerns about the impact of Government policy on local provision. Hopefully she will come and visit us here and see some of the great early years work that is going on locally. If not we will go to see her!!
Third success was the overwhelming majority to get into Committee the Private Members' Bill to stop the government's gerrymandering of boundaries. There's a long way to go with this but it may mean that the Government has to do something to make sure the millions of voters added in the last two years are taken into account when new boundaries are drawn up.
I also asked ministers about doing something to improve the woeful funding of 16-19 education and spoke in the debate on the new Technical and FE Bill pointing out the great work that John Leggott and North Lindsey do locally and the need for that to be properly supported.
Continuing the education theme I asked the International Development Secretary how she can use the UK's Aid budget to support improvements in the number of girls completing their secondary education in sub-saharan Africa. Currently whilst 85% start primary school only 8% finish secondary school - not a good story.
I've spent a lot of time in the Criminal Finances Bill Committee where we are going through, cross-party, line by line to do everything we can to ensure that the law is sharpened up to deal with people who try to evade their duty to pay taxes.
I also had a useful meeting with DONG energy where their head of procurement talked me through how they are intending to source the steel for use in building North Sea wind farms. Finally I had a very useful meeting being briefed about the Buses Bill and the opportunities and challenges for local bus service providers like Hornsbys.
Last week was very Westminster heavy!! A lot of questions, votes, speeches and process! Ugh! But some success. First success was getting the Transport Secretary to commit to using British...
I think there were more crowds than ever on the march from the Baths Hall to the War Memorial for our day of Remembrance, a century on from the Battle of the Somme.
We honoured Scunthorpe born Romany soldier John Cunningham who won his Victoria Cross exactly a year ago to the day. It was that very same VC that led this year's procession and took its place alongside the wreaths of remembrance after a plaque to his memory had been unveiled.
It was good to see so many young people taking part in the service - a tribute to the great work local volunteers do supporting cadets, scouts, guides and other youth organisations locally.
I visited Melior Academy as the school paused for the two minute silence. Those students in local cadet groups wore their uniforms in tribute. I was impressed by the enthusiasm of students and the commitment of staff.
Another group of young people who've shown huge commitment were those getting their certificates for their study of the Quran at Jamia Mosque.
I met with local restaurant owners concerned about pressures on their businesses as it has become increasingly difficult to recruit curry chefs. Our Asian restaurants are of an extremely high quality and a significant part of our local economy. Farming is another key sector locally so it was good to catch up with them for a regular update meeting with the NFU held at the Pink Pig - another excellent example of a successful small business.
I've had over 1000 nominations from local people for over a hundred small businesses in my competition for Small Business Saturday. Shortlisting was a massive challenge!
Community pharmacies are a group of small businesses facing particular challenges as the Conservative Government changes the way it funds them. I met with Community Pharmacy Humber to learn more about how this is likely to impact locally.
It was good to visit Richden Park Care Home and see how the care sector is responding to the changing needs of people. I dropped into a busy Voluntary Action North Lincolnshire AGM, caught up with the new Chair of the Hospital Trust and heard directly from Chatterton Court residents about the problems they are experiencing with parking.
I kept steel on the agenda by asking the Business Secretary what support he intends to give for research and development in the steel industry. Finally I joined a front line police officer for 4 hours of his shift. I was hugely impressed by the variety of work he and his colleagues are doing and their sheer passion and professionalism. It was a privilege to see how hard they work to keep us safe and secure.
I think there were more crowds than ever on the march from the Baths Hall to the War Memorial for our day of Remembrance, a century on from the Battle...
I've had a small number of people contact me after the High Court decision that parliament not the Government should trigger Article 50. The first thing to say is that the Supreme Court will make the final ruling on this so the excitement in some quarters may be premature. Secondly, I am proud to live in a country that has an independent judiciary and a sovereign parliament so I find much of the media hysteria unpleasant and unnecessary.
Let's be clear; there is no way that parliament will frustrate the will of the British people and block the triggering of Article 50. The only delay in getting on with this is from the Conservative Government who appear to have little idea of what they want to achieve in terms of a new relationship with the 27 remaining nations of the EU. I am clear in my mind that the best relationship for the future is one that allows our local businesses to prosper with a positive impact on the wellbeing and livelihoods of local people.
I spoke in a debate on the future of the steel industry pointing out the Government's poor record on procurement, in relation to buying UK Steel for public infrastructure projects. The latest calamities are the use of French steel for Trident successor submarines and the use of Spanish steel for a wind farm off East Anglia. This just isn't good enough! And the Conservative International Trade Secretary has said that the UK outside of the EU will not even use the trade defence instruments that the EU is using to protect our steel industry from unfair competition from outside the EU, particularly from China. So there is much to fight for as we leave the EU that, if we get wrong, will make it difficult for our local businesses.
One thing that would help support the development of our Energy Estuary would be the establishment of a National College of Wind Energy in the area so I was pleased to join fellow northern Lincolnshire MPs in making the case.
We were together again for our annual meeting with the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce in a lively and wide ranging discussion. As always I was really impressed by the enthusiasm, passion and energy of our local business leaders.
And it's clear from the avalanche of nominations for my Small Business Saturday awards celebrating the role of small businesses that local people really value them too. Many community pharmacies are small businesses playing a crucial role in our health service. I was pleased to speak out against the Conservative Government's attack on them.
I also spoke up for protecting prescribing for coeliacs which is currently under threat in some parts of the country. With the local health service under strain these are the sort of issues that North Lincolnshire Council should be showing some leadership on. This is hard to do though when they have left their Director of Public Health post empty for 8 months. So I welcome the Conservative Council's responding to pressure from myself by saying they will soon be advertising to fill this very important post. It's a reminder that we all have much to learn about leadership.
It was good for me to hear different perspectives on political leadership in meetings with the Prime Minister of the exiled Tibetan Administration, the UN Peace Prize winning President of Columbia and the South Korean Ambassador to the UK. They presented a range of different perspectives. But I think we could all learn a lot from the Global Leadership Challenge held at Scunthorpe Baptist Church which drew participants from far and near, including myself.
I've had a small number of people contact me after the High Court decision that parliament not the Government should trigger Article 50. The first thing to say is that...
It's been a big bone of contention for a long while that our area hasn't had access to local digital radio. So I was delighted that digital switch on came to Cafe Indie on Friday with Radio Humberside's David Burns Show broadcast live from Scunthorpe. About time too!!!! It was great to be with Burnsy and regular Scunthorpe contributor Meg to press the big green button that switched on digital local radio for 75,000 local people. Yippee!
Scunthorpe United fans have long felt ill treated with being unable to access digital. In celebration the Iron treated us to a goal fest in the first half at Glanford Park which saw us 4.0 up at half time. 'We are top of the League!' was still the chant at the end of the day when Scunthorpe ran in 4.1 winners over Swindon.
Power and switching things on is very much the way of life for ESM Power a local company listed 13th in the Times Virgin list of fastest growing businesses. And when I visited their amazingly positive staff team I could see exactly why they are doing so well.
More equipment and power is being installed at 2 Sisters Food as they get ready for their significant expansion. I was joined by North Lincolnshire's Head of Economic Growth and the District Manager of Job Centre Plus to see what more could be done working with the company to maximise the job opportunities for local people from their expansion. There was a lot of positive feeling in the meeting.
Another person I met last week who is very positive was the entertainer Ruby Wax who is an ambassador for mindfulness. She was interested in learning more about what the All Party Group on Mindfulness has been doing in parliament and was very interested in the work being done in a number of schools and colleges.
With November being Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month I'm really pleased that the Leader of North Lincolnshire Council has responded positively to my request and has confirmed the council will be turning some of its buildings purple this year to promote greater awareness. As Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group I've been asked to be one of the chief voices of the campaign this year. Last week I chaired a significant round table of experts to discuss the findings of research by Pancreatic Cancer Action into inequalities in patient access to diagnosis and treatment both across the UK and internationally. There is much that can be learnt from this so that all parts the UK can aspire to the best.
It's been a big bone of contention for a long while that our area hasn't had access to local digital radio. So I was delighted that digital switch on came...
Thank you to everyone who has already nominated a local Small Business for either being a Champion Small Business or providing Great Customer Service. This is an opportunity to celebrate the fantastic contribution our small businesses make to the local economy and local community. You can join in by going to www.nicdakin.com and making a nomination or two!!
Community pharmacies are often small businesses providing an essential service at the heart of local communities. That's why it's outrageous that the Conservative Government seems hellbent on making cuts to their funding in ways that could well damage the service. I called on the Health Minister to be really careful that he wasn't making cuts that would end up costing everyone more in the long run.
Another area where the Government clearly isn't listening, despite huge public pressure is the injustice being suffered by women born in the mid 1950s and their access to state pension, an issue I raised again with the Pensions' Minister.
Back in Scunthorpe I was delighted to see the multi million pound investment going into the 2 Sisters Food Group site. This very successful company that supplies to M&S, Tesco's and other major retailers, is looking to recruit an additional 300 staff between now and Christmas.
Another local business doing well is RJ & AE Godfrey where I went to get their take on the challenges and opportunities facing local farmers created by our decision to leave the EU. It was also good to drop into the very stylish social enterprise Salvage Row at the top of Scunthorpe High Street and learn more about their work.
I also joined local people to hear from a prominent Kashmiri politician - a former Pakistan Education Minister - about the troubles in Kashmir that have flared up significantly since July. Many local people have family ties back in Kashmir and share the frustration that the world seems to have forgotten about Kashmir's plight despite there being a long standing UN resolution supporting self- determination.
The rest of my week has been taken up getting my head round being back in the Labour Whips' office. In simple terms the whips' office is the personnel function of the political group. So I've been chatting to the MPs who I will be the first point of contact for any issues to do with absence or anything else.
I'm also supporting our Home Office, Northern Ireland and Scotland shadow teams so I have been liaising with them about what they have to do to keep on top of parliamentary business. All good fun!
Thank you to everyone who has already nominated a local Small Business for either being a Champion Small Business or providing Great Customer Service. This is an opportunity to celebrate...