Everybody is hoping that this week will see a significant and positive step forward for steelmaking in Scunthorpe with the expectation that Greybull will formally take over the ownership of Tata Long Products Europe and re-launch it as British Steel. Nonetheless last week still saw a focus on what still needs to be done to ensure a positive future for the UK steel industry to match its positive past.
Steelworkers from across the country came to march through London and lobby Westminster. It was good to see so many MPs on college green mingling with the men and women of steel. I managed to find most of those who'd travelled from Scunthorpe and caught up with the latest local and national news on what's happening in the industry. Then on Thursday the Business Secretary came to the House of Commons to update us on the government's steps to support the industry. Still a bit too little, too late but all movements in the right direction. So we must welcome them, but also keep the pressure on!
The decision to consult widely on steps to support the British Steel Pension Scheme was a significant move and one that has been largely welcomed by the trade unions, the pension trustees and steel employers. But, as always, the devil will be in the detail. My view is that I and other steel MPs must work with everyone concerned to look after the interests of British Steel pensioners and those still working in the industry. That is what I am determined to do.
I used the opportunity to speak in the Queen's Speech Debate to focus on the two issues of greatest concern locally - the steel industry and local health services. I've followed up the recent spate of unsatisfactory Care Quality Commission reports into aspects of our local health services with discussions with the CQC. This has helped me understand their concerns which, I believe, makes it easier for me to work with our local providers to support them in making the changes in performance necessary to give local people the quality of service they rightly expect and deserve.
One group of people who make a significant contribution to health services in the community and are sometimes forgotten are Community Pharmacies. So I was pleased to support their campaign against the Conservative Government's ill-judged plans to significantly cut their income. I dropped into a briefing session and supported an end of day adjournment debate on the subject.
After my time on with Hornsby buses recently I was keen to learn more about the Government's planned Buses Bill so attended the briefing by the Buses Minister on their plans which i felt were supportive of the direction our local bus services want to go in. I hope so. I also raised my concerns about the future of the green space on the now cleared Brumby Resource Centre site with the Leader of the House, drawing attention to the importance of such spaces to local people.
Everybody is hoping that this week will see a significant and positive step forward for steelmaking in Scunthorpe with the expectation that Greybull will formally take over the ownership of...
It was fantastic to be able to join other local Labour MPs meeting up with our new Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner Keith Hunter. After congratulating him we were keen to discuss how we can support him in providing strong leadership to our police force in ensuring it strengthens further its role in local communities reducing crime and the fear of crime.
No sooner have we got one election out the way than everyone's attention moves to the EU Referendum. Although there are strongly held views on all sides of the argument I am still finding a lot of people asking for more information to help them make up their minds. So it was good that the Labour In For Britain battlebus came to Scunthorpe's Tesco store this week. People were keen to chat and ask questions of myself, Labour MEP Linda McAvan and other activists.
Whilst in the store it was also good to see the great Stroke Association gang with their fantastic stall promoting stroke awareness.
Back in Parliament we had a rather empty Queen's Speech. Nothing much in it for us in Scunthorpe was my general view. No industrial strategy or actions to support our steel industry as it is about to move onto a new chapter of its history with the impending welcome re-launch of British Steel. And nothing to tackle the huge challenges facing our local health service. Thankfully it looks as though the Junior Doctors' dispute is close to being settled but, as I pointed out to the embattled Health Secretary, he could have got round the table in February and reached a settlement earlier if he'd listened to the urgings from colleagues cross-party. Instead he chose further confrontation leading to more anguish for patients that better leadership could have avoided. The earlier peace can break out in any conflict the better.
I was pleased to be able to join the Scunthorpe Town Team for the inauguration of the Peace Pole in Central Park. A very positive event supported by representatives of all our local faith communities.
I enjoyed my visit to Frederick Gough School which is doing so much excellent work, including becoming the first school in the region to be awarded Gold status for its Careers Information Advice and Guidance work. It was really useful to be updated on the issues on the front line of education. If I am to argue for what is best for pupils, students and parents I need to work hard to hear what the people who know best are saying.
The Tory Government could take a leaf out of my book as they blunder from crisis to crisis. This week the Schools' Minister was dragged to the House of Commons Chamber to answer an Urgent Question from one of his own backbenchers about the chaos they've allowed to develop in the policy on taking children on holiday in term times. Everyone agrees that there is a strong relationship between attendance and achievement and all children should aspire to 100% attendance. But the change in the advice to Headteachers in 2013 appears to have created unnecessary friction between parents and schools. We now have a court judgement that further confuses the picture. As I said, it's surely time for the Tory Government to focus on these bread and butter issues and sort them out rather than pursuing an ideological crusade to turn all schools into academies when there is no evidence that would be in the interests of children.
Sadly the evening with Dennis Skinner failed to go ahead as planned due to Dennis becoming ill and having to go to hospital. Thankfully after a weekend in Kensington and Chelsea Hospital he is now at home recovering. People enjoyed meeting Shadow Attorney General Karl Turner MP who gave us insights into his role within Labour's Shadow Cabinet.
It was fantastic to be able to join other local Labour MPs meeting up with our new Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner Keith Hunter. After congratulating him we were keen...
It's been an unusual week of winning! As a Leicestershire Lad I was delighted with the Foxes premiership fairy-tale. Us Iron fans travelled to Sheffield in hope of our own fairy-tale end to the season by snatching the last playoff place in League 1. Despite an excellent performance winning 2.0 away from home it wasn't to be. Scunthorpe will have to settle for another season in the same division after Barnsley pipped us on goal difference.
Politically it's been a winning week too with Labour's Keith Hunter being elected Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner. And the Conservative Government has been indulging in a bonanza of welcome u-turns. Thankfully they've agreed to get back into talks with the BMA to look at ways forward that won't risk patient care. And their stubborn insistence that all schools must become academies has melted as they've accepted our argument that this isn't necessary to bring about school improvement.
As I pointed out this week, in the debate about school funding in London, there are far better things to spend the £1.3 billion on that they were going to spend on making all schools academies. I also spoke in the debate about NHS bursaries arguing that, at a time when hospitals like ours are struggling to recruit nurses, now is not the time to reduce the incentives to come into this and allied health professions. Let's hope they're listening on this one too!
Back in Scunthorpe we had another positive meeting of the Tata Task Force and I had a useful meeting with Golden Wonder who are continuing to invest in their Scunthorpe business.
Sue Maclean and the Ashby Funeral Care team had a poignant commemoration of the dreadful disaster at Hillsborough 27 years after the event. Many local Liverpool fans attended along with other people showing their solidarity and support to the family and friends of those affected.
It's been an unusual week of winning! As a Leicestershire Lad I was delighted with the Foxes premiership fairy-tale. Us Iron fans travelled to Sheffield in hope of our own...
My boyhood support for Leicester City has been rather eclipsed in recent years by my support for Scunthorpe United. That's right and proper but I think it's right and proper today to celebrate Leicester's fantastic success.
Having cheered the Iron on to victory over Port Vale I'm hopeful Graham Alexander's team will be inspired to clinch the last play-off place on Sunday with victory at Bramall Lane.
Sheffield's other football stadium has been in the news this week with the Hillsborough jury's verdict. The statement in the Commons moved many MPs to tears as justice for the 96 fans killed in our worst football disaster was finally realised. It is disgraceful that it has taken 27 years and understandable that there are calls for those responsible for the tragedy and subsequent cover up to be brought to account. Joining the very moving Workers' Memorial Day commemoration at Scunthorpe Baptist Church was a poignant reminder of the tragedies inflicted over the years by accidents at work.
Meanwhile the Conservative Government is presiding over chaos in our schools whilst pressing ahead with unwanted and unneeded forced academisation of good and outstanding schools, something I made very clear at Education Questions. I was able to elaborate further in this when I spoke to students at Leeds University.
And the Tories are presiding over the first ever doctors' strike. Surely it's time for the Health Secretary to adopt a more conciliatory tone and seize one of the many cross-party initiatives to find a way out of the dispute in the interests of patients.
In the light of the significant concerns raised by the recent CQC inspection of our hospital I met with both North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group and North Lincolnshire and Goole Hospital Trust to find out more about what is being done to tackle the issues across our health service locally so that we all get the service we rightly expect and deserve. This is now a major priority for my attention, challenge and support. But I'm not neglecting steel!! Steel MPs met again with TATA and the trade unions to be updated on issues and ensure we are putting maximum pressure on the Government to deliver on its promises to support our vital steel industry.
I also dropped into the fantastic Lincolnshire House who are celebrating their 50 years anniversary. The Bridge Hotel shared their exciting plans for the future with me at their relaunch. But one of the highlights of the week for me was dropping in to Primrose Camp to see scouts and guides enjoying a fantastic local jamboree - PromJam II.
My boyhood support for Leicester City has been rather eclipsed in recent years by my support for Scunthorpe United. That's right and proper but I think it's right and proper...
The Conservative Government is in complete disarray with its ill-thought out plans to force all schools to become academies. The £1.3 billion it'll cost would be better spent in my view directly on children in schools like those I visited this week.
At Foxhills I was interviewed by Lewis and Rebecca as part of the school's student voice. If they were impressive the children at Leys Farm Junior School were amazing. They are doing some excellent work as buddies with their School Council. And the governors I met reminded me of how valuable parent governors are - which made me further question the Conservatives desire to take away the right of parents to serve on their child's governing body.
I also visited Walton Girl's School in Grantham where they are studying the steel industry in Scunthorpe for their GCSE Geography. I hope they enjoy their field trip to our beautiful 'Industrial Garden Town' this coming week! It's clear young people are achieving across our area. But there is a problem in Yorkshire and the Humber - I responded to the debate on educational attainment across the region pointing out the need for the government to do more to support our schools instead of wasting money on their own pet projects.
It was good to join campaigners for Pancreatic Cancer Action who were both fundraising and awareness raising in Brigg marketplace. I'd managed to sit down this week with the All Party Parliamentary Group on pancreatic cancer secretariat to start thinking through what we might do this year.
It's good to connect up what's going on locally with what's going on in Westminster! The enjoyable Kirton-in-Lindsey Mayor's Charity Dinner raised money for local charities - the Forge and Scunthorpe Samaritans. The Lincolnshire Iron and Steel Institute Dinner was an opportunity for the President to reflect on a challenging year for the steel industry. It also raised significant funds for both Lindsey Lodge and Save the Children.
And I was delighted to drop in to Age UK to be updated on their most recent success in securing another 5 years lottery funding for the over 60s financial advice and guidance service they provide. They are also launching an exciting Men in Sheds project this week!
Another group that does a lot of good work locally is the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who've got involved in a range of projects including 'clean for the Queen'. I was pleased to meet with the community and learn more about their work.
The Conservative Government is in complete disarray with its ill-thought out plans to force all schools to become academies. The £1.3 billion it'll cost would be better spent in my...