Who would have thought that the most successful Conservative Leader in a generation would be out of office and out of Parliament less than 18 months after winning the 2015 General Election? But that’s what happened! This week David Cameron had resigned as Member of Parliament for Whitney. We are living in very strange political times! And with the Labour Leadership election coming to a close I begin to wonder if that will bring more surprises. We will have to wait and see!
Theresa May’s announcement that she wants to turn the clock back and open more grammar schools has created as much opposition from Conservative MPs as Labour MPs. All the evidence shows that areas with selective education do less well for their young people than non-selective areas like North Lincolnshire. And no-one seems able to point to a high performing education system in the world that has selection at age 11.
We also had the announcement that Hinckley C nuclear plant will go ahead after last minute dithering from the Prime Minister. It has always seemed odd to me that a Conservative Government is getting Communist China and a nationalised French company to build our next generation of nuclear reactors at enormous cost to the UK tax payer. Let’s hope they use UK steel.
The Boundary Commission published its proposals for new constituencies based on a reduction of 50 MPs. This is happening at a time when the cost of the extra members of the unelected House of Lords created by this government far outweighs any savings from reducing the number of elected MPs. And, with Brexit, we will lose our 73 MEPs so the argument for reducing the number of MPs is very, very weak. That said the proposal for Scunthorpe would mean that the current constituency which includes Bottesford, Kirton-in-Lindsey, Messingham, Scawby, Hibaldstow and East Butterwick would have towns and villages to the north (Winterton, Burton, Winteringham, Flizborough etc) and Gunness and Burringham to the west added to it. These initial proposals are published on the boundary commission’s website www.bce2018.org.uk and anyone can give feedback on them up to the 5th December when their consultation closes.
It’s 2 years since I led a debate in parliament in response to a massive public petition asking for more to be done to tackle pancreatic cancer. I chaired a meeting of the All Party Group this week in which we were updated on the latest treatments being developed for tackling this awful disease.
Finally I remain very concerned about the future of the British Steel Pension Scheme. Everything has gone very quiet as we await the Government’s response to its consultation on allowing the Trustees to make adjustments to the scheme. I am continuing to work with other steel MPs and the steel unions to keep pressure on Tata and the government to honour steelworkers’ pensions. I raised the issue of better steel procurement for government contracts again this week and also had a useful meeting with British Steel, North Lincolnshire Council and fellow North Lincolnshire MPs.
Who would have thought that the most successful Conservative Leader in a generation would be out of office and out of Parliament less than 18 months after winning the 2015...
Well parliament was back in full swing last week with the Prime Minister insisting that Brexit means Brexit whatever that means!!! And as the Conservative Party continues to adopt UKIP policies she announced plans to extend Grammar Schools.
I pointed out that, to her credit, Margaret Thatcher scrapped selection at 11 in more parts of the country than any other Education Secretary and presided over the biggest growth in comprehensive education. With North Lincolnshire now celebrating record GCSE results this year, with 64% of students achieving 5 A* - Cs including Maths and English, this is evidence that our comprehensive education system is delivering as well as it ever has.
To bring back selection at 11 with secondary modern schools for those who fail would be a leap back in time to the bad old days.
I enjoyed a great morning at St Lawrence Academy which reminded me just how fantastic those who work in education locally are and what a great job they do for the wonderful young people they work with. The real challenges are how to give those young people the resilience and strength to respond positively to the modern world.
I led a debate in Westminster on mindfulness in schools, just one way in which young people can learn skills that help develop greater resilience and perhaps prevent some of the growth in mental health issues in the young.
I was also able to raise a couple of other local issues with ministers. Although access to broadband is generally good in our area there are some pockets of very real difficulty. Indeed a large number of people have been writing to me about their concerns! And for those people not getting the superfast broadband they rightly expect it is making it much more difficult for them to develop their businesses or go about their daily lives. So I have been putting pressure on BT Broadband and the Government to up their game.
Lindsey Lodge does a fantastic job for local people so I was very happy to raise their concerns about how the Office of the Fundraising Regulator is being set up.
Finally I was delighted to see another goal bonanza at Glanford Park as Scunthorpe demolished Southend 4.0 on Saturday.
Well parliament was back in full swing last week with the Prime Minister insisting that Brexit means Brexit whatever that means!!! And as the Conservative Party continues to adopt UKIP...
This year celebrating the centenary of Harold Wilson's birth I've been reading Ben Pimlott's biography of the great Labour Prime Minister. I came across the following observation on Wilson:
'An Opposition Leader has many tasks; to keep the faith, inspire the troops, maintain unity, give a policy lead. The most important is to win'. As Labour's leadership election nears its conclusion these words seem as true now as they were in 1964.
As summer comes to a close it’s back to school/college for our local young people and back to work and other routines for the rest of us. It is also a good time for reflection.
I am back in parliament next week where I’ll be busy contributing to current business and also welcoming Lucy, whose parents live in my constituency and is spending the autumn term with me in Westminster as part of her degree at Hull University.
This summer has been great for welcoming new volunteers. I enjoy giving local people the opportunity to join me to gain work experience. Over the last few months I welcomed Declan, from Fred Gough School, Naomi, Emily and Adam. Also, Dan and Jessica, who attend John Leggott Sixth Form College, have taken opportunity to spend full days in my local office in Park Square to supplement the half days that they do in term time. In Westminster there have been visits by Steph from North Lindsey College and Shaun.
This summer saw the graduation of two people I have been delighted to work with over the last few years. Craig Busby, started as my apprentice back in 2011. After two years and with glowing reports from North Lindsey College, he decided that he wanted to continue his political studies and he went on to Sheffield Hallam where he has done extremely well, and has now secured a job with Toby Perkins. Lawrence, who first came to my office on work experience back in 2010 as a 15 years old student, went on to take a degree in London and combined this with working 12 hours a week in Westminster. Now I am thrilled to report that he is my full time parliamentary assistant.
This year celebrating the centenary of Harold Wilson's birth I've been reading Ben Pimlott's biography of the great Labour Prime Minister. I came across the following observation on Wilson: 'An...
It’s been another week being out and about locally. The good weather really shows Scunthorpe and the surrounding villages off well. So it was good to be able to show off to my Australian brother in law what a fantastic part of the world North Lincolnshire is. He is now a very strong Scunthorpe United fan after I took him to see our 5-0 victory over Gillingham. He now basks in the title Aussie Iron!!!
It was good to catch up with the local Federation of Small Businesses. They are concerned about the impact of leaving the EU on their members’ access to the single market and labour through freedom of movement. The conversation underlined for me how tricky the whole process of negotiating our withdrawal is going to be for the new Prime Minister.
Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust shared their concerns that environmental issues will drop down in priority as the government grapples with its more immediate problems. I met their Director at the fabulous Far Ings Nature Reserve in Barton. As we looked across the Humber on a very wet day we could still feel its grandeur. He brought me up to date with otters, bitterns, dragonflies and all manner of other things conservation. Back in Scunthorpe I visited a couple of interesting businesses.
Youth Engineering Scunthorpe has been established for a while now and does a great job of developing talent and growing the engineering labour force as well as being an efficient small business itself. PEP & CO have only been in Scunthorpe a year but reported that their shop in the parishes is doing extremely well. So, all in all, another very good week.
It’s been another week being out and about locally. The good weather really shows Scunthorpe and the surrounding villages off well. So it was good to be able to...
This is a smashing time of year for me as I thoroughly enjoy having quality time in the constituency and the opportunity to catch up with local people.
I have enjoyed lots of visits to local businesses and organisations.
I met with Mel at Lindsey Hospice, joined volunteers at a Pancreatic Cancer event at Scunthorpe Market and met up with representatives of the CCG – the local Clinical Commissioning Group that holds the funding for many of the medical and care needs of our community.
I also had chance to spend time with my volunteers. Jess, one of the students who come to my office for work experience prepared an interesting article on CCG which you can see on her blog accessed through my website under the Young People section. She also took opportunity to interview me as part of her studies at college - that was tough, her questions were very searching. And it was good to be able to congratulate Jess and Dan, my other regular volunteer from John Leggott College, on their excellent AS level results.
I have held a number of surgeries where I have been able to assist local people on a range of topics to do with housing, health care, employment and community issues.
Something that affects all of us from time to time is litter. With this mind I was pleased to meet up with the Director of Places at North Lincolnshire Council who described plans for improving litter issues in the constituency and the new approach to waste management in the county.
At British Steel I met up with and was very impressed by the new Executive Chairman. His update on plans gives me optimism for the future of steel in our area.
Finally, on Friday, I was pleased to join Goole Neuro-Rehabilitation Centre to celebrate their 25th anniversary, they provide a very valuable service to our community.
This is a smashing time of year for me as I thoroughly enjoy having quality time in the constituency and the opportunity to catch up with local people. I have...