Parliament was in full swing again last week. There was a lot going on!
I spoke every day in the Chamber. On Monday I asked the Skills Minster what future he saw for BTEC qualifications and got an answer that suggested he didn't really understand the question! A number of written follow up questions have received answers that amount to 'wait and see'. I know from leading a sixth form college how important BTEC Firsts and BTEC Nationals are to providing good programmes with strong progression on to work and higher education.
On Tuesday I was one of over 80 MPs who presented petitions in support of the Women Against State Pension Inequality. This was a really strong statement in favour of the government acting to redress the negative impact on women who are currently being short changed.
On Wednesday the spotlight moved onto the issue that will dominate for the next few years: Brexit. I drew on what local people have been saying to me to demonstrate that there is no agreement in the country at large on what sort of Brexit we should have. For the Tory Government to arrogantly say it will decide what this looks like without the scrutiny of parliament is not acceptable. But after significant pressure they backed down and now recognise that parliament has a right and duty to scrutinise what the Government proposes.
One of my regular correspondents, a local steelworker, gave me this perceptive observation: 'the UK has to decouple from the EU in a careful, rational manner - in the same way a plant is decommissioned slowly as pipes and connections are taken out of service in a step by step manner.'
It was to steel I returned on Thursday when I asked the Leader of the House for a Statement on the effectiveness of the Government's procurement policy in the light of the decision to use French Steel for Trident successor submarinies. This is a point I also pushed the Business Secretary on when he appeared before the All Party Group on Steel. His reply suggested that the first he'd heard of it was when the announcement to use French Steel was made!
It was great to meet up with Nisa - a business headquartered in Scunthorpe - at the event to celebrate the role of convenience stores. I also popped along to USDAW's event to highlight the role of shopworkers and the need for them to be treated with respect.
Everyone at the reception for our Paralympic athletes was full of respect for what they achieved in Rio. They are an inspiration to us all.
Equally inspiring for me was meeting the fantastic students at St Hugh's School who asked me great questions when I joined them for their Friday assembly. Another group of students asking me questions this week were those at Lincoln University who quizzed me on my job.
Someone who has done a fantastic job locally is Gail Spavin who I was delighted to join to celebrate her business's 25 year milestone and Saturday saw me dropping in to a fascinating training session focused on health practice and faith taking place at Bottesford Baptist Church. I then called in at the Jobs Fair being held at the Budd VC Barracks before going along to the Pods to see our local Basketball side, Danum Eagles take on Kent Crusaders. The standard was incredibly high with the Crusaders just having the better of the Eagles. It was great to see John Leggott Principal, Leon Riley there out and about in the community making it clear that's where the college should be.