The first parliamentary week of 2017 was a long one for me because I was on duty for a Friday sitting. The reality is that MPs are busy in their constituencies on a Friday when private members' bills are considered. The chances of any bill making progress is slim. The Government often gets a few backbenchers to talk out bills or talk for a long time on an earlier bill so the one they want to avoid isn't got to. That's what happened this week to Grimsby MP Melanie Onn's bill to ensure workers' rights are protected when we leave the EU. So much for all the rhetoric about workers' rights not being under threat!
I began the week leading the end of session adjournment debate on 16-18 education funding at 10pm on Monday. It was good to see so many colleagues from across the House joining me in arguing for better funding for 16-18 year olds. Funding per student currently plummets by 20% for sixth formers before rising again by 45% when they go into higher education. That surely can't be right!
Another area where funding is clearly out of step with what is needed in the NHS. Unfortunately Scunthorpe was one of many hospitals across the country that had to cancel some appointments in order to manage the pressures of last week. It's not good enough for the Prime Minister to blame GPs. GPs are doing their level best. As is everyone else who works in our health service. It's the Tory Government that has cut spending so drastically on social care that it's causing the current crisis. It's the Tory Government that now needs to act before it's too late.
The intended cuts to community pharmacies won't help so I was pleased to drop into a debate on that very issue last week.
There is understandably a lot of concern about the quality of mental health services. So it was good to see RDaSH - our local mental health trust - getting a 'good' from the Care Quality Commission this week. I also enjoyed dropping into the Well Minds event organised to raise money and awareness of the needs of young people's mental health - it was an excellent gig at Cafe Indie with some great acts.
I also met up with our local Amnesty International group at Cafe Indie. Their main concerns were treatment of child refugees, human rights abuses in Palestine and arm sales to Saudi Arabia.
On the steel front it was very positive that we were able to sign off the All Party report setting out a strategic plan for the steel industry.