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.