When you are sitting on a Bill Committee it gobbles up time as you go through the proposed legislation line by line. So this is what I was doing most of last week as the excitingly titled Taxation (Cross Border Trade) Bill completed its committee stage. It's the Bill that will decide - amongst other things - what protection there will be for UK Steel British Steelwhen we come out of the EU. At the moment there are over 40 trade defence instruments in place to protect the European market from the dumping of Chinese and other steel being sold at less than it cost to produce. It quickly became clear that the Conservative Government isn't guaranteeing these protections stay in place when we leave the EU, which is troubling to say the least. What people don't appear to understand is that steel is a commodity that is traded freely without tariffs which makes it crucially important that action is taken where necessary to ensure trade is not only free but fair. I asked the Secretary of State for Leaving the EU how he was going to ensure UK Steel prospered after we had come out. Worryingly he had no answer other than a bit of bluster. It is surely time for this hopeless Conservative Government to up its game on behalf of British manufacturing and make decisions in the country's interests not the narrow concerns of the Conservative Party.
At Education Questions I continued to ask for fair funding of 16-19 year olds like those attending North Lindsey College and John Leggott College colleges. It's time for action to level this playing field!
The other big question that Parliament considered last week was to do with the future of the Houses of Parliament themselves. There were various options before us on how to proceed with the grandly named 'Restoration and Renewal" of the parliamentary estate. All options seem to cost an arm and several legs!!! So I went on a tour of the basement to see for myself what the problem was that needed fixing at such a cost to the public purse. After the basement tour I was convinced that to preserve our heritage and to keep people safe into the distant future the best option was the one where we all move out. In the end this option won by just 16 votes in a free vote. So hopefully now a decision has been made it can be got on without any more expensive dilly dallying.
Finally I was delighted to join councillors for their civic service held at Bottesford Baptist Church. Whatever Big Brother Conservative North Lincolnshire Council might say our Town Councils do a good job and should be seen as excellent partners in working for their communities not smaller bodies to boss about.