Hi and welcome to my weekly column for Tamworth Informed.
This week in Parliament was the ‘week that wasn’t meant to be’, as February recess was cancelled to allow MPs to continue approving legislation in time for us leaving the European Union. Whilst recess breaks almost sound like school holidays, they are very different! These are points in the year in which MPs do not make laws, instead they get to spend more time in their constituencies meeting residents and other interest groups.
Monday saw MPs getting stuck right in as we passed a number of Statutory Instruments in order to get ready for our exit from the European Union. These are very minute and nitty gritty bits of legislation that are scrutinised in its own Select Committee, meaning when they are presented to MPs we reduce the need for too much debate. Whilst they are nothing too exciting, they are important in properly defining and clarifying the law. Monday saw a large number approved and this is adding to the good progress we are making for when we leave on March 29th.
One of the highlights of my week was welcoming Poppy Guilder, her parents and her sisters to Parliament. Many of you will know Poppy from her charity Poppy Fields that was set up by Poppy’s parents after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour at 14 months old. Poppy recently won the Inspiration award at the Spirit of Tamworth Awards.
Last year I wrote to Poppy to congratulate her on all the positive work she is doing, and offered her and her family a tour of the Houses of Parliament. I hope they had a terrific time and should any residents wish to also come and see the Houses of Parliament do get in touch! Thanks also to Alex and Marcus who helped with the tour.
At PMQs this week the Prime Minister announced the excellent news that the number of people in work is at a record high and wages are growing at their fastest rate in over a decade, meaning more people have the security of a regular wage. For us in Tamworth that means that from 2010, the unemployment rate has fallen by 52%. This means that 1,190 people who were unemployed have now been able to find work.
Wednesday also saw the elephant in the room get a little bigger, 8 Labour MPs and 3 Conservatives joined together to create a new Independent group. As your representative in Westminster, I felt it would be wrong of me to gloss over this. Whilst you never plan on losing members of your flock, I can certainly understand why Labour MPs have left their party. Luciana Berger, an MP in Liverpool, has called her party institutionally anti-Semitic, whilst fellow MP Mike Gapes called it institutionally racist. On our own side, Heidi, Anna and Sarah have left the party over the issue of Brexit. We are all bigger than one policy or one issue and as a broad church, and whilst I respect their decision, I believe they made the wrong one.
In the late afternoon the House held a debate on anti-Semitism, it greatly saddens me that as we pass out of the living history of the Holocaust, we find ourselves debating an issue that should not exist in our country. Antisemitism is on the rise across the United Kingdom, there is no doubt about that and the increasing role social media plays in our lives has fuelled this fire. Worse still, to see it embedded and growing in the Labour party, a party that aspires to govern our country, deeply worries and concerns me.
Earlier this year I signed the I signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, and in doing so pledged my commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people today.
Thursday marked a sad day in Tamworth, where I attended the civic funeral of Cllr Steve Claymore at St Editha’s Church. I was truly sorry to hear of Steve’s death. He fought his illness quietly and bravely which was the hallmark of the man. He will always be remembered as a conscientious councillor, thoroughly dedicated to the town in which he lived and was proud to serve.
He will be missed by officials in the Council as well as by his many friends and constituents whom he helped. I enjoyed working with him and I have passed on my condolences to his wife, Rosemary and all his family. They can be very proud of their husband, father and grandfather.
For the remainder of the week and weekend, I will of course be here in Tamworth. After a tough week in London I do always look forward to the train journey back home. I wish you all a good weekend and as always, if you see me about do stop me for a chat.