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Raising a range of subjects from Universal Credit to appalling train services – another busy week in parliament

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Thanks to Stretford Grammar, whose students visited parliament on Monday I was asked about a huge variety of subjects - which is exactly what my job is like! 

One of the great things about being a backbencher is that I can get involved in lots of different subjects ('too many subjects', says Joe in my Westminster office - he has to keep me briefed on so many different things!). Frontbenchers have to focus their time on their specific area, but I'm able to follow up a whole range of things that are of importance to my constituents. It means I get to learn about subjects I didn't previously know much about.

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So, this week, I've again spent lots of time in the chamber,  and in Westminster Hall (where more debates take place), covering everything from the appalling train service we've been experiencing recently between Manchester and Liverpool, to the introduction of universal credit (now being fully rolled out by Stretford Jobcentre), to yet another statement on the (lack of) progress on Brexit negotiations, to the failure to notify women of childbearing age about risks associated with the anti-epilepsy drug Valproate, to the appalling ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims from Burma. I also contributed to a debate on women in prison (one of my own special interests), and I was able to raise a number of issues I'd heard about on my recent visit to Styal.

Quite a varied range of subjects! You can keep up with all my contributions in parliament at theyworkforyou.com. Sometimes you'll find I have only been able to make a very short point, if lots of MPs want to speak. In particular, the debate on the treatment of the Rohingya Muslims was packed out, with MPs of all parties expressing their revulsion at the appalling barbarity of what is going on. I know how deeply constituents feel about this from the meeting I held in the constituency last Saturday to discuss the matter, when a number of local faith groups agreed to set up a petition calling for action by the UK. I will present this petition in parliament next month, so let me know if you'd like to sign. Unfortunately, parliament won't accept digital signatures, but we are making sure copies are available across the constituency, so we can let you know where you can go to sign. And if you'd like to gather signatures from friends, family or any local groups you belong to, I'd be delighted - again, just let me know and we'll get copies to you.

Finally, a small perk of being an MP this week - we were all invited to have flu jabs. I went along to do so, and to learn more about who qualifies for free vaccination, including those aged over 65, young children and carers. I don't fall into any of those groups, and MPs who don't qualify were asked to make a donation to the Carers Trust, which I was happy to do. Flu is a big threat to vulnerable people in the winter, so if you think you might need a vaccination, pop into your local chemist or GP surgery and ask for more information. It takes seconds to have the jab, and I promise you it didn't even hurt!

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