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Scrutinising the government on justice, funding cuts and disgraceful decisions on child refugees


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It was good to spend last week in the constituency while parliament was on its half term break. 

There was time to campaign with local residents and teaching unions against the government's unfair cuts to schools funding, to drop by Old Trafford WI's Wonder Women event make a fabulous visit to Carrington Riding Centre to see their brilliant Changing Lives Through Horses programme visit Urmston group practice to discuss the delays they are experiencing getting patient records (I spoke up about this in parliament recently), meet up with Intu's regional director responsible for the Trafford Centre, and hold two of my Big Conversation events, one with local voluntary groups, and a packed community meeting about Brexit.

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Back in London, it's been full-on parliamentary business, in committees and in the main chamber. I particularly love the committee work. It's a chance to dig right into the detail of different policies, and much less confrontational than debates in the chamber. Though not always: this week, the European scrutiny committee, of which I'm a member, grilled the immigration minister. I pressed him about the government's disgraceful decision to end the so-called Dubs arrangements which have enabled us to admit unaccompanied refugee children from the camps in Calais. You can watch the session here: https://goo.gl/klHtJR

Meanwhile, we are super-busy on the Justice select committee, dealing with everything from prison reform to tribunal fees to proposals from the government to make it more difficult to get compensation for personal injuries. Insurance companies trooped in to tell us that this would mean motor insurance premiums would reduce - well, I'll believe that when I see it.

The government announced the funding settlements for the police and local government this week, and Labour councillors were out in force at Trafford Council on Wednesday night to complain about what the cuts will mean for Trafford. The council is having to dig into its reserves to keep even essential services going - as I pointed out to the minister, as the matter was also being debated in parliament. The cuts will put huge pressure on everything from care for elderly and disabled people to street cleaning and bin collection. On top of that, the government's new funding formula for schools means around half of our primaries and all of our secondaries face cuts to their funding. I attended a meeting in parliament about this on Monday, well attended by MPs from across the country and different parties, to discuss what we can do to persuade ministers to rethink.

But not everything has been gloomy in Westminster this week. It's always great to welcome the Trafford WASPI campaigners, who were in Westminster to campaign about the unfair treatment of women born in the 1950s who'll have to wait longer for their state pension. They told me they had a very constructive day in parliament with campaigners from across the country. It was also good to meet the health minister, with fabulous campaigners from InFact, which is fighting for better information on epilepsy medication when taken by pregnant women. The minister listened carefully, and it looks like we will get some progress.

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And I really enjoyed a reception for the campaign This Girl Can, which encourages more women to participate in sport - even if you're not very sporty! As a frequent but not very skilful swimmer, I'm a real fan of this campaign, and the reception was even more enjoyable for me because it was attended by Partington councillor Karina Carter.  Afterwards, Karina and I headed off to the launch of my colleague Jess Phillips MP's new book, in the very grand Speaker's House - a great place for a party!

 

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