It’s been great to welcome my staff from the constituency office to Westminster this week. Our two teams are very close, but it’s hard to get everyone together very often. We spent some time discussing priorities for the year ahead, and how I can ensure I’m raising issues in parliament that matter to my constituents. So this week, I was very pleased to introduce a short debate on protecting the rights of homebuyers.
This has been a massive issue in Stretford and Urmston. Some months ago, I was contacted by residents in Woodsend who were experiencing all sorts of problems in their new Persimmon homes and struggling to get defects rectified. At the time, I called a debate in parliament to raise their concerns and discovered from fellow MPs that it was a problem with national housebuilders right across the country. Now it turns out that the problems haven’t been resolved, and that it’s not just big builders, but some local developers too who are treating buyers abominably. So, this week, I called another debate to press ministers for legislation to protect homebuyers. I was very pleased once again to have the support of other MPs, and I hope the government will address our concerns in new legislation that’s promised for later in this parliament. I’ll be keeping up the pressure for stronger laws – meanwhile, you can read the transcript of the debate here or watch it here.
The aggressive behaviour of private car park operators has also been causing problems for constituents, who’ve faced extortionate penalties for overstaying, and got no response when they’ve tried to complain or challenge the operators. Parliament passed new legislation in the last parliament to regulate the operators, and now a new code of practice is being developed, which they must comply with. I met the British Standards Institution, who are drawing up the Code, to tell them about the problems constituents have experienced, and to urge them to make sure the new Code to addresses them.
I was also very pleased to participate in a debate about the contribution music makes to the UK economy and society. Manchester has an amazing musical culture, and I was especially proud to speak about our amazing orchestras, music schools, and of course the fabulous Trafford Music Service. MPs from across different parties urged the minister to invest in music education, including music lessons in schools, and to ensure funding for our musicians and venues. You can read a transcript of the debate here or watch here.
This week, we have been marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, with a debate in parliament on Thursday, and a book of commemoration, which I was privileged to sign to remember those who lost their lives in the Holocaust. My staff team were able to go into the gallery to watch the debate and found it very moving. We must never forget the horror of that terrible genocide, and I am so glad our parliament continues to mark it.