It’s the end of one of the hottest weeks on record, and the end of one of term for one of the most turbulent parliaments anyone can ever remember. Yesterday saw the new Prime Minister make his inaugural statement to parliament. It was a taste of what’s to come, heavy on bravado and showmanship, but very light on facts. Boris thinks he can get away with a mix of bullying and brazenness, but like David Cameron before him, he’s too lazy and arrogant to bother with the detail. I have no idea what the next few months hold for our country, but I guarantee I’ll be doing everything that I can to hold Boris to account.
The rest of the week has been much more sober. At the Home Affairs select committee, we questioned Sajid Javid in one of his last outings as Home Secretary before he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer on Wednesday. I met penal reform campaigners to talk about the possibility of a so-called ‘statutory defence’ when someone is provoked to violence after experiencing prolonged domestic abuse, and disability campaigners to hear about their idea for a new sign to alert people to hidden disabilities, including learning disability or particular phobias. I also met the minister for disabled people to discuss benefits for older people with mobility needs. If you’re over 65 when you make your first claim for disability living allowance, you can’t qualify for the Motability scheme which would enable you to get an adapted vehicle if you need one. I’m sorry to say the minister didn’t show any sign that he was prepared to change the rules.
I also met Vodafone, who came to explain that they need more access to so-called dark fibre to increase and improve digital coverage. As someone who often struggles to get a decent phone signal, especially in my office in Westminster, and on the train home from London, I was interested to hear about this.
And I was absolutely delighted to lead a debate on the government’s strategy for women offenders, a subject on which I do a lot of work. To my surprise, given all the excitement that was going on outside the chamber as the new Prime Minister began to appoint his cabinet, the debate was well-attended, with some excellent and thoughtful speeches from my colleagues. You can read a transcript at https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2019-07-24/debates/639607AB-1585-472B-A3B7-9936243A1BF8/FemaleOffenderStrategyOneYearOn or watch at https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/0ffd0d5d-f487-4ccd-915e-4de4ab44ba26?in=14:30:00
I’ve also had a couple of very useful meetings in the constituency in the past few days, one with the principal of Trafford College, to discuss the disparity in funding between FE colleges and universities, and one with Serco, who provide accommodation for asylum seekers. And I really enjoyed Trafford Live last Sunday – it was great to meet so many fantastic local organisations and hear about their work.
Parliament has now begun its summer break, and following a long, hot and very delayed train journey home last night (luckily, with Trafford Council leader Andy Western for company), I’m looking forward to more time to get around the constituency, meeting local people, some of our fabulous businesses and community groups. And while parliament is taking a break, I will be taking some time off too, to be with family and friends. I hope everyone has a wonderful summer – my blog will resume again after the holiday.