Political life is still gearing up post the election, so I’ve got time for some of the more enjoyable parts of being an MP. I was delighted to join board members from Remembering Srebrenica North West for lunch on Saturday, to celebrate their fantastic Queen’s award for voluntary service. This amazing charity, and its brilliant chair, Elinor Chohan, work hard to ensure the lessons of the appalling genocide of thousands of Muslim boys and men in Bosnia 25 years ago are not forgotten, and to encourage different communities to work together to tackle hate and division. The award is very well deserved, and it was lovely to celebrate with them.
The theme of tackling hatred has been a feature of the week in parliament. I attended a reception to meet survivors of the Nazi concentration camps, ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day next week. You almost can’t take in the enormity of the horror that the survivors told us about, how they expected to be murdered, and were so fortunate to escape. They too want us to learn from the horror of genocide, and to live together in peace.
But as I heard at the launch of Christian charity Open Doors’ World Watch List report on Wednesday, persecution, violence and even facing death for what you believe hasn’t gone away. This report highlighted the rising incidence of persecution of Christians around the world, including in some of the world’s largest economies, such as India and China. We should surely be using all our political influence to press these countries to address their denial of the right to freedom of religion or belief. It’s something I know many of my constituents care deeply about, and I will do all I can to keep the issue in the spotlight in this parliament.
In the chamber, I’ve been challenging ministers on NHS charges for maternity care for migrant women. Fear of not being able to pay has meant some women have not sought the critical care they need, and according to charity Maternity Action, three women may have died between 2015 and 2017 as a result. You can read the motion I’ve tabled about this here.
And I was very pleased to be allocated time for a debate on the hopelessly weak buildings standards and safety regime that applies to residential property, and leaves homeowners faced with shoddy or even dangerous workmanship unable to have defects put right, or to obtain redress. I’ve seen some shocking examples of this in the constituency, so I’m pleased the government says it’s planning to introduce new measures, and I took the opportunity to suggest to the minister some of the improvements I’d like to see. You can read a transcript of the debate here or watch it here.
Back home here in the constituency, can I pass on my thanks to staff of Trafford Housing Trust, Trafford Council, Greater Manchester Fire Service, Greater Manchester Police, and most especially the residents of Circle Court, following a major incident that resulted in fire, electrical stoppages and flooding of their building last weekend. Everyone has pulled together to get residents back in their homes as quickly as possible. There will be lessons to be learnt from the incident, but all the residents I met have been stoical and good humoured, and I hope you’re all safely back home very soon.
And finally, I was sad to attend the funeral of my dear friend and our loyal Labour party colleague, Peter Cowburn, this week. Peter died just before Christmas and will be very much missed in Urmston where he was involved in lots of voluntary work. My deepest sympathies to Margaret and the family at this sad time.