Kate at a briefing to mark the start of Dementia Action Week.
Kate at a briefing to mark the start of Dementia Action Week.

For all the excitable headlines, and noisy Prime Minister’s Questions sessions on our televisions, most work in Westminster is unflashy, technical and detailed. That’s certainly been true of my week in parliament this week. The diary has been busy, but not very newsworthy – and that’s exactly how I like it! Getting into the granular detail of policy issues is one my favourite parts of being a member of parliament.

So I was pleased to start my week with a Public Accounts Committee hearing on the latest progress with the high speed rail link, HS2. The government has introduced the necessary legislation to implement the next stage of the route, from Crewe to Manchester, and the bill will make its way through parliament over the coming months. Although the proposed route only just touches the very edge of my constituency, the construction work could definitely have a significant impact on my constituents in Partington and Carrington. And the effect on the Greater Manchester economy as a whole also depends on the way the plans are implemented.

I have to say the Department for Transport and HS2 staff who presented at the hearing were impressive, open and well-informed. This is a huge project, costing many billions of pounds, with a life span whose impact we should measure over decades, if not centuries. It’s vital that it’s designed in a way that supports, rather than drives away, business and economic growth in the North West. But there are still many uncertainties about the project, including where HS2 will join the West Coast mainline to Scotland, and how high speed trains will be routed to Leeds (plans for the Eastern leg of the route currently don’t go beyond the Midlands). I will be watching very carefully to ensure the interests of my constituents are protected as the bill progresses.

Last week’s Queen’s speech marked the start of this parliamentary session, when the government set out the legislation it plans to bring forward in the coming months. This week, backbenchers get our turn, with the ballot taking place to secure the slots to present Private Members’ Bills. This really is a lottery – we are each allocated a number, and the first 20 drawn out of the hat are guaranteed the chance to present a bill. Sadly, only two or three of them have any real chance of becoming law, and even more sadly, I have never even been in the top 20 – and once again, I wasn’t this time. Indeed, this year, as many of those who came out of the hat were men called Greg as were Labour women MPs. There will now be a huge amount of lobbying of the successful 20 as they decide what their bills will be about.

I was very pleased to attend a briefing to mark the start of Dementia Action Week this week. I’ve experienced dementia in my own family, and I know this is an issue that touches the lives of many constituents too. Dementia campaigners are focusing on the importance of diagnosis, and a recognition that memory loss due to dementia is because it’s a disease, not just a sign you’re getting old. The earlier it can be diagnosed, the sooner treatment can be started, and that can make a real difference to people’s lives.

In recent weeks, I’ve been contacted by dozens of constituents who are experiencing long delays in getting passport applications processed. The government says it’s taking measures to address the backlog, but with summer holidays on the horizon, can I urge everyone who’s planning to travel abroad to check the expiry date on your passport, and that of anyone travelling with you, including children. Many countries require at least 6 months remaining on passports before expiry. If you need to travel urgently and your passport is stuck in the queue, please contact my office, and I will do what I can to help.

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