Monday Meet representatives from Insurance industry. There are lots of insurance companies in Chelmsford and over 2,000 jobs locally. They face real issues if there is a “no deal” Brexit. I promise to write to Treasury Ministers for them.
Meet Coca Cola about the work they are doing on plastics recycling. We discuss plans for the UK’s Deposit Return Scheme which is great, but I’m not impressed when they tell me they are investing £10 million in helping reduce plastics in developing countries. For a company Coca Cola’s size, that’s peanuts.
Meet PM to discuss Brexit. I tell her my concerns about a “no deal” exit and urge her to keep working to find improvements to the deal. Very crowded House of Commons when PM comes to update MPs on new Brexit strategy. Good that she has removed the £65 charge for EU citizens who want to continue living in UK. But lots still to do, especially on the backstop.
Late votes on the Health Bill which means people will still be able to use EHIC cards after Brexit.
Tuesday Science and Technology Select Committee discussing the final details of our report into impact of social media on mental health for young people. We’ve heard so much evidence on this. It’s important to make sure that we give clear recommendations of what Government should do to help. Rush to Millbank for a Sky TV interview and then back to help Foreign Officer Ministers taking questions from MPs. I hear about increasing trouble in Zimbabwe and Venezuela, the growing persecution of Christians in China and the violence against LGBT groups in Chechnya. How lucky we are to live in the UK.
The Leader of the House of Commons introduces new plans to let MPs vote by proxy when they are caring for a new born baby. I’ve been campaigning on this for many months as it will be a really big support for younger women MPs.
I join campaigners raising awareness of cervical cancer (ladies please don’t miss your smear test – I know its horrid, but it does save lives.) Families of those with the rare disease PKU meet to discuss their dilemma, they still can’t get the drug their children need on the NHS. I suggest we might need to call for a select committee enquiry.
Committee meeting on transposition of EU laws into UK laws. Helpful catch up with Foreign Secretary. Vote many times on different elements of the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill. The Bill will replace existing processes which were introduced in 2009 and have attracted significant criticism for being too complex and bureaucratic. We have a duty of care to the most vulnerable in our society, and everybody deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, no matter what their physical or mental condition.
Join colleagues interested in Cricket to meet head of the England Cricket Board. He is full of praise for Essex Cricket which is doing a huge amount of work promoting the game to new players, especially in East London. We discuss the new “100 ball” game which sounds interesting but there are real concerns about the impact on grounds like ours in Chelmsford.
Wednesday Up early to discuss security for our trip to Northern Ireland, very sorry to hear of recent bomb, we must not return to horrors of the past. Good catch up with Foreign Office team. Prime Minister’s Questions not as busy as normal. Helpful discussions with Justice Minister about the problems with computers at our courts (been a big issue in Chelmsford courts). Lots of discussions about the different amendments that are being tabled on the Withdrawal Agreement. Various ministers tell me how concerned they are about leaving with No Deal, but delaying Brexit is also not an acceptable outcome. There is not an easy way through this. Lots of votes on the Tenant Fees Bill which will give tenants new rights against rogue landlords, very glad this is going through. Many emails to constituents. Write to First Bus Essex (again) why are people still having to face so many problems with bus delays and cancellations? Pleased to get news that Essex Police is to recruit another 215 officers.
Thursday and Friday Very long two days in Northern Ireland with the Women and Equalities Select Committee. The UK has been found in breach of international obligations under human rights due to the situation regarding abortion in Northern Ireland, specifically because women are unable to have an abortion when they been victims of rape or incest or are carrying a baby that has a fatal abnormality. This is an incredibly sensitive area and one that I believe should be decided by locally elected politicians. However, the Northern Ireland Assembly has not met for over two years now, so the select committee has been tasked with listening to views. We travel around Northern Ireland for an intense set of meetings with over 20 different organisations on all sides of the debate. There are very harrowing stories from women who have been personally affected, especially from women who have had to carry on with a pregnancy despite knowing their child will not survive birth.
Saturday Very useful to catch up with many of the City Councillors, they have done fantastic work across Chelmsford. I was very glad to hear that the new Police Hub at the Civic Centre will open soon. This will make big improvements to communication between local police and those operating the CCTV camera network.