Monday 28th October - 14,231 steps Off early to Westminster for a meeting in Number 11 Downing Street with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. A helpful discussion on tax related matters that have affected many Chelmsford constituencies. Head over to the BBC for an interview on week ahead and a useful meeting with the Energy Networks Association on their work to support the transition to 100% carbon free energy.
In the Commons Chamber the Home Secretary Priti Patel gives an update on the latest news of the Essex tragedy where 39 people were found to have died whilst travelling to the UK. Many Chelmsford organisations are involved in the response including the magistrates court, coroners, Police HQ and Broomfield Hospital. I ask for resources and support for all of them both in the near and long term. The Science and Technology Committee meets to hear from expert witnesses on our study of increasing the use of Genetic Testing.
Boris Johnson announces another vote on using the Fixed Term Parliament Act to call for a General Election. After a debate the vote doesn’t get the 2/3 majority it needs as Labour abstains. The Environment Bill starts is process through Parliament. This is a landmark piece of law which will protect air and water quality, set up a new regulator, with “teeth”, to make sure any targets that are set will be met, establish new planning laws to make sure that wildlife and birdlife is protected especially in new developments and bring forward a step change in how we tackle plastic waste with new taxes to be levied on those who produce products from non-recycled plastic. I’ve campaigned for many years on these issues and stay late to speak in the debate.
Tuesday 29th October - 9,827 steps
The British Council has brought young people from across the globe to the UK as part of its future leaders’ program. I’ve agreed to mentor one of the participants. She’s from Morocco and wants to set up a Rape Crisis helpline and network across her country. I am deeply impressed and help work on her project.
In the House of Commons Chamber the Health Secretary is taking questions from MPs. He has just announced the great news that the drug Orkambi will be available for those with Cystic Fibrosis. I want to make sure he will focus on Kuvan next, a life changing drug for children with the rare disease of PKU. This affects 11-year-old Cait who lives in Chelmsford and I am determined to keep her case at the top of the Health Secretary’s agenda.
I meet students from Germany who have come to discuss ongoing exchanges between European and UK students post Brexit. In the House of Commons, the Government is now introducing a one-line bill to start a General Election. This only needs a simple majority to pass. Eventually it is clear that the opposition parties will support the bill, after many hours of debate this does now pass. Parliament will now be dissolved next week.
Wednesday 30th October - 13,160 steps
Early Breakfast with an expert from Hong Kong discussing the very challenging situation over there. Many Chelmsford constituents have raised their concerns about this.
I meet with the Head of the Sea Cadets organisation across the UK to discuss plans for a new facility for our Chelmsford based cadets. Very helpful. I will be meeting the Minister next week. I meet with colleagues to discuss plans for the election and to get a clearer briefing on how to make sure we can still help constituents whilst there are no MPs. I will still be able to take on casework during this period, but only urgent cases. Many women MPs have announced that they are standing down, often because of the online abuse they receive. Morale is low amongst colleagues, so I rapidly arrange a drinks get-together to cheer everyone up and say thank you to the many women who are leaving. Very late train back to Chelmsford.
Thursday 31st October - 11,025 steps
Back early into Westminster for questions to Environment ministers. I want to make sure our Environment Bill is still top of the list for Parliament after a General Election and am pleased to hear the ministers confirming this. I ask the Speaker to urgently look at the safety of women MPs and candidates as I’ve heard from one candidate that she has already received a death threat this week. I take part in the BBCs politics show. I raise the issue of online abuse and when I challenge the other MPs to do more to call this out, I am accused of telling fibs – oh dear!
In Westminster I help the Department for International Development Minister in his last debate. This time on helping people with disabilities in developing countries. It’s such an important issue in beating global poverty and one in which the UK is taking a leading role.
Friday 1st November - 2,428 steps
Back in Chelmsford I meet our new Head of the Police Steve Scott-Haynes. We discuss the excellent team of City Centre police which is now active across Chelmsford and the work that they are doing to tackle drugs and gangs. I learn that 15 Police “Special” volunteers were busy across the City on Halloween making sure it was all treats and not tricks. We discuss safety during the election. I strongly recommend that all candidates meet Steve to make sure they are as safe as possible. I spend the afternoon drafting leaflets, and then knocking on doors before heading off to Springfield Youth Group for an eye-opening meeting on Gangs Awareness. The good news is that more resources are being put in to protect young people, the bad news is that gangs are increasingly targeting teenagers in Chelmsford. It is vital that parents are aware of the risk and the actions they can take to help protect their families.
Saturday 2nd November - 7,231 steps
Great to join a big crowd at the Black Bull to watch the Rugby. Not such a great result, the England team have been outstanding in this World Cup and it’s very sad to see them missing out. I spend the rest of the day knocking on doors meeting residents in Chelmsford, whilst avoiding the rain showers. I am looking forward to a lot more of this in coming weeks.
Thank you everyone who has followed my column over the past few years and for your feedback. Once Parliament breaks, I will no longer be an MP but will try to keep you updated via Facebook and social media.