After a sunny bank holiday weekend and an enjoyable day out at the Rushall May Fayre, it was back to Westminster and another busy week.
The Government is continuing to make progress in our Brexit negotiations, guaranteeing citizens rights and finalising the majority of issues related to our withdrawal. Meanwhile in the House of Lords or “Other Place” as it is known at Westminster, they continue to consider the EU Withdrawal Bill, making amendments that we in the House of Commons will look at and consider. With media outlets continuing to focus on the disagreements between the two Houses on this piece of legislation it is worth remembering that whilst scrutiny is an important part of the process, we must not lose sight of the result of the Referendum, which was to leave the EU, nor should the will of the House of Commons be undermined.
But, it’s not all just about Brexit. The Government remains focused on domestic matters and getting on with the day job of building a country that works for everyone.
Last Friday was a sitting day in the House of Commons and I was pleased to be there to support my colleagues take forward the Parental Bereavement Bill. The majority of employers are very understanding about the need for leave at such a time, but, sadly, a small minority are not. This important Bill, which in recent months has shown Parliamentary debate at its best, will provide a statutory entitlement to two weeks leave.
The announcement of a further £50million of funding to expand the number of school places at existing good or outstanding selective schools is to be welcomed too. It will give more pupils from a wider range of backgrounds the opportunity to attend these schools and is another step forward. Whether looking at maintained schools, grammar or academies, it is right to keep our focus on raising standards and opportunities, and giving children the best start in life.
It is often easy to think of the House of Commons in terms of primary legislation debated on the green benches, however secondary legislation also passes through Parliament, albeit in a slightly different way. A good example of this was legislation recently passed by Committee to extend licensing hours to celebrate the Royal Wedding this weekend. Many of you will be participating in local celebrations, and I am sure you will join me in sending best wishes from Aldridge-Brownhills and Streetly to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
In other news, it was a pleasure to round off my week, back in Streetly, attending the “Sheep Sale” at All Saints Parish Church! It was lovely to see so many of Ewe there, and the wonderful hand-knitted sheep were sold in aid of Acorns Children’s Hospice. My new flock of three has headed to Westminster with me.
This article was first published in the Sutton Observer on 18th May 2018.