Returning home to Aldridge-Brownhills at the weekend, I reflected on a week which had begun with Acts of Remembrance at Aldridge and Walsall Wood, and ended with a visit to Aldridge School to see the superb display of hand-made ceramic poppies to commemorate those who served and gave their lives for our country. Communities all across my constituency from Brownhills to Pelsall, Rushall to Streetly, came together to remember those who served our country, and fought for the freedoms we have today.
That peace of Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day was shattered by last weekend’s atrocities in Paris. Our thoughts at Westminster are for the injured and the bereaved families of the victims of last Friday, and for the people of France.
Britain too has suffered in the past. Attacks on the London’s Underground and buses and also Glasgow Airport. No doubt in the coming days and weeks there will be reviews of our local and national security. They should all be viewed in a careful and measured way. The overriding priority must be the security of our country and its people.
Regular readers of my “View from Westminster” may recall me recently writing about the Private Members Bill I am seeking to take through Parliament, and which if successful, will secure the Royalties from JM Barrie’s Peter Pan publications and productions for the new Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital Charity.
I am now able to report back that the Bill passed through the Chamber unopposed at Second Reading last week. It now passes to the next stage of its journey through Parliament and on to Committee, for scrutiny. Committee work may sound dull, but from my experience, this can be far from the case. A huge amount of work to scrutinise, and amend the Governments legislative programme is done in committee. Private Members Bills are no exception and they too are scrutinised in this way.
Hospital Charities do outstanding work both locally and across the country, and we should do all we can do support them, so I am delighted my “Peter Pan” Bill is making progress. It has a long way to go including the formal stages of review in the House of Lords. As a Private Members’ Bill it must complete all stages within this session of Parliament that ends with the summer recess. It will only succeed if it has cross party support in both the Commons and the Lords.
Select Committees are another form of scrutiny, looking specifically at government policy and wider topics like the economy, justice, and transport. They hold Government to account and set up specific enquiries, where witnesses are asked to attend and provide evidence and expert testimony. I sit on the International Development Select Committee where our role is to scrutinise the work of the Department for International Development. We are currently considering and taking evidence on the Government’s response to the Syrian Refugee crisis, as well as how the UK responded to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. On these issues, like all others we scrutinise, reports will be drawn up and the Government will be expected to respond.
You will have gathered from this week’s column that good oversight and scrutiny is a major part of my work and this can only come with the full appraisal of facts and information.
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