Last Updated: 29 March 2019
Created: 29 March 2019
People often ask me what a week in Westminster is like. It’s fair to say no two weeks are the same and even the best-laid diary plans can go out of the window in a split second.
Of course, Brexit remains the major issue in Parliament and this week there have been a number of different votes and late night sittings.
On top of this, we are a Minister down in the Department for Work & Pensions so I have been covering the brief of Minister for Disabled People, as well as my own (family support, housing & child maintenance) this week. This has involved taking part in a Parliamentary Select Committee (where Ministers are interviewed by a group of cross-party MPs) on Wednesday, as well as responding to an important debate on support for disabled people at the beginning of the week.
Yesterday I also had to respond to an urgent question at the despatch box on what the Government is doing to help more disabled people into work (building on the nearly one million more disabled people in work since 2013).
Every Select Committee, Westminster Hall & Despatch Box appearance involves hours of prep including lots of meetings with officials to ensure that you have all of the correct information and figures. It can often feel like having to revise for a number of exams straight after each other, not knowing what you are going to be asked. I have always taken this very seriously as I believe that Ministers should always have a deep knowledge of their brief.
It was a welcome break when I was able to welcome students from Nova Hreod to Parliament, as they enjoyed a tour of both the House of Commons & House of Lords, before they got a chance to quiz me on a number of different issues. They were also able to benefit from a new immersive experience in Parliament which explains the vital campaign that took place 100 years ago which saw women secure the right to vote for the first time.
All in all Westminster has thrown a very busy week at me, and that’s before attention gets turned to Brexit! Today the house will be sitting in order to try and break the Brexit deadlock. My MP’s inbox has been inundated by local residents with strong passions on both sides of the debate. We all collectively have to accept a form of compromise to both break the deadlock and deliver Brexit as per the clear democratic will. We have a duty to get on with this, and I am certainly trying!
Finally, whilst I will be cramming my Swindon meetings & visits into Friday afternoon & Saturday, I have still been working to address the issues brought about by the new GP hub covering 5 surgeries in North Swindon. It’s clear that the intentions of the new service, designed to ensure GPs could spend more time with patients, are welcome. But the delivery of the service has been well-below what patients expect and I remain in constant contact with the CCG, IMH, the CQC and patients to ensure this problem is fixed urgently.