It is a long-standing parliamentary tradition that new MPs are given the chance to deliver a maiden speech in the House of Commons chamber.
I chose to make mine during a debate on the Government’s European Union Referendum Bill. Like most people in Morley, I am strongly in favour of giving the British people a say on our membership of the EU and I was pleased to have the chance to make this clear in my maiden speech. I also took the opportunity to wish my predecessor well and thank him for his 10 years in public service. The same day that I made my maiden speech, I also spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on the subject of rare diseases. I particularly wanted to raise the cases of constituents who do not currently have access to medicines which could give them hope and improve their lives. I also drew attention to the ongoing case of Abi Longfellow, the 12-year-old local resident who is currently battling a rare kidney disease and who has to spend 10 hours every day on a dialysis machine. I have been very lucky to have had the chance to ask two questions to the Prime Minister in the last three weeks. I used my first question to ask about immigration and my second to ask the PM to support local schools that are trying to form a Multi-Academy Trust in the face of some opposition from the council. As many of you will know, I got into politics after losing my father to a hospital ‘superbug’. Improving standards of care and cleanliness in our health service is a real passion and so I was very pleased to be elected by my colleagues on to the Health Select Committee of the House of Commons. In partnership with the Patients Association, I will also be helping to set up an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Patient Care. It was a pleasure to meet animal rights campaigner and Queen guitarist Brian May in Parliament. We spoke about politics and our shared love of music, but the main focus of the meeting was on what we can both do to champion animal rights. Brian and I are co-hosting an event in Westminster this week to promote his animal rights charity, the Save Me Trust. He was pleased to hear that I am in favour of retaining the ban on fox hunting. Here in the constituency, I had a lovely day at the Gildersome Scarecrow Festival and listening to some great music at the Morley March and Hymn Contest. I was also privileged to be asked to officially open the new Specsavers store in Morley. The future of Leeds City College’s Joseph Priestley campus remains a big issue for the town. Last week, I organised a meeting in my office with the principal of the college, a local councillor, parents and staff. I was very pleased to hear that the college leadership team is passionate about keeping further education provision in the town. I have more meetings on this subject in my diary for the near future. I will keep working with all parties to ensure that young people and adult learners have the chance to study here in Morley.