As you may know, the House of Commons is now in recess for the summer. This means that Parliament shuts down and MPs have the chance to work for their constituents in other ways, without having to spend all of their time in London. Contrary to what you might have heard, it doesn’t mean we just get a long summer holiday!
One of the things I had the chance to do that I wouldn’t have been able to if Parliament was in session was to pay a visit to Westerton Primary School in Tingley. I was given a guided tour of their excellent facilities and had a meeting with the children who sit on the school council. I was impressed by their knowledge of politics (even though it meant I got some tough questions!) and by their passion for their school.
I also had the honour of officially opening the new Jones Homes Millhouse Court development in Morley. It is good to see homes made affordable by the Government’s Help to Buy scheme - especially when they’re built on derelict brownfield sites.
I laid a wreath in Morley Cemetery at a memorial service for Gunner Percy Whitaker, a Morley lad who tragically took his own life while serving in the Royal Field Artillery during the First World War. The service was extremely moving, and it caused me to reflect on the need to look after the mental health of our soldiers, both serving and retired, and look at what we are doing to support them. It was after the First World War that Britain as a nation had to acknowledge that soldiers came back from the Front with wounds a surgeon could not see, let alone fix. Thankfully, our understanding of this has improved over the last century.
On the same subject, I was pleased to see that the Defence Medical Services have just introduced a range of measures help our serving men and women with mental health issues. These include making sure that personnel are aware of the support, assessment and treatment available to them, both before and after deployment.
In Westminster I had my first meeting of the Health Select Committee, where we set out the agenda for the committee over the next year. As someone who entered politics to campaign for better healthcare after my father died of a hospital-acquired infection, I hope to use my position on this committee to improve medical care for all of us. On a similar note, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Patient Care, which I founded this year, held its first meeting. I started this to champion the rights of patients in Parliament. I also arranged to meet with pharmaceutical companies MSD and AstraZeneca to discuss antimicrobial resistance. This is a problem that causes millions of deaths across the world each year and is closely related to antibiotic resistance which I have campaigned on in the past.
I am looking forward to the Ee By Gum Festival in Morley this Saturday, having enjoyed it so much last year. I will be on Queen Street with my street stall during the day, along with my regular street stall at Asda between 11am and 12pm. If the St George’s Day parade is the day we’re most proud to be English, the Ee By Gum Festival is the day we’re most proud to be from Yorkshire! I hope to see many of you there.