Obviously there is only one subject on most people’s minds; however I would like to keep this weekly post reflecting the variety of work I have been up to both in Westminster and back in Newcastle.
The major political event last week was the Budget (I got a signed copy from the very impressive new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak), but rightly he started his speech by talking about Coronavirus and the economic measures the Government is taking to cushion the country from its impact. Most importantly, the Chancellor made clear that the NHS will have every resource it needs to fight this epidemic.
Elsewhere in the Budget, I was delighted to see us given the green light to draw up plans for Junction 15 remodelling (https://www.facebook.com/110536070348925/posts/228170758585455/) and £17.6 million of capital investment for the Royal Stoke to build three new modern wards to increase capacity. I was also pleased that the Chancellor kept fuel duty frozen and also axed the “Reading Tax” by removing VAT from eBooks.
The Budget debate continues this week and I am hoping to speak on it during the final day, Tuesday. Last week in the Chamber I asked questions during both Coronavirus updates from Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the new planning framework outlined by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick and the statement on mental health from Veterans’ Minister Johnny Mercer.
We also had our initial meetings of the Science and Technology Committee - we’re not allowed to take photos of those so I’ve illustrated that with a photo from a drop-in event that the Royal Society of Chemistry put on for British Science Week!
Back in the constituency on Friday, I had an excellent morning at Newcastle College, with an extensive tour of the building (including the welding simulator being used by apprentices, pictured) but the true highlight was hearing the various citations for their February Students of the Month. The college have some exceptionally talented and hard-working young students.
I also met with AmityHub, who do great work helping asylum-seekers to assimilate, the Tri Services and Veterans Support Centre. Registered charity 1159599, and with the leader of Betley Parish Council who (amongst other things) outlined some of the proposals their parish has for helping people who may have to self-isolate. The Government has a huge role to play in combating this immense challenge, but so do local communities. We will have to look after each other to get through this.