Last week started with the very sad news that Charles Kennedy, the former Leader of the Liberal Democrats had passed away at a relatively young age. It appears his death was related to alcoholism and served as a timely reminder to all the new MPs that we must be very careful to ensure the pressures of the job don't overwhelm us. I sat in the chamber and heard the many touching tributes from politicians of all parties who were clearly friends with him whatever their political differences. What was particularly moving was seeing his young son sat in the gallery, he bore a striking resemblance to his father. I thought he was very brave to come along so soon and whilst it must have been very difficult for him to do that I hope that in the years to come he can look back on the very kind words said about his father and feel immense pride.
There was bad news about the vandalism at the old Epic last week. Once again our young people have got a bad name because of the mindless actions of a small minority. There is no excuse for this kind of destruction but I do accept that there could be more things for young people to do in the area. I know that several local councillors met with a group of volunteers keen to help in his area last week and I hope that between them a little more positive activity can be generated.
I am now in the process of setting up my office in the constituency which will initially be in Stanlaw Abbey business centre. I had hoped to have somewhere right in the town centre but nothing suitable is available right now. Hopefully that will change but in the meantime when I get phone numbers and postal addresses they will be widely publicised.
One of the great traditions of Parliament is the maiden speech and I had hoped to give mine last week in the part of Queens Speech debate on devolution. This is a very big issue for the rest of the country outside London and a big issue in Ellesmere Port and Neston as we have a lot of catching up to do with the big cities who are pushing ahead with their devolution plans. It is areas like ours which do not naturally fit into a city region who are in danger of being left behind if we are unable to follow the same path as others have. Unfortunately I wasn't able to give my speech in the debate as it was shortened due to the tributes given to Charles Kennedy. There were a number of new MP's who found themselves in the same position and some disappointment is inevitable whilst there are so many of us hoping to speak in the same debates. I hope to have more success this week, after which I will be able to participate fully in Parliamentary proceedings.