Last week was probably my busiest in Parliament yet. It started with me attending an event put on for carers weeks where I was able to meet some of the people who have given so much of their time to caring for their loved ones. There is no doubt they do a wonderful job and make a valuable contribution, with as many as 1 in 8 people in Ellesmere Port and Neston having caring responsibilities. I also attended events held by arthritis research, guide dogs for the blind and Barbados amongst others, where I held about the important work they all do. I also joined the all party parliamentary group on autism which as the name suggests is a group dedicated to supporting and raising awareness of autism and is attended by mp's from all political parties. I know how challenging tackling autism is for individuals and their families and believe more needs to be done to support them, particularly in the transition into adult life.
The highlight of the week for me though had to be when I gave my maiden speech on Tuesday during the EU referendum bill debate. Tradition dictates that you speak about your constituency, pay tribute to your predecessor and say a little about some of the issues that matter most to you. In that sense it will probably be one of the easiest speeches I do as it follows a set formula and there is a convention that MP's making their maiden speeches are not interrupted. I was very pleased that it went off without a hitch and seemed to get plenty of positive comments. I spoke about some of the benefits to the constituency brought about by membership of the EU and whilst I welcome the opportunity for the country to have a say on our membership, I did call for the referendum to be held as soon as possible as there is a danger that the larger companies who have sites all over Europe will pass us over for investment whilst our future is unknown. I also talked a little about employment rights, a topic I know intimately and feel passionately about from my time as an employment lawyer. My view is that people in this country do not have enough protection at work and I hope I will get the opportunity in the future to pass laws that will create greater security at work.
The end of the week saw us move in to our new office accommodation in the constituency. We have taken a room at Stanlaw Abbey Business Centre who have been very helpful and welcoming to us. The centre is based in the edge of the Stanney Grange estate just by the new sports centre and is well looked after with private rooms for surgery appointments. Ideally I was hoping to find an office in the middle of the town centre but nothing is available at the moment and as we needed a base to operate from quickly it was good fortune that this space became available. The phone number for the office to arrange surgery appointments is 0151 355 2234. I then held a surgery in Neston before meeting with representatives of Neston Town Council where we talked about the transport issues facing the town in particular as well as the lack of housing available in the town.