Parliament has now finished for the Summer but that does not mean I have got the next six weeks off. When you are down in London only spending weekends back in the constituency it is difficult to get round as much as you would like. As a newly elected MP there are many local businesses, charities and groups that I need to introduce myself to and so the Summer recess is a good opportunity to get to meet as many of these groups as possible. So in my first week back I was able to meet "the business doctor" and businesses who share Stanlaw Abbey with me as well as the local branch of Barclays. I was also able to visit Elton where I spoke to some members of the Parish Council and also visited Encirc, otherwise known as Quinn Glass. It was a very impressive facility and clearly a world leader in its field. It was also good to meet trade union representatives there who spoke of improving industrial relations with the the Company. Although the constituency is known as Ellesmere Port and Neston it is often overlooked that the constituency boundaries do stretch beyond the old Borough Council borders and that places like Elton, Mickle Trafford, Stoak and Wervin are included as well.
I also visited Dice in the town centre this week who have provided disability advice services to Ellesmere Port for many years as well as mobility scooters. They are based by the bus station and are looking for volunteers, advisers and board members. If you are interested in helping Dice out in any of these ways please call Carol or Steve on 355 1420 to find out more.
My last meeting of Parliament before the recess was the first of a new select committee. There are over 20 select committees in Parliament which are often based on Government Departments, such as Culture, Media and Sport, or Defence, or Education. Perhaps the most well known in the last few years was the Public Accounts Committee which spent considerable time looking at the tax affairs of major multinational companies. The committees consist of MP's across all parties and reflect the composition of the House of Commons, so there is always a Conservative majority.
I have become a member of the Petition Committee which is a new Committee and has been set up to deal with petitions that are submitted through the Government website and will consider them once they reach 100,000 signatures. The Committee has wide discretion to decide how to deal with petitions including referring them on to another select committee, arranging a debate in The House of Commons or dealing with the petition itself, including taking evidence and representations from interested parties. As its a new Committee there is no set formula to follow but already there are two petitions that have reached the threshold for consideration. One is calling for the sacking of Jeremy Hunt the Health Secretary, the other for the legalisation of cannabis. They should make for interesting debates and will hopefully be a good way of getting issues debated in Parliament that might otherwise not be.