Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Creative Careers Event for pupils at Woodlands School

It was great to visit Woodlands School as part of a Creative Careers Event run for their pupils.

With pupils from Woodlands School making a paper man!

The event was organised by the Foundation for Essex Arts and saw staff from the University of the Arts London help school children develop a better idea as to what it means to study and work in the creative industries.

I was very impressed by the way that pupils were engaged by the event and also by the educators who showed so much passion for their subject.

Chairing my first Science and Technology Committee meeting

Today I was pleased to chair my first Science and Technology Committee meeting in Parliament since being elected to the role last week.

We asked Government ministers and a department official about the implications and opportunities for science and research following the vote to leave the European Union.

You can watch a recording of the meeting below:

Monday, 24 October 2016

Elected as Chair of the Science and Technology Committee

I was delighted to be elected as the new Chair of the Science and Technology Committee in Parliament last week.

The cross-party Science and Technology Committee exists to ensure that Government policy and decision-making is based on good scientific and engineering advice and evidence. I served as a member of the Committee for the whole of the last Parliament, from 2010 to 2015.

We're living through a terrific period of technological change, so it is very exciting to be scrutinising Government policy in this area.

As Chair I will be focused on ensuring the Government does all it can to maintain the UK's status as a science superpower during the uncertain times ahead. And as a Committee we will continue to champion evidence-based policy making.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Speaking at Bulphan Women's Institute on climate change

It was great to be invited to visit Bulphan Women's Institute for its recent Green Hearts event, raising awareness about climate change.

Speaking at Bulphan Women's Institute's Green Hearts event

Needless to say it is an extremely important issue and we can always do more to help tackle threats to the environment. It is topical too: the Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced in September that the government has begun the domestic process for ratifying the landmark Paris Climate Agreement before the next United Nations climate talks.

I enjoyed seeing so many people, both old and young, engaging with environmental concerns and coming together as a local community.

NHS England moves to protect services at East Tilbury and Corringham Medical Centres

I welcome the news that NHS England has paused its process to close the medical centres at East Tilbury and Corringham and will instead review the decision.

NHS England had previously informed patients as to its decision to close the practices in East Tilbury and Corringham from 30 November, however it has now decided to pause and review the process and has apologised to patients for any distressed caused.

NHS England has secured an agreement with GP provider College Health Ltd so there will be no disruption to patients and their access to these primary care services.

I intervened last week and requested that further time be given to review the decision after listening to the concerns of many patients who rely upon these importance services.

I am glad that NHS England has listened and has also committed to further discussions with patients. I now look forward to a better solution being proposed for all involved parties.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Asking about the political situation in Iraq

I asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his Iraqi and other international counterparts on the political situation in Iraq.

In particular I highlighted the important role of the Kurdistan regional government and how it has been short-changed by the national Government in Baghdad. My argument was that Iraqi federalism needs to be genuine, with reliable revenue sharing.

I was pleased to hear that the UK Government recognises the work of the Kurdish peshmerga in fighting Daesh and also that the Government sees how crucial it is for Iraq to be properly united.

You can watch our exchange below via

Monday, 17 October 2016

Asking for an update on the Pension Protection Fund cap

I asked the Pensions Minister from the Department for Work and Pensions what the Government is doing to protect the pensions of long-serving employees.

Specifically, I asked for an update on when the Government plans to raise the Pension Protection Fund cap after the policy was announced in the Pensions Act 2014.

I was pleased to hear that the long service cap will come into force in April 2017 and look forward to seeing it benefit pensioners in South Basildon and East Thurrock and also the country as a whole.

You can watch our exchange via in the clip below:

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Celebrating 12 years of Parkrun

I was recently pleased to visit Basildon Parkrun as part of the global Parkrun movement's 12th anniversary.

Speaking to Parkrunners in Basildon
During the last 12 years the Parkrun movement has grown from strength to strength and Basildon Parkrun is one of more than 900 Parkruns that take place every weekend around the world.

Every Parkrun is coordinated entirely by volunteers from the local community and open to anyone who wants to take part. They are free, weekly, timed events, consisting of a 5km course for adults and 2km for juniors, and they are accessible to runners and walkers of all ages and abilities.

Parkrun's mission is to encourage more people to take part in regular physical activity and volunteering, and to make the world a happier and healthier place.

Basildon Parkrun started nearly three years ago and is now attracting over 100 runners per week.

Its attraction is clear for all to see, which is why Basildon has registered runners starting from age four going up to 80 years young - encouraging all abilities, from walking to running.

It is a great way to get healthy and make new friends and it is also fantastic to see our public spaces used in such a positive way.

Everyone involved in making Basildon Parkrun happen deserves a big thank you, from the volunteers to the participants and of course the team at the Parkrun movement HQ who help to support our local groups.