Last Thursday, I provided the Commons with the upcoming business through to the end of the year, as well as some preliminary business for the start of 2018.
For the week commencing the 18th December:
- Monday 18 December - Consideration in Committee of the Finance Bill (day 1);
- Tuesday 19 December - Continuation of consideration in Committee of the Finance Bill (day 2), followed by a motion to approve a statutory instrument relating to terrorism, followed by a motion to approve European documents relating to the Schengen information system;
- Wednesday 20 December - Conclusion of consideration in Committee of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill (day 8);
- Thursday 21 December - General debate on Russian interference in UK politics and society, followed by a general debate on matters to be raised before the forthcoming Adjournment. The subjects for these debates were determined by the Backbench Business Committee;
- Friday 22 December - The House will not be sitting.
The business for the week commencing 8th January will include:
Monday 8 January - Second Reading of the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill.
I was also pleased to inform colleagues that the remaining stages of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill will take place on Tuesday 16th and Wednesday 17th January 2018.
Six months have passed since the awful tragedy at Grenfell Tower. Our hearts go out to those who suffered such trauma and have had to rebuild their lives after such terrible loss. This was a truly unimaginable tragedy, and it should never have happened. Thursday’s memorial service remembered those we lost and thanked the emergency services, the recovery team, the community, public support workers and volunteers, who did everything they could on that terrible night.
Tim Loughton MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for 1001 Critical Days: Conception to Age Two, asked for a debate on the state of children's social care in the UK. He and I share a deep interest in the plight of those in their earliest years and the importance of secure early attachment for the mental and emotional well-being of children right the way through their lives. I would encourage you to read my recent blog post on Giving Babies the Best Start in Life for more information about the importance of early years development and the upcoming Mental Health Bill.
Chris Elmore raised paternal post-natal depression and associated suicide rates in fathers. I care passionately bout the subject of pre-natal, peri-natal and post-natal depression of mothers and fathers, which can have an extremely profound impact on the future long-term mental health of their child. I positively encouraged the hon. Gentleman to seek a Back-Bench debate on this subject, because there are Members right across the House who take a big interest in early years.
Rebecca Pow asked how the Government’s key industrial strategy can help unlock opportunities for our small and medium businesses, particularly in her own constituency of Taunton Deane. I was pleased to be able to promote the work of the Taunton Chamber of Commerce in all that they are doing to support local businesses, and highlight the benefits of business rates relief, the cutting of £10 billion of red tape and improved access to finance that this Government is securing.
Nus Ghani echoed Rebecca's comments, and mentioned the excellent efforts of the Uckfield Chamber of Commerce in her Wealden constituency; under this Government businesses have created a thousand jobs each day. There are 325,000 more people in work than this time last year, and youth unemployment is down 416,000 since 2010. This is extremely important in ensuring more people have the dignity of work and the security of a stable pay packet.
I was outraged by the horrible experiences of my colleague Dr Sarah Wollaston recently when local opposition activists used images of death to whip up hatred against her, and left a coffin outside her constituency office on a busy Saturday. This behaviour cannot, and will not, be tolerated and I repeated my previous calls that colleagues across the House should join together and condemn this sort of vile intimidation.
There were lots of other issues raised, including the plight of those in the Rohingya refugee camps and the further £12m in aid the UK is providing, bringing our total support to £59m; the taxation policies of the SNP to make Scotland the highest taxed part of the UK; dementia and loneliness at Christmas time; universal credit; cycling; the veterans card; and there was even time for a bit of pantomime with the inimitable Chris Bryant.
Last, but by no means least, I was extremely grateful to my hon. Friend John Lamont for presenting me with the wonderful scarf made by Selkirk's Lochcarron Weavers in his constituency of Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk that I wore in the rather cold Chamber. Launched by Elaine Monro and Selkirk's Cancer Research UK committee, the Cancer Research UK tartan scarf is not only incredibly fetching but will no doubt raise a considerable amount of money to help them carry out their vital work in support of those suffering from this terrible disease. The scarf is being made exclusively by Lochcarron in Selkirk and the tartan has been officially registered in the Scottish Register of Tartans.