Amongst the raucous noise at Prime Minister’s Questions every Wednesday, there are always a few MPs trying to catch Mr Speaker’s eye, hoping to get the chance to raise an issue directly with the Prime Minister.
It can be an intimidating environment, but last week I stood my ground against a wall of noise to raise a serious issue that is difficult to talk about.
I asked the Prime Minister about the awful accounts that have been reported of cases of organised child abuse in children’s homes, schools and elsewhere.
I pursued a cross-party campaign for an independent inquiry into the failure of authorities to properly investigate the evidence they had at the time, along the lines of the recently completed inquiry into the Hillsborough tragedy.
I continued on this theme at Education Questions on Monday. Prompted by information from the police investigation so far, the Education Secretary has ordered investigations into 21 schools and care homes.
I asked the Children’s Minister how these will be co-ordinated with similar investigations in the NHS, and when we are likely to hear the results.
Looking after children's best interests, in a different sense, was the focus of the House of Commons last Monday as we discussed the concerns about the so-called ‘Trojan horse’ schools in Birmingham.
I urged the Education Secretary to make sure that all schools – whether funded by the taxpayer or not – fulfil their role in keeping our children safe and preparing them for life in modern Britain.
Following the winter’s floods, the Government announced that the businesses affected would receive three months of business rates relief to help them recover.
However, a business owner in Bradford on Avon recently told me that her insurers had deducted that relief from her claim. I’m determined to make sure this support goes where it was intended: people hit by the floods, not their insurers.
In the House of Commons last week, I enlisted the Environment Minister’s support in taking this fight to the insurance companies.
My next constituency surgeries will be at my office in Avonbridge House, Chippenham today, June 19, 4pm to 5.30pm; at The Pound Arts Centre in Corsham on Friday, July 4, 2.30pm to 4pm; and at Bradford on Avon Library on Saturday, July 5, from 10am to 11.30am.