This week in Parliament saw many of the new MPs make their maiden speeches in the chamber. A new MP cannot speak in debates or ask questions until they have given their maiden speech, a tradition which is a hugely important personal moment and a significant event in every MP’s parliamentary career.
The Queens Speech debate usually provides an opportunity for new members to make their maiden speech and usually it is possible for up to ten new members to deliver it each day. Your speech therefore has to relate – to some extent at least – to the business under discussion. It is then also form to mention your predecessor and talk about what is great about your constituency.
I can still remember delivering my maiden speech in 2010. I was extremely nervous! Especially as I had only been use to speaking in the council chamber. Included in my speech was a light-hearted remark that attempting ones maiden speech was equally as daunting as navigating the magic roundabout for the first time. Looking back at it now, many of the issues that I raised are those I continue to work on now – the importance of appropriate and better quality development, transport infrastructure and tackling childhood obesity.
This week with Parliament well underway I was able to raise a number of issues and ask questions of Ministers. On Tuesday I spoke in support of the Government’s creation of a National Health Incident Team to make sure patient records are secure. And on Wednesday I asked Business Ministers if they will consider extending the use of the annual Business Rates mailer to advertise the apprenticeship programme in order to ensure that all businesses are made aware of the benefits of taking on apprentices.
Finally, on Thursday I asked the Minister responsible for Sport what progress had been made on discussions with the Department for Education on opening up schools after hours and in the holidays to groups who wish to put on activities for young people, which Swindon’s brilliant Draycott Sports Camp has shown can make a real difference. I was disappointed with the answer so I will continue to press on this as we have a fantastic , opportunity with the £400m Sugar Tax money ring-fenced to improve sports provision for young people but that money must be spent wisely opening up facilities.
Elsewhere I was proud to host the official launch event in Parliament for the Summer Reading Challenge. I have always supported this initiative and have worked closely with the National Literacy Agency each year to ensure the challenge continues to encourage more children to enjoy reading over the summer.
Finally, my community office saw another successful event this week thanks to Swindon Carers Centre. The event was attended by over 30 representatives from local schools who came together to discuss and share best practise on support for young carers in our community. This is so important as these young people are so incredibly remarkable in caring for their loved ones that often they can fall behind at school or miss out on a lot of the fun activities that children enjoy after school or at weekends. It’s crucial that we do as much as possible to ensure that this doesn’t happen, and that young carers are given the same childhood that most of us take for granted.