TIM LOUGHTON: Mixed bag of debates at the Commons

Tim Loughton at the pensioners lunch day at Chesham House in Lancing
Tim Loughton at the pensioners lunch day at Chesham House in Lancing

This week it is the turn of the House of Lords to start scrutiny of the Brexit Bill and I have never seen the place so packed.

Even the Prime Minister went along to the ‘Upper House’ and had to sit unceremoniously on the step underneath the Queen’s throne to keep a beady eye on their Lordships’ deliberations.

Tim Loughton

Tim Loughton

Heaven forfend what she will do if they try to upset the apple cart ahead of triggering Article 50 before the end of March. As usual I have set out my latest thoughts in a podcast on my website.

In the Commons this week amongst other things we are debating a mixed bag of the Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill to safeguard antiquities in places like Syria and Iraq; Trump’s state visit; Criminal Finances Bill and the Government’s latest controversial changes to the child refugee scheme about which I have my reservations.

The main event coming up in a couple of weeks’ time will be Philip Hammond’s first main Budget on March 8.

Along with other Sussex MPs we also had a further urgent briefing with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling after the very disappointing news that ASLEF train drivers had narrowly voted to reject the deal with Southern Rail recommended by their own ASLEF union leadership.

Fortunately there are no immediate plans to return to strike action and I am optimistic that a revised deal can be thrashed out, and we made a number of suggestions for a way ahead which I am glad to say the minister is happy to take back to both sides.

I found a great new place in the constituency for lunch or tea and cakes, namely the Chesham House community centre and tea room run by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) in South Street, Lancing.

RVS manager Annick Lynn invited me to the pensioners’ lunch day and very good it was too, masterminded by award winner Shirley whose volunteering efforts have been recognised on national television recently.

Amongst other community schemes Chesham House also runs a fantastic volunteer ‘Good Neighbours Transport Service’ where drivers can be booked and stay with you for hospital appointments, shopping trips and the like. It is a very popular service and unsurprisingly they could do with more volunteers.

So if you have a bit of free time on your hands, have a car (and they pay expenses) and want to join a great team give them a ring on 01903 851558, and you might want to stay for lunch too!

• If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or email me at loughtont@parliament.uk

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