Days in West Sussex and Westminster

Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing
Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing

This Wednesday I shall have attended the memorial service for Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde at the newspaper church St Bride’s in Fleet Street.

Brenda Dean was the first woman elected to head a major industrial trade union, the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades (SOGAT), having joined the National Union of Printing, Book-binding and Paper Workers.

Her autobiography, Hot Mettle, is worth reading.

That day, I join David Lammy MP for the meeting of the All Party Parliamentary group on Race and Community.

| Also in the news – a volunteer who preserved the tributes on the Old Toll Bridge after the Shoreham Airshow disaster has called for a public display in the town; the chairman of the now-closed Look & Sea Centre has offered a ray of hope for its future; figures have revealed West Sussex has an extremely high rate of superfast broadband coverage; and find out what’s on and when at this weekend’s Goodwood Revival. |

I long for the day when we can anticipate living in a country and in a world when the colour of every reader’s skin will be as important but no more than height or the colour of eyes or of hair: noticeable but not a significant characteristic.

On Tuesday, parliament returned for a two-week session before party conferences.

I joined the cross-party group meeting the Economic Secretary, the Treasury minister responsible for the question of fair treatment to the ordinary people caught up in the Equitable Life pension scandal.

The policy holders had saved an average of £20,000.

The terrible losses reduced small pension pots by over three-quarters for folk with with-profits policies taken before 1992.

Now that public finances are not so bad, we argued that it is time to do more to help.

Blood cancer patients met me with other MPs.

Some of these conditions are treatable, some are now likely to be cured.

Two of my young cousins died with leukaemia 40 years ago; nowadays they would probably survive because of research and effective treatment.

We need to continue the work on all cancers.

I am glad that now people do not feel social pressure to keep their condition secret.

We can care better when we share knowledge.

On Monday and on Tuesday there were exhibitions of the possible National Holocaust Memorial and extensive Learning Centre.

The proposal was never intended to take up a significant part of the smallest Royal Park in Victoria Tower Gardens.

We discussed the sequence of events that has led to this error.

At the launch, because of respect for the six survivors of the death camps, I did not hijack the occasion.

The previous day I had spoken clearly and strongly, adding that there is a better proposition by the Imperial War Museum.

I added quietly that my family know of over 60 in our extended family who died in the camps, mostly at Sobibor, Auschwitz and Belsen.

The weekend was mainly in Arun and Worthing.

I do admire the atmosphere at St Mary’s Residential Care Home, served by the Institute of Our Lady of Mercy.

We have many good homes; others will not mind me mentioning the special feeling for residents, staff and visitors at St Mary’s.

Visiting a friend or a priest there is like seeing them in their own home.

Many readers will be familiar with the well-used community centre in Romany Road near the superstore in Durrington.

It is now seven years old.

As the young came out, we went in for the once-in-a-parliament re-selection meeting.

I am grateful to members and to the executive members who kindly chose me.

Each candidate and every elected member of parliament has their own approach.

My ambition each year is to try to contribute more: this is to live up to the confidence that people put in me and it is to go on learning how to do more that is of help to constituents and of value to the country we share.

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