January 2024 Update
I am pleased to bring you my December 2023 Update. As ever, if you would like to sign up to my mailing list, you can do so on this page or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the first newsletter of 2024, I would like to start by wishing residents a happy new year. I hope the festive period was restful and that quality time was spent with loved ones.
It has been business as usual in Westminster, following the return of the House after the Christmas recess. One of the biggest talking points has of course been the Safety of Rwanda Bill, which passed its third reading unamended, and will now make its way through the House of Lords.
In Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, I have continued my regular engagements, including a number of school visits and my weekly surgeries. I am pleased to share some of what I have done in Westminster and locally over the first few weeks of the new year.
In the Constituency
It has been great to resume my weekly surgeries, where I meet with residents to discuss a wide range of local and national issues. I am grateful to the teams at Café Hills in Northwood Hills, Bucket List Coffee in Eastcote, Maison du Soleil in Ickenham and the recently refurbished Caffe Pascucci in Hatch End for hosting this month.
If you would like to make an appointment to meet with me, or if you are a business who would be interested in hosting a surgery in the new year, please email email@example.com or telephone 0203 545 2462.
At the recently refurbished Caffe Pascucci in Hatch End
I have written before about the pleasure of visiting schools in the constituency. It provides me with an opportunity to engage with staff and volunteers and, just as importantly, with the pupils.
One of my recent visits was to Vyners School in Ickenham to see the work of the Education Development Trust (EDT) in action, following a meeting with them at Conservative Party Conference in October.
It was interesting to hear about the career offers to students through a presentation, and to then watch a focus group led by an independent careers adviser from EDT with students across Years 11 to 13. This really demonstrated the importance of career advice being offered in schools and, from hearing their personal experience, it was clear that the pupils had really benefitted from the service.
Seeing the benefits of EDT career advice at Vyners School in Ickenham
It was also great to be invited back to West Lodge School in Pinner, who were also joined by pupils from Pinner Park and Cannon Lane primary schools.
I have engaged with the children previously about the local environment and now, following a visit to the River Pinn, they were keen to share with me some of the things they had spotted, including waste and dishwasher detergent. Of course, this should not be polluting our rivers, and so I asked for further details to be shared with my office so that we could make enquiries with the council.
Furthermore, we also discussed ways in which Parliament has passed legislation that supports the environment and biodiversity. I have also promised to give Pinner Park and Cannon Lane some birdboxes, which will enable the support and protection of local bird wildlife and further their environmental cause.
Speaking with pupils from Cannon Lane, Pinner Park and West Lodge School about environmental concerns
It was great to kick off the new year by watching Northwood F.C play at home against Leatherhead. Although it didn’t result in a win for Northwood, it was fantastic to see the number of people who came to show their support for a local team.
It was also useful to hear more about Pitching In’s Volunteer Hub, an online portal which allows clubs to post volunteering opportunities for football fans. This is a really great way to connect football fans with the chance to support their local teams through volunteering, which is the essence of community football.
I am grateful to Northwood FC and the Pitching In team for hosting, and I look forward to watching another match in the future.
At Northwood F.C. earlier this month
Harefield Cricket Club
I continue to engage with local sports clubs to see the work they do for the community and to offer my assistance in seeking access to funding pots. In a similar vein, I continue to help community groups, businesses and residents affected by the construction of HS2.
Since construction began, I have heard from residents in my time both as a local councillor and as your MP about the adverse effects of HS2. Indeed, many residents have written to me about the impact of increased congestion on local roads, as well as regular noise and light pollution around the HS2 sites.
It was therefore incredibly welcoming to hear that Harefield Cricket Club had secured tens of thousands of pounds from HS2’s Community Engagement Fund (CEF) to redevelop their facilities.
The initial application was valued at £57,541 and helped to upgrade the clubhouse pavilion and cricket ground. This included improving the pavilion by replacing the old cladding, replacing the external doors to improve access to the outside area, where an awning and patio heaters were also installed. The project also includes improvements to the cricket ground by repairing damaged border fencing and providing new boundary boards.
An additional £17,000 grant late last year allowed the club to install solar panels on the roof of the clubhouse.
In January, I visited the club on Breakspear Road North to meet Sean and to see how the money had been spent. Despite the frosty weather, Sean gave myself, along with representatives from HS2, a warm welcome and reminded us how lucky we are to have such great community assets in our local area.
At Harefield Cricket Club to see how the HS2 funding has been spent
I am aware that there has been a lot of discussion about local library services over recent weeks. As such, it was great to catch up with Robert Sisk, Events and Promotions Officer for Hillingdon Libraries.
Hillingdon has an excellent track record of library investment, which enables everybody across the borough to have access to these vital facilities. In our conversation, we discussed plans for the new Northwood Hills library, as well as the future of Northwood library. Residents may be aware that this is temporarily closed to allow for extensive surveys as a result of slow progressing structural issues affecting the building.
We also talked about how libraries could further their engagement within the community, particularly with younger readers, in addition to key events such as World Book Day and the Summer Reading Challenge.
I look forward to engaging with both Hillingdon and Harrow further on these important matters, and to hopefully attending future events coordinated by the libraries.
Speaking with Robert Sisk about libraries across Hillingdon
After a brief recess over the festive period, Westminster returned to its regular program of scrutiny. This month, Parliament has considered a varied range of legislative issues relating to immigration, crime, devolution and international affairs.
MPs have considered pieces of important legislation, and I am glad to bring you an update on my work representing you in the House of Commons.
Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill
The Economic Activity of Public Bodies Bill returned to the House of Commons this afternoon for further scrutiny. As before, I was delighted to speak in this debate on behalf of the local Jewish community who are unfairly affected by the boycott campaigns.
In particular, I highlighted the scale of the problem facing local councillors who are being pressured to take a stance on international affairs. I paid tribute to those who have resisted the lobbying efforts of the BDS lobbying campaigns. This lobbying effort has done little but to divide communities and alienate certain groups. In my remarks, I drew the house’s attention to the Iron Aid Foundation, a local Muslim charity, that has received support both from a local synagogue and St John’s in their search for a new, permanent home.
If you would like to watch my full contribution to the debate, you can do so here.
Safety of Rwanda Bill
There has been no shortage of debate in Parliament and in the wider media about the Government’s plan regarding immigration. This is an incredibly emotive debate, and I am deeply sympathetic to those who have written to me with their concerns over recent months.
My constituents will know this is a debate that I have been active in during my time in Westminster, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to raise the issue of European cooperation this month.
Speaking in the third reading of the Safety of Rwanda Bill, I had the opportunity to scrutinise the finite details of the Government’s plans and to make the case for greater cooperation with our European neighbours. We have already seen the benefits of our work with French authorities as they tackle the activities of human traffickers operating on the beaches of northern France.
In this light, I continued to encourage the Government around the role of the European Convention and the European Court of Human Rights. It seems to me that, in a debate which at times has become quite philosophical, there is a wide recognition among our constituents that shared sovereignty is often in practice greater sovereignty.
Concluding my remarks, I again turned to the benefits that both the convention and court brings not only to my constituents, but to the UK as a whole. In line with our commitments, I also urged Ministers – as I have before – to look again at expanding safe and legal routes. By creating an asylum visa, controlled by the UK Government, we can provide an alternative to those fleeing war and persecution.
I have campaigned for greater safe and legal routes since I entered parliament in 2019. Since then we have seen the debate shift and evolve as the Government has opened schemes for those fleeing Ukraine, Afghanistan and Hong Kong.
You watch my full contribution to the debate here.
Westminster Hall Debate: Household Support Fund
The Household Support Fund was launched in 2021 to support the most vulnerable across the country. This support has totalled £2.5 billion since its launch and last year’s provision in England totalled £842 million. The 153 local councils across England distribute this support to provide food vouchers, support for energy bills, warm clothing and energy-saving measures.
The scheme was debated this month as MPs sought to improve how it runs and its duration. I was keen to speak in this debate as Harrow has directly benefited from it while Hillingdon has operated a similar scheme of help.
The Household Support Fund has allowed the Borough of Harrow to provide funding to some of its most vulnerable residents. Through a tranche of funding, the council allocated £440,000 to HelpHarrow. This funding has enabled HelpHarrow to provide a range of invaluable services to residents.
With this funding, HelpHarrow has been able to provide food support, across the whole of the borough, to support the most vulnerable residents. This has come through food deliveries, community hubs and warm hubs.
With my limited time, I focused my remarks on the work of Hillingdon Council which works through in-house networks and with charitable partners to deliver support. I drew my colleague’s attention to the work that is ongoing locally to support my constituents.
You watch my full contribution to the debate here.
Holocaust Memorial Day
This month, I signed the Holocaust Memorial Trust's Book of Commitment and, in doing so, pledged my commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day which is commemorated on 27 January every year.
In light of the 7 October attacks, in which we saw the largest number of killings against the Jewish people simply for their religious beliefs since the Holocaust, it is particularly poignant to reflect on whether we have learnt lessons from history.
The Holocaust showed us that genocide is a process in which freedom is slowly eroded through the restriction and removal of rights. Jewish people, and anyone living alongside them who didn’t fit the narrative, were intentionally dehumanised as part of this process.
It is important to be aware of this in our life today. The Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill in Parliament ensures that we remain vigilant against anti-Semitism in all its manifestations.
Signing the Holocaust Trust's Book of Commitment in Parliament
British Liver Trust
In Parliament this month, I attended a Parliamentary drop-in in support of Liver Health Awareness Day, hosted by the APPG on Liver Disease and Liver Cancer and the British Liver Trust.
In addition to receiving a liver health check, it was really useful to hear more about the British Liver Trust’s campaign to improve outcomes for liver disease and liver cancer patients.
It was reassuring to hear that constituents have ready access to a top-rated liver health service through our local NHS.
Getting a liver health check in Parliament this month
School Visits to Parliament
I have mentioned before about guided tours of Parliament for constituents. These are free of charge and can be organised through my office up to six months in advance. In addition, school groups who wish to book a tour can do so through my office, or through the Education Centre.
This month, it was great to welcome Pinner Wood School and Northwood School to Parliament. From speaking with the pupils, it was clear that they really enjoyed their visit, and I am pleased to have been able to catch up with them before their tours.
For further information about the tours, please follow the links below:
With Northwood School (top) and Pinner Wood School (bottom) in Parliament this month
Once again, I hope 2024 has got off to a good start. If my office can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to get in contact.