The latest from the Commons...
Given that the House was due to rise on Tuesday, I headed back to London earlier than usual. In fact my week started on Sunday when I was fortunate enough to be at the Mayor of Newham Show and saw the Barnsley Youth Choir and the Barnsley Chronicle Brass band, both perform brilliantly.
It was brilliant to see Barnsley so well represented in the Capital.
The news headlines have written themselves in recent weeks as each day, more and more revelations appear about News International’s decade of internal scandal. I’ve been disgusted by what I have read and heard, and as I write this we know the Murdoch’s and Ms Brooks are set to appear in Parliament this afternoon.
Yesterday the government took the decision to announce the biggest shake up of our armed forces for over a century. I think it was unacceptable that the Defence Secretary chose to announce this drastic decision 34 hours before Members are set to leave for the summer and on a day when he knew the public interest story in the media was around the phone-hacking scandal.
I care deeply about our Forces, and I know that the morale of soldiers in Afghanistan and Libya will be as low as it gets after hearing yesterday’s announcements. Part of the problem with announcing on a day when the news is buried beneath the News of the World saga, is that Liam Fox didn’t have to explain how this decision is for the betterment of our national security. He didn’t have to explain why reducing our capability and our place in the world was in the best interests of Britain. And he didn’t have to explain why defence on the cheap was the best way forward whilst fighting two enduring operations.
These are very serious questions that have been buried and need answering. I promise to keep the pressure on over the summer and into the autumn so that the country doesn’t forget what this government has done to our Armed Forces.
David Cameron’s decision to head to South Africa this week has meant Parliament has been extended by a day. As a result, I will now be back in Barnsley for the summer from tomorrow afternoon. I’ve got a busy summer planned with lots of speeches and visits across the town. Throughout the summer recess my offices will be open as normal so please feel free to contact me as you normally would. I’ll also be updating my website everyday and blogging once a week.
I look forward to seeing as many of you in the town over the next few months, hopefully enjoying the Barnsley summer sun!