Wednesday

This Wednesday was typical of the hectic days at Westminster.

I rose at 6.30am and I was at my desk in 1, Parliament Street by 7.30am. I went to secure my usual place in the Chamber by placing my Prayer card on my seat once the Chamber opened at 8am. After breakfast I dealt with my overnight emails and the morning post and spoke to my staff in the Constituency office to discuss the numerous ongoing constituents cases we are dealing with.

The Three Faith students from Manchester University came down to see me and because the public gallery was full I allowed them to watch Prime Ministers Questions from my office. The Three Faith students are a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim who are working together to see how different faiths can co-operate. I am acting as a mentor to them during this year. I have already met them in Bury and this was their opportunity to see what life is like in Westminster. I took them on a tour of Parliament before arranging for them to be allowed to sit in on a private meeting between myself and two colleagues with Crispin Blunt MP a Minister in the Ministry of Justice who is dealing with the problem of squatters. I am concerned that it is too difficult for homeowners to regain possession of their own property if they are illegally occupied by squatters. After a quick lunch I had a meeting of the Procedure Committee which after a short private session sat in public to consider the possibility of lay members joining the Standards and Privileges Committee which is a topic the Committee has been asked to investigate. I guess this inquiry will receive far, far less publicity than one of our other current inquiries namely that into the sitting hours of the House which is already generating a lot of interest.

After the Committee meeting the Division Bell rang and the House divided on the first of the two Opposition day debates which were taking place in the Chamber. Two of the students had to leave to catch trains back home so I directed them back to the Underground and I took the third student to watch the proceedings in the Chamber from the public gallery. Meanwhile I went back to my office dealt with a few more of the emails and telephone calls which had arrived during the day and then at 5.30pm I attended the weekly meeting of the 1922 Committee for backbench Conservatives.

After that I returned to my office to tidy up for the day, grab a cup of tea and make my way back to the chamber for the further vote at 7pm. This was followed by a debate on submitting information on Britain’s economy to the European Union. As we are not members of the Eurozone I do not believe we should be wasting officials time and taxpayers money doing this and I therefore stayed on to speak in the debate and explain why I would not be supporting the motion. The Treasury Minister confirmed that all the information contained within the 201 page Convergence Report was already in the public domain so I believe that id the European Union bureaucrats are so interested in the financial and economic affairs of the UK they should simply consult all the documents publicly available on the Treasury website.

This debate concluded at about 8.45 pm and I then left the Chamber and met up with colleagues for dinner before walking back to my flat for 11pm and back to bed.

St.George’s Day

Civic St. George's Day Flag Raising 2011


As St. George’s Day falls during the Easter Holiday weekend this year the Civic Flag Raising ceremony took place on Thursday 21st April. I attended along with the Mayor of Bury the Deputy Mayor, Mr Ivan Lewis the MP for Bury South, Cllr Bob Bibby the Council Leader and Cllr Yvonne Creswell the Deputy Leader. Prior to the flag raising ceremony the Rector of Bury Reverend John Findon gave a brief talk on the history of St. George and said prayers.

This morning St George’s day itself I took CeeCee up Holcombe Hill where Councillor Barry Theckston and Bryan Farlow had arranged to ensure the Cross of St. George was flying proudly from the top of Peel Tower.

Bryan Farlow, Cllr Barry Theckston, David and CeeCee

Gallipoli

Yesterday morning I attended the 96th anniversary commemoration of the Gallipoli landing held at the Parish Church St. Mary the Virgin in Bury.

During the First World War there was some dissatisfaction with the progress of the war on the Western Front and the leaders of the Allied forces decided to lauch an attack on Turkey with the intention of removing the support of Germany. The plan was to capture the Ottoman capital of Constantinople and thereby secure a sea route through to Russia. The attack was to start by landing on the peninisula of Gallipoli. Opinion as to the wisdom of the move was divided at the time and it has continued to divide military historians ever since.

The 1st Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers which was part of the 29th Division of the Regular Army played a leading part in the initial landings. The landing area was divided into sections and the Lancashire Fusiliers were to land on ‘W’ Beach which was a small beach surrounded by cliffs and protected by barbed wire. Six hundred of the one thousand Fusiliers who landed on the beach on 25th April 1915 became casualties but despite suffering these terrible losses the Lancashire Fusiliers were able to overwhelm the defences.

After the battle the Commander-in-Chief General Sir Ian Hamilton wrote:
‘So strong were the defences of W Beach that the Turks may have considered them impregnable and it is my firm conviction that no finer feat of arms has ever been achieved by the British soldier than the storming of the trenches from open boats and it was to the complete lack of the sense of danger or of fear of this daring battalion that we owed our astonishing success.’

It was as a result of this landing that the Battalion was awarded the famous “Six V.C.’s before breakfast”

Eighty-eight officers and 1,728 other ranks lost their lives during the campaign and it is estimated that a further 6,000 were wounded. Therefore some 8,000 families in Lancashire, many from Bury, were directly affected by the campaign.

In addition to the 6 Victoria Crosses, 3 Companion of the Bath medals, 8 distinguished Service Orders, 25 Distinguished Conduct Medals and 10 Military Crosses.

The Lancashire Fusiliers ended the First World War with more Victoria Crosses than any other infantry regiment in the British Army.