Dr Janet Gray MBE presenting me with a copy of her book ‘Blind Ambition’
I enjoyed a tremendously inspirational speech from the four time World disabled water skiing champion yesterday evening. Despite being blind from the age of 21 Janet overcame her disability to become the best in the World. After suffering horrific and life threatening injuries during training Janet spent three years in treatment and rehabilitation to resume competition and once more become a Champion.
Janet was the guest speaker at an event organised by Bury Society for Blind and Partially Sighted People to thank their volunteers and mark their 95th anniversary. After her retirement from competitive sport Janet has been elected to her local City Council in her native Northern Ireland.
Following the public meeting on the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework last week I am informed another public meeting will be held this time at the Elizabethan Suite on Friday 6th January starting at 7.30pm.
On the national scene the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced the date of his first budget. It will take place on Wednesday 8th March.
Many thanks to the owner Hayley Taggart and her staff for hosting my visit yesterday to Bambinos – Bury’s newest children’s nursery. It takes great courage and determination to take the leap towards setting up a new business from scratch. Finding premises, finding the capital, negotiating the regulatory jungle, finding staff – and that is all before the most critical task of all finding customers.
With Bambinos Hayley has turned her dream of owning her own nursery into a reality. The premises have been refurbished and decorated to the highest standard. She has recruited qualified staff. Obtained all the necessary legal permits and approvals and is now open. Bambinos provides a superb environment for pre-school children to play and learn.
The Bill which will deliver the Universal Obligation for the provision of broadband is scheduled to receive its Second Reading today. This will provide the legislative framework to improve broadband for the final 5% of properties who have not been covered by the existing roll out of superfast broadband.
Yesterday the news was dominated by the fact that former Prime Minister David Cameron has announced he is immediately standing down from Parliament. I did wonder how many occasions in the past have there been where a Party Leader has led their Party to victory in a general election and then left Parliament 16 months later.
In the Commons after Defence questions the Secretary of State for Education announced the governments consultation on removing the ban on selective schools. The Wales Bill completed all its remaining stages in the Commons.
I chaired most of the debate held in Westminster Hall on the dog meat trade in South Korea which was held following a public petition which had achieved over 100,000 signatures.
I then attended a very interesting meeting with the Rt. Hon. Stephen O’Brien the Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs at the United Nations. He explained the many conflicts and disasters around the World where the UN is trying to provide relief.
I then attended a private meeting with Dr Liam Fox the new Secretary of State for International Trade where we discussed all the work his new department is doing to develop international trade.
I doubt many people expected Theresa May to make as many changes as she has to the cabinet. George Osborne, Michael Gove, Oliver Letwin, Theresa Villiers, John Whittingdale, Stephen Crabb, Mark Harper all leaving the Cabinet. This has meant new opportunities for others to move around the cabinet table. Many of the new Cabinet Members will not be well known but if I could sum them all up I would say they are all very competent, not flashy, but hardworking and very competent.
The terrible events in Nice have demonstrated once again that the war against terror must be an absolute priority for all governments around the World. Security specialists will be wondering what can possibly be done to stop attacks like the one last night from occurring. There is little, it seems to me, that can be done, to stop someone who is hellbent on causing death and destruction by driving a lorry in to a crowd at high speed.
So after over 10 years as Leader of the Conservative Party and over 6 as Prime Minister David Cameron has accepted that with his failure to convince a majority of people to stay in the European Union the time is now right to hand over to someone else. He had after all clearly said he would not be Prime Minster going into the next general election. I
I have already been asked who I think will be the new Leader and the new Prime Minster. Firstly I think we should see what the full list of potential candidates looks like.Secondly, the bookies favourite is clearly Boris Johnson. Not so long ago the bookies favourite was George Osborne so things can and do change.
What is more important is that the Party gets on with delivering on the manifesto and with delivering on the wishes of the majority of the British people to leave the European Union.
Thank you to all those who attended Bury Parish Church yesterday afternoon to hear the arguments for and against our membership of the European Union. I am not sure if any minds were made up or indeed changed but it was a good opportunity for the issues to be aired. Thanks go to the Rector of Bury Rev. John Findon for arranging and chairing the debate.
It was apparent from some of the questions that some people seem to think if we leave the European Union it would be the end of immigration. What it would mean is that the UK parliament would be in control and we would be able to determine how many extra people we could accommodate.
I note it has been announced that Ken Clarke is to stand down at the next general election after serving half a century in Parliament. He is of course someone who has always made the principled case for our membership of the European Union and whilst obviously I disagree with him over that issue I nevertheless have always got on with him really well. He is great Company and like me he enjoys his cricket and birdwatching. I hope he has a very long and happy retirement after he leaves the Commons.