MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

IT seems an awfully long time ago when I asked my first parliamentary question, back on 24th June last year.

My focus was farming and I spoke out to ask DEFRA minister James Paice, himself a farmer, what he was doing to try and cut down the massive regulatory burden on the industry.

With farmers regularly telling me about the huge loads of tiresome paperwork they are forced to fill out to comply with directives, claim grants and prove they are maintaining standards I felt it was a very important cause.

One farmer told me he was virtually becoming a deskbound secretary because of it all.

The Minister agreed and said he was in discussions with colleagues from across Europe.

And I was reminded of this important cause this last week when I attended Lytham Farmers Ball.

The Ball, which allows farmers from across Fylde to get together and have some fun as well as talking shop and setting the world to rights, is a great occasion.

And I was not short of people who came up to me and reminded me of my question.

So this week I will be certainly be looking to engage with the Minister and ask him for a progress update to make sure the pressure for change is kept up.

All of us are guilty, in this age of 24 hour convenience, of taking the food we eat for granted.

But food security, with demand ever increasing thanks to improving health services, advances in medicine and a growing world population, is going to become a very big issue.

So we have to ensure that farmers are supported and good farmland – the like of which is under threat from housing development in Wesham presently – is preserved for future generations.

Our local farmers are an extremely knowledgeable bunch and understand these issues better than I.

They are the custodians of our countryside and also have a keen eye on the environment.

We must listen to them to ensure our food chain does not breakdown.

Other engagements this week included meetings with energy companies Inenco, Cuadrilla Resources and Horizon Nuclear Power and Sellafield as part of my role as PPS to the Energy Minister as well as a meeting with Staining Parish Council, my predecessor Michael Jack’s Freedom of the Borough ceremony and a visit to the University of Central Lancashire.

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