MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

THE effort and sacrifice of our armed forces is something which should never be underestimated.

Most of us can’t begin to imagine the difficult and dangerous conditions our brave troops have had to work under in the heat of Afghanistan and Iraq.

So, make no mistake, when it comes to voting on or discussing armed forces issues in Parliament, a special reverence permeates the Commons chamber.

MP’s are all too aware of the gravity of the decisions the Government has to make.

For this reason I jumped at the opportunity to take part in a special programme designed to give MP’s a taste of forces life.

The Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme (AFPS) is a fantastic programme which gives MPs first-hand experience of forces life.

MPs can choose to serve with the British Army, the Royal Air Force or the Royal Navy and, as my father was in the Merchant Navy and I was interested to see the world class British marines in action, I chose to serve with them.

To learn more about the military and try my hand at some combat training, I took part in the All Arms Induction Course at Shrivenham Defence Academy last week.

During the two day course there were fascinating talks given on the life of a naval sailor and the realities of maritime conflict.

Meeting with service personnel during my stay also gave me a much better understanding of the strong camaraderie which is built up amongst them.

The Royal Navy is truly a family to a great many people.

I cannot stress enough my respect for the personnel I met and the honour it was to meet with them and see their excellence in training.

Having now completed this induction course, I really am looking forward to the prospect of working alongside on a Royal Navy vessel in the future and will keep the public updated on this fantastic initiative.

Elsewhere this week, while Parliament is in recess I have been meeting with Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Hospitals Trust, South Fylde Community Rail Partnership and the University of Central Lancashire.

And, be assured, I won’t be putting my feet up next week either.

The No to AV campaign, which I will be supporting is now underway and, as well as actively supporting that, the House returns for a full week’s sitting.

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