THIS week has been a busy one in Parliament, but one in which I’ve had time to reflect on the tremendous role our armed forces play at home and abroad.

It comes as troops from the North West’s Infantry, The 2nd Battalion Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (2 LANCS) returned home to Weeton Barracks following a six month tour in Nad-e Ali, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

I joined colleagues outside Westminster Hall on Tuesday to welcome 120 representatives of the 1st Mechanized Brigade as they marched into the Parliamentary estate.

Among them were eight brave soldiers from the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment and it was my great privilege to be able to talk to them about their work and give them a tour of the palace.

Although a time to welcome home friends and family, this is also time to remember those who did not make it back and I have been following the reports from the inquest into the death of Sgt Nigel Coupe, from St Annes, who died in a tragic roadside bomb attack along with five colleagues in Afghanistan in March last year.

Sgt Coupe’s family have shown such strength and courage since his death and I hope the investigation and subsequent inquest will provide them with some comfort in what must still be an extraordinarily difficult time.

I also attended an event on Monday to celebrate the Royal Navy and Trafalgar Day and officially toast the Immortal Memory of Admiral Lord Nelson.

Although the battle occurred some time ago, it helped shape Britain’s history and is a fine example of the bravery our servicemen have shown, and continue to show, in challenging situations.

I read with interest Gareth Vickers’ excellent article about his trip to Auschwitz Birkenau in last week’s Express.

When I was asked to put forward schools in the constituency who might benefit from the trip, and to invite along a local journalist to report on it, I was keen to do so as I believe it is an experience people will never forget.

I was invited on a similar trip last year and saw the evidence of what had happened when intolerance was allowed to flourish and those messages should never be forgotten.

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