MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

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THIS week I have had rather an unusual experience in Parliament after agreeing to have a journalist shadow me for a couple of days while I was carrying out my duties as MP for Fylde.

The reporter in question, David Sharman, covers the Fylde area for the Blackpool Gazette and also writes for the Lytham St Annes Express and he came down to cover various events and meetings I was due to attend.

During his time with me we attended a meeting at 10 Downing Street and I introduced him to various Cabinet Ministers and the Speaker of the House at an event in his state rooms.

It was good of David to take the time to come to visit and I hope he was able to take away some understanding of the day-to-day work of a Member of the House of Commons.

I am sure you will be able to read some of his coverage of his time in Parliament in this newspaper in the coming editions.

While David was in London I attended a Westminster Hall debate surrounding issues with the increased pricing of holidays and accommodation during school breaks and parents taking children off during term time.

This is something I have been contacted about by a number of constituents recently and I felt it was an important debate where Members aired all the issues involved.

While I understand the debate surrounding exorbitant price increases for parents taking holidays during school breaks I myself have quite different issues because many of my constituents who work within the hospitality and tourism industry physically cannot take time off during the official dates because that is when they are at their busiest.

Headteachers do have the ability to allow time off during term time but only under exceptional circumstances and I think it is critical that those kinds of decisions are made by staff who know the entire situation surrounding the request.

On Tuesday I attended an event organised by a group campaigning for a national childhood immunisation programme for a new vaccine against meningitis B.

Meningitis Now has gathered 31,000 signatures as part of its Beat It Now campaign and is a powerful voice in the fight against this terrible disease.

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