MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

I am writing this week while watching closely the humanitarian crisis currently unfolding in northern Iraq.

I recently attended a church service at St Joseph’s in Ansdell where I spoke to a number of parishioners who were deeply concerned about the situation and I promised to write to the Foreign Secretary on their behalf.

In that letter I explained to the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP that, as a Member of Parliament, I am extremely distressed when I read reports of the abuse of Christians by extremist groups and I told him how those feelings had been reflected by the entire congregation after a powerful homily by Fr Burns.

I also urged the Government to take action to protect fellow Christians and the Yazidis from persecution and even execution.

The current situation where media reports state that women are being held as slaves while adult males who refuse to renounce their religious beliefs are being killed is intolerable and we cannot stand aside and allow these people to be oppressed and murdered on an industrial scale.

It is imperative Britain does all it can to assist and sends immediate humanitarian support to those affected.

Having visited northern Iraq two years ago I had the opportunity to meet a small number of Christians who had recently fled similar oppression in Syria and were struggling while exposed to the extreme heat and harsh environment of the region. However, I was struck by the resilience of the people I met who had faced incredible hardship but were beginning to rebuild their lives.

I recently attended the unveiling of a blue plaque at the Homestead in Lytham’s Henry Street to commemorate the location where local troops set out from as they headed off to serve in the First World War.

While there I was delighted to meet Andrew Norris from Freckleton who has recently published a fascinating book called Lytham’s Saturday Night Soldiers (the first 60 years), which looks at local people’s involvement in the conflict and centres on the Lytham Territorials.

I am always proud of my association with the Queendeans charity, of which I am patron, so was pleased I was able to join them for a fundraising barge trip on Sunday.

Although the weather was not our friend, nobody complained on the journey up and down the Lancaster Canal and I am sure the charity raised a lot of money to support the many good causes the Queendeans is involved with.

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