Parliament’s back today after the Conference recess and I’ll be taking on a new job as a Shadow Minister for Brexit, working with Labour’s newly appointed Shadow Secretary of State, Keir Starmer. I’m delighted to be taking on this role in challenging the Government on the issue that will be dominating our politics over the next few years – and after a week in which the Tories have shown at their Conference what a deep mess they’re in over Europe, and what damage they’re threatening for our country.
Brexit was one of the issues raised most often during the Big Conversation which I organised during the conference recess. In 40 events across the constituency, I’ve spoken to around 1000 people. Other concerns ranged from the NHS to anti-social behaviour, and from votes at 16 to the Tory proposals from grammar schools. I’ll be focusing on how I can bring these concerns to Parliament in the months ahead, but in the meantime please fill in my Big Conversation survey which will be open until the end of October.
My role on the Higher Education Bill Committee will again dominate my week, with meetings on Tuesday and Thursday to scrutinise the legislation and debate proposed amendments. Among other things, I’ll be pushing the Government to make the university system more flexible, for example by allowing students to build up credits doing modules at different universities, with student loans available for them, and challenging the criteria on which they will be assessing Teaching Excellence.
A major concern raised during the Big Conversation was mental health and, on Wednesday, I’m hosting Sheffield University’s School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR)’s event in Parliament about new research into measuring quality of life and recovery in people with mental health problems. Later in the day I’ll be attending a meeting for Labour MPs with Universities UK about the future of higher education post-Brexit, and on Thursday I’ll be joining other Sheffield MPs in a meeting with Transport Minister Andrew Jones about how the taxi licensing regime can be strengthened to protect passengers in Sheffield.
I’m back in Sheffield on Friday where I’ll be meeting with the new Headteacher of King Edward VII School, the Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings and the Interim Chief Constable Stephen Watson, and also the University of Sheffield to discuss a new campaign around women in engineering. On Saturday I’m are taking part in a sponsored walk with my staff team to raise money for the Cathedral Archer Project, a local charity that does amazing work helping turn around the lives of homeless people. Please donate if you can – every penny helps!