New laws will target forced marriage

from left, MP for Pendle, Andrew Stephenson, Bill Leach CEO at Kirk Environmental and Greg Barker, Minister for energy during his visit to Kirk Environmental in Nelson
from left, MP for Pendle, Andrew Stephenson, Bill Leach CEO at Kirk Environmental and Greg Barker, Minister for energy during his visit to Kirk Environmental in Nelson

I had a busy week recently in Pendle and Parliament with lots of encouraging developments.

During Carers’ Week I met people from a range of organisations such as Age UK. There are more people in the UK who act as carers than work in the NHS and offering advice and support to them is really important.

I was delighted to be invited to open new expanded offices for Denwa Communications in Barrowford. Denwa are one of many Pendle businesses who are growing rapidly and creating new jobs.

This has had a real impact on Pendle’s unemployment rate which has now fallen to 3.3%, below the regional and national unemployment rate. Still more to do, but clearly heading in the right direction.

I welcomed Energy Minister Greg Barker to Kirk Environmental in Nelson and Ashburn Stoves, Earby. The Minister got to see a big company and a small one to discuss the Government’s support for renewable, green energy.

Then I was back down in Westminster and pleased to speak at the 63rd Westminster Seminar on Parliamentary Practice and Procedure to about 80 Parliamentarians from different Commonwealth countries, followed by a debate on the Criminal Justice and Court Bill.

There was an important vote on making jail terms mandatory for any adult caught carrying a knife for a second time. On this occasion, the Conservative and Labour parties joined together to make our streets safer, showing how politics can work at its best.

The other really important development was that the law against forced marriage came into effect. This is something I have been campaigning for. Police now have the powers they need to take action against families who try to force their daughters – and sons – to marry someone against their will.