Gordon Birtwistle’s Westminster Week - January 25th 2013

LAST week I was visited in Parliament by local resident Matt Paiton.

Matt has previously undertaken work experience in my Westminster office and is involved in the Scouts. Last Monday he had taken responsibility for hosting a large group of Scouts, girls and boys, from all over Australia so he brought them for a tour of Parliament. They were really keen to know more about the history of the building and the workings of British politics, and interestingly I learned quite a lot about Australian politics. Did you know their parliament building is covered with grass so the people can literally walk over the politicians?

A lot of the Lib-Dem ministers make time each week to catch up with backbenchers and last week I went to chat to our Energy Secretary Ed Davey. Ed is doing a great job in a difficult department and I wanted to pass onto him some great green ideas from Burnley residents, which he has promised his team will look into.

On Tuesday I chaired a really interesting forum on skills and employment which was hosted by the Westminster Employment Forum. They are hosting a number of these events with different speakers and my session was on school-commissioning of careers advice and guidance: implementation and impact. It was a really interesting debate with many good contributions. As many of you will be aware I am committed to improving careers advice in schools and have taken it on as one of my major projects this year. In fact, I have just applied to the Backbench Business Committee for a debate on the issue so fingers crossed it gets picked.

I met up with a key figure from the UK Border Agency in the North-West. My team in Burnley deals with a huge amount of asylum and immigration cases, working closely with UKBA. It was a really informative meeting and I am hoping to go and meet the North-West UKBA team in Liverpool to find out more about how the agency works.


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Readers of this column may remember that I am taking an apprenticeship of sorts with the Industry and Parliament Trust. I have been working with Statoil and Total to learn more about offshore oil and gas and horizontal deep sea digging. I have had a number of exciting days with the two companies so far and I met with Statoil last week to discuss what areas I would be working on with them during my fellowship this year.

Last week I was particularly busy in the constituency office. On Friday I had 15 separate casework meetings with residents about a variety of issues including education, child support, welfare benefits, rubbish and recycling, housing and dangerous dogs. I am working through these issues now.

As always do not hesitate to get in touch. I have weekly drop-in and appointment advice surgeries all day on Friday. I also have my weekly street stall outside M&S in the town centre on Saturdays between 10-30 am and 12-30pm, weather permitting.