Weekly Column 02.09.20

Following a very soggy end to August, we are now in September and, like all Septembers, that means back to school and work after the longer than usual summer break.  But, like so much else this year, this will not be an ordinary autumn return.

I have spoken to several headteachers and school representatives over the last few weeks to see what help they may need to get their schools ready to reopen.  I want to assure all parents that, certainly in the Moorlands, schools will be a safe place for children to be and that they will get the very best education.  Staggered start times, one-way systems and extra hygiene measures have been introduced.  I appreciate that some of you will be worried, but our schools have been open throughout the pandemic and have coped admirably and I know how much children need to be back in school, socialising physically with their friends, rather than via a video screen, and getting the best start in life that we can offer them.

And like schools, Parliament is back this week.  There is so much business to get through that we are returning a week earlier than planned and not having a break for party conferences.  Being back in Westminster makes it easier for MPs to hold the government to account and to get answers for constituents using questions and debates in the Chamber and in committees to make our points.  However, just like other workplaces, social distancing and hygiene requirements means that some of our normal business cannot happen.  Select committees will continue to meet virtually and we are not yet able to use our second chamber, the Grand Committee Room in Westminster Hall, for debates.  And of course, dealing with your concerns remains my priority, whether Parliament is sitting or not.