Weekly Column 12.02.20

Now that I have returned to the back benches in Parliament, not only can I speak in debates and ask questions to Ministers but I can also join All Party Parliamentary Groups.

All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are informal cross-party groups that are run by and for Members of the Commons and Lords, though many choose to involve individuals and organisations from outside Parliament in their administration and activities.

I am honoured to have been asked to co-chair the APPG for Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery together with Baroness Butler-Sloss. This is something that I was very involved with during my time as a Home Office Minister and I am proud to have been part of the team that got the Modern Slavery Bill through Parliament.

I have also been asked to re-join the APPG on Heritage Rail which I originally co-founded in 2010. I got in touch with the Churnet Valley Railway Board members to see if they had any particular issues that they would like me to raise on their behalf and was pleased to arrange a meeting in Westminster with them last week.

Another APPG that I am chairing is the APPG on Challenger Banks and Building Societies. I agreed to this as we have Leek United Building Society in Staffordshire Moorlands that employs many local people and I believe that this APPG will have a high profile due to the importance of access to banking, FinTech and forthcoming financial services regulation. I was pleased to visit the Leek United Building Society on Friday to speak to their operations manager and find out what he would like me to raise with the APPG.

There are many other APPGs on all kinds of subjects and I always try to drop into any that are of particular interest to my constituents.