Much of the business since the return of Parliament after the summer recess has been dominated by the continuing uncertainty surrounding Brexit, with increasing concerns that the UK Government is plunging headlong towards a no deal outcome.
In the context of a possible no deal, I questioned if this would result in the UK Government reversing its cuts to HMRC staff, in view of an inevitable huge increase in customs declarations. Additionally, l challenged Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions over the potential loss of the European Arrest Warrant, which would greatly impede the UK’s ability to have suspected criminals returned to this country for trial.
Also in the Commons, I have made a contribution to the debate on the Salisbury incident, and was able to ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care how many penalty charge notices for NHS prescriptions and dental subscriptions have been issued in the last 5 years to people claiming Emplyment and Support Allowance.
In my Shadow Defence capacity I met with young Prospect trade unionists working in the defence industry. I also met with a representative from Emergent Biosolutions who specialise in biological defence systems.
I was glad that I was able to find time to call into the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust reception to launch their free resources for Holocaust Memorial Day.
The Summer recess provides an opportunity to engage with more events in the constituency.
Highlights of the last period have included the Back to School Bonanza with the Bedwas Pentecostal Church and the launch of the Aber Valley Heritage Group smartphone app and Walking History Trail.
The poor service provide by Arriva Trains is a matter frequently raised with me by constituents. Whilst we are unlikely to see a dramatic improvement before the handover of the rail franchise to KeolisAmey in October this year, I met with senior representatives of Arriva Trains Wales, who will transfer to the new provider, seeking assurances on improved services under the new regime.
I was pleased to recently chair a well-attended Caerphilly Miners Centre AGM, and was proud to attend the raising of the Merchant Navy Flag at Ty Penallta, along with Gerald Jones MP, the Mayor and other Labour councillors.