Friday, 20 March 2009

Anne Begg's Week

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Week beginning 16th March - Campaign Pays Off!

Made it down to London by early afternoon on Monday to attend a meeting of my Select Committee. However, this week's big story was not until Tuesday night.
It is always satisfying when years of campaigning pays off and so it proved on Tuesday. It has been almost 3 years since some of the blind workers from Glencraft lobbied me and my colleague Frank Doran about an anomaly in the benefit system which meant blind people didn't qualify for the upper rate of the mobility element of the Disability Living Allowance. A campaign was orchestrated by the RNIB to address this, which included 2 mass lobbies of Parliament; a delegation of MPs, including myself, going to see the Minister for Disabled people; and another delegation to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. We had also had 3 EDMs on this matter, the last in my name which attracted the largest number of signatures this parliamentary session.

The opportunity came up to address this situation with the Welfare Reform Bill currently going through Parliament. A clause was added to this which the government didn't oppose. I added my tuppence worth in the debate on remaining stages too. That was certainly the highlight of the week and the 2 meetings of my Select Committee and the session spent Chairing Westminster Hall on Tuesday afternoon couldn't compare.

PMQs was back to its usual adversarial nature on Wednesday with unemployment dominating a sometimes heated session between the Prime Minister and David Cameron.
I also had a rather interesting day on Thursday. I had been invited to give the keynote speech at a leadership training event for disabled people organised by RADAR, the disability organisation. It was in Hammersmith so we traveled by tube. This may not sound much but it is a real novelty if you use a wheelchair as most of the Underground network is inaccessible.

I had to rush back to the House later that day to take part in an event organised by Parliament's Education Service and supported by the Speaker's Conference. It was for 150 girls from schools in East London to get them to think about women's participation in public life. It was great and I think the politicians present got as much out of it as the schoolgirls. The Q and A session was conducted by Sarah Montegue from the Today programme on Radio 4.

Friday will be quite eventful with constituent surgeries, followed by a visit to a to a social enterprise in my constituency called Stewart Craft Centre, and then in the evening I will be hosting an event for the leader of the Labour Party in the Scottish Parliament, Iain Gray MSP.

I think it's excellent to hear that some good hard campaigning has paid off.

I don't know if anyone reading this was at the event with Iain Gray or has seen him speak in the past, but I was lucky enough to get along and see him and once again I was impressed by his ideas for Labour and his directness as a speaker. i think he's a very good leader for labour in Scotland.

1 comment:

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