May 4, 2011


When Parliament is sitting, each Wednesday MPs have the chance to ask the Prime Minister questions.

In fact, each day there are questions to government ministers but Wednesday at noon is Questions to the Prime Minister. 

Most MPs put in a request each week to have the chance to ask a question and all then the officials decide who will ask a question by means of a shuffle of all the questions. So far, I have had two questions to the Prime Minister, one asking for help for a constituent in getting a wheelchair and then last week a second about the experience of a constituent in hospital. 

I had the sixth question to the Prime Minister and knew when it would be my turn. The House of Commons was packed and asking a question is one of the most nerve wracking moments for MPs. I know that Tony Blair always found answering questions from MPs one of the hardest of his duties and judging by the difficulties David Cameron faced last week, I doubt he is fond of question time either. 

Mr Cameron caused much disquiet and debate by telling Angela Eagle to ‘calm down dear’. Angela and her sister Maria are members of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet and both grew up in Formby. Sefton can rightly be proud of both and of the work they do.

Steve Rotheram is MP for Walton and one of my neighbouring MPs. Like me, Steve is a new MP and he was Lord Mayor of Liverpool. Steve is working hard on behalf of the Hillsborough families along with Andy Burnham and is trying to get justice for the families. I was very pleased when Steve asked me to sign his Early Day Motion (EDM) calling for a knighthood for Kenny Dalglish. 

The EDM says: “That this House notes the outstanding contribution to British football by Kenny Dalglish as both a player and manager; recognises his support alongside his wife Marina for charitable causes; further notes his continued support for the dignified campaign by the families of the 96 Liverpool FC supporters who died at the Hillsborough Disaster on 15 April 1989; calls on the Government to recommend that Kenny Dalglish be knighted; and believes that any award would be a fitting tribute to the Hillsborough families' unstinting campaign for justice for the 96.”

Early day motions (EDMs) are tabled by MPs to publicise a particular event or cause, and to gather support among MPs for that event or cause. MPs demonstrate their support for an EDM by signing the motion. Each EDM is given a unique number, starting at one at the beginning of each parliamentary session. I have signed 233 EDMs so far out of a total 1771 which have been tabled so far.

The referendum on the Alternative Voting System and the local elections have meant that politicians across Sefton Central have been either delivering leaflets or knocking on doors. This gives me the opportunity to remind people who answer their doors to take great care. Not that members of political parties are a threat but sadly there are people out there who take advantage of vulnerable elderly people especially. Twice elderly people have invited me into their homes. They may well know that I am their MP but even so I have told them they shouldn’t let anyone in unless they are sure they know who they are. Relatives, friends and neighbours should also keep an eye on elderly people to make sure they take adequate precautions. Many older people are careful and check through a window or open their door on a chain. But I would urge everyone to take greater care before letting strangers into their homes.

I mentioned the referendum. Many people are very confused by the referendum and how to vote. I am voting in favour but the information about the referendum has been thin on the ground and this is a pity given the potential importance of the issue.

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