It was good to see the team at Defoe Court Care Home win the Northern Echo Health Care Team of the Year award. Well done to everyone involved. These awards recognise the fantastic efforts of people in the sector and my applause goes out to everyone providing health and social care. Thank you for providing such an important service.
Last week in Parliament we had the usual BEIS select committee on Tuesday morning. In the afternoon we started an inquiry in the Left Behind Neighbourhoods APPG (All-Party Parliamentary Group). We are looking at how the Levelling Up agenda will deliver for these neighbourhoods over a number of sessions. This first one focused on social outcomes. The Levelling Up agenda has 10 missions and this time we focused on 5, 6, 7 & 8 which are Education, Skills, Health and Wellbeing respectively. We had practitioners and young people in as witnesses and it was all very informative. Local Trust, the secretariat supporting the APPG, will be compiling a report on the findings which we then push to departmental ministers.
On Wednesday, I had the privilege of leading a Westminster Hall debate on the importance of Durham’s bid to be City of Culture in 2025. This time they have broadened the definition so rather than the bid being from just one city it can include the wider region. Our bid is for County Durham not just the city. I was pleased to allow Dehenna Davison MP and Mary Foy MP to make contributions but, even though he was present, Richard Holden MP couldn’t contribute, as he is PPS (Parliamentary Private Secretary) to the Minister who was responding.
We also had Jim Shannon MP contribute. Jim is a DUP member for Strangford in Northern Ireland, he is one of the real gentlemen of the House and manages to contribute in just about every debate. The City of Culture Bid is very important to the region as it has the potential to give a significant boost to tourism in Durham which can create jobs and help our local businesses.
We all outlined the various cultural assets of the County, but my parting shot to the Minister was that we were the only one of the four finalists that had another event of world significance taking place. 2025 sees the bicentennial of the Stockton to Darlington Railway so I pointed out to the Minister that if the world was coming to Durham for the Railway, it might as well bring its family and friends to see everything else the County offers.
There were a number of late nights in Parliament, although nowhere near as late as we anticipated. We were in Parliament until between 10.00 and 11.00 each night but we had anticipated being there until the early hours for some of them. I think this was largely due to the votes in the Commons being so decisive. The strength of these messages to the Lords helps to dissuade the Lords from sticking to their proposed amendments when the House of Commons declined them.
Parliament therefore concluded the required business by end of Wednesday meaning that the House was Prorogued on Thursday after Questions. This includes a ceremony that includes a list of the Bills receiving Royal ascent and a speech from the Queen, although the Queen herself was unable to attend so Baroness Evans of Bowes Park, the Leader of the House of Lords, read the speech on the Queen’s behalf.
At one point in the process a list of the Bills given Royal assent is read out and after each Bill one of the clerks would say “La Reyne le veult”, this translates from Norman French as “The Queen wills it”. This process then suspends the House until 10 May, when we return with a Queen’s speech that will inform us of the Business that is to be addressed in the next session of Parliament.
You can watch the Prorogation Ceremony and the City of Culture bid, referred to above, if you go online to
Back in the constituency, at the end of the week, I caught up with Durham County Council to consider the next steps in the City of Culture Bid and had the pleasure of visiting two schools in the north of the constituency at Wingate. Wingate Primary school and Wellfield Community school are both a credit to their pupils and staff and I enjoyed engaging with a panel of pupils at each.
I am currently trying to work out an agenda for the Platinum Jubilee Weekend. There are so many exciting community organisations in the Sedgefield Constituency that I want to visit and it is proving a real and worthwhile challenge. If you would like me to attend your event, please let us know as soon as possible and I will try to fit it in. As always, you can reach me at
Paul Howell MP
Member of Parliament for Sedgefield