As indicated last week I along with a number of you took a step back to more normal work and I returned to Westminster on Tuesday. We started with the debate on proceedings during the pandemic, enables us to take this step to return to work as normally as possible. We then debated the need to review parliamentary boundaries. In the last parliament a review was started but not completed, this had been with the intent of both making constituencies more equal in terms of the numbers of electorate, but also reducing the number of MP’s from 650 to 600. This had been initiated before the Brexit vote and as a a result of the Brexit vote there will be a return of legislation from the European Parliament to Westminster that makes the previous intention to reduce the number of MP’s inappropriate. It is however very appropriate to equalise as far as possible the size of constituencies. It is also worth noting that in the final proposals of the last review it was suggesting that the Sedgefield constituency would disappear, with a significant break up and realignment of our electorate. I would hope, and indeed anticipate, that this new review will have a much less dramatic impact on us.

I was able to ask the Prime Minister a question in PMQ’s on Wednesday, but this is written on Tuesday so I will update you further on that next week. I also took part on Thursday in the BEIS select committee discussions to understand the impact on businesses and workers of the coronavirus so I took time to catch up with a number of local businesses to update me on this.

I spent time last week also further promoting the need that the post Covid 19 plans to reinvigorate the economy must also remember commitments already made to “level up” the UK and I will continue to press the government hard on this.

Back in the Sedgefield constituency we continue to see many volunteer groups working hard and I am continually impressed by them and hope that lockdown will continue to lift so I can get out and about more to see and thank them.

Please can I ask you all to continue to follow the guidance, respect the virus and save lives.

Paul Howell

Member of Parliament for Sedgefield