As I write Parliament has been back for just 2 days after the short Whitsun recess and we have already covered the Ivory Bill, banning the import of fur products, the US trade war, the anomaly that now exists in the island of Ireland over abortion and the latest shambles over GTR trains, again. Plenty to catch up with even without Brexit where the Withdrawal Bill returns to the Commons next week.
Along with many other Sussex colleagues I challenged the Transport Secretary over the chaos which has ensued after the introduction of the new timetable. The new arrangements had already attracted criticism locally especially for the reduction in direct services to London Bridge but that was before it came into effect and we have all been swamped with accounts of cancelled trains, short trains, crowded trains and platforms. Just when you thought it was safe to go back on to the railway!
Despite years in the making for the new arrangements both Network Rail and GTR Southern have clearly messed up big time and as I put it to Chris Grayling it must surely now be the end of the line for the GTR franchise. An investigation is taking place and compensation will be paid to constantly stressed customers but many of us made it clear that the Government need to start preparing now to take back the franchise as soon as he inquiry announced this week has reported.
On a more optimistic note the Bill to ban the trade in ivory products and bring in tough penalties for those who aid and abet the abhorrent killing of these beautiful animals passed its Second Reading in the Commons without opposition and should soon become law. I also supported a well-attended debate calling for the banning of importing fur products. It is incredible that having led the way in ending fur farming in the UK back in 2000 most EU countries still allow this cruel practice which sees animals kept in a miserable existence in cramped cages simply for their fur. Another example of how Europe needs to catch up with us on animal welfare.
There was plenty to do in and around Shoreham on a gloriously sunny Sunday last weekend. I started off opening the Adur East Lions Donkey Derby in Buckingham Park where there was an impressive collection of vintage cars on display as well before following the smell of cordite to Shoreham Fort and the annual military history family weekend. Gary Baines and his team of Shoreham Fort volunteers did a fantastic job again and it was good to see such a good turnout.
Finally it was on to the Blessing of the Boats service on Lancing Beach and congratulations to new vicar of St Michael’s Father Felix Smith who conducted his first ‘boat anointing’ in front of a large crowd who also heard a talk from Foreshore Inspector Tim Winter. Well done to all concerned.