Today I took the opportunity to raise the key issues in Scunthorpe that should be dealt with by the Government before we adjourn for the Summer.
Although Parliament is now in "recess", I will still be working hard for our area and will be spending the upcoming weeks working with our local hospital trust and NLC for the improvements needed in our Hospital, learning more about our steel industry, so that I can continue promoting our steel across this country and beyond, and meeting local groups and residents all across Scunthorpe. Regular service such as casework and policy correspondences will continue as usual.
You can find key segments of my speech below, including the Minister's response.
0:13 Expressing my thanks to our key workers, volunteers, local groups and our community
1:47 Asking the government to commit to using our world-class steel in infrastructure projects
3:19 Highlight the pressure our hospital is currently facing and call for government support for an upgrade
4:02 Raising the issue of the A15 and road safety
5:12 Minister's reply
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey (Drew Hendry). He gave us a real tour de force of all that is available in his constituency.
I add my voice to those of Members across this House in thanking our magnificent key workers for all they have done throughout this crisis. Having worked with many of them, I know the sacrifices they have made to support our most vulnerable. I also pay tribute to our charity workers, volunteers, councillors and local groups who have stepped up to provide support to other residents, their neighbours, friends and people across the Scunthorpe constituency.
In particular, I pay tribute to my friend and colleague, Councillor Derek Longcake who, sadly, died from coronavirus. My sympathies are with Derek’s wife Janet, his family and the families of all those who have lost friends and relatives to this dreadful virus.
I want to mention the manner in which people in my constituency have handled themselves over the past months. Scunthorpe has been a real class act, and I am prouder than ever to represent my home town. In particular, it was a pleasure to meet Jude and Tilly in Central Park last week to look at Connor the covid snake, which is a collection of more than 400 stones painted by local people as a permanent reminder and a tribute to the community spirit shown during coronavirus.
In that spirit, I have a couple of matters to bring to the attention of the Government before we rise for the summer. First, which will come as no surprise to Members across the House, is the protection of our steel industry. I started my role here when British Steel was on the brink and, frankly, we would not be making steel today were it not for the support that the Government gave to us in Scunthorpe. Many people have told me over recent months that they will never, ever forget that support. Moving forward, I ask the Government to continue to be a friend to steel and to do all they can to promote the use of our UK steel in national projects. It is absolutely right that we must build, build, build, but to do that, we must make, make, make, and I ask the Government to put that at the forefront of their plans.
There is not a Member of the House who could go even one day without steel. It truly is the backbone of our nation and we owe it to people across this land to make sure that our hospitals, schools and railways, such as HS2, are made from the very best steel that our money can buy—that is, UK steel. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is bang on—UK steel should be at the front of the queue, and I believe that the best way to do that is through the adoption of the steel charter.
I would also like to mention Scunthorpe General Hospital. To be frank, it needed a few quid spending on it when I was born there in 1985, and it is certainly now in need of an upgrade. Despite the tremendous support given to combat coronavirus, the infrastructure at the hospital is under huge pressure. Our local health team and I are working on a proposal, which I hope will be submitted in the coming weeks, and I trust that the Government will give it the urgent consideration that it needs. I thank the Secretary of State for Health for his commitment to visit Scunthorpe Hospital, which was very warmly received.
Finally, I would like to register my thanks to the Secretary of State for Transport for working with me to discuss plans to widen and improve safety on the A15. I am sure my hon. Friend the Minister would agree that road safety and infrastructure improvement are a crucial element of the levelling-up agenda. I have seen and been personally involved in the improvements and plans for Scunthorpe and its towns and villages over the last months. We have continued to find ways to progress works, despite the difficulties that we have all faced, from improvements to playgrounds, to measures to mitigate the traffic problems on Berkeley Circle, to working with our local council leaders. I have seen the dedication and commitment of local people as they work to make our area better. Coronavirus may have slowed us down very slightly, and it may have changed the way that we have worked, but I see a real commitment to our area and that commitment is totally undimmed by coronavirus. I look forward to working with the Government to address these matters over the summer.