Today

On train from Bristol to London, after a meeting with the local PCT, and for once technology is proving co-operative – very impressed with new battery on laptop, and what seems to be an improved signal. (About time too, FGW!)
Sometimes wish I could tape meetings with local NHS bodies and then podcast so that people – people who haven’t directly used the NHS themselves, who already know this – would actually believe there is good news out there. We haven’t just got waiting times down to 18 weeks; we’ve got them down to 13 weeks. Moving ahead on stroke services, maternity services… and we now have primary mental health care across the city, which is entirely down to additional Government funding. That means people can get easier access to counselling and other treatment before things get really bad. And Bristol PCT has come out top of every NHS body in the country for staff satisfaction. Of course Roger and Doug (fellow local MPs) and I had some issues to raise, as we always do at such meetings, but generally we came away happy.
Today’s business in Westminster starts with the usual whips run-through – basically just telling us when we can expect votes and how many, so that we can pass on this info to those who ask us – and then Children Schools and Families questions at 2.30, and then the Prime Minister’s statement on an inquiry into Iraq. I’ve always thought there should be an inquiry, but not while the conflict was ongoing, so now’s the time. Wonder who is going to chair it?
There are also hustings for the Speaker contest this afternoon, which will also be televised (or, at least, the television cameras will be there). I’m still sticking with Bercow, the moderniser’s candidate. BTW, in response to someone who said, on Twitter I think, that the whips should stay out of this… They are. It’s a secret ballot, a free vote and the only efforts being made to persuade people to vote one way or another are coming from the candidates themselves. Don’t think I’ll be at the hustings today, but going to make one of the other sessions this week. Actual ballot is on Monday.
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