This will probably be the last Catch-up of 2021 as we head into the festive period.
Parliament rose for Christmas recess this week, but there was still a huge amount going on.
The big business of the week was the changes made to COVID regulations to help curb the dramatic rise in Omicron cases. No one who voted for the (limited) extra regulations wanted to be tightening up restrictions before Christmas, but the data is alarming and I made my decision to vote for the changes based on the science and discussions with the country's top experts. I know some MPs did what was popular instead, but I'd rather be able to look people locally in the eye and say that I put their safety ahead of my re-election prospects. If you want to know more about my reasoning, you are welcome to contact me for a full, detailed explanation.
This week I was again sat on the Commercial Rents Bill Committee - especially with the challenges of Omicron, this is an important Bill which will help businesses meet the challenges of reduced trade. It passed with strong cross-party support and I think was a good example of what people want to see - MPs of all parties working together to help people.
Another issue that has been in my inbox a lot lately is Andy Burnham's new Clean Air Zone charge which could cost some businesses thousands. I joined other Greater Manchester Conservative MPs in a meeting with Ministers to discuss our serious concerns at how the scheme has been designed - we all want a cleaner environment, but I think the current scheme is overkill and anti-business and I'll keep pushing for common sense reform.
I also met with the Home Secretary to relay the serious concerns people locally have about illegal migration. I'm pleased to say that the Home Secretary wasn't just aware of the problem, but similarly frustrated by how the law is on the side of the wrong-doers. I'll be supporting the new Borders and Nationality Bill in Parliament as it gives the UK the power to make proper decisions about who comes here and who doesn't. It's based on the Australian experience with illegal migration and has the potential to do a lot of good. Another piece of legislation which will do a great deal of good is the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which I first supported through Committee when I was in the Ministry of Justice - now that I'm supporting the Leader of the Lords, it's good to have helped to get this through the other House in a relatively unchanged state.
As Parliament rose on Thursday, I was back home mid-week and went to meet the Royal Mail team in Middleton depot to thank them for all the extra work they're doing to make sure that Christmas is delivered despite COVID - it's an incredible achievement!
I also got to meet again with the team from Veterans Into Logistics who are now supporting Greater Manchester's waste and recycling effort with a new truck operated by Suez - these remarkable people have managed to inform and change the law around the haulage industry and support for Service Leavers - really impressive stuff.
This week I also met with the Link4Like/Your Trust team at Middleton Arena to hear about their ambitious plans for both Heywood and Middleton post-COVID and talk about what I can do to help them realise these ambitions - we've got so much local potential and we just need to work out how to make things happen.
Lastly I joined Heywood Councillors and Heywood Rotary Club in Hopwood to see Santa - the Rotary have done wonderful work in supporting local good causes so it was great to share a mulled wine with them this week.
Next week is a bit lighter for me as I'm closing the office for non-emergency cases for a few days so that my team can spend the holiday with their families - they've worked so hard this year and I couldn't be prouder of them.
As always, stay safe, look after each other and Merry Christmas!