As Swindon fell silent at the weekend to remember both the fallen and those members of the armed forces still in active service, I was honoured to take part in three services.
On Armistice Day, I joined members of the local community, members of our Armed Forces, the Mayor of Swindon, Maureen Penny and the deputy lieutenant, Bill Fishlock, for a commemorative service and the laying of crosses to remember all of those who have sacrificed their lives for our country.
On Remembrance Sunday, I was honoured to lay wreaths at the Cenotaph and Radnor Street Cemetery. We in Swindon have a great tradition of support for our Armed Forces and every year, the crowd at the Cenotaph seems to grow bigger. This year, I was particularly pleased to see so many young people in attendance.
In my role as Solicitor General, I was busy last week promoting National Pro Bono Week. Pro bono is an ancient legal tradition that widens access to justice by providing legal services free of charge to those who can't afford a lawyer.
Coming from a legal background, one of my first priorities when I was elected a Member of Parliament was to promote pro bono and teach people about the rule of law.
I strongly believe that the legal community should take the time to share their knowledge and educate people young and old about their legal rights and responsibilities and I have recently set up a Public Legal Education Panel (PLE). The Panel has successfully brought together organisations who specialise in legal education, all with a common goal – to help people to get access to justice.
My role as Solicitor General has also enabled me to focus on other important areas such as combatting domestic violence and hate crime and protecting trafficked victims. Public Legal Education is an important tool in assisting victims of crime and will help those who need it the most to develop the confidence needed to gain access to justice.
I was delighted to hear that Dotty's Cafe in Old Town have been awarded the title of Britain's Best Cafe in the South West Region. I would like to congratulate all of the staff on this fantastic achievement. I am very supportive of local businesses and the important role that they play in the town. As part of Small Businesses Saturday, I will be visiting local businesses on December 3rd. If you run a local business and would benefit from a visit, please get in touch.
Over the coming weeks, I will be very busy working on the EU Withdrawal Bill. This important piece of legislation will allow the UK to leave the EU while ensuring that our future laws will be made in London, Edinburgh, Belfast, and Cardiff. It is one of the most significant pieces of legislation that has ever passed through Parliament and is a major milestone in the process of our withdrawal from the European Union.
MPs from all parts of the UK will come together this week to work in support of this vital piece of legislation. By working together, in the national interest, we can ensure we have a fully functioning legal system on the day we leave the European Union.