I have always believed in using my time in Parliament to campaign energetically for change on behalf of my constituents. This week has featured three causes close to my heart.
First, I was delighted that the Government responded to my long campaign about the damage that cyberbullying can do to young people’s mental health. Ministers have agreed to publish a white paper later this year, which will set out legislation to tackle online harms, from cyberbullying to online child sexual exploitation. With people increasingly sharing their lives online it’s more important than ever that people, particularly our children, are kept as safe as possible. Social media companies make huge returns; they need to recognise that if behaviour is unacceptable offline, it’s unacceptable online too.
Second, I’ve been speaking out in support of Lucy’s Law, which Parliament debated this week. It would protect puppies by banning sales from third-party puppy farmers and backyard breeders which do not meet welfare standards. With certain exceptions (Cheltenham Animal Shelter for example) it is far better for the puppy’s welfare for purchasers to deal directly with licensed breeders and witness the puppy with its mother.
More than 143,000 people signed a petition calling for the measure. Thank you to everyone in Cheltenham who added their names, and to so many supportive animal charities too.
Third, local education has always been a key priority for me, and it was a particular pleasure to arrange for Kevin Day, Head Teacher of Belmont Special School, to visit 10 Downing Street. Kevin was representing all of Cheltenham’s special schools, their parents, carers and pupils. Kevin and the Belmont team have achieved great things at the school and he is a wonderful advocate for special education. I wanted to give him the chance to talk to senior Ministers and tell them first-hand about the vital work they are doing on the front-line. He certainly delivered!