Perhaps unsurprisingly, this week has been dominated by the Same Sex Marriage debate. I had an early morning interview on ITV which can be viewed here. I had a series of meetings with colleagues on Monday including the Secretary of State, Maria Miller. We discussed the various amendments to the Bill, one of which I have been lobbying for; the equalisation of pension rights for same-sex couples. Currently, many surviving civil partners can receive far less in pension entitlements than a widow or widower. The cost of ensuring equal pension rights is minimal (around 0.006% of pension assets currently under management), but the benefit to the recipients is beyond value. You can see some of my contributions in this debate here, in addition to an interview I gave on Radio 4’s Moneybox show last Saturday (link). The Same Sex Marriage debate continued throughout Tuesday with the vote passing by 400 votes to 175. The Bill will now be considered in the House of Lords where I hope to convince a member to adopt the amendment on pension rights. The House adjourned after sitting on Tuesday for Whitsun recess. The House will next sit on Monday the 3rd of June.
Select Committee elections also took place this week. I was delighted to learn that I had been elected to the Work and Pensions Select Committee. I have spoken extensively on pensions, particularly over the last year. I’m looking forward to joining colleagues in scrutinising Government policy in this area.
On Wednesday I had an interesting meeting with Andrew Gilligan, the Mayor’s Cycling Commissioner, to discuss cycling provisions in Barnet. The Mayor has announced his ‘Vision for Cycling in London’ and I would like to see our Borough benefit as much as possible from this. I am a keen cyclist myself and cycle regularly to Westminster. I’ve therefore seen first-hand many of the issues cyclists face and will be monitoring the Mayor’s plans in this area closely. I then headed up to Moss Hall Nursery School to discuss school funding.
On Thursday I had meetings with a number of constituents before holding a surgery at my constituency office. Next week I hope to catch up with some emails and prepare for when Parliament returns the following Monday.