Paul Rowen's Letter from Parliament
This year's Remembrance Sunday Service, which I attended at Rochdale and Wardle, were particularly poignant in view of the rising death toll of our troops in Afghanistan. Both services had a large number of local people attending over the last couple of weeks including Steve Cooney, the Royal British Legion, the Air Training Corps (ATC) and Army and Navy Cadets have worked tirelessly to ensure the annual Poppy Appeal is a success. Whatever your views on the war in Afghanistan our brave troops must not be made into a political football.
I was therefore very disappointed at the way The Sun newspaper used the grief of guardsman Jamie Janes Mum to attack Gordon Brown. I am not a member of the PM's party but in my personal dealings with him I have found him to be an absolute gentleman. His letter was in my view a very genuine attempt to show those who have lost loved ones that he cares.
This week saw the end of the Parliamentary year before the Queen opens the final session of Parliament in the run up to the General Eelction. I questioned the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, Ben Bradshaw, about his agreement with ITV allowing them to display products within programmes like Coronation Street. Like most media outlets ITV has suffered from a dramatic fall in advertising, which is affecting its ability to make new programmes. I therefore welcomed his agreement to undertake a short consultation and have the new scheme operational by the end of January. In addition to this I helped broker an amendment with the Government providing support for lone parents returning to work as part of the Welfare Reform Bill.
On Wednesday night I was delighted to be able to attend a Schools Prom at the Royal Albert Hall with my Mum; among those performing were the Smithybridge Primary School choir. The acting headteacher, Jacqui Potts, and her staff had worked very hard over the last few weeks getting the children ready and their recital was excellent. It was wonderful to see so many parents there supporting their children. On Thursday I attended a fundraiser at the India Lounge Restaurant in Spotland for the Mayor's Charity organised by my good friend Terry Mason. Raj the owner of the "India" has been a great supporter of local charities for many years.
The Mayor's Charity this year is supporting the Music Service and the Backdoor Project; both are excellent local causes. Yesterday I was due to visit St John's RC Primary School to present a cheque organised by John Lawson Wild from the Worshipful Company of Chartered Accountants, followed by a meeting of the Man of Rochdale Committee to select the 2010 Man of Rochdale. Unfortunately you will have to wait until 27th November however to find out who we have picked!