This week we should remember the people of Cumbria who have been affected by the flooding that has devastated the north of the country. I have been using my experience from floods in the South West to help my colleagues in the Labour group in their work to encourage the British Government to claim available funding from the European Solidarity Fund. This fund could provide additional resources to deal with the storm Desmond floods.
My Brussels diary just got a lot busier after Christmas thanks to being allocated 3 reports in Committee. One I am looking forward in particular is a budget file on 'Creative Europe'. I am really looking forward to working with stakeholder in my constituency in creative fields and bringing that talent to Brussels.
I met with the Confederation of British Industry to discuss how South West businesses benefit from being in the EU. One of the best examples of how the EU makes a big difference for jobs in the South West are the 4,500 people Airbus employs in the Filton plant in Bristol. Airbus is a European company that depends on Britain's membership of the EU. If we were to leave, their position in the UK would quickly become difficult. But inside the EU, they provide, economic growth, high quality jobs (14,000 in the UK), apprenticeships, and much more.
In the Parliament's working group on the EU's Scientific Research fund, Horizon 2020, I heard about the lifesaving scientific work being undertaken on diabetes, thanks to EU money.
The University of Exeter has already taken advantage of EU money to fund research into the relationship between genetics and diabetes.
I met with the UK Atomic Energy Agency, to discuss progress on the Joint European Torus - nuclear fusion experiment in Culham, England.
Nuclear fusion technology, if and when we can engineer it to work effectively in a power station, will solve our climate change and energy independence worries overnight. On this issue many senior climate scientists agree.
The work undertaken in Culham is the EU's largest and most successful experiment and has provided cutting edge research and results, bringing us closer than ever to making mass nuclear fusion energy technology into reality. It is funded by the EU, bringing jobs, growth, and highly technical expertise into the region. It has created a skills hub for this sort of specialised knowledge and is a fantastic example of what is possible when we work together in Europe - and yet one more thing to lose if we leave the EU.
Finally, South East Labour colleague Anneliese Dodds and I continuing our work trying to protect our cider industry. Earlier in the year we wrote to the Treasury to ask why the government has failed to safeguard the future of heritage and farmgate cider producers in the region by opening talks with the Commission on the issue of cider duty. Clare and Anneliese have not received a response, but they are arranging a follow up meeting with Commissioner Moscovici (responsible for tax issues), to discuss the situation of craft cider makers in the UK.
This Thursday 10th December was International Human Rights Day but also marked the end of the 16 Days campaign to raise awareness of Violence Against Women . Hopefully this years 16 Days campaign will have made more people aware of how pervasive gender violence and discrimination is in our society and that I have played a small role in this. International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Human Rights Day play a vital role in bringing attention to violence and discrimination against women but we shouldn't believe tour work is done for another year. There is so much more to be done; it would be easy to let ourselves feel helpless against the tide but progress that has been made and is continually being made towards equality.