This week, Parliament rises for the summer recess, after one of the most extraordinary terms anyone can remember.
On 23 March, the Prime Minister declared a national lockdown to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. A few days later, after passing the emergency Coronavirus Act, Parliament rose for the scheduled Easter recess. As it turned out, MPs did not return to Westminster until the beginning of June.
During the interceding months, my team, scattered across the country, have been working from home. We have probably been busier than ever, dealing with issues as diverse as a nonagenarian stranded in India and financial support for zoos. Every working day, we have held conference calls on Zoom.
I was the only member of the team to venture back to Westminster in June. My staff remained at home, as did the several thousand support staff of other MPs. At first, the experience of being back in the House was rather unnerving, but I and my colleagues soon got used to it. Social distancing has now become almost hard-wired in all of us; furthermore, it was good to be back and interacting in person once again.
Recess is going to be a markedly different affair from most other years. It has traditionally always been a welcome opportunity to catch up with constituents at the myriad local events that are crammed into the months of July and August. But this year there will be no fetes at Colwyn Bay hospital, Abergele hospital and St George’s church. There will be no Ruthin flower show, and the Denbigh and Flint show – the principal event of the summer – is, sadly, also off the agenda.
But, slowly, things are returning to something that looks a bit more like normal. The lockdown restrictions are being relaxed and people are getting out and about.
And I have decided that the time has now come to reopen my constituency office. We are putting in place all necessary precautions and hope to be back in business during the month of August. So if you need to see me, please make an appointment via my website.