This month has been exceptionally busy in Parliament, as we continue to debate the Committee Stage of the EU Withdrawal Bill. This historic bill provides the means for the UK to leave the EU in a smooth and orderly way.
The final day of Committee Stage falls this week… luckily just a few days before Christmas!
I’ve been delighted in the past month to attend a packed day of school visits in Ripon, launch and judge my annual Christmas card competition, and hold a number of busy surgeries in the area.
As ever, I was grateful for the opportunity to interact with schools across the constituency, particularly as part of Parliament Week, which is an annual festival that aims to engage people from across the UK with Parliament.
It explores what Parliament means to the students and encourages them to get involved.
It was, particularly, great to be able to answer a number of very thoughtful questions about Parliament and its role, and I was also pleased that I was able to join in with some of the schools’ Children in Need activities.
The Education Service, who helped provide the resources for Parliament Week, also organise visits and tours in Parliament, and I would encourage any other teachers, students or their parents to see if they can arrange a tour for their school or class for the New Year.
Indeed, on returning to Parliament, the following Monday, I was thrilled with the number of school entries to my Christmas card competition and to hear about a school visit already organised for February!
Last week was also filled with a flurry of good news for our area, and I was especially pleased to find out that the Tour de Yorkshire will be returning to the Ripon area as part of its 2018 route.
It is great news that the Tour will be passing through our area on the fourth day of the competition.
We have hosted a number of successful cycling events in the past few years, and I fondly remember supporting the Tour de Yorkshire when the route came through the area in 2016.
I am sure that we will do an excellent job of hosting the Tour and the people who travel from afar to come and see it.
Finally, as this will be my last column of 2017, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all readers and constituents a very happy new year.
The last year has brought with it great achievements, some disappointments and the occasional surprise… I am looking forward to 2018 and I hope that everyone has a very happy Christmas.
Of course, in the New Year, I will continue to hold regular surgeries in Ripon, Skipton and other locations – for more details on these, please visit my website at www.juliansmith.org.uk or contact my office on 01756 795898.