Diary - EU Withdrawal Bill heads to the Lords

The final day of the EU Withdrawal Bill before it heads to the Lords. What an historic moment that will be. But first out for an early morning run, before running through routine matters in my office. At about 1100 I entered the Chamber to catch Business Questions with Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg. I had wanted to ask for a debate on the provision of truly affordable social homes, both to buy and rent. A lot of emphasis had been placed on this in our manifesto and I am keen we spell out how we intend to go about this. Regrettably, I was not called, but remained in the Chamber for a Statement on the bush fires in Australia. Having spent 18 months out there some years ago, I have experienced the intense heat of an Aussie summer and was only too aware of the threat of fires. Everyone was extra careful to avoid them. I was curious to know how all these recent fires had actually started as no one has mentioned this. I was not surprised to hear the Minister tell the House that 75 per cent of fires were the result of arson! And with dry conditions and strong winds, these fires spread very, very quickly. Of course climate concerns must not be underplayed, but it was interesting to hear that arsonists were in the main responsible for these fires and not climate change. It should be noted, though, that extra high temperatures have baked the ground and vegetation, making it easier for the fire to spread. But, as I have said, I recall the intense heat when I was working in the Blue Mountains and conditions were no different to what they are today. Of course my deepest sympathies go to all those affected. It must be truly horrific to lose your home and to see so much countryside burnt to a crisp. And of course there are all the wild animals, with some species possibly being made extinct by these fires. I was glad to hear the Minister say that UK experts in a variety of fields were being sent to Australia to help. We must do all we can. Back to the office for a working sandwich at my desk and then over to PCH in the afternoon to catch up with my friend and former work colleague Peter Henley, who is the political correspondent for South Today. Final votes came at 1700 and of course the vote to pass the Bill was won overwhelmingly. I have to admit it was quite an emotional moment for many of us. We have fought long and hard for our country's right to be in control her destiny once again, and now we are well on the way of achieving that admirable aim.