Diary - further cuts to our armed forces denied

An early start and then to London. Sadly, I was not on the list for Defence Questions, but I did hang around the Chamber long enough to catch the Secretary of State, indicating that I needed to talk to him about a Sunday Times' report that the Government was considering cutting the army by another 20,000. I was aghast, as were many colleagues and, judging by the emails I received, the public. I caught up with Ben Wallace in the evening while voting for the Domestic Abuse Bill. He emphatically denied there were plans to make such a cut and that the reporter had been told repeatedly that what he was going to print was not true. I wish I was totally convinced, but I was not. And the reason I wasn't was because of the need for more investment in cyber and innovative weapons like drones. Will these come at the price of our personnel? That would be a fatally flawed position if it was adopted. I remain vigilant. During the afternoon, I worked on constituency casework, breaking at 1600 for a conference call with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson. I raised three points: more money for special educational needs, funds to enable All Saints CE Academy to refurbish and bus travel funding for over 16s. The latter is not going to happen. Mr Williamson concurred with the former and promised to read my personal letter to him about All Saints. In recent days, our relationship with China has worsened as their Ambassador reacted to the UK's offer of citizenship for up to three million people from Hong Kong. This follows the imposition by Beijing of a sweeping new national security law. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming accused the UK of "gross interference" and threatened repercussions. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab rejected the accusation. In the Chamber, Mr Raab went on to impose stringent sanctions on 49 people and organisations behind the most "notorious" human rights' abuses of recent years. Individuals implicated in the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009 will have their UK assets frozen and banned from entering the country. In culture news, the Secretary of State warned that the £1.57 billion boost to the arts would not save every job. Oliver Dowden said grants and loans would aim to preserve "crown jewels" in the arts sector, and many local venues.