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News From Westminster-By Michelle Donelan MP

As we approach Easter we of course have the start of Lent which I celebrated by leading the team from my office in the Chippenham ‘Great Pancake Race’.

We may not have won, but everyone braved the rain and it certainly was a ‘flipping’ enjoyable event which brought the community together. I have joined with a group of MPs who have committed to reducing their plastic usage for lent. Plastic waste is an issue which I have campaigned extensively on and I am hoping that this challenge will help me cut down further on my own usage and highlight areas where it remains impossible to avoid plastics, so we can work with businesses to change this.

In Parliament I have always been outspoken in my desire to protect and promote religious freedom across the globe and believe we need to be doing more as a country to protect the rights of individuals to practice their desired religion. I raised this pressing issue with The Prime Minister, Theresa May, directly in Prime Minister’s Questions last week.  I asked: “A recent report by Open Doors highlights the top countries where Christians suffer horrific persecution, often in countries which are synonymous with luxury holidays. We need to take action and send a clear signal to other nations. Will the Prime Minister consider earmarking a specific fixed percentage of international aid to go towards tackling religious persecution?” It is disgusting that in 2018 there are still people who are being persecuted because of their religion and we need to make sure we put pressure on countries to ensure we have freedom of religion.

I was also able to speak recently on the closure of local banks, an issue which has significantly impacted both Bradford on Avon and Corsham in my constituency. I am working closely with Lloyds Bank to organise the deployment of a mobile banking branch, something which we are in the final states of agreeing and something which is crucial to ensuring access to banks for all. I have recently organised three fraud awareness workshops with local banks in Chippenham and I will be rolling this out across the constituency in the coming months. With bank closures encouraging more and more people online, it is vital the banks also support local people with training in digital skills and on identifying and preventing online fraud.

As always, if you have any issues or concerns you would like to raise with me then please email michelle.donelan.mp@ parliament.uk or call my office on 01249 704465 to arrange an appointment in one of my surgeries. I have arranged open surgeries in both Broughton Gifford and Corsham in the coming month, so please do get in touch if you would like any further details.

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