Wrexham Leader Column

This year, Chirk Hospital Circle of Friends marks its 50th anniversary. Recently I was privileged to speak at a concert with Dyffryn Ceiriog Male Voice Choir that was held to mark this important milestone.

The story of the Circle of Friends began in 1968 when the then-Chirk Cottage Hospital was under threat of closure because an electric lift was needed. The cost of the lift was £5,000 – at least £86,000 in today’s money. A Circle of Friends was set up – a ‘circle’ in recognition of the need to encompass neighbouring villages – and the lift was purchased. 

Over the last half a century, the Circle of Friends has worked tirelessly to support the hospital. As local MP for the Clwyd South constituency, I would like to thank everyone who is part of the Chirk Hospital Circle of Friends – with especial thanks to Mrs Sybil Jones (Honorary Life President), Mrs Jan Sides and Mrs Kit Jones, all three members of the original committee who are still active on the Circle of Friends.

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I was recently asked by a constituent if I could use part of my Leader column to explain the work of select committees.

Select Committees have been around since 1979.  They bring together backbench MPs from different parties to conduct inquiries into the workings of Government departments. Committees get to question all sorts of people to do this. Reports are then formulated which the Government must reply to formally.    

Scrutinising detailed legislation and hearing evidence is not as glamourous or well publicised as asking a question of the Prime Minister or speaking in the House of Commons Chamber. The work is however equally important. 

During my time in Parliament, I have served as both a frontbench shadow minister and a backbench MP. It isn’t compulsory to do so but as a backbench MP, I have always served on select committees.

I was a member of the Petitions Select Committee, which I became interested in when a constituent with a brain tumour started a petition for more funding for cancer treatment. A debate promoted by this Committee led to more funding for brain tumour research.

In the past, I have been a member of the Committee on Standards and the Committee of Privileges. I am currently a member of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments and the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs. The Welsh Affairs Select Committee examines policies that have an impact on Wales – with the view of getting the best for our country. We are currently looking into the Armed Forces estate in Wales and we’re also examining proposals for North Wales and other Welsh growth deals, both subjects which are very important for our part of Wales.