There is nothing more important to the people of Grantham and the surrounding area than the future of Grantham Hospital. Given the way that past decisions about the hospital have been handled, I fully understand why local people become nervous whenever there is any rumour of units closing or services being withdrawn. And I applaud the Grantham Journal for keeping a beady eye on everything that happens in the Hospital and for holding the trust that controls it to account for every decision that they make.
It has been a terrible fortnight in Afghanistan. Last week, six British soldiers lost their lives to one of the Taliban's bombs. And, this week, an American soldier left his base and killed 16 innocent Afghan civilians in their beds, including several women and children. In Prime Minister's Questions last week, I asked David Cameron to use this week's meetings with President Obama to coordinate the transfer of responsibility for security to Afghan forces, so that British and American combat troops can come home by the end of 2014.
This week, after a long campaign led by Lincolnshire resident Trevor Lakin, the Government finally did the right thing for the British victims of the terrorist attacks abroad and announced that they will soon receive compensation, despite the fact that injuries sustained overseas were not covered by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. This is a good result for the people injured in these attacks.
Nothing has surprised me more, since becoming an MP, than the extent to which dementia is a part of so many families' lives today. My family has been lucky in this respect. None of my parents, grandparents or aunts and uncles has suffered from it. Many of them have died of cancer and I have had it too. But we have avoided that gradual fading of the light that afflicts so many people in Britain and causes such heartache to so many families.
In May 1940, Winston Churchill said that his aim was "victory at all costs" but told the British people "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat." Last week George Osborne delivered a similarly stern message. The government's aim is growth but the combination of rapidly rising commodity prices and the problems in the eurozone have had a chilling effect on Britain's economic recovery so all we can offer is a long, hard slog. As many of our problems are a result of the government spending and borrowing too much, there is a limit to what government can do to help individuals, families and businesses weather the storm.
Next week, the Chancellor will make his Autumn Statement and is expected to acknowledge that cutting the deficit is proving harder than anyone expected. On the same day, the independent Office for Budget Responsibility will cut its forecasts for economic growth. Yet, the following day, on 30th November, most public sector unions are going on strike over the Government's plans to reform public sector pensions.
Mine is the first generation in my immediate family in which nobody served in our country's armed forces. My grandmother lost her father and two brothers in the First World War. My grandfather was a commander in the Royal Navy. My father served in the Rifle Brigade in the closing months of the Second World War. For those of us who have not known war, it is easy to lose sight of its place in the lives of almost every generation that went before. That is why Remembrance Sunday is so important.
As the leaves fall, the days get shorter and the temperature drops, the prospects for our country can seem a little bleak. Consumers are cutting their spending because of rising energy bills. Businesses are holding back from making investments because of fears of another banking crisis in Europe.
If you have been driving up Barrowby Road of late, you may have noticed a gleaming new building on the right hand side of the road as you drive out of town. When I drove past for the first time, I did a double take.
Next summer, the British people will celebrate Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee. The Queen will have been on the throne for 60 years, longer than any monarch other than Queen Victoria. She has set an extraordinary example of uncomplaining public service and this is a milestone that the British people will want to mark in all sorts of ways.