Remembering the sacrifices made for our freedom

Since 2011, the annual UK Parliament Week has sought to engage people around the country with our democracy, explore what it means, and empower groups and individuals to get involved.

This year, events are taking place locally, as well as up and down Britain, from 13th to 19th November. I’m looking forward to being part of Parliament Week in Crawley, speaking about our House of Commons and my role in holding the government to account, shaping our laws and assisting constituents. Of course, this is something I’m pleased to do all year round; just last week I welcomed a group of Crawley students to the Parliamentary Education Centre in Westminster which I regularly do.

It is extremely fitting that this year’s Parliament Week started on the day after Remembrance Sunday, when I had the honour of laying a wreath at the Service of Remembrance outside St John the Baptist’s Church in the town centre.

As we mark Parliament Week, it’s not lost on me that without the remarkable sacrifice of millions of ordinary citizens, we would not have a democratically elected House of Commons where MPs of differing parties can debate the issues affecting people across the country.

In the coming days I will be walking from Parliament to the 2017 Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey. Officially opened by Prince Harry last week, small wooden crosses with poppies are planted in memory of the fallen. This tradition started ten years after the end of the First World War, and with this Field being so close to the Palace of Westminster, it is a timely reminder of the freedom which so many sacrificed their lives for.

Following a Royal British Legion campaign which I was pleased to support, the Office for National Statistics are now intending to recommend inclusion of a question relating to service in the Armed Forces in the 2021 census. With this information we can enhance our understanding of this unique community and ensure public policy reflects their needs.

Henry Smith MP