It seems a long time since my last column in the local newspaper. Quite rightly, my May and June columns did not go ahead because of the general election.
And it is correct that I start this first column of the new Parliament with a thank you.
That thank you is to the 31,477 people who voted for me on 8 June. The size of the vote astonished me. But much more than that it redoubled my determination to speak up for our area, local people and local groups irrespective of any party political concerns.
Every election is hard fought and every election is important as our democratic system is the process though which we decide what will happen in our community and country.
One important point so clearly demonstrated in the election is that democracy is dynamic and elections cannot, and should not, ever be taken for granted. Votes, like trust, need to be earned and
I will continue to work to earn that trust from every single constituent.
The national result was a surprise to many. None of the pollsters, the pundits or the politicians saw a hung Parliament coming. I never believed some of the more outlandish predictions of a Government majority of approaching 200 seats but equally I did not think the outcome would be as it was.
There was a slightly unreal sense to Westminster when MPs returned. Many Labour MPs did not expect to be there.
Whatever shade of Government elected the biggest issue facing Parliament remains Brexit. In fewer than two years we will be leaving the EU. But the Parliamentary debate and the debate in the country will not stop when Brexit actually happens. We will be establishing new trading relationships with the EU and with other countries around the world. It will be a challenge for our country and one to which we must all rise.
I was surprised to be taking up a new ministerial role as Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury. With a background in business locally I am looking forward to taking forward the growth and productivity part of the portfolio.
Here in Harrogate and Knaresborough we have good business growth which in turn delivers low unemployment. There are local lessons about growth and productivity that I want to bring to the new agenda.
I am also responsible for charities, the voluntary sector and gift aid. Volunteers are the backbone of our society.
As local MP, and a local resident, I strongly support voluntary groups across the constituency. Highlighting their work and joining in with that work is, I believe, one of my main roles as an MP.
I am looking forward to listening to local charities and voluntary groups to hear how I might be able to further enhance the impact of the sector nationally.
On 14 June we witnessed the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower. 80 people have lost their lives; 80 families have lost loved ones, countless people have lost dear friends.
If ever the word tragedy befitted an event it was this.
Now we will have an enquiry to determine what went wrong, what should have been done that was not. I hope it will be a wide ranging inquiry and will truly listen to the voices of the community.
That community has suffered a great loss and continues to grieve.
I wanted to end this first column of the new Parliament by remembering them.