Whilst colleagues hung on their phones on Wednesday I think it is fair to say I wasn’t much looking at the cabinet reshuffle, and instead was concentrating on an absolutely brilliant event I hosted for women scientists in Parliament. L’Oréal and UNESCO have partnered over the last 23 years to provide grants for the most exceptional female scientists and it was a great afternoon to hear about the difference the grants had made to the recipients in previous years.
I also had the excitement on Wednesday of question 1 on the order paper for PMQs. That really is a once in a career event, and I raised the issue of sodium valproate, which is a very effective drug for epilepsy, but can cause horrendous birth defects in children. The campaigners from INFACT have tried to get justice for their children for years and were disappointed that the recommendations of last year’s Cumberlege Report have not been implemented in full.
Earlier in the day there was a debate in Westminster Hall to mark British Farming Week. I was in the Chair for the debate so could not participate, but used the opportunity to corner the Minister beforehand. There is a real problem with access to staff in the agricultural sector, especially in pigs, and I have highlighted the concerns of local pig producers to Victoria Prentis, who, thank goodness, has stayed at DEFRA in the reshuffle, albeit with a promotion to Minister of State, which I am celebrating on her behalf.