THIS week democracy and sacrifice have been very much in my thoughts.

On Monday I attended a ceremony in the House of Commons, led by Mr Speaker, as he opened the Constituency Garden of Remembrance. Gathering in New Palace Yard in the chill of the November air, I reflected on the sacrifices of the many who helped to secure our peace, fought for liberty, and rebuilt Britain following the two great wars. In 2023 we mark 70 years since the end of the Korean War, 75 years since the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush, and commemorate those who served in the Battle of the Atlantic 80 years ago, the longest campaign of the Second World War.

And closer to home in Furness I remembered those who paid the ultimate price to defend our liberties or those of other countries, whether in the submarine service, as members of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, or in public service elsewhere.

Remembrance reflects the country. We all have people we wish to thank, remember, or recall, whether in living memory or in the distance past. Parliament mustn’t forget the sacrifices made for our freedoms, and our democracy. I thought of my constituents as I planted a cross for Barrow & Furness in that garden in the Palace of Westminster.

And so it was fitting that this week, bookended by an Act of Remembrance in Parliament, and Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday in Furness, should also host Parliament Week, a series of activities to explain Parliament, what it does, why it matters, and how to get involved.

Dozens of schools and youth groups from across Furness took part in Parliament Week this year, and it was my honour to join some of them and explain how our system works (and sometimes doesn’t), about democracy and making laws, and how to get involved and affect change.

I took part in Q&As with St Pius X and Ormsgill Primary, joined in with a  citizenship class at Dowdales, spoke at an assembly at Chetwynde, and did my best impersonation of the Speaker in mock Parliaments with Furness Academy and Sacred Heart. The genuine interest and quality of questions, debates and activity was astounding and is a tribute to each and every pupil and their dedicated teachers.

Democracy is a delicate but wonderful thing. Sometimes it fails, and sometimes it is flawed, but it is the method by which peaceful change and respectful debate can and should take place. We only have this fragile and important thing thanks to the sacrifices people made in the past to protect it, and because of those who are willing to stand up and do the same now.

My week ended in final acts of Remembrance around the constituency. I marked Armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, joining representatives from the Royal British Legion, the Royal Air Force and the Submariners Association at Barrow Train Station.

And then on Sunday, in sharp cold and then thick rain, I paid my respects on behalf of Parliament and my constituents at Barrow Cenotaph and Ulverston War Memorial, before joining Councillors and friends in laying Parliamentary Wreaths of Remembrance at each of the 17 official War Memorials in Furness.

Many, many people selflessly gave their tomorrows so we may have our today. I thank and remember them for the opportunities they have given us.