Each year our communities across Dudley South come together to mark Remembrance.

It is one of the most poignant times of the year where we stop, pause and remember those who have sacrificed their lives in defence of our freedom and way of life.

This year was no different, as large numbers turned out to Remembrance Sunday events in Kingswinford, Brierley Hill, Netherton, Pensnett, Wordsley and at other events around Dudley South.

Usually I take part in the large parade and service in Kingswinford but, as this month marks the centenary of Brierley Hill’s War Memorial, this year I joined hundreds of local people in Brierley Hill. My wife Laura laid a wreath on my behalf at Kingswinford’s event.

I’m sure many reading this will have heard about the restoration works that have taken place at the Brierley Hill Memorial, as part of the Government’s Heritage Action Zone scheme, with a further phase of works to the surrounding gardens due for completion before March of next year. I hope many have also had the chance to see the fantastic display of poppies which have been crocheted, sewn and cut out by local people to form a draping camouflage from the pillars of the Memorial.

The sombre lesson of Remembrance Sunday is that freedom is sadly not free. It must be fought for, it must be defended and we all have a duty to thank and remember those brave hearts who do the fighting and defending on our behalf.

At the weekend, I was pleased to wish Garry Flavell a happy retirement after 41 years as a butcher in Netherton, and to welcome Corey Higgins who is taking over Garry’s apron. There has been a butchers on that site since the start of World War I and I know that Garry was worried that it would be lost when he retired. That would have been a big blow to the High Street.

In Parliament, I have spent much of the past six weeks taking part in the committee scrutinising the Nationality and Borders Bill, a new law that the Government is proposing to address problems that clearly exist in the asylum system and to make sure the Border Force has the powers it needs to stop boats crossing the Channel illegally.

The committee stage is an important part of the process of passing a new law, as it is where the Bill is looked at line-by-line and amendments are considered.

This is obviously a sensitive subject, and some people find the proposals controversial. However, I am certain that most people in Dudley South want an asylum system that offers sanctuary to those genuinely fleeing persecution, but that does not mean thousands of people crossing from France – putting their own lives in danger, putting money into the pockets of international people traffickers and creating a whole industry of lawyers who advise on the best way to put in endless last-minute appeals to prevent people being returned if their asylum applications are rejected.

The Bill has now finished its committee stage and will get its third reading in the House of Commons shortly. Then we just need to get it through the House of Lords!