IT WAS a pleasure on Saturday to be asked to mark another successful year at Appleford School and to be reminded of the amazing work that goes on there.

The school’s motto, A Unique Path to Success, is woven through everything it does and the pride of the pupils, staff and parents in what it achieves is palpable.

Also on Saturday, I spent time meeting local people in and around Winterslow and, on Sunday, I was delighted to be invited to Lower Woodford for a fundraiser celebrating the work of Studio Theatre.

The week so far has been filled with ministerial engagements – tackling the subject of mortgage prisoners, meeting a delegation of Indian visitors and advancing the case for financial education across government.

I am looking forward to returning to Salisbury at the end of the week, when my constituency diary kicks off with one of my regular visits to the hospital.

This Tuesday saw the second reading of the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill, which is a major step forward in transforming the way the law responds to this crime.

The Bill is the most comprehensive domestic abuse package ever presented to Parliament. It includes measures to both better support victims and bring more perpetrators to justice.

Crucially, it will introduce the first ever statutory government definition of domestic abuse, which will include economic abuse.

It will give absolute clarity that domestic abuse can be verbal and emotional as well as physical and sexual and that, critically, it is about patterns of abuse over time.

The government has been continuing action to combat violence by significantly strengthening our laws and introducing new tools to protect victims.

This has so far included the criminalisation of forced marriage, two new stalking offences, a new offence of failing to protect a girl from FGM, the national roll-out of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme and a new offence of domestic abuse covering controlling and coercive behaviour.

The importance of allowing victims to access the criminal justice system and family courts without fear is underscored for me every time I visit or hear from residents of Salisbury’s excellent women’s refuge.