Henry Smith MP – Crawley Bulletin – January 2018
Ever since establishing and being elected to chair the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Blood Cancer in 2016, I’ve been struck by the stories from Crawley residents who, like myself, have lost family members to the UK’s third biggest cancer killer.
As the most common cancer amongst people under the age of 30, blood cancer is one of the great health challenges of our time and is in need of enhanced public awareness.
This month I secured and led a debate in Westminster Hall on this issue, and I also spoke at the launch of the APPG’s report.
Our report highlights the salience of early diagnosis for patients. Blood cancer symptoms often resemble feeling ‘run down’ or having the flu, such as fatigue, night sweats, weight loss, bruising and pain.
I’ve written for Crawley News 24 and the Times Red Box to help raise awareness. Locally, organisations such as the Mark Henry Archer Tribute Fund at Bloodwise undertake important fundraising work which goes to support patients. The conclusion of our Group’s first inquiry is simply the start of our work going forward.
The Chagos islanders were forcibly exiled from their homeland by Orders in Council, bypassing Parliament, almost half a century ago during Harold Wilson’s premiership to make way for a UK/US military base.
Crawley is today home to perhaps the largest Chagossian population in the world. Since my first election to the House of Commons in 2010 I’ve continued to raise the necessity of their right to return to their home islands.
My British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Bill, which I introduced in the House of Commons this month, focuses on improving conditions and restoring rights for Chagossians in Crawley and throughout Britain. Current legislation assumes only one generation of Chagossians will be born in exile. While many members of this community born in exile have received British citizenship, their children have not.
When these families have come to the UK their children are treated as immigrants like any other by the Home Office. As such, they are subject to the usual financial costs and administrative implications. Of course, had the population not been exiled almost 50 years ago, all born on the islands would already have British citizen status by natural right.
My Bill will not provide special privileges to the Chagossian people, but would seek to reinstate citizenship rights for descendants of those who were exiled, whose forced removal from their homeland meant that the ability to acquire such status was also taken away.
Welcoming the Surrey & Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH) being granted up to an additional £1,687,000 of funding to help cope with winter pressures. This extra funding is the equivalent of 39.2 annual nurse salaries, and was announced as part of a £337 million immediate funding boost for NHS hospitals this winter in the recent Budget, in addition to an extra £2.8 billion investment over the next two years.
The national health budget continues to increase (£120.3 billion in 2018-19; and £123.2 billion for 2019-20) and services continue to come back to Crawley Hospital, including the opening of a new Clinical Assessment Unit and new 26 bed Dementia-friendly Piper Ward last year.
Locally, the NHS Crawley budget will receive a 2.27 per cent cash increase to £161.3 million in 2018-19. By May 2017, 100 per cent of local General Practices rated by the CQC were given a rating of Good or Outstanding.
I’m of course fully aware there are pressures on services and continue to pursue the concerns put to me by Crawley clinicians and patients.
I Grow and I Rejoice: Our borough’s motto is very much in mind when embarking on the challenges facing our community. As a founder member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on New Towns I was pleased to attend their latest meeting this month. Whether it’s investment in our area schools or NHS services coming back to Crawley, new housing for local people or upgrading road and rail links, addressing these issues and ensuring they are reflected in policy is my ongoing commitment.
Freedom of religion: Ahead of the launch of their 2018 World Watch List in Parliament this week, I wrote in support of Open Doors and their work to stand up for the freedom of faith around the world. Previously I’ve spoken in the House of Commons about the importance of defending these values – in recent years the organisation has done much to support people living under the hell of Daesh/ISIS rule, many Christians included.
Campaigning for enhanced animal welfare: Wrote for The House magazine on how one of the many reasons I voted to leave the EU was the opportunity to improve how we can look after our animals.
Having campaigned for enhanced animal protection for many years, and as a Patron of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation I’m delighted to see the zeal with which the Environment Secretary is going about his work and welcome confirmation from the Prime Minister that there will be no vote in this parliament on repealing the fox hunting ban.
Review of last year: Wrote about 2017 in the Crawley Observer including local unemployment continuing to fall, standing up for the freedom of religion, and the 70th anniversary of being designated a New Town.
Brexit: I continue to hold the Government to account over the UK’s exit from the European Union. In recent days I’ve submitted a question to the Brexit Secretary over future trading arrangements. I continue to seek assurances over the importance of aviation in the Brexit negotiations; a vital topic not only for the Crawley economy, but Britain as a whole. After the US, we are the world’s second aviation power, therefore, backing for this sector in supporting international trade to all parts of the globe is imperative.
Tackling the illegal wildlife trade: Questioned the Foreign Secretary in the House of Commons over UK work to ban the sale of ivory and Britain’s wider efforts to stop the slaughter of elephants. Our Government is right to work with international partners to reduce the appalling ivory trade.
Record-breaking employment figures: In Crawley, the unemployment rate has fallen by 59 per cent since 2010. The number of unemployed young people in Crawley has fallen by more than three quarters. Nationally, the number of people out of work has fallen by over a million. Over the last seven and a half years more than three million more people are in work, with the security of a regular pay packet.
Across the country there are over 400,000 fewer young people out of work, and the number of people in work and the number of full-time jobs in the workforce are at record highs.
In 2017, more than 10 employment records were broken. The employment rate and the number of people in work, the number of women in work and black and minority ethnic employment all reached record highs during the year.
School funding: Alongside West Sussex parliamentary colleagues I lobbied successfully for a National Funding Formula (NFF) and this month we issued a joint statement regarding the extra £28 million recently announced for schools in West Sussex which goes some way to make funding fairer.
While secondary schools in the county will receive up to 12 per cent more funding when the NFF is implemented fully, I am well aware that our schools are facing cost pressures and it is with these in mind that I continue to make representations to the new Secretary of State for Education, Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP.
Dying to Work: Supporting the TUC’s campaign which supports and protects employees who become terminally ill. It’s shocking to think that if people with terminal illnesses are dismissed or forced out of their jobs that their loved ones could lose the death in service payments that the employee has planned for and earned through a life-time of hard work. This is why I’m pleased to have signed the ‘Dying to Work’ charter to protect my employees and I urge businesses in Crawley to do the same.
Police funding: Welcomed news of a £450 million increase in police funding for England and Wales. This includes up to an additional £270 million in police force budgets, so individual forces have the resources they need to respond to changes in demand. Police funding in Sussex is planned to increase by £8.6 million in 2018-19 as a result of these changes.
Post Office investment: Welcoming the Government’s announcement of £370 million of funding to extend Post Office opening hours, cut queue times and protect rural branches. This funding brings the total amount invested in the Post Office network since 2010 to £2 billion, and will secure the future of the network. Customers and small businesses rely on their local branch every day to access a wide range of services. With this funding we can ensure that our Post Offices are fit for the future.
Giving the Gift of Play: Delighted to continue my support for the Springboard Project in Langley Green by visiting them before Christmas to hand over toys donated by the British Toy & Hobby Association. The Springboard Project have centres in Crawley and Horsham, which welcome children and young people with or without disabilities, and their families, for inclusive play and social opportunities.
Guide Dogs: Welcomed staff, volunteers and puppies from the charity as I hosted their Christmas event in Parliament, and hailed their continued work to support thousands of blind and partially sighted people in the UK.
Pavement parking is a real problem in Crawley and many other parts of the UK – not only does it pose a danger to people with sight loss, it is a potentially dangerous obstacle for wheelchair and mobility scooter users as well as people with pushchairs.
Member of Parliament for Crawley