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Henry Smith MP – Westminster Report – February 2019

Brexit

I spoke out in Parliament against the uncertainty and democratic damage of Brexit not being delivered. The instruction given by the people of Crawley and the UK to leave the EU must not be delayed beyond 29th March 2019; that would just continue uncertainty.

Please click here for the full video and text of my remarks in this debate.

Being called to ask a House of Commons question to the Prime Minister does not happen every week, so when the opportunity comes around it is important to make the most of it. This month I asked Theresa May to rule out delaying Brexit beyond 29th March this year. I remain concerned of a threat to Brexit through any possible Article 50 extension.

It has been three years since the Brexit referendum was called. With exit day of 29th March only weeks away, I urge the Prime Minister to take a robust approach to the continued negotiations with the EU.

World Cancer Day

Cancer can affect anyone at any time, with most of us having either been diagnosed or knowing someone close who has. World Cancer Day on 4th February each year is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to ensuring patients have a greater chance of beating this disease in the future.

Surrey and Sussex is one of five Cancer Alliance areas highlighted by the Teenage Cancer Trust where five-year cancer survival of 13-24 year olds improved significantly from 2001-05 to 2007-11. The same report also stated that the largest reduction in mortality between 2001 and 2015 has been in leukaemia, one of the most common forms of blood cancer.

In the space of under half a century, 10 year survival rates for leukaemia, a common form of blood cancer, rose from seven per cent to 46 per cent. This figure among children is even more rapid, trebling to 81 per cent in the same period.

This month I also spoke in the Commons debate on our NHS, talking about my work as Chair of both the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Cancer and the APPG on Heart & Circulatory Diseases.

The Government aims to see 75 per cent of all cancers diagnosed by stage 1 or stage 2 by 2028, however there are a number of cancers, including blood cancers, which have no staging system or are unstageable. I continue to seek assurances from ministers that these cancers will also be addressed.

I welcome the Care Minister’s concluding remarks during the debate on how NHS England is already testing innovative ways of diagnosing cancer earlier, with particular reference to pilot diagnostic centres for patients with vague or non-specific symptoms. The Government have pledged to roll out rapid diagnosis centres nationwide, to offer all patients a range of tests on the same day with rapid access to results.

Through earlier diagnosis, more personalised care and enhanced mental health backing, we can improve patient outcomes and ensure greater support before, during and after treatment.

Columns

Voting in the Commons to support our police: I voted for the Government’s plans for increased police funding of up to £970 million. This marks the biggest increase since 2010 to ensure our police have the resources they need.

In recent months I have spoken in Parliament urging action to tackle county lines drug running. The £40 million Serious Violence Strategy identifies the changing drugs market as a key driver of violence. It includes a range of actions such as early intervention and partnership working to tackle the issue of ‘county lines’ and its implications for drugs, violence and exploitation of vulnerable people.

This includes £3.6 million to establish a new National County Lines Co-ordination Centre. The strategy outlines actions to be taken which will address serious violence, and builds on existing work to counter knife crime, gun crime and acid attacks.

Air Passenger Duty: Pleased to chair the new All-Party Parliamentary Group for Air Passenger Duty (APD) Reform. While I welcome Government confirmation that short-haul APD rates will not rise for the eighth year in a row, keeping costs down for 80 per cent of passengers, there remains more to be done for hard-working Crawley families.

Macmillan Cancer Support: This month I had the privilege of meeting Macmillan Cancer Support clinicians, nurses and staff at Crawley Hospital to thank them for their dedication in supporting patients locally.

Enhanced mental health support is also vital to help cancer patients who are undergoing treatment, as well as those facing uncertainty while waiting for their treatment to start. Organisations such as Macmillan undertake important work to help all patients and they are thoroughly deserving of our support.

Crawley charity funding: This month I urged local charities to apply for a funding grant from the People’s Postcode Lottery.

Other news

Stamp duty cut: First-time buyers in Crawley are taking advantage of the cut to stamp duty to buy their first home. Changes to stamp duty introduced last year have benefited over 240,000 people nationwide, helping more people to achieve the dream of home ownership.

Local council funding: Questioned the Housing Secretary over increased support for West Sussex County Council, and how Crawley Borough Council can use its over £21 million of reserves more efficiently.

Supporting the most vulnerable: After meeting with the Housing Secretary I welcomed new Government investment of more than £330,000 to help West Sussex support rough sleepers into safe and stable accommodation where they can rebuild their lives.

Local employment: In Crawley, the number of people who are claiming key out-of-work benefits has fallen by 1,293 since 2010 – an overall reduction of 48 per cent, meaning fewer people now need this support because they have the security of a job.

Nearly four fifths of jobs created since 2010 are full-time jobs, with just 2.6 per cent of our workforce on zero-hour contracts – a reduction over the last year.

There is, of course, more to do. Behind every employment number is a person and a family whose self-esteem, mental wellbeing, economic circumstances and life chances are all vastly improved by being in work.

Workplace pension saving: More than 48,000 people in Crawley are now enrolled in a workplace pension. Due to changes to workplace pensions, over 10 million more people in total are now saving for retirement. Auto-enrolment was introduced so that workers can save more and have greater financial security and independence in their retirement.

I am proud that B&CE The People’s Pension, based in Manor Royal, are playing a key part in the roll-out both locally and nationwide.

Terrorist suspects: Sought assurances from the Home Secretary that the lives of UK personnel will not be put at risk extracting those suspected of supporting terrorism.

Oyster zone expansion: Welcomed the Government consultation on widening the Oyster ticketing zone, and called for this to be extended south from Gatwick Airport to other Crawley rail stations such as Three Bridges.

Chagos Islanders: I questioned the Home Secretary over justice for this community, many of whom have made Crawley their home after being forced into exile by the Harold Wilson government.

Bowel Cancer UK: Pledging to become a Bowel Cancer Champion and welcoming Government action to lower the bowel cancer screening age from 60 to 50 across England. Together we can stop people dying of bowel cancer.

Global education: Hailed the efforts of a Crawley school and charity to support children in the developing world.

A better deal for football fans: Welcomed progress between the Government, representatives from the rail industry and football authorities on achieving a fairer deal for football fans when matches are rapidly rescheduled.

Flybmi: Questioned the Transport Minister after the announcement that this airline was going into administration after struggling for several years.

To keep up to date with my work standing up for Crawley please visit: www.henrysmith.info/news. Additionally you can follow my daily activities via FacebookTwitterLinkedInYouTube

With my best wishes

Henry Smith
Member of Parliament for Crawley