Less than 24 hours after he took office, I questioned the new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, about his pledge to increase police officer numbers by 20,000 across England. The very next day, Number 10 confirmed publicly that recruitment will start within weeks.
The Prime Minister declared on the steps of Downing Street last week that the new administration will work flat out to give Britain the leadership it deserves and that this work begins now.
Following a campaign I helped establish, I welcomed the Government’s promise that police officers will be given greater protection in and out of the job through a Police Covenant – similar to the Military Covenant introduced under David Cameron when Prime Minister.
Shortly before the Prime Minister took questions in the Commons I asked the new Leader of the House to make a statement on the need for GP surgeries to receive greater support.
While there are now over 17,250 more doctors than in May 2010 and over 17,000 more nurses on our wards, the £20.5 billion in new NHS funding per year must be seen in extra capacity of GP surgeries and hospitals.
Armed Forces Day: Our nation’s gratitude and thanks should not end when an individual leaves the Armed Forces. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Defence confirmed that service leavers will receive a new ID card to mark their time serving our country. Not only will this allow them to maintain a tangible link to their career, but it will assist in accessing support from the NHS, their local authority and charities.
Many people will have seen the new housing development on the former Kilnmead car park in Northgate, next to the Crawley Army Reserve Centre. It is with pride that the street housing these new properties will be named John Brackpool Close. Private Brackpool hailed from Crawley and died in action serving our country in Afghanistan in 2009, at the age of just 27. The flats as part of this new development will be named John Brackpool Court.
The Prime Minister has created a new Office for Veterans' Affairs to provide lifelong support to military personnel; the first time that veterans’ affairs will be overseen by dedicated ministers in the Cabinet Office to ensure the whole of government delivers the lifelong support our veterans deserve.
The EU’s democratic deficit: In a timely reminder of why Crawley and the UK voted to leave the EU – and a telling insight into the priorities of those seeking to overturn this result – we recently learned the nominees the European Union’s ‘big four’ jobs.
The EU has confirmed its nomination of Ursula von der Leyen, currently the German Defence Minister, to take on the role of Commission President. Ms von der Leyen has previously spoken that her “goal is the United States of Europe – based on the model of the federal states of Switzerland, Germany or the US”. Such federalism, of course, was not on our EU referendum ballot papers three years ago.
In a like for like comparison, it is telling that Britain’s four Great Offices of State (Prime Minister, Chancellor, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary) are now far more diverse (and of course better qualified) than the incoming holders of the EU’s four roles.
Tougher penalties for animal cruelty: I am often contacted by Crawley residents who want to see tougher penalties for people who mistreat animals. Indeed, as Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare, this is a cause I continue to pursue.
It is with the messages I receive from across Crawley in mind that I was pleased to welcome the Government publishing the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill in recent days. This will mean that animal abusers can face sentences of up to five years in prison, a ten-fold increase from the existing maximum sentence of six months.
This action follows the successful campaign I led in Parliament for the Government to ensure CCTV recording becomes mandatory in slaughterhouses across England, with the Environment Secretary introducing legislation to make these cameras compulsory in such facilities to better safeguard animal welfare.
During the leadership campaign I joined Boris Johnson at a Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation event; as a Patron of this organisation I welcome his assurances on the steps of Downing Street in this area.
Long Live the Local: As a supporter (and customer!) of Crawley’s pub trade I was pleased to reiterate my support recently for the Long Live the Local campaign. Following the Government’s freezes in duties, I am continuing to back their calls for beer duty to be cut.
Support for the cost of cancer: Grateful to all those in Crawley who asked me to attend a Macmillan Cancer Support report launch in Parliament, which I was pleased to host on behalf of the charity.
In Parliament I have continued to raise the issue of support for the NHS cancer workforce and the importance of increasing awareness of symptoms for various types of cancer.
As the report highlights, the welfare system provides a vital safety net for people when they need help the most, but there is more to be done to ensure it works better for patients and their support networks.
In parliamentary debates I have secured and led, I have spoken out about the psychological effect which cancer can have, and how this affects patients and their support networks.
I look forward to continuing to work with Macmillan on ensuring people with cancer receive the right support and to pressing the new government to make sure this happens.
Modern slavery: Questioning the Immigration Minister to ensure that staff at Gatwick Airport in Crawley receive the correct training to ensure they are identifying victims of modern slavery.
Railway affordability and accessibility: I have written to schools and colleges in Crawley to ask headteachers to encourage students to take advantage of the new Railcard for 16 and 17 year olds, which is soon to be launched by the Government.
I also encourage more disabled people in Crawley to use the Disabled Persons Railcard when travelling by train, to save a third off journeys.
The Time Is Now: I was pleased to meet local students in the Crawley section of the recent environmental lobby in Westminster.
Tiffin Cup: Congratulations to Bengal Spices in Three Bridges for being highly commended in this year’s competition.
Extraordinary rendition: Reports of extraordinary rendition through UK territories such as the British Indian Ocean Territory, where Harold Wilson’s government forcibly removed the Chagos Islanders, must be investigated.
Tourism Sector Deal: With Gatwick Airport directly connecting our town to the world, tourism is a hugely important industry for Crawley. I’m delighted that the 370 tourism-related businesses here will now be able to receive additional support, through the modern Industrial Strategy.
I hope that they are able to use the opportunities of the Sector Deal to attract even more people to the local area, creating more good jobs for Crawley residents.
Our environment: The UK must remain a world leader on environmental protections to protect our planet.
Apollo 11: Ahead of the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing, I spoke about using this milestone to highlight the importance of the teaching of STEM subjects in schools.
Youth services: I was pleased to highlight the contributions in Crawley offered by council youth services, as well as groups such as Cubs and Brownies, in addition to participants in National Citizen Service, many of whom wrote to me recently about a number of salient topics.
National Citizen Service: This month I was delighted to visit the Crawley Town Community Foundation’s latest NCS cohort. From completing challenging activities to creating a social action project to benefit our local community, these are the sorts of initiatives I had in mind when I spoke in Parliament a couple of years ago in support of the Government’s plans to expand provision of NCS, and why I was pleased to present a copy of the NCS Act to the Community Foundation after it became law.
NCS continues to go from strength to strength, and I look forward to seeing how the young people taking part today will contribute to life in Crawley tomorrow.
The Community Foundation’s provision of NCS highlights how Crawley Town FC are seeking to engage with our local area including offering free admission to home games for under 11s this season.
Conservative Environment Network: Supported the launch of a new environment manifesto to explore new policy ideas, and address climate change and biodiversity loss. Conservatives have a long history of environmental stewardship, as outlined in the manifesto, but we know that we must do more to meet the new challenges we face today.
Now we have set a world-leading net zero target, we must set the policies to meet that target, and to also address the serious declines we are seeing in many of our precious species. We should also be utilising the UK's international standing, as a world leader in decarbonisation, to support other countries towards clean growth.
UK stem cell register: Grateful to the 205,000 people who joined the UK stem cell register last year.
More than 1.6 million people are registered as potential stem cell donors, any of whom could be a match for someone with blood cancer and be asked to donate their stem cells to give a patient a second chance of life.
Joining the register is a simple process and you could go on to save the life of someone with blood cancer. I hope that more people from Crawley will be inspired to sign up and show that together, our communities can provide a cure for blood cancer.
Hong Kong: Questioning the Foreign Office following recent protests against greater Chinese central control of the former British territory.
#LoveSwimming: Supporting Swim England’s campaign to encourage more people to enjoy the health and social benefits of swimming. Being active in the water can be great for people’s physical and mental health, and I’d encourage people of all ages in Crawley to make use of our town’s facilities and to head down to the pool and take part in aquatic activities!
British Overseas Territories: Asked the International Development Secretary about support for British Overseas Territories and on tackling the causes of dangerous migration crossings.
End the big cat trade: Calling for urgent action to end the killing of tigers and other big cats by halting trade in their parts and products.
With my best wishes
Member of Parliament for Crawley