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Henry Smith MP – Westminster Report – April 2019

Protecting our planet

A regular subject in my inbox is what action is being taken to protect the environment on a local, national and global level.

While there is more to be done, the UK remains a leader in this area on the international stage. Britain has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by over a quarter since 2010, faster than any other G20 country, and the UK was the first country in the world to commit to phase out unabated coal power by 2025.

The Government have also sought to tackle littering by doubling the maximum fine to £150. Local authorities can also use these littering penalties against vehicle owners if it can be proved litter was thrown from their car.

It is concerning, however, that this call to action has not been reciprocated by the political leadership of Crawley Borough Council. Instead of sending out press releases they should work to ensure the cleanliness and general appearance of our town; an issue which local residents are raising with me in ever-increasing numbers.

Sri Lanka

Last week I spoke in the House of Commons in solidarity with the victims of the Sri Lanka terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday, which targeted Christians at church and people staying in hotels in the nation’s capital, Colombo.

Unfortunately, incidents such as this highlight the need to ensure victims of terrorist atrocities receive the necessary support from the Government, whether they take place in this country or abroad.

Columns

A pay rise for workers: I welcome not just the increase of the tax-free Personal Allowance to £12,500, but that it has been done a year earlier than originally planned. This means workers will get to keep more of what they earn; indeed a basic rate taxpayer will pay £1,200 less tax in 2019-20 than in 2010-11.

A brighter future for our town: The current Town Hall leadership have failed to keep Crawley clean, issuing press releases rather than fines for littering.

In recent years we have also seen the Council’s leadership go way over budget on a botched IT project. Crawley Borough Council should not lose sight of the fact that all Council funds are local taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

School funding: Total funding for schools in West Sussex is going up by more than £33 million this year, and the Department for Education are funding the additional cost of the pay award for teachers, over and above the amount schools had already been allocated.

While compared to other nations the UK is a high spender on state primary and secondary education I continue to highlight the financial constraints felt by our schools; issues I have continued to raise in Parliament and directly with ministers.

Celebrating Easter: I welcome the British Government’s focus on highlighting the issue of the persecution of Christians globally. The Foreign Secretary has asked the Bishop of Truro to lead an independent review of UK Government support in this area.

This is expected to look into security provided for minority groups under threat, as well as practical assistance and wider foreign policy priorities. It is hoped that this report will be delivered to ministers in the summer and I look forward to following up further in this regard.

Delivery of Brexit: I have continued to campaign for our sovereign independence against the Treaty of Rome’s mission of ‘ever closer union’ which has led to an increasingly centralising, undemocratic and protectionist EU, against the interests of British people.

In 2017 the referendum result was confirmed in a General Election where 589 of those MPs returned to Parliament did so on promises to deliver Brexit. In 2017 and 2018, both Lisbon Treaty Article 50 notification to exit and the EU Withdrawal Act were passed with significant majorities in the House of Commons.

For the sake of our democracy and trust in our politics, the people’s decision must be delivered comprehensively and without further delay.

Other news

School building support: Welcoming more than £11.8 million going towards supporting and maintaining school buildings in West Sussex, including flat roof replacement and the replacement of heating installation at Hazelwick School.

Prime Minister’s Questions: I told Theresa May that continued UK contributions to the EU could be better spent on schools, police and cutting taxes further for Crawley residents.

Improving road quality: Welcoming a new funding commitment from the Government to improve the condition of roads across the country. More than £770,000 will be provided to tackle pot holes in West Sussex.

This funding has been announced by the Department for Transport as part of a £200 million investment, including £50 million that will be provided directly to councils to address winter damage and flood resilience, as well as £150 million to reward examples of councils’ best practice.

National Living Wage: From 1st April, the National Living Wage went up by the highest rate since it was first introduced, increasing by almost 5 per cent to £8.21 per hour – giving almost 2 million of the lowest paid a pay rise.

Childcare: This month I welcomed new figures showing that this term over 5,000 children in West Sussex are benefiting from the Government’s 30 hours free childcare offer.

The offer saves working families around £5,000 per year per child and has seen 325,000 families benefit across the country in the current school term alone, an 11 per cent increase on this time last year.

Jobs record: Wages have risen at their fastest pace in over a decade and the unemployment rate is at its lowest since 1975, at 3.9 per cent. There is more to be done to ensure more and more people across the country are able to reach their full potential.

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month: Supporting Bowel Cancer UK’s #thisisbowelcancer campaign to shine a light on the varied and many people affected by bowel cancer – someone is diagnosed every 15 minutes.

Support for families: Government measures will ensure 32 million people get an income tax cut from this month including 50,380 people in Crawley. A typical taxpayer will be more than £1,200 better off than in 2010.

Pancreatic cancer: Standing up for patients and calling for action to improve the current poor survival rates.

Discrimination in football: Congratulated Crawley Town FC in the House of Commons on the club’s work in support of Kick It Out and wider efforts to tackle discrimination.

Post-Brexit tuition fees for EU students: In ensuring access for all; students from well-off EU countries should not be subsidised at the cost of welcoming the best and brightest from other parts of the world.

Chagos support: Asked the Immigration Minister over the support package previously announced for members of the Chagossian community, many of whom have made Crawley their home after exile by the Harold Wilson government.

Online Harms White Paper: Questioned the Digital & Culture Secretary over the importance of ensuring internet regulation reforms ensure free speech as well as safety.

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