Ahead to 2019

I am writing this column in my Crawley office on Christmas Eve after spending the morning helping out with Greenaway Residential’s community project providing meals and presents in Crawley.

While wages are rising faster than prices and local employment is at a record high, I am grateful for our town’s generosity over the Christmas period.

Next year, there are a number of issues I will continue to pursue in Westminster. As Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Cancer, the concerns and views of patients in Crawley are never far from my mind.

Blood cancer is the UK’s fifth most common cancer and this country’s third biggest cancer killer. Ahead of the publication of the NHS Long-Term Plan, greater support for patients is needed, in terms of availability of treatments as well as access to psychological support for patients and their families.

The Government are right to put mental health on a par with physical health. As parity of treatment continues across the NHS, it is important that this also includes the assistance which cancer patients receive.

Last year we launched our first report, and I secured two parliamentary debates seeking assurances from ministers over cancer services and wider NHS care. It is vital we continue to see health services return to Crawley; only possible with a strong economy.

I also look forward to seeing my British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Bill, now scheduled for early March.

The Chagossian community has been treated abhorrently by British governments of all sides, most notably the Harold Wilson administration which forcibly removed these people from their homeland of the Chagos Islands.

My Bill would allow descendants of these individuals, many of whom live in Crawley, to register as British overseas territories citizens.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if I may be able to assist in 2019, either by emailing me directly at: henry.smith.mp@parliament.uk, calling my office on 01293 934554, or by writing to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.

Henry Smith MP