Changing how our country works

The referendum verdict from voters in Crawley and around Britain last year was about more than just leaving the European Union. It was a choice to change how our country works – something I’m well aware of and a point I continue to pursue with the Government.

Last week the Prime Minister confirmed an independent review to tackle injustices in use of the Mental Health Act. Detention rates under this legislation are too high. This review of legislation will assess evidence and consider the needs of users and their families.

While a record £11.6 billion per year is being invested in mental health support, and access and waiting standards for mental health services have now been introduced, there’s still more to do.

On the wider issue of the NHS, our health service will need to cope with approximately a million more over 75s during the next decade, along with a major expansion in mental health provision.

To help meet this, there will be a 25 per cent increase in the supply of qualified nurses graduating into the NHS workforce, to ensure the health service has the staff it needs going forward. A new apprenticeship route into nursing will also be brought in for those who want to earn and learn on the job, rather than qualifying through a traditional university degree.

My work as Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare is just one area where I work with colleagues from other parties to hold ministers to account.

I welcome the Government’s announcement that penalties will increase for the worst acts of animal cruelty. Draft legislation will be published in coming months to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty tenfold, from six months to five years.

This is a cause supported by, among other organisations, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and the RSPCA – I’m grateful for their diligence on this issue and the campaigning by Crawley supporters as well.

Henry Smith MP