Looking ahead to 2018

I’m writing this week’s column from my Westminster office ahead of not only the final Prime Minister’s Questions of the year, but also the last day of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill Commons committee stage.

A couple of weeks ago the Prime Minister reiterated that the Government will bring forward a withdrawal agreement and implementation bill to give the exit agreement domestic legal effect – which will itself be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny.

Next year I’ll continue to hold the Government to account over Brexit. I recently sought assurances from Theresa May in the House of Commons over the importance of aviation in the Brexit negotiations; a vital topic not only for the Crawley economy, but Britain as a whole. After the US, we are the world’s second aviation power, therefore, backing for this sector in supporting international trade to all parts of the globe is imperative.

With Gatwick in mind, a further issue I continue to pursue is the danger posed by laser pens when shone into the eyes of air pilots and those driving other vehicles. The Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill published earlier this month will expand the list of vehicles, beyond planes, which it is an offence to target with lasers. Train and bus drivers will be among those protected by the new legislation.

The bill will make it easier to prosecute offenders by ending the need to prove an intention to endanger a vehicle, and will remove the existing £2,500 cap on the amount offenders can be fined. Such punishment can be issued in isolation or alongside a prison sentence for such a serious offence that can endanger life on a mass scale.

In January the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Cancer, which I chair and was pleased to establish, will be launching its inaugural report on blood cancer care in the NHS.

As well as focusing on medical support, we’ll also focus on the wider patient experience which can be so important when fighting cancer.

My best wishes to all in Crawley for Christmas and the New Year.

Henry Smith MP