Happy New Year! I have been taking a look forward to what will be happening in Parliament in the weeks, months and indeed the decade ahead.
The House of Commons has already started debate on the Government’s European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill. This Bill ensures that the UK leaves the EU with a deal on 31st January, delivers the implementation period to give citizens and businesses time to prepare before it ends on 31st December 2020, and protects the rights of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens in UK law.
On domestic issues; the number one priority is the National Health Service.
At the very heart of the Queen’s Speech is the first ever commitment to enshrine in law a multi-year NHS funding settlement, with an extra £33.9 billion per year. This is the largest cash injection in the history of the NHS.
Under this Government, there will be 50 million more appointments in GP surgeries every year. These are to make sure more people can access care, and so we see reductions in the time that patients are waiting; points I will continue to pursue with ministers.
On support for workers; the Employment Bill will enhance workers’ rights, support flexible working, extend unpaid carers’ entitlement to leave and ensure workers keep their hard-earned tips.
The Chancellor has pledged that the National Living Wage will increase – reaching two thirds of median earnings within five years, projected to be around £10.50 an hour in 2024, provided economic conditions allow.
Action will also be taken on prison sentencing, which will see that the most serious violent and sexual offenders spend time in prison which matches the severity of their crimes.
The National Infrastructure Strategy is to be published alongside the Budget. This will outline details of plans to invest £100 billion to transform our nation’s infrastructure including transport, local growth and decarbonisation.
Its aims will be to continue to address the UK’s world-leading commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and to unleash Britain’s potential by levelling up and connecting every part of the country.
Henry Smith MP