Henry Smith MP, Crawley Bulletin, July 2015
This week, I used my newspaper column to look back on a snapshot of my work since the General Election in May.
One of the Government’s first bills after the Queen’s Speech was the EU Referendum Bill. I was pleased to support an in/out vote by the end of 2017 on the UK’s EU membership in the House of Commons.
Before the election, I was delighted to become a Patron of the Fair Votes for All campaign on English votes for English laws.
This issue recently came before Parliament – it can’t be right for Scottish MPs to potentially have deciding votes on legislation relevant to English schools and hospitals, while these matters north of the border are in fact the responsibility of the separate Scottish Government.
As a commuter myself, I’m well aware of the all-too-often unsatisfactory rail network. While this is a result of improvement upgrades, this is no consolation when waiting for, or stuck on, a train.
I’ve continually raised this with the Rail Minister. Local rail investment in recent years includes a £26 million upgrade of Three Bridges Station, and more than £50 million on Gatwick Station. Coming later this year will be greater capacity, new Thameslink trains with the regional signalling and maintenance now at the Three Bridges rail yard.
I’ve also been discussing the issue of funding for West Sussex schools with Crawley headteachers, and I’m working on this issue with other local Members of Parliament ahead of a meeting with the Secretary of State for Education.
I also welcomed the Chancellor’s Summer Budget earlier this month, which included increasing the tax-free Personal Allowance to £11,000 next year (from under £6,500 in 2010).
The Chancellor also announced changes to companies’ National Insurance bills, which equate to being able to hire four full-time members of staff on the new National Living Wage, and pay no National Insurance at all.
Summer Budget: Welcomed a further increase in the tax-free Personal Allowance, to £11,000. More than 53,000 people in Crawley are expected to benefit from this change.
Blue Fox: Signed a letter with other Conservative MPs calling on Parliamentary colleagues to ensure the Hunting Act is maintained.
Fairness for England: Backing plans to change Parliamentary procedure for legislation that only affects England.
Animal Welfare: Honoured to be elected the new Co-Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare. I will continue to ensure protection of animals, and working with MPs from all political parties to achieve improved care.
Aircraft air intake poisoning: Called for a Parliamentary debate on aerotoxic syndrome, following the death of former Crawley-based cabin crew member Matt Bass last year, at the age of 35.
Rape Crisis Surrey and Sussex: Helped launch the new Rape Crisis Surrey and Sussex Centre in Crawley. The helpline, 0808 802 9999, is open 365 days a year from 12 to 2.30pm and 7 to 9.30pm.
Mental health: Called on the Community and Social Care Minister to ensure funding to assist young people requiring mental health support.
Summer Budget: Welcomed the tax-free Personal Allowance increasing to £11,000, a commitment to further tackle tax avoidance and the increasing of the Employment Allowance to £3,000 – meaning that from April, businesses will be able to employ four people working full-time on the National Living Wage and pay no National Insurance.
Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Primary School: Welcomed pupils to Parliament and gave a tour of the Palace of Westminster – we also went to Downing Street and saw Larry the cat!
VJ Day: Welcomed plans to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Victory over Japan Day, on Saturday 15th August 2015. We must never forget the sacrifices made for our freedom.
Employment figures: A further fall in Crawley unemployment. 1,458 fewer people in Crawley are now claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance compared to 2010, but there is still more to do – the Government is increasing the Employment Allowance to assist companies wanting to hire more staff.
Communities & Local Government: Took my place behind the front bench in my role as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Communities Secretary. Playing my part in further devolution from Whitehall to local people – the latest devolution deal was recently announced.
Antarctic whaling: Joined the International Fund for Animal Welfare calling for an end to Japan’s Antarctic whaling.
Crawley business: Pleased to see 121 people in Crawley helped to set up their own business through the New Enterprise Allowance and Start-Up Loans.
Airports expansion: Calling on the Transport Secretary to ensure a quick decision is made on this important issue.
Premier League 4 Sport: Delighted to see the partnership between British Tennis and the Premier League give children the chance to play tennis in the grounds of the Houses of Parliament!
Team Fox: Welcomed Dr Brian May back to Parliament for the launch of Team Fox, a new campaign to ensure the ban on fox hunting is maintained.
Fighting extremists: Asked the Defence Secretary in Parliament about the United Kingdom’s alliances around the world, and international efforts in defeating Daesh (Islamic State).
English Votes: Once again raised the issue of English votes for English laws in the House of Commons.
Young Start-Up Talent: Officially launched the sixth annual Young Start-Up Talent competition for the Gatwick Diamond area at the Checkatrade.com Stadium, home of Crawley Town Football Club.
While MPs are not now currently sitting in Parliament until September, I’m still on hand to assist. If you have any issues or concerns you would like to raise, please either write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, call my office on 01293 934554, or email me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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