Henry Smith MP, Crawley Bulletin, June 2015
I was pleased to be in the House of Commons following the Queen’s Speech.
The Government are, through the Cities & Local Government Devolution Bill, and the Housing Bill, showing how local authorities will have access to funding, and the powers they need to drive economic growth, build new infrastructure and deliver new housing.
After years of campaigning, I am pleased that a Conservative majority government will be able to legislate for an in/out EU referendum. It is right that this decision will be taken by everyone in our country – the Prime Minister’s vote will count for as much as yours or mine.
I also welcome the Childcare Bill, which will see increased entitlement of 30 hours a week of free childcare, available to eligible working parents of three- and four-year-olds.
This Bill will also require local authorities to publish information about the provision of childcare in the local authority area, and other services which might be of benefit to parents or prospective parents in their area.
Since 2010, the Government has increased funding for the childcare market by £1 billion, to almost £3 billion per year. This includes the extension to provide 15 hours a week of childcare to all three- and four-year-olds, and all disadvantaged two-year-olds – saving families over £2,500 a year per child.
The Coalition Government also introduced shared parental leave. This gives parents more choice in how they share the care of their new-born child and gives women more choice over when they return to work, if they choose to do so.
Additionally, people in Crawley have benefited from the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, and I am pleased that this will be extended to tenants of housing associations.
To fund this policy, the Housing Bill will also require councils to sell their most expensive housing when it falls vacant – with the receipts used to provide new affordable homes in the same area, and the surplus used to fund the Right to Buy for housing association tenants
The ambition behind this Queen’s Speech is simple – to build a country where, whoever you are and wherever you live, you can have the chance of a good education, a decent job, a home of your own, and the peace of mind that comes from being able to raise a family and enjoy a secure retirement.
Human Rights: Calling for the reintroduction of a British Bill of Rights. Our concept of rights is more than a piece of legislation from 1998 called the Human Rights Act.
Decentralisation agenda: Part of my role as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Communities Secretary is ensuring more powers are devolved to local people.
Crawley economy: Reassuring to see local youth unemployment fall – but still more to do.
Jobs: Across all ages, the overall Crawley unemployment rate is down by 30% in the last year, and by 62% since 2010. Nationally, average earnings (excluding bonuses) have now risen by 2.7% over the last year. Pleased to support Crawley business in the House of Commons.
Free childcare: Welcomed Government plans to increase free childcare, worth around £5,000 a year.
Air Passenger Duty: Continued the campaign for further reforms of APD by calling for a debate on its future in the House of Commons. I have since written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this issue.
EU referendum: Voted for the Conservative EU referendum bill. I have always said that this is what a Conservative majority Government would do, and am pleased that this is one of its first measures to pass.
Animal Welfare: Delighted to be elected the Co-Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare. I will continue to raise the issues that many Crawley residents contact me about on these important issues, that are close to my own heart.
Sussex Day: Joined with other MPs from across the county to celebrate Sussex Day. Our county is older than England itself!
Bees: Called for the greater protection of our bees at an event in Parliament.
Flag Exchange: Delighted to lead the exchange of the Union Flag, and the Stars & Stripes, with the Majority Leader of the US House of Representatives.
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