Monthly Bulletin - November 2016

Henry Smith MP, Crawley Bulletin, November 2016

Lest We Forget

It was an honour to place a wreath at St John’s Church on Remembrance Sunday as we honour the fallen. The work of the Royal British Legion continues all year round, and they deserve our ongoing support.

Parliament has been the location of fierce and intense debates on the issues of the day, including British military actions. While strong opinions are held, it is because of the service and sacrifice of our Armed Forces that such debate can take place at all. This is particularly apt during Parliament Week (14th-20th November), where events were held in Crawley and around the country to engage people in our democracy.

Alzheimer’s Society

Took part in the Tilgate Park Memory Walk. There are more than 1,100 people in Crawley living with Dementia, and money raised from events such as this goes to helping the Alzheimer’s Society provide further support and fund vital research.

I also wish to pay tribute to Jim Smith MBE, who died earlier this month at the age of 89. Jim served as a councillor for 39 years, and is the only person to be Mayor of Crawley on four occasions. After leaving elected office, Jim lived with Alzheimer’s disease, and was an inspiring advocate in raising awareness of the condition.

My thoughts have been with Brenda, and the rest of Jim’s family and friends.

Chagos Islands

Extremely disappointed that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office has chosen not to allow the Chagossian people the right of return to their homeland.

Soon after the announcement came through I tabled a Question to the Foreign Secretary seeking clarification on plans for compensation. I also raised this matter in the House of Commons at the earliest opportunity the following day.

Parliament Week

Organised the inaugural Crawley Public Speaking Contest as part of Parliament Week, my thanks to the six secondary schools who took part. I also visited children from the school councils of Hilltop, The Oaks, The Mill and Bewbush primaries.

I am keen to engage with our young people throughout the year, and it is always a pleasure to welcome school groups to the new Parliament Education Centre, and to visit schools myself to answer questions from students (and staff!).

Columns

Hate crime: Working with Dimensions UK in Parliament, as part of Hate Crime Awareness Week, in support of the 'I’m With Sam' campaign against learning disability hate crime. This issue is particularly important to me and I am pleased to be a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dyslexia & Other Specific Learning Difficulties.

In Parliament: Raising issues concerning Gatwick Airport, and the Chagos Islands, in Westminster.

Democracy: Commentating on those who want to over-rule democracy in this country.

Other News

Rail services: It is important for each of the Department for Transport, the rail operator, and the rail unions, to be held to account while services are disrupted. This cannot happen effectively when local Labour councillors refuse to condemn the RMT for further strike action. I note that additional industrial action will cause further misery this week, and over the Christmas period and on New Year’s Eve.

The Big Bang: Welcomed students from Oriel High School and St Wilfrid’s to show their Science and Engineering projects to MPs and some of the UK’s leading STEM companies.

Macmillan Cancer Support: Met with the organisation as part of my work chairing the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Cancer.

Airport expansion: Welcomed the Government’s announcement of its support for a new runway at Heathrow. This is in the national interest as recommended by the independent Airports Commission last year. Gatwick will continue to grow in terms of passenger numbers, routes and destinations. I welcome assurances from the Transport Secretary about investing in upgraded rail links to Gatwick.

Christmas card: Choosing the design for my card following a competition among Crawley school pupils.

Autumn Statement 2016: Calling on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to freeze fuel duty this week.

Championing Chagos: Before the Government announcement I spoke in a Westminster Hall debate in support of the right of return.

Tilgate Park: Backing our local park to win a public vote to find the UK’s Best Park.

Public Speaking Contest: Congratulations to Thomas Bennett Community College, and my thanks to all schools taking part. Each student who participated gave a thoughtful and well-prepared speech on the topic of ‘Democracy’ – particularly important during Parliament Week, however it is important for me as Crawley MP that young people are engaged in the political process all year round.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if I may be able to assist; either by contacting me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, calling my office on 01293 934554, or via email directly at: henry.smith.mp@parliament.uk

To keep up to date with my various activities in Crawley and up in Westminster, please follow me via:

With my best wishes, as ever

Henry