The State Opening of Parliament, where the Queen comes to the House of Lords to announce her Government’s legislative agenda, took place last week. While read out by Her Majesty, the speech is written by the government of the day, followed by a week-long debate in the Commons.
Last Thursday I spoke in the House about the speech and what it means for people in Crawley. That day’s debate was on the subject of a brighter future for the next generation, and there can be few greater challenges for any government than the importance of getting this right.
The Government’s Skills & Post-16 Education Bill will transform access to skills across the country. It will ensure that people are able to train and retrain at any stage in their lives and careers, helping them move into higher quality and higher skilled jobs.
Only in the last few days Crawley College, working alongside the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton, progressed to the final stage of bidding for funding which would see investment in a new Institute of Technology on the campus.
Also announced was the Health & Care Bill, laying foundations for a more integrated and efficient health and care system. This legislation will help staff delivering the best possible treatment and care for their patients. This follows on from providing the biggest cash boost in history for the NHS, which has seen over 11,200 more nurses in the last year.
Keeping on the theme of the next generation, on far too many occasions it is our young people who get caught up in a cycle of crime. I reiterated my support for our police and the work of Government in ensuring they have the resources they need.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Bill will ensure new powers for the police to cut crime, as well as reforms to the justice system to make sure criminals spend longer in jail.
A further issue I raised which I am often contacted about is that of enhancing animal protections. Now Brexit has taken effect and we have left the EU’s single market, we can end the trade in live animal exports for fattening and slaughter. As a Vice Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare and a Patron of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation this is an issue I have continued to raise.
I also welcome the introduction of animal sentience into UK law. This follows the passing of the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act through Parliament and onto the statue book, which raises the maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years.
Henry Smith MP