Last week the Government announced a new workplace right giving bereaved parents who have lost a child two weeks’ leave from work, giving them more time to recover from their loss. This new law will support parents affected by such tragedies and is expected to come into force in 2020. It give all employed parents a day-one right to two weeks’ leave if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy. This law makes Parental Bereavement Leave a legal right for the first time in the UK’s history and delivers on the Conservative’s manifesto commitment.
The Public Accounts Committee examined the sale of student loans to private investors by the Department for Education. Representatives from the Department for Education, HM Treasury, and UK Government Investments were questioned as to the assessment that was made over value for money and the cost of the loans over time. Greater consideration needed to be made of the long-term financial impact of selling the loans.
The Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme kicked off last week and I was delighted to visit Shrivenham Defence Academy. The Defence Academy provides higher education for personnel in the British Armed Forces. It was great to hear from and talk with experts from the armed forces to get a better understanding of the amazing work they do on our behalf. The professionalism and bravery of our military is an example for us all. I am looking forward to visiting more bases and facilities in the coming year.
I have founded a new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) in Parliament on Access to Medicine and Medical Devices and the group held its inaugural meeting on Wednesday. The APPG will examine pricing, funding, and wider access issues relating to the availability of medicines and medical devices on the NHS in England. Patient access to medicine is critical to improving care outcomes as well as maintaining the attractiveness of the UK as a location for investment and clinical development.
I am happy to announce a further extension to the suspension of the license to dump silt from Exmouth Marina at Sprey Point until January 18th 2019. I have been in regular communication with the Marine Management Organisation and the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Thérèse Coffey, about this issue and I am pleased with the progress we have made. It is vital we protect our Blue Flag bathing water and our local economy.
On Tuesday, I attended Public Health England’s annual conference at the University of Warwick to speak on a panel focusing on the inequalities in health and care in rural areas. The session linked back to the conference’s three themes of; reducing inequalities; making the economic case for prevention; and using world leading science and innovation to protect and improve the health of the people. All four presentations highlighted the continued inequalities faced by rural communities when it comes to the provision of health and social care and I was encouraged that the issue of rural health is being raised and noticed at national health events such as this.
On Wednesday, I met with David Ralph, the new Chief Executive of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to discuss the priorities and challenges that currently exist for Devon and the wider South West area. Ensuring that the South West has a strong regional voice at the table will enable us to increase productivity and opportunities that will benefit people both local and across the wider UK. This is especially important with our exit from the European Union allowing us the chance to maximise the advantages of our open, outward-looking economy for the future.
My next surgery is on Friday 5th October in Newton Abbot. Please call my office on 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.