The Prime Minister made a statement in the Commons on Tuesday outlining the upcoming meaningful votes on Brexit and has indicated the possibility of extending Article 50 negotiations if her deal is not accepted prior to March 29th. I am not happy with the idea of an extension. I cannot see how we can achieve more in an extra three months than we have already tried to achieve in two years. Leave voters expect Parliamentarians to implement the decision that was made and not to seek to undermine it as my colleagues appear to be doing.
If we cannot agree a deal we have to accept that we have to look at no deal. No deal is the only option that would deliver sovereignty and give us economic and legislative freedom. It also puts us in a better place to negotiate a new trading relationship after March 29th. The UK and EU can continue to trade tariff free under Article 24 of GATT which allows us to maintain current arrangements for an interim period while negotiating a new free trade agreement. Delaying is only increasing and prolonging uncertainties and invites the EU to demand further concessions.
The Public Accounts Committee this week held a session looking at the financial sustainability of the NHS and I was a lead member questioning the witnesses including Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, and Sir Chris Wormald, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health and Social Care. I raised the interdependency of health and social care and how that impacts the financial sustainability of the NHS. I also raised the issue of the forthcoming Workforce Plan and the impact that demand for services outstripping the supply is having on our health service. I am looking forward to seeing some really bold moves in the way the NHS operates, looking at integrating a range of areas, including regulators, as well as the way budgets and systems are run.
On Tuesday, in my capacity as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Access to Medicines and Medical Devices, I met with the Medical Technology Group to discuss medical devices and the processes in place to develop and procure them. The MTG is a coalition of patient groups, research charities and medical device manufacturers working to improve access to cost effective medical technologies for everyone who needs them. We discussed a range of issues including patient access to devices and the importance of placing the patient at the forefront of making choices related to the management of their medical conditions.
Over the last couple of weeks I have met with representatives from the Department for Education to discuss a number of issues relating to education provision in the constituency. This included meeting with the Minister for Children and Families, Nadhim Zahawi MP, to discuss Special Educational Needs (SEN) funding in Devon, where I highlighted the need for more money services, including CAMHS. I also recently spoke with Lord Agnew to discuss University Technical Colleges (UTCs) and the role that they play in local communities, training young people in technical professions.
It was great to meet with Liz Davenport, Chief Executive of Torbay & South Devon NHS Foundation Trust to discuss child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) provision in the constituency and across Devon. It is vital that adequate provision is available for those young people who require both learning and mental health support. I am pleased that an alliance, led by the Trust, has been confirmed as the new provider of Children’s community services including CAMHS from April. We discussed a range of issues including what plans they have to tackle the issues facing young people in our community including the links between schools and social workers, and the impact of social media and bullying.
My next surgery is on Saturday 23rd March in Newton Abbot. Please call my office on 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.