There were lots of welcome announcements during the Conservative Party conference last week. I agree with the Prime Minister that we don’t need any more indecision or delay on Brexit. We need to focus on other priorities like the NHS, schools, and police. I was really pleased to see funding of £220 million announced to transform bus services around the country and expand fleets of low emission buses. After campaigning for a long time on the issue of rural broadband I was glad to see the government has pledged £5 billion to support the roll-out of full-fibre and 5G with a focus on the hardest to reach 20 per cent of country. A good internet connection is essential to support businesses and families across the UK.
I await the release of the Accelerated Planning Green Paper in November, focusing on how the planning process for new homes can be amended to ensure that communities are getting the homes that they need whilst also having a say on what is built in their local community. Building homes is about adding to and enhancing the existing community. Simply building identikit executive homes does not solve the problem or give the community what it requires.
As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Access to Medicines and Medical Devices I was really happy to see the Government announce a new £200 million fund to help UK companies develop life-saving treatments for diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s – making the UK the best place in the world to develop new medicines and diagnostic technologies and allowing patients to benefit from the very latest treatments.
In Parliament last week, the Domestic Abuse Bill had its Second Reading. This Bill has the potential to substantially improve support for people in abusive relationships and their children. The Bill will prohibit the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in the family courts, establish a Domestic Abuse Commissioner and support more victims to give evidence in the criminal courts. The Bill will create, for the first time, a cross-government statutory definition of domestic abuse in order to ensure it is properly understood, considered unacceptable and actively challenged across statutory agencies.
On Tuesday, I spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on social care funding. It was a great opportunity to contribute to a debate on an issue that concerns many constituents. We need to start by identifying the true scope of the issue. There is much hidden need, particularly in isolated rural areas such as in Devon. Therefore, we need to explore what is the best way of delivering the change that we need in the system and should be looking at how we train and motivate people across both health and social care, creating parity of esteem between the two. If we are going to tackle issues facing social care then we have to find a solution that is efficient and effective and honest about the cost. We talk about integrating health and social care, but right now the challenge is that we have two systems that are funded in very different ways. This is an issue that needs to be resolved if we stand any chance of moving forward on this vital issue.
I was delighted to visit Torquay Girls Grammar School on Wednesday to discuss their campaigning on climate change. The students gave an excellent and informative presentation on the challenges we face. They have launched a petition to require the government to establish a proper body to listen and act on young people’s concerns and proposed solutions which I absolutely support. I was pleased to receive their wish list of policies that the government should also look to support and I will see how I can pursue some of the issues they’ve raised working with local and national stakeholders.
My next surgery is on Friday 18th October 1pm in Newton Abbot. Please call my office on 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.