Anne Marie's Weekly Column

Last Thursday, the House of Commons voted to pass the measures outlined in the Queen’s Speech. The State Opening of Parliament, which took place the previous Monday, marks the opening of a new parliamentary session. The main part of the State Opening sees Her Majesty the Queen reading the ‘Queen’s Speech’ which set out a new domestic legislative agenda, from the government and also a number of bills they intend to bring forwards. 

There were a number of fantastic new policies contained in the speech and it is clear that this is a government whose priorities include helping the NHS, investing in tackling crime, and cutting the cost of living, amongst many other things.

Firstly, I welcome the government’s commitment to introducing new legislation that will help accelerate the delivery of fast, reliable and secure broadband networks to millions of homes. Along with other rural colleagues, I have urged the government to ensure that those in rural communities with little or no internet coverage, are prioritised over upgrading the already fast and reliable services available in urban areas.

Alongside this, I very much welcome the government’s announcement last week that they will be providing funding for a ‘Shared Rural Network’ to extend mobile rural coverage to hard-to-reach areas. It will make a huge difference to so many people in the constituency where, in some areas, there is no mobile coverage at all. It will put an end to the frustration felt by thousands of people who currently feel cut off and mean people will get good 4G signal on the go wherever they live, work or travel and it will have a big impact on the local economy.

The new plans for all operators to share phone masts to improve UK coverage is a world first. It will mean EE, O2, Three and Vodafone will invest £530 million in a network of new and existing phone masts they would all share and which any mobile user can access and which would be supported by £500 million investment from Government.

On Monday, following on from a range of measures announced in the speech, the Government announced that all NHS doctors and dentists will now have access to a comprehensive mental health service. The NHS would be nothing without its devoted staff; many of whom face incredibly challenging and often distressing situations on a daily basis. Therefore, the government are giving all doctors and dentists access to a dedicated mental health service, so they can get free, specialist support and treatment at any time if they are struggling with their mental health. This will make a real difference to the lives of NHS staff – providing them with the support they need so they can continue to deliver high-quality care for patients.

The packet of measures includes providing over 180,000 NHS staff with mental health support, so they can continue to deliver high quality care for patients and a £210 million funding boost for frontline NHS staff, including a £1,000 personal development budget for every nurse, midwife and allied health professional.

In education, I very much welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to a level playing field. Such a levelling must be about delivering aspiration, opportunity and parity of esteem between technical education and academic education. T-levels are a good step in the right direction, however the government must ensure that they are seen as being as important and valuable as academic studies currently are. As far as taking this further, I believe we ought to mandate our universities to support primary and secondary schools in the roll-out of technical education, as the Russell Group has done. This would deliver the message that this country is serious about nurturing technical skills, which in turn, will boost the economy.

My next surgery is on Friday 8th November at 2:00pm in Newton Abbot. Please call my office on 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.