Being returned as your MP meant I immediately returned to Parliament on the Monday after the General Election. It is nice to see some new faces in Westminster but sad not to see those more familiar, such as my colleague from Eastbourne, Caroline Ansell, one of the nicest people in politics.
Our monarch braved the scorching temperatures and delivered the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday. There are some big challenges which need to be confronted during this Parliament and I hope that MPs will take the opportunity to do something bigger than engage in the usual banality of tribal politics. Here are a few of my priorities:
Care for the elderly is stretched and without urgent reform we will not be able to give the best care to the extra two million over 75 year olds who will be with us in ten years’ time. The alternative to raising Council Tax by vast levels is to ask for those who can afford it to make a fair contribution to their own care but ensure that the costs can be met after death.
The NHS will continue to face challenges but we would gain more support from its workforce if we charged those who waste the time of their GP or A&E units. It is shameful that people who really do need to see a doctor cannot do so, yet those who waste time can keep on as repeat offenders without sanction. Locally, I am keen to acknowledge the successes of our healthcare and ensure our local hospitals continue with their improved ratings. I am also determined to play my part in ensuring we have a mental health provision which is fit for purpose.
School funding has been a key campaign issue for me. Centrally imposed costs have eaten up the Government’s additional funding. I would like to see a big injection of finance. This could be paid for out of the Government’s new £20bl Infrastructure and Productivity Fund. What better investment in productivity than a pupil achieving their potential?
All of this investment in public services has to be paid for. In our own backyard, the new Bexhill Business Park, being extended by the new North Bexhill Access Road, will not only deliver jobs, housing and growth but additional tax receipts to help fund what we need locally. I hope it will also act as a springboard for better road and rail links for our area. I visited the site this week and am incredibly excited about its completion.
The big issue of our time will be the UK’s exit from the EU. The success of this Government and Parliament will be defined on how well we negotiate a divorce, agree terms for our new relationship and put it all in to law. We have a unique opportunity to open up markets across the world whilst trading freely with Europe. To do so, we need to be ambitious and not try and re-enter via the back-door and stay in the EU Single Market or Customs Unions. Those who advocated Remain thought this the worst option of all. I agree with them now as much as I did then. We should be more ambitious.
There is much to do and I hope that we can take some of the aggression and heat out of politics and try and work together as a group to make some changes for the better. Every other workplace sets itself this objective. Parliament should be no different.