Final days of Parliament before election

In the House with Huw Merriman SUS-151007-132058001
In the House with Huw Merriman SUS-151007-132058001

The portcullis came down on Parliament this week and we now head off for the General Election.

Without a Finance Bill, there would be no power to carry on taxing and spending so this had to be passed by Parliament in our final week. In each of my two years as an MP, I have been on the Finance Bill Committee which scrutinises what are, in effect, the legal details around the Chancellor’s Budget statement. It normally takes weeks of scrutiny and debate. This year, we got it through in one afternoon. No MP wants to be responsible for the funding of our public services being stopped, hence the efficiency. I made my contribution, asking in the House of Commons for the Treasury team to keep an eye on the impact on young people, and social mobility, from the increase in insurance tax premiums. I believe I was the only MP on my benches to contribute.

On the same day, I spoke in a debate on Post Office closures. This was the subject of the first debate held in my name as an MP so it was fitting that it was my final contribution as well. Post Offices are more than just a store; they are the focal point for communities and essential for the elderly in particular. I have lobbied hard to keep our 25 Post Offices open, even if they are taken in to existing shops.

Our final Transport Select Committee report, on faulty Vauxhall cars which have caught fire, has been published. I made the suggestion in the report that we link car recall notices to MOT certificates.

There are too many faulty cars on our roads and no single body is taking responsibility. We want to see that changed. Our committee has been led by the Labour MP, Louise Ellman. Louise has been a great Chairman but the rules mean that she has to stand down having served two terms. I am sorry to see her go. She has been a dogged and fair Chairman and our ten reports spanning road, rail, air and sea have made their mark. The committee has certainly helped me probe Southern Rail and I am delighted that the local rail performance is now back at the regional average.

As MPs head off to seek a further term or retirement, I reflect on the past two years which has seen us start with one Prime Minister, end with another and embark on departure from the EU. It has certainly not been a dull time. I have made friends from across the political divide and, regardless of my party allegiance, I will be sorry to see some colleagues for the final time.

The media gives a certain view of politicians. We do not help ourselves by the spectacle of PMQs. On the whole, I have found my colleagues are people who are driven by the desire to help their community and are willing to work in partnership to make this happen.