The House of Commons returned this week after the summer recess. Because of the party conferences though, we are only back for two weeks. I’ll come back to that and why I think it should change but what it does mean is that this is the busiest session of the year. Like other MPs I’ll be making the most of every opportunity in Westminster to represent the West Country in both local issues and with the Government on the national issues of the day.
There will be a great deal of discussion on Brexit as the EU Withdrawal Bill continues its journey through Parliament. It is almost as if there are two processes happening in parallel now: the Government and, to be fair, many MPs from across the House, are working on the detail of getting the best possible series of arrangements so that we can achieve the aims of regaining sovereignty and control of our borders with the minimum of disruption to businesses and services; and there are those still arguing about ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit with their minds more on lofty political discourse rather than what will actually work. Sadly we’ll see quite a bit of that this fortnight.
Government Ministers are in great demand during this time as MPs look to raise issues on behalf of their constituents so I’m pleased to have secured slots with Minister for Roads and Local Transport, Jesse Norman, and Housing and Planning Minister, Alok Sharma. I am also setting up a meeting with Minister of State for Digital, Matt Hancock to talk about Broadband speeds, still an issue in some parts of Somerset.
I’m looking forward to a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Leasehold Reform which I have recently joined. Unfairness in leasehold arrangements has attracted some media interest recently and the Government is committed to addressing this but I also want to see what can be done to help people locally who have already bought leasehold houses and now find that the clauses are overly onerous and contain hidden charges.
Returning to the issue of why this session is only two weeks, I have raised the issue before of whether we really need a three week pause for the ‘Party Conference Season’. With the clock ticking on our withdrawal from the EU, as well as a great deal of other important business going on, I don’t see why one week could not be allocated to all conferences which could run concurrently. With the pace of modern news these days it seems desperately old fashioned to have such a laborious timetable. I will continue to make the case for this to be brought into the 21st Century.
If you would like to get in touch about any of these issues, or to make an appointment at one of my regular advice surgeries, please do email email@example.com or call 01935314321.