VIEW FROM THE HOUSE
I’M writing this immediately after the State Opening of Parliament, the day on which the legislative programme for the forthcoming year is announced.
The theme this year is about strengthening the economy, improving things for working people whilst helping those who are less advantaged, giving them more opportunities and a better chance in life.
In order to achieve the best economic performance for this country, we have to have technological achievements to allow business to flourish.
There are still areas in my constituency where superfast broadband is a dream rather than reality, so I was pleased that a Bill to create a right for every household to have access to high speed broadband. Our local councils are going to be able to retain the business rates and this will help them to invest locally. There are many elements of social action in the Bills to be introduced over the next twelve months. Having met local representatives of charities who seek to help people overcome the problems arising from debt, I am glad that this issue was highlighted in the Queen’s Speech.
I was also glad to hear that there will be action to help children in care, with plans to introduce a Care Leavers Covenant, setting out their entitlement to housing, jobs and healthcare.
A child does not become an adult overnight and too many of the children who have been in care end up on the margins of society, without the chance for a good start in life which they deserve. Some children who have been in care can end up in prison. Some years ago I was shadow Prisons Minister and so I was pleased to see legislation being planned to tackle the problems arising from such things as outdated buildings and the lack of facilities for education, so that prisoners have the chance to make a new start.
The reform programme will include better mental health provision within the criminal justice system.