I believe in a society that encourages personal responsibility and gives individuals and businesses the freedom to govern their lives. Whilst the State must look after the old, vulnerable and those in need with respect and dignity, I am a strong believer in the value of the family unit as a support network. One of my priorities in politics is to promote the worth of marriage as an institution and the role of the family in society.
I support a localist approach and believe decisions should be made by local people wherever possible. The role of the Government should be to enable individuals to improve their prospects and communities.
I am a determined advocate for the people of Salisbury and South Wiltshire: I am always willing to engage and listen to the views of my constituents. In the paragraphs below, I set out my views on the most important issues facing the country.
Achieving Your Potential
Before entering Parliament in 2010 I spent most of the previous decade working in one of the world’s largest multinational firms. During this time I became more and more aware that the UK operates in a very competitive global jobs market . There are now many more people across the globe who are competing for our jobs. Ensuring that we cultivate an awareness of the global nature of the competition in the next generation is critical for our country’s future success.
In order to instil resilience and a sense of determination to succeed the State must not be too big a force in the life of our citizens. I welcome recent reforms to the welfare state to ensure it always pays more to be in work, and to provide personalised support to ensure disabled people can be as independent as possible. We must look after the vulnerable but, through Universal Credit, seek to enable everyone to fulfil their potential.
I believe in strong families and supportive communities. In recent times it has been fashionable to deride the traditional family unit as society has become more disconnected, mobile and fragmented.
Yet, at the most basic level I believe all human beings need family support and community ties to lead balanced and fulfilled lives. I believe we should do all we can to support the institution of marriage, including recognising it within our tax system. I have seen at first hand the pain that family breakdown brings. Without a moralising tone a responsible Government should do all it can to create the best conditions for marriages to flourish and for family life to be valued and supported. Of course there will be sad situations when marriages break up but just because this has become all too prevalent does not mean that we should lose sight of the overarching benefits.
I believe we should be proud of the NHS, and the world-class standards of healthcare that it provides. I regularly meet with the Chief Executive and staff at Salisbury District Hospital and ensure I am appraised of what is happening both at a local and national level.
I welcome the government’s reforms in the Health and Social Care Act to give clinicians real responsibility and introduce the virtues of competition between providers into the health service whilst upholding the central principle of healthcare provided according to need and not according to ability to pay.
The Secretary of State is right to prioritise the key issues facing our health service: achieving improvement in care quality, improving diagnosis of conditions such as dementia, reducing mortality rates for cancer and heart disease, and creating a paperless NHS which will improve the flow of information and generate substantial savings.
Like many people I feel deeply saddened by the increasing loss of life amongst our armed forces in Afghanistan. It is important we aim to provide better support and rewards for our armed forces serving in challenging conflict zones across the globe. I recently served for two and a half years on the Defence Select Committee, where I saw firsthand the vital work going on in Afghanistan.
However, I believe we cannot continue to have a military strategy that is not supported by the right levels of investment and funding. The Coalition Government’s Military Covenant, enshrined in law for the first time, makes provision for improvements to the services and financial settlements for serving personnel and their families. Those who put their lives on the line for their country deserve the very best that the State has to offer. If we can’t afford to do this then we must reduce the commitments we make and explain clearly what our national interests are.
As a former Governor of a comprehensive school, I have seen first-hand how poor teaching standards and an inadequate focus on getting the basics right can contribute to appalling outcomes. I welcome the introduction of the EBacc and enhancements to A Levels to improve the level of confidence we can have in the exam system.
Our children need to be taught to aim higher and competition is a helpful means of raising standards. Competition teaches children to aim high, to achieve and also to lose, crucial lessons if they are to survive in the competitive world in which they will have to make a living. The Government’s legislation to free teachers and governors from the previous government’s centrally driven targets and interventions is very welcome. Alongside Salisbury’s excellent existing schools, new academies at a primary and secondary level, as well as a new free school and University Technical College, will demonstrate that change can be real, radical and can transform outcomes for all our children in Salisbury.
Having grown up watching my father run the small family horticultural business in good times and bad I understand the need for Government to keep out of the hair of businessmen. Unnecessary red tape, form filling and needless meddling from Whitehall usually adds little to the experience of the end consumer but makes the small businessman’s life a nightmare. I support the red tape challenge and believe those at the forefront are best placed to decide which regulations should be scrapped.
The Government’s role is to facilitate sustainable growth in the private sector, through measures like small business rate relief and cutting corporation tax. In my view, local people are best placed to improve their economies. Regional Growth Funds and truly local partnerships produce more effective results than national intervention.
I believe strongly that the Government should work to allow businesses to create jobs and wealth by providing world class infrastructure and light-touch regulation only when absolutely necessary.
My mother-in-law is always bending my ear about the need to look after the old folk, and my 92 year old grandmother is a classic example of someone who represents the generation we need new solutions for. Quite reasonably she wants to live as long as possible in her home, but in order to allow her and the many like her to be able to do this we need to be ready to deliver an array of flexible and complex services in the years ahead. I welcome the Coalition’s Triple Lock to uprate the current State Pension by inflation, 2.5% or average earnings, and our commitment to provide a fair flat rate pension for future generations.
These decisions may involve tough choices and for some the need to make a bigger contribution to fund their future needs. What is clear is that we need rigour and transparency in our analysis of health provision and honesty in our conclusions. Like many of my colleagues, I recognise we face difficult decisions about funding social care, and I very much hope the Government will make this a priority in the coming months. Politics is not about easy solutions and glib sound-bites but having the courage to take tough decisions and explain them carefully – in the best interests of the country as a whole.