15 July 2020
Westminster Diary

After months of lockdown, it is great to see a return to normality and people enjoying the sunshine.  The opening of shops, pubs, beauty salons, sports clubs and many recreational facilities has provided a further marker in the fight against Covid-19 and it is right that the Prime Minister should push this agenda if it is safe to do so.  While opinions do remain split, the Government continues to be led by the best scientific and medical advice available and it is reassuring that the mortality and R rates are falling to new lows.  Whilst we must decisively deal with the isolated spikes that we have seen in places like Leicester, the need for individual responsibility remains paramount and it is incumbent on all of us to learn to live with the virus by being careful to avoid transmission, rather than to simply hide away from it.  Indeed, it is essential that we get the economy breathing again and get back to work.  The need for face-coverings on public transport, in confined spaces and when other conditions dictate is therefore vital and I urge everyone to be sensible and careful.

In recent weeks, I have visited shops, businesses and pubs extensively across the constituency and I have been impressed by the resilience and pragmatism that I have seen.  On Crowthorne High Street, I witnessed many local businesses re-opening for the first time, and it was great to see their efforts in providing the best possible service for their shoppers – Please do support these vital local services.  I have visited Edgbarrow School, Sandhurst School, Crown Wood Primary School and College Town Primary School and again pay tribute to what our fantastic school staff, governors and teachers have achieved to ensure a safe, happy and healthy learning environment - We must of course get every child back to school in September and make up for lost time.  And it has also been brilliant to visit the Lexicon, Hall Hunter in Wokingham Without, South Hill Park and many other landmarks to welcome people back from lockdown.  Thank you as always for the warm welcome and for what you do to support the people of Bracknell.  It remains a pleasure and privilege to serve you.

More broadly, I have welcomed the Chancellor's excellent Summer statement and remain confident in his ongoing efforts to stimulate the economy.  The reduction in VAT, furlough bonuses, temporary cut in stamp duty below £500,000 and other measures are generous, unprecedented and unparalleled.  Of course, the Government can still do more, but this must be offset against cost, impact and the balance that needs to be struck for everyone.  I also spoke recently in the House about Global Britain and the need for all of us to do what we can to support the British economy.  So rather than simply rush to buy cheap imports, let's invest in British, build British, buy British and then sell British so that we maximise the benefit from our future free trade deals as an independent and sovereign nation.  There is much to be gained in the post-Covid-19 era and we must chase every global opportunity.

Lastly, I continue to be blessed by a strong team and we have now hit the 5000 mark for casework undertaken during the pandemic, with an even greater number of responses sent to concerned constituents.  Whilst I cannot promise to engage in protracted dialogue with everyone, irrespective of motive, we continue to prioritise those who need help and I am doing what I can to lobby central Government.  Life is also about to get a little busier as I take over as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Veterans and it is pleasing to report that the Berkshire MPs are also now meeting regularly for pan-Berkshire issues.