The political conference season is over, and with it the media’s obsession with political tittle-tattle.
As winter nights appear, I am working with colleagues on the choices we face as a nation. Conference season is a great reminder that it is political actions that affect people’s lives. It is clear policy, planning and implementation of reforming policies which can change the lives of those we serve.
Many people have contacted me about ivory trading and sentences for animal cruelty over the last year. As a dog owner and animal lover, I was shocked to discover that those who commit heinous crimes to animals have only faced maximum sentences of six months. This includes dog fighting syndicates organised by ruthless gangs, and systematic brutality.
This is not who we are as a nation. We abhor cruelty to animals and following work between MPs, the public and the Government, maximum sentences will now be five years.
Furthermore, the scourge of ivory trading, a stain on animal welfare and societies across the world, is going to be banned in Britain. We want to lead the world on animal welfare and I hope other nations will follow our lead.
Getting laws changed for the betterment of our world is a team effort.
The Great British countryside is the heart of our nation. Our fishermen, farmers, foresters, small business owners and all those who make up part of the diverse patchwork that is rural Britain help to make our nation thrive. We must continue to support those who catch, produce and create wonderful British produce that is world class.
Brexit gives us the opportunity to have a more holistic view of policy making for our countryside. We need a bold vision to ensure communities thrive.
I am pushing the Government to create an independent body that can ensure we have appropriate guidelines for a policy process that doesn’t just focus on the short term, but ensures that how we make policy and spend taxpayers’ money across countryside management works in harmony and with long-term vision. A tree has a 30-year cycle, a wheat field one year, but both are vital to long-term best land management.
Housing is also one of the great issues of our time. It is part of the British way of life to have a home to call your own. We should all be able to aspire to owning a house. Unfortunately, the dream isn’t becoming a reality for too many.
The Government is working hard with measures such as investing in help-to-buy and announcing billions in spending on social housing. This is important in our push for more housing, but house builders must play their part in delivering the homes that Britain needs and residents deserve. Planning permission granted needs to be implemented.
I have been campaigning hard with the Chancellor to get a funding framework to help builders access finance. We need to ensure that we build affordable housing, enable people to save, and push them over the line to secure a deposit, but we also must get builders with tools in hand, preparing to deliver the housing revolution we need.
With proactive and targeted use of a range of policies, and Government, council and house builders working hand in hand, we can deliver the houses that people need and deliver the promise of the British dream of buying your own home.
This will continue to be a key focus of my Parliamentary work, alongside a comprehensive countryside policy.