It’s refreshing to have Parliament getting back to business. With a strong majority and proactive leadership, government has got to work fulfilling promises made to the electorate. Now we have formally left the EU, we are getting on with people’s priorities, levelling up our public services and infrastructure across the country.
One of my priorities is to champion children in care. It is a cause I have been raising in Parliament since I was first elected in 2015. It was heartening to see children in care feature in the government’s plan for this Parliament, together with a commitment to review the care system. I have joined a cross party group for Looked After Children and Care Leavers, where I will be working with politicians from all parties to ensure government gets this right. I have already questioned the Children’s Minister on the scope of the planned Care Review and I will help shape its remit. As the numbers of children in care continue to rise we must ensure that fostering and kinship care are seen as a route to permanence and stability, as well as working to return children to their families. I met the Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield OBE, last week to discuss this.
Government has started work on the legislation to end to automatic early release for serious sexual and violent offenders. This is welcome. One of the perpetrators of child sexual exploitation in Telford was given automatic early release in 2017, having served less than half of his custodial sentence. Although he returned to prison following a breach of license conditions, it was clearly wrong to release him so soon into a very lengthy sentence. I am determined to ensure this cannot happen again. I first raised this in 2017; I was told it would need a change in the law, so I set about campaigning for this change. It’s fantastic to see this new government act so promptly and encouraging to hear that it is just first step in a number of measures to ensure a more robust justice system.
We have also started the legislative process to place a legal duty on government to guarantee a minimum level of NHS spending every year, rising to £148.5 billion by 2024. This process will conclude its remaining stages this week.
This Government is getting things done and it’s a privilege to play an active part.