Last Updated: 13 July 2018
Created: 13 July 2018
On Monday evening, the Prime Minister asked me to return to the Department of Work and Pensions as the Minister for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance – a role I was delighted to accept.
I am very excited to return to the DWP. After 14 months as the Minister for Disabled People, I continued to be proactive on these issues; hosting disability charities at my Community Office in Swindon and being a part of the influential Work & Pensions Select Committee in Parliament.
My brief is a little different this time, including issues as diverse as child maintenance, housing benefit, and bereavement support. These are important issues which have a significant impact on people’s lives, so I look forward to meeting with and hearing from people affected by these issues, to understand how the Government can support them.
I’ve certainly hit the ground running. After a first day packed with briefings to get up to speed, Wednesday saw me respond to my first debate in my new role on a familiar issue – support for people with Motor Neurone Disease.
This is an issue I have done a huge amount of work on both locally & nationally. In particular, the debate allowed me to pay tribute to Heather Smith & the fantastic local Motor Neurone Disease Association in Swindon, who provide amazing support to people with MND and who I have welcomed to my Community Office on several occasions to host events.
As fellow local residents will know, I am assiduous in making sure their ideas & concerns are heard by Ministers. My new role will not change that: I will continue to provide a strong voice in Parliament for local residents. Being a Minister gives me a fresh opportunity to ensure our town’s voice is heard at the highest level.
Parliament has been a frenzy of press speculation since last Friday’s update on plans for delivering Brexit.
As a Brexit voter myself, Friday’s announcement was clear. We are leaving the EU in March 2019 and doing so will mean: no more free movement so we take back control of our borders; no more sending vast sums of money to the EU each year; our laws will be made by our Parliament & enforced by our courts; and we will have a new business-friendly customs model which allows us to trade with the EU & strike new deals around the world. That is exactly what I voted for in the Referendum.
Friday’s announcement struck a positive balance: delivering the democratic will of the people, addressing the concerns & suggestions of businesses (Honda and BMW locally for example), and acknowledging the reality of the Parliamentary numbers (we cannot escape the fact we do not have a majority and that at every stage of the Brexit Bill so far opposition MPs have voted against to try & wreck it).
Collectively, MPs of all parties have a duty to work together. This is about our future. With this Brexit deal, we can deliver on the referendum result, secure a brighter future for the UK, and truly make it a country that works for everyone.
On a final note, while it was disappointing for England to be knocked out of the World Cup on Wednesday, our young squad under Gareth Southgate can only get better, and we look forward to the European Championships with renewed hope.