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July Update

23rd July 2018

As Parliament rises for the summer, we are busy finishing off all the leftover Parliamentary business, before a busy summer of work away from Westminster. It has certainly been a very busy and eventful Parliamentary term, with great progress preparing the UK to leave the EU next year, and fantastic commitments to our NHS and public services.

I have made many ministerial visits, but can’t remember being as happy to jump on a train as I was when I recently travelled to Liverpool to attend the ‘Hull in the Water’ ceremony of the Royal Research Vessel Sir David Attenborough, along with Sir David himself. The ship, aka “Boaty McBoatface”, captured the imagination of people up and down the country as the largest civilian shipbuilding project in Britain in 30 years, backed by £200 million of government funding.

I am proud that this world leading ship is being built here by British shipbuilders in Merseyside, at the famous Cammell-Laird yard, securing hundreds of jobs and apprenticeships.

The state-of-the-art ship, equipped with on board laboratories and cutting edge technologies to monitor polar activity, will enable more ambitious expeditions to reach previously inaccessible areas of the Antarctic and Arctic, allowing UK researchers and international collaborators to tackle global issues including climate change, future sea level rises and marine biodiversity.

Sir David made a stirring speech about the vital need to understand what is happening at the Poles, as we will all be affected by the melting of the icecaps and the changes in ocean currents that could result.

As the country that has dominated polar exploration and science, it was wonderful to see this great legacy strengthened through this investment, and indescribably wonderful to spend time with Sir David - the gentleman who arguably has done more to inspire us to cherish and improve the natural environment than anyone else in the UK. 

Posted by Claire Perry at 2:17pm

June Update

26th June 2018

Over the last two weeks, we have had three days of extensive debate over Brexit legislation, with dozens of votes and detailed discussions as we work to deliver the EU Referendum result in the way that maximises the opportunities for UK from current and new economic relationships.  

The House of Lords sent us lots of amendments to be debated, and MPs from all sides of the House have been thinking hard about what these mean. 

We have had a spate of disagreements, one resignation and a mass “toys oout of the pram” exodus by the SNP over an issue of devolved powers – something that has been in negotiations for a year, and to which the Welsh government have already fully agreed. 

The Brexit Secretary set out three key criteria for any amendments – they must not: undermine the negotiations, change the constitutional role Parliament and Government in negotiating international treaties, or disrespect the referendum result.

The Government ruled that none of the Amendments proposed met these three key tests, and therefore voted against all Amendments, which were rejected.

Personally, I am a massive supporter of Parliamentary involvement and action in the withdrawal process, but the split of responsibility between the Government to set and negotiate international (and domestic) policy and Parliament to scrutinise it and approve or reject it is fundamental to our Constitution and will be retained. 

As I always said, this is a hugely complicated and detailed thing to deliver – the most complex set of tasks a peacetime Government has ever been asked to do, and given the narrowness of the result across the country and divergent views across Westminster it was never going to be smooth sailing. 

However, as we continue to make progress with the domestic legislation and negotiations abroad, I trust our Prime Minister to deliver a good Brexit.

Posted by Claire Perry at 5:08pm

View from the Commons - 29th May

29th May 2018

I have been very concerned about the potential investigations of Armed Forces members over Troubles-era killings in Northern Ireland led by an Historical Investigations Unit. 

With so many serving and former members of the Armed Forces living in my constituency, I feel a duty to make sure that our veterans are treated with the respect they have earned. 

I have previously spoken out from the backbenches during Westminster Hall debates on this topic, and whilst I am now constrained in contributing to debates due to my Ministerial role,

I continue to feel very passionately about this topic and raised my concerns with senior ministers during a recent Cabinet meeting.

In more positive news, I am delighted that The Maltings shopping centre is reopen, eleven weeks after the nerve agent attack – a key milestone in the city’s recovery.

I have been assured that the area is completely safe, and would like to extend my massive gratitude to all those involved in the clean-up operation. 

Losing the shopping centre for so long made me realise just how much we value our high street shops, which are the backbone of local economies. 

I am glad that the Government has launched a number of initiatives to support our high streets, including the Future High Street Forum, which brings together joint business and government leadership to advise on policies to support high streets and town centres. 

I also know from speaking to many local business owners, the adverse impact that business rates can have on high street stores, which is why I welcomed the recent raft of reforms announced in the Autumn Budget 2017, and the bringing forward of plans to switch from RPI to CPI by two years, which may not sound too exciting, but will be worth £2.3 billion in reduced business rates over the next five years.

Posted by Claire Perry at 10:07am

View from the Commons - 1st May

1st May 2018

The Army Rebasing programme will see over £1bn of investment locally, and new schools or extensions are being built across the South Wiltshire area. 

But head teachers including Susan Raeburn at Bulford Kiwi made me aware several years ago that the traditional process of “per pupil funding following an annual census” made it difficult for local schools with large increases in pupils due to re-basing moves – the money required to plan and recruit teachers was coming too late. 

I was delighted therefore, that after several years of campaigning by myself and Baroness Scott, the Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb, and the Department for Education have agreed that our schools need more help to deal with this specific local challenge and I am absolutely delighted that we have secured an additional £2.8m to support the brilliant work of our local schools and teachers.

Furthermore, across the county and the country, this Government is investing more in our schools than ever before, including the Service Pupil Premium introduced by the previous Conservative Government to provide the additional support children from service families may need. 

Over the next two years school funding will rise from almost £41 billion to more than £43 billion a year, and we are investing £5.8 billion to 2020 to create even more good school places. 

This money is being well spent thanks to ever improving school leadership and excellent teaching, and with reading rates and school standards rising across the country, almost 90 per cent of children are attending schools rated Good or Outstanding, compared to 66 per cent in 2010. 

Locally, it is one of my key priorities to help ensure that all children in the Devizes Constituency are educated in Good or Outstanding schools by 2020 and we are making excellent progress, with just a handful still to achieve this target.

Posted by Claire Perry at 9:35am

March update

27th March 2018

The Ministry of Defence is investing £1 billion in the local area to provide homes, infrastructure and services to support the move (army re-basing), and for the past few years I have been working closely with Wiltshire Council to ensure that we are ready for the challenge – and that we can all benefit from the billion pound boost to the local economy that this move brings. 

There is still work to do, for example to ensure that the school funding “follows the pupils”, but preparations are in good shape. 

But one thing that current residents and those returning say is that we need more family entertainment locations, and I will keep pressing firms like Weatherspoon’s to consider investing locally – after the move, Tidworth and its surrounding villages will be one of the largest and fastest growing parts of my Constituency and a great place to invest.

This week there has been a further escalation of tensions with Russia following the incident in Salisbury, as the international community joins us in condemning Russia for the attack. 

Our friends in the EU, Canada, Australia, Ukraine and the US have also taken diplomatic sanctions against Russia, withdrawing Ambassadors, including the EU Ambassador to Moscow, for consultations, and expelling hundreds of Russian spies from their countries – including 60 from the US alone.

This sends the important message to Putin that he cannot continue to flout international laws without serious consequences. 

Back in Salisbury, the investigation into the poisoning of the Skripals continues, but Salisbury town centre remains open as usual, and your local MP John Glen is doing a fantastic job of promoting local businesses during this challenging time.

 The Council have also introduced temporary free parking in Salisbury town centre – make the most of it while you can!

Posted by Claire Perry at 3:52pm

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