The Wokingham Paper

WESTMINSTER DIARY: An update on my parliamentary month

James Sunderland

February has been another busy month as I settle into my new role at Westminster.

Due to the large Conservative majority, the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act passed with relative ease and UK membership of the EU ceased at the end of January. 

Work has already begun on securing new free trade deals worldwide and as suggested by the Prime Minister recently, Bracknell will hopefully be ‘at the epicentre of global free trade’. 

I want of course to ensure that our constituency is a better place to live, work and play and I look forward to this exciting new chapter for the UK.

Back in late January, I held a meeting with the then Minister of State for Housing and Planning, the Rt Hon Esther McVey, to consider our house-building programme. 

While we must build new and affordable brown field homes,
I made a case for slowing the rate of house building in unsustainable areas so that we preserve our green spaces, reduce congestion and protect the environment. 

She is supportive of my case, suggested that extant targets can be challenged and assured me that these are being reviewed within Government to ensure that the load is being evenly shared across the country. 

The Berkshire position is being discussed alongside all of the local Conservative MPs and with respective councils so that we reach a consensus. 

I have also enjoyed meetings with the Education Minister to discuss Special Educational Needs and spoken as often as I can in the House. 

More recently, I have become a member of several All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) to align with the interests of those I represent. 

Many constituents commute to London using South Western Railways and I was pleased to become Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for South Western Railways. 

This group will demand a better service across the business and scrutinise the role that the Department for Transport, Network Rail and other stakeholders have in the delivery of train services to/from Waterloo. 

In addition, I have joined the APPGs for Homelessness, the Loan Charge, Special Educational Needs and others that are too numerous to list. 

I do hope to use my time profitably by championing those who need support and representing them at Westminster.

Lastly, a pressing issue for many residents is the impact of tax changes under IR35 and the Loan Charge.

 The changes are due to come into full force in April and will have a profound effect on the employment prospects of many contractors. 

I do hope to collaborate with fellow MPs to find a solution to the concerns of those affected and to ensure that taxation is as fair, progressive and incentivising as it can be. 

Hard-working people should be rewarded for their enterprise, ingenuity, skill and elbow grease and of course the Conservative Party remains the party of working families.

I have been back in the constituency every weekend since Parliament reconvened in the New Year and it has been a privilege to run several surgeries to date. 

There are many more in the pipeline and we are pressing on too with a multitude of casework and enquiries. 

Thank you for all your support.

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