PPI News

The summer recess is over and Parliament has resumed, although only for two weeks, following which we will adjourn for the conference season. When we get back in October we will finally have to make a decision on Brexit. Yikes! More on that thorny subject in the weeks ahead.

I have spent most of the summer in Devon, enjoying our wonderful countryside, the weather, my family and quality time with Jan. I have also been sitting under a tree having a good think. In the hurly burly of life we often do not give ourselves enough time to think strategically. 

I have made two important decisions as a result of this summer’s reflective time. 

First that I will seek to continue as an MP for a number of years yet, and certainly look to contest the next election, whenever it comes. (Might be sooner than we think!) I am enjoying the job still and feel that in such an inexperienced House, the odd grey-haired one is important. That would make me about 70 years of age by the end of the next parliament, which seems like a good time to finally hang up my boots. 

Secondly, I have recently become the Parliamentary Chair of the F40 group which campaigns for fairer funding for education. Despite the recent new funding formula there are still disparities, especially in our region. In particular special educational needs provision is significantly underfunded and I intend to pursue greater resources for this greatly challenged group. 

I do not know why more and more children are presenting with all kinds of conditions that most of us do not face, but they are. It is not just a passing fad, or giving out new labels for bad behaviour, it is real and these kids need help. Waiting times are too long, expertise too thin on the ground and specialist special educational provision too sparse. 

If people ask me, as they sometimes do, what is my greatest achievement at Westminster in my 26 years, I usually point to helping to win the Trident contract for Devonport when it was destined for Rosyth. It has brought millions of pounds into our economy and provided thousands of well paid jobs. 

I hope to be able to give a new answer in years to come: that I helped to persuade governments of whatever colour to invest much more heavily in our children with special educational needs. Worth fighting for.