MP’s Column - Why we’re better together

One of the most important roles a Member of Parliament must fulfil is to make sure the voices of his constituents are heard in the capital. London is now such a global city that government can seem as if in a bubble isolated from the rest of England and the United Kingdom. We MPs are here to burst that bubble.

I had an opportunity to do so recently when, at Prime Minister’s Question,

I warned the PM about complacency regarding the Scottish referendum. England, Wales, and Scotland have been joined in union for over three hundred years now, and the previous Union of the Crowns adds another century to our relationship.

But I’m a firm believer that the home nations of Great Britain are better off together, and I urged all three party leaders to drop what they were doing immediately and head to Scotland.

Much to my surprise, they actually did, a

We occasionally gripe that too much of taxpayers’ money goes to Scotland but, in reality, it is London that is hugely overfunded on a per-capita basis.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve joined with other MPs in the Rural Fair Share campaign, seeking to address the continuing disparity in funding between urban and rural areas.

Other areas that have seen action from the current government include health. Against quite bitter and vocal opposition, this government have abolished PCTs and removed 19,000 pen-pushing administrators so that we can afford 7,000 more doctors 4,000 more nurses.

A much tougher inspection regime has been introduced, with fifteen failing hospitals in special measures being turned around. Meanwhile, we have brought back named GPs for the over 75s – abolished by Labour ten years ago – so that older people will receive personalised care from someone they know.

As health is a devolved matter, Wales is the only place where the NHS is currently run by Labour, and they have not been able to meet their A&E targets for Wales since 2009.

In England, the Conservative-led government has met NHS targets for A&E in every single quarter-year since the general election.

When Labour left office 21,098 people were waiting more than a year for their operation, whereas this is now down to 510. 35,000 more people are being treated for cancer every year, and more than 50,000 have been helped by the cancer drugs fund. All in all, there are 850,000 more operations performed annually than at the end of the last Labour government.

But while these numbers might be staggering, health is ultimately about each individual receiving the best healthcare in a dignified environment.

Over the course of this parliament, the number of people saying they are treated with dignity and respect is up 10 per cent, and the number who say they are treated with compassion is up 8 per cent.

These are both record highs, and reflect our greater purpose: not the faceless bureaucracy of the ever-growing state, but a free Britain of individuals, families, villages, towns, and communities working together.

Sir Edward Leigh

MP for Gainsborough