Derbyshire Times Column

As prepared for the Derbyshire Times on 21st December 2012

This week in Parliament saw the third reading of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill in the Commons. I was pleased to see that the Government has been successful in passing the Bill, which will restore competitiveness to the British economy through a series of measures designed to free up enterprise and stimulate investment.

The Bill saw the Government move to prevent unexpected hikes in business rates on local companies over the next five years and help to remove red tape which hinders superfast broadband roll-out. We also saw changes to the planning system so as to speed up business and commercial projects which are eligible for fast-track, alongside cutting back unnecessary paperwork associated with planning permission applications. Changes to housing planning applications will see more homes built to help alleviate our housing crisis. I’m confident that these measures will have a direct impact on jobs and growth of local businesses here in Amber Valley.

Labour had tabled an amendment to the Bill which proposed to prevent changes to town and village green status efforts by local groups and councils. The current system can help prevent unwanted planning applications. It was a shame to see that they did not bring this motion to a vote, because I fully intended to rebel against the Government and support their amendment had they done so.

We also saw the passing of the Energy Bill, which in addition to changes in the Growth and Infrastructure Bill to unlock £160 million in new gas infrastructure investment, ensures that we can keep the lights on in the coming years by having adequate supply – and makes us more reliant on our own resources and less on those abroad.

It’s expected that the Government will present its Equal Marriage Bill to Parliament in the New Year. I have heard from many constituents with strong views both for and against this proposal and I would be keen to hear the views and concerns of as many constituents as possible in the run up to the consideration of these changes.

The Government has made it very clear that no religious organisation or minister should be forced to conduct marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. Freedom of religion is already guaranteed under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Government’s response sets out a ‘quadruple lock’ of measures to put this position beyond doubt in our legislation.

The Bill will be subject to a free vote in the Commons and so it’s important that my constituents with views on the proposals contact me about it. I have also set up a poll on my web site at www.nigelmillsmp.com.

My campaign to help reduce noise on the A38 running through Amber Valley is gaining traction. I’ve received many signatures from concerned constituents but it’s important that these keep coming in if we’re to have any hope of action by the Highways Agency and local councils. You can help me in my fight for a better answer from them by signing the petition at www.reducea38noise.com.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.