Derby Telegraph Column

As published in the Derby Telegraph, 13th September 2013

We’ve had some excellent news on the economy this week with the announcement that unemployment has fallen yet again both nationally and locally. We’ve now had 1.4 million jobs created in the private sector since the general election, and in the East Midlands, we have 29,000 more people in work than since May 2010. Here in Amber Valley, unemployment has now fallen to 3.2%.

Things are even better for the economy in general, too – predictions from the OECD have been raised from 0.8% growth to 1.5% for the year. Business confidence is at its highest level since 2007.

Though they welcomed the good news on unemployment figures, Labour members still haven’t admitted that they’ve lost the argument. Our plan is working – all of this has been possible only because of our work to get the nation’s finances back to working order.

Our structural deficit reduction programme has ensured the markets remain confident, that mortgage rates remain low and that businesses can borrow at acceptable rates to give us the jobs and growth we need.

Last week, I held the first Amber Valley Jobs Fair. I was incredibly pleased to welcome more than 40 employers and training providers and the event attracted 600 constituents to explore opportunities available to them.

I’m pleased to say that dozens of my constituents got jobs on the day with Thorntons and hundreds more received interviews. The event was such a success that I intend to hold another one in the coming year.

Parliament returned last week following the summer recess, which I spent in the constituency to organise the fair and catch up with local matters. On Tuesday, I took the opportunity to welcome the announcement by the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, that the A&E department at the Royal Derby Hospital will be given £4.5 million to cope with extra demand that it will receive this winter.

During the announcement, I also asked the Health Secretary about the 111 service, which had trouble when it was launched this year. Mr Hunt informed me that the service had considerably improved and now had a 92% satisfaction rate. The increase in funding for A&E and the improvements to the 111 service, implemented by the Conservative-led Government, should see improved NHS services for my constituents this winter.

Constituents will also be aware that Parliament was recalled during recess to vote on a Government motion supporting the idea of military intervention in Syria.

I took the difficult decision to rebel against the Government and vote against its motion because I could not see any advantage to either the Syrian or British people in us getting involved in the conflict.

Military intervention in a brutal civil war may escalate – not reduce – violence. It is therefore now welcome news that diplomatic efforts seem to have encouraged the Russians to demand the Syrians dispose of their chemical weapons.