Dissolution of Parliament

On Monday Parliament will be dissolved ahead of the general election.  This seems the right moment to look back over the last five years.

I served as a Minister for the first two years of the Parliament, with responsibility for the Government's policing and criminal justice reforms.

We had to take some difficult decisions to reduce budgets in order to help tackle the deficit.  There were howls of protest and claims that crime would soar.

What actually happened is that savings were found and crime fell.  It's worth recalling this as others protest about "cuts".   Services can be run more efficiently.

In the constituency, I've spent much of my time seeking to protect the interests of local communities.  Planning has been the biggest issue and I've fought hard for localism and against excessive development.  I also supported local people in objecting to the inappropriately located site for fracking between Kirdford and Wisborough Green.

I held a broadband summit to make the case for better digital access.  This resulted in West Sussex County Council's Better Connected programme.  Steadily, superfast broadband is coming to our villages.  I now want to hold a second summit to ensure that the digital divide is fully tackled and that rural areas have access to superfast.

I pressed hard for A27 improvements, launching the A27 Action campaign, and was thrilled when the Government announced its £400 million upgrade of the road in Sussex, including an Arundel bypass, with the work starting in the next Parliament.

On the national stage I've been working to promote Whitehall reform and more effective government, launching a new project called GovernUp to make the case.  I also continue to work with international charities in the fight against tuberculosis, which still kills 1.5 million people a year.

The next Parliament will bring new challenges, local and national.  We could be affected by the decision on airport expansion, while a referendum on EU membership - which would occur within the first two years of a Conservative government - would involve a major national debate of the kind we saw over Scottish independence last year.

I hope that I will be able to continue as MP for the fantastic constituency of Arundel & South Downs to ensure that local people have a strong voice on all of these issues - but that is a matter for local electors on Thursday 7 May.