My Week 05/02/2015

On Monday I attended a summit meeting at the Commons between MPs and rail companies to discuss performance on the Brighton line, which has been totally unacceptable.

The meeting was convened by the Rail Minister and resulted in Southern, Thameslink and Network Rail agreeing an improvement plan which will have specific targets for them to meet.

I and my fellow MPs will ensure that the rail companies are held to account for their promises of improvements and that there will be serious consequences if they fail to deliver.

On Tuesday I voted with the majority of MPs to allow Mitochondrial Donation.  I was reassured that the controls and ethical issues are being addressed, and felt that if scientific advance could prevent a tragic loss of life in future we should allow it.

It was very moving to hear the applause from young mothers campaigning for the change in the public gallery in the Commons as they watched the result of the vote,  and to see their tears of joy as the hope of healthy children has been given to them for the future.

Also on Tuesday I spoke in a debate on rural phone and broadband connectivity, in which I called for superfast broadband access to be extended to rural areas to close the digital divide.

Great progress has been made in West Sussex following my broadband summit four years ago, with the County Council's 'Better Connected' programme aiming to meet the Government's target of 95 per cent of households having superfast connections by 2017.

However, we need to ensure that the remaining areas get coverage, too, and so far only half of my constituency has access to superfast broadband.  I called for BT's monopoly to be broken up, and better mobile data coverage in rural areas.

On Wednesday I spoke in another Commons debate of great concern to MPs with rural constituencies, this one on dairy farming.

As I've heard from my conversations and visits to dairy farmers in my constituency, they are having a very difficult time at present because of low prices which make production uneconomic.

I called for more powers to the Grocery Code Adjudicator - a post I pledged to create in opposition - to ensure that supermarkets are treating dairy farmers fairly.

I've heard it said that Parliament currently has nothing to do, but this week's debates show that there are important issues to discuss.

Nick HerbertRail, Broadband