My Week 08/09/2016
This has been a busy week with the return of the Commons after its summer recess. On Monday I met with the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to discuss Southern Rail, and the next day our new All Party Parliamentary Group on Southern also met.
The Transport Secretary has announced a welcome new £20 million package to improve the service, and a new project board to achieve better co-ordination between the operating company and Network Rail who manage the track.
Though the unions have been causing most of the disruption over the summer, before then 60 per cent of delays were actually down to track failures rather than the operator.
It’s important to understand that this isn’t a subsidy to Southern. The money will go towards key improvements, many of them to the track, to try and address underlying causes of delays.
I impressed on the Transport Secretary the need for major new investment in the Sussex commuter lines to meet rising demand.
Also on Monday I questioned the new Brexit Secretary, David Davis, in the Commons about trade with Europe. I pointed out that our trade consists of goods and services, and that the EU removes non-tariff barriers as well as tariffs.
While much of the debate has focused on the importance of securing tariff-free trade when we leave the EU, we also need to address other potential barriers, such as licensing and regulatory regimes, if our businesses - especially in the crucial financial services sector - are not to be disadvantaged.
On Tuesday I met the Digital Economy Minister, Matt Hancock, to discuss the Digital Economy Bill which is expected to have its Second Reading date next week.
I plan to speak in the debate, and will raise the need to get superfast broadband to every area, and my view that BT and Openreach should be split to encourage investment and competition.
On Friday I will be holding constituency surgeries, as well as attending an international conference at Wilton Park, meeting the wonderful Tyler’s Trust, a local charity of which I am honoured to be a Patron, and discussing the Arundel bypass.
On Saturday I’m really looking forward to attending the Goodwood Revival which celebrates motoring in the 40s, 50s and 60s. We are meant to dress for the period, which in my case will simply require me to dig out a moth-eaten tweed suit in my wardrobe.