Parliament’s return next week takes up where we left off before Christmas, with the opportunity for MPs to conclude debate with the ‘Meaningful Vote’ on the EU Withdrawal Agreement. This will be but the start in the New Year of what will be several months of Brexit continuing to dominate the political and news agenda, as we approach the deadline for leaving the EU on 29th March.
I am on the European Statutory Instruments Committee, helping undertake some of the work that will see significant quantities of legislation, previously on the statute book due to our membership of the European Union, transferred into UK law. This will continue right up to the date of departure, as will indeed all government preparations for Brexit.
But it is not the only work being undertaken by MPs, or the government as a whole, and I am also looking forward to a new year of other Parliamentary activity. This New Year, much like in the natural environment, offers us all a sense of renewal, and renewed purpose, for the work we undertake.
For me, the environment will continue to inspire much of my focus for 2019. It is of course not only critically important to rural areas like South Shropshire, but affects us all, no matter where we live. The Environmental Audit Committee’s programme this year includes scrutinising the upcoming Environment Bill, which will establish, amongst other things, a newly empowered body to oversee environmental regulations previously governed from Brussels.
Before Christmas, I was also appointed as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Rural Services, having served as co-Chair for the past year. We will continue to work on a cross-party basis to ensure the challenges of providing services in rural areas are considered by government. Next month we are hosting a Rural Vulnerability Day in Parliament, to help impress on MPs and others how rurality can affect vulnerable people’s lives.
I am also this year taking on some voluntary responsibilities, as a visiting lecturer at the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College, and as deputy Chairman of the Defence Growth Partnership.
As ever, if you wish to raise an issue with me this year, please do get in contact.