Debate on the Address — [1st day]

Part of Outlawries Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:47 pm on 4th June 2014.

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Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Conservative, Chesham and Amersham 5:47 pm, 4th June 2014

As my hon. Friend says, a real Conservative Government.

This Queen’s Speech does not bring forward much-required measures on immigration and on enshrining the EU referendum in law, but the Prime Minister and my colleagues in the Cabinet in the Conservative party have been held back by their coalition partners. I agree with my right hon. Friend Mr Redwood—I want that referendum. If a Conservative Member is high up in the ballot for private Members’ Bills, I very much hope that they will take forward the valuable work done by my hon. Friend James Wharton.

On the economy, I was pleased to hear the reassurance that we will continue with our tax cuts and reducing the deficit, and the news on personal allowances. I particularly welcome the proposal to recognise marriage in the tax system—something for which my constituents have been asking for a long time and hoping we would fulfil. I am glad that it is finally being brought forward in this Queen’s Speech.

I am pleased that we are again paying attention to small businesses’ needs with the small business, enterprise and employment Bill. Access to finance has always been a problem for small businesses in my constituency. In many instances, they have said that it is the prime factor holding them back from development. If the Government can speed this matter forward, we will all welcome it.

On the provisions on child care, Meg Hillier and I have something in common. I am passionate about women being able to go back to work if they want to, and having the correct child care provisions is extremely important. There has been a 27% increase in child care costs since 2009. Across the country, the average weekly cost of child care is about £109 for a 25-hour nursery placement for a child under two, and having a childminder for 25 hours could cost £99. The problem is that returning to work is often a marginal decision for professional women. Yesterday I talked to a physiotherapist who works in the national health service and who has just given birth to her second child. She would like to return to work, but she did the calculations and found that, on the basis of working three days a week, it would be a marginal decision as to whether she did so. Yet she is desperate to go back, not only because she has to keep up her professional qualification but because she is devoted to the national health service. I hope that some of our provisions will assist women like her and others so that they can go back to work and make the valuable contribution right across the economy that women do make.