Summer Adjournment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:22 pm on 25th July 2019.

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Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford 2:22 pm, 25th July 2019

It is a great honour to follow Sir Mark Hendrick. In Stafford, we, too, have the issue with county lines, which our police force is going after at the moment. I accompanied police on a raid just two weeks ago, when they managed to seize a considerable quantity of drugs, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. A lot more has to be done.

I want to start by talking about development, particularly unauthorised development. Later today, with your permission and your favour, Mr Speaker, I shall present a petition that I should have presented on Monday. It is about authorised development in Penkridge that should not have been authorised. The council and local people objected to it, but because, on a technicality, the council had slipped below the five-year land supply for a short period, the developer claimed that the council was in breach and that this totally unnecessary and unwanted development should therefore go through. We must listen more to local people on things such as this, not just have a tick-box exercise and permit developments that are long term and not wanted. This is in an area where we are building more than twice the national average in terms of housing. This is not about nimbyism at all.

I also want to point out the importance of the quality of new housing. Many of the new houses that are being built are not up to standard, and it is vital that that should be tackled, but not only that—we should go further, including with insulation. We should ensure that all new houses are built to the highest possible energy saving standards; that they have, where possible, integrated solar; that they have car charging points; and that they have the highest quality insulation.

My local hospital, County Hospital, has had its difficulties over the years, but I want to praise the work that it has done such that, on most weeks, more than 95% of people are seen, admitted, treated or discharged within four hours. That is one of the best records in the country and the hospital deserves great credit for that, but it is under consultation at the moment, and one of the issues is, again, the future of our emergency department. However, I am glad that the trust has made it clear that that department is secure. It has my absolute support in that. I will not tolerate the downgrading in any way, shape or form of the emergency department.

However, the stand-alone maternity department is at more risk. The reason is that people are not using it. This is one of those “use it or lose it” cases. I urge all those in my area who are talking with their patients—pregnant women—to say, “Look, there is this alternative.” Clearly, it has to be a safe alternative, which I fully understand, but I want that stand-alone maternity unit—