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Public Services

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 3:34 pm on 16th October 2019.

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Photo of Rachel Maclean Rachel Maclean Conservative, Redditch 3:34 pm, 16th October 2019

It is a great pleasure to follow Holly Lynch. I welcome her words about protecting the protectors. I hope that the Government are listening. I am sure that she has support across the House on that issue.

We can talk about public services only in the context of considering where the money comes from to fund them. We do not talk enough about a certain group of individuals and teams in our country: the brave entrepreneurs who create the businesses and the jobs that ultimately fund our public services. I do call them brave; we rightly talk about the brave men and women in the armed forces, the police and the emergency services, but it is also brave to leave full-time employment and a secure job to start a business and endure years of uncertainty and financial sacrifice. Sometimes it does not work out, but our entrepreneurs carry on and overcome those hurdles. As a result, they contribute to our society and enrich our country.

We are the party and the Government who back entrepreneurs, so we have a fantastic Queen’s Speech with a number of measures. I am proud that we have some fantastic entrepreneurs in Redditch; I have time to pick out only two. Nik Spencer invented the HERU, a machine that will process all our household waste into products that can be used to power our household electricity and gas—our heating and lighting. That fantastic innovation will ultimately contribute to solving the climate emergency. Another friend, Sobea Irfan, has started a firm of solicitors that provides services all over my constituency. Those are two entrepreneurs, but there are many more. We have a great heritage in Redditch, but we are always looking to the future.

The work of those people and many others means that we have funds to spend. As hon. Members might expect, I will first touch on our Alexandra Hospital. I announced today that, thanks to the fantastic work of our Health Secretary, we have secured the money that we need to put forward the business case to improve our local hospital. That has been a long time coming; I have been campaigning for it since the day I first set foot in Parliament. I have met the Health Secretary and the trust at every opportunity to make sure that the money is there.

The Government pledged the money but, unfortunately, the trust delayed putting forward the business case. In that time, the costs went up, so the business case could not be put forward, which meant more delay. Finally, the Health Secretary has agreed to increase the funding so the business case can be put forward. The money will go forward so we will start to see improvements on the ground to the hospital that serves our community in Redditch. That will mean improvements to our theatres, our endoscopy services and children’s out-patient services. That is brilliant news for our local hospital and it goes to show that when a local MP stands up and fights for their local hospital, they can achieve real change on the ground. I warmly welcome that and I thank the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary for all their support.

When I meet my constituents in the streets and they come to see me in my surgeries, they often talk about law and order. I am surprised by how negatively Opposition Members have talked about the fact that there are so many Bills about law and order. I welcome that; our constituents want to see more officers on the street. The work and investment that the Government have put into the police mean that we will be able to recruit 93 more officers in West Mercia, on top of the 215 officers who were already coming onstream. That will mean more police on the street—more bobbies on the beat—in Redditch to tackle issues such as antisocial behaviour, to keep people safe and to continue our work to unlock Redditch.

I was delighted to see the focus on youth services because, as I have said, antisocial behaviour often happens because there is nowhere for young people to go. We need to focus on those services in our local communities so that there is somewhere constructive for people to go. We have some fantastic services in Redditch. We have a wonderful boxing academy that takes young people off the streets and teaches them fun, useful and constructive skills. That is a great initiative, but we need more like it across the town.

To touch on mental health services, I am delighted that Redditch, and Herefordshire and Worcestershire more generally, are included in the pilot for local community mental health services because of the fantastic proposals put forward by the local clinical commissioning group. That means that there will be more community mental health nurses on the ground working with GP surgeries, able to provide the services that are needed when people approach their GP with a mental health crisis.

I do not have time to go into all the other Bills, but it is important to recognise the Government’s acknowledgement that there is a social care crisis in this country—something I have often spoken about. I would like to see more detail on what the Government are proposing. From my extensive work with all-party parliamentary groups and my constituents, and from my own experience of the social care system with my mother, I can see that it is not where it needs to be. We desperately need to fund it and reform it. That cannot come soon enough for me.

To finish where I started, I say thank you to those people who have created jobs in our country. This country has record levels of employment, thanks to the Conservative Government’s record. I am absolutely delighted to see this Queen’s Speech and I shall be supporting it.