Last Monday I met with Danny Alexander the First Secretary to the Treasury and David Gauke Treasury Minister to pass on the considerable concerns of my constituents regarding the proposed ‘pasty tax’. These proposals are out for consultation until 4th May. I will be joining colleagues in making further representations to the Treasury in Parliament after the Easter recess.
My campaign to tackle the unfair fuel prices we are paying at the pumps, by asking the Office of Fair Trading to undertake an investigation, is gathering momentum.
I feel that there is an urgent need for such an investigation to take place. The price of petrol in rural parts of the UK can now be up to five pence more expensive per litre than petrol sold in urban areas. I am well aware of the impact such high prices are having upon the finances of my constituents, who are often dependent upon cars to access work, school and public services. Local businesses, often with long supply chains which are road-based, are being hit as well.
I will be working with the Countryside Alliance and a range of my parliamentary colleagues to persuade Ministers that the particularly high fuel prices paid by rural motorists needs to be look at, to ensure that the regional fuel market is functioning fairly and competitively.
My e-petition on the Government website e-petitions direct has also be launched, calling on Ministers to refer these high prices to the Office of Fair Trading. This e-petition can be accessed by visiting www. epetitions.direct.gov.uk and searching for ‘Refer rural fuel prices to the OFT’.
On Tuesday, I joined the debate on Assisted Suicide. Many constituents had asked me to join the debate on this controversial subject that had not been debated for nearly 20 years. There were more MPs wanting to speak than the time allowed so while I couldn’t speak the wide range of opinions expressed by my constituents were covered. This debate was enabled by reforms made in the last Parliament to ‘clean-up politics’. In this Parliament there are new opportunities for back bench MPs to secure debates that are important to their constituents and the nation that the Government don’t make time for. This reform has been welcomed by many as have other changes to ‘clean up politics’ such as the open reporting of the cost of MPs.
The next urgently needed reform in the process of ‘cleaning up politics’ is how parties are funded. I am pleased that last week, Nick Clegg started the process he is leading to work with all political parties to find a new and better way of fund raising. As Nick Clegg so rightly said; “No politicians can claim the moral high ground on party funding. Every party has been tainted by funding scandals and mine is no different. Unless we reform our discredited and distrusted system of party funding, we may never restore that public confidence and trust that is the lifeblood of our democracy.”