OPINION: A busy few weeks in Westminster - Selaine Saxby

North Devon Gazette

I would like to thank the North Devon Gazette for inviting me to write a regular column for their new look local paper.Â

I will be regularly reporting back to you what I have been doing locally and what has been going on in Westminster.Â

I will not be able to cover every issue in a single column and for regular updates do please follow my social media channels or sign up to my email newsletter via my website, which also has a great deal of information on it for you.Â

We have had a busy few weeks in Westminster with the Chancellor giving an important budget and update on spending commitments for the future year. We are also hosting COP26 whilst in the middle of UK Parliament Week.Â

While many will still be digesting what the budget announcements mean to their family or business.

The measure which stands out to me, as a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, is the announcement of the reduction in the Universal Credit taper rate by 8%. Making work pay for the many people in North Devon who work hard but rely on a top up from Universal Credit. Add to this the welcome increase in the Higher Living Wage, this will put earnings in people’s pockets, where it is supposed to be.Â

Last week was also the Westminster Dog of the Year Show, poignantly won by Vivienne, the French Bulldog owned and entered by the late Sir David Amess. Thank you to everyone locally who voted in the ‘pawblic’ vote for my fox red Labrador, Henry, who came an unexpected third.Â

Sir David’s murder has sent shockwaves across the House of Commons. I may have come into politics eyes wide open. I grew up opposite Ian Gow’s family home. I was at home when he was murdered by the IRA, my father was with him when he died. I also worked for another MP when we lost Jo Cox in 2016. But none of this makes the knowledge that a colleague was murdered simply doing their job and trying to help their constituents any easier to handle.Â

Anyone who watched coverage of the shocking events around Sir David’s murder, cannot have failed to notice the consistency, across the House, of MPs detailing the constant abuse they and their staff are dealing with. This has to change, particularly on social media, where keyboard warriors hide and thrive on click bait stories as we have seen even in the last 10 days concerning amendments to the Environment Bill.Â

Many people have asked about how I voted recently, about a specific amendment, from the House of Lords, in our landmark Environment Bill.Â

I do appreciate that it is sometimes difficult to understand why I and other MPs do not support something that on the face of it seems desirable and I hope that the detailed explanation on my website will help explain why I was not able to support one section of the amendment.Â

As legislators, MPs must ensure that the changes to the laws we make are reasonable, responsible, and actionable. This section of the Amendment was not reasonable, responsible, or actionable, even though the spirit behind it was commendable.Â

I appreciate that opposition politicians, activists and social media, keyboard warriors, want to paint the picture, that in not voting for this, I and every other Conservative MP, who voted with me, do not support the environment and want to see sewerage discharged into our rivers and oceans. This is simply not true, it is purely that improving our environment, our water quality is complicated and requires considerable work and thought.Â

I take these matters incredibly seriously. I want to pass laws that actually can be enacted rather than ones that may make good headlines but fail to deliver on any of the realistic practicalities. This is why the Government has tabled its own amendment to give legal assurances on our plans to improve water quality and significantly reduce any discharges.Â

Being the MP for beautiful North Devon is an immense privilege and I will continue to do everything I can to represent the lovely people who live and work here, its stunning coastline, moors and countryside beyond.Â