On Tuesday 30 October 2018, Victoria Prentis MP spoke in the Budget Resolutions debate in Westminster, following the delivery of this year’s Autumn Budget.
Please see below for a full transcript of Victoria’s speech, taken from Hansard.
Victoria Prentis (Banbury) (Con): It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Burnley (Julie Cooper), but I disagree with her. This is a great Budget.
I am glad that the Chancellor has set aside substantial amounts to prepare for all eventualities as we approach Brexit. The Banbury constituency’s vote in the referendum was the closest in the country; by 500 people, we voted to leave. Now, I hear a great deal of unity locally over the need to get on with getting a deal. The uncertainty of Brexit is challenging for my constituents. With a good deal done, I really look forward to a pro-growth spending review early next year.
Locally, we can see that the economy is going well. There are great employment figures, but we need to focus on wage growth, which leads to more disposable income. I, for one, was pleased to hear the figures the Chancellor gave yesterday.
In my area, we are obsessed by healthcare. Everybody in this Chamber will have heard me talk, probably several times, about the Horton General Hospital, which we have been fighting to save for the past 40 years. The problem over the years has in fact been not financial, but structural. Small is beautiful and local, and we must not give in to the overweening ambition of Oxford to suck in more cases or more births. The German model of maternity offers choice but retains smaller obstetric units and, most importantly, excellent outcomes for mothers and babies. We have had a historical failure to recruit both midwives and obstetricians. Locally, we have had real progress with the clinical commissioning group since the fabulous new interim chief executive took over. The Horton has a very bright future.
I welcome the extra funding in the Budget—an average in real growth terms of 3.4% a year—but we need to ensure that it translates into extra people doing the right thing in the right place. Nobody is pretending that every sort of complicated surgery can be done everywhere, but A&E, paediatrics and simply having a baby with the benefit of an epidural should be provided locally. I know that the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care agrees with this broad premise and I look forward to talking about my local situation with him.
In north Oxfordshire, we are proud of building three new houses a day. We are keen to welcome people to Banbury to fill our jobs and we are building them houses to live in. I am often asked how we are managing to make this progress: we have done so by having a consistent and strong local message and strong leadership. Cherwell District Council’s policy of putting housing generally on brownfield sites near towns, rather than piecemeal in villages, has seen new communities flourish. I also welcome the housing measures we heard about yesterday.
It would be wrong of me not to mention the public service I have worked in throughout my adult life. The Justice Committee, on which I am very proud to sit, recently heard that spending on justice will have fallen by 40% between 2010-11 and 2019-20. The Department does not have a protected budget. I was very pleased to hear what the Chancellor had to say yesterday and, more importantly, what I read in the Red Book afterwards, about the justice spend, and I welcome the £30 million to improve security and decency across the prison estate.