On the constitution
I believe firmly in the Union between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and I am delighted that the Scottish people voted to keep our Union together in 2014’s referendum. I am also keen, however, for the English people to have a fair deal in our constitutional arrangement, and I support introducing ‘English votes for English laws’.
I am keen to see reform of the House of Commons, with a reduction in its size and, consequently, reduction in cost to the taxpayer. I believe that constituency boundaries should be adjusted to reduce the disparity between urban and more rural seats. The House of Lords should be retained as an effective chamber of experts, but we must address its growing size and cost, and consider whether or not a retirement age should be introduced.
We live in dangerous and challenging times. I believe that the British Government was right to commit to NATO’s requirement for 2% of GDP to be spent on defence. Defence is the first responsibility of government, and it goes without saying that our Armed Forces and security services must be properly funded, even in a time of economic hardship.
It is essential that our servicemen and servicewomen, veterans and their families are treated with dignity and receive the care they deserve. I support the retention of the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent. We are lucky to have several Regular, Reserve and cadet units based in North Oxfordshire. Many of North Oxfordshire residents are employed in the defence sector and I will always work to protect the variety of ways in which they contribute to our country’s defence.
I am from a family of teachers, and I am passionate about ensuring all children receive the best education possible. I believe that fostering an attitude of aspiration is key, but that this must be backed up with proper investment in teachers, buildings and equipment.
There is a real variety of education provision in North Oxfordshire. School quality has improved in the constituency recently, and I am impressed that more secondary schools in North Oxfordshire are offering sixth form, although I recognise that there is still more work to be done. The academy programme, free schools and studio schools are working to give children and parents real choices.
Our children will need to compete globally, and we must give them the knowledge and skills. I strongly believe that every young person should leave school prepared and ready to succeed, with qualifications that reflect their strengths. I will work closely with local schools to ensure that this can happen, and I have visited as many schools as possible.
On the economy
I support fully the Government’s long term economic plan, which has seen the British economy recover since Labour left office. I recognise that it has required very difficult decisions about public spending, but I am confident that it is in the interest of future generations that we sort out the economy in this parliament. We must not be complacent – there is still more work to do.
North Oxfordshire enjoys some of the lowest rates of unemployment in the country, and I am committed to ensuring that this remains the case. There has been a great deal of positive investment in businesses in recent years, providing jobs. From the many catering, technology and F1 businesses in Banbury to booming engineering, service and construction sectors in Bicester, we are lucky to have a great variety of local employers. North Oxfordshire’s economy benefits from great transport links and a well-educated workforce, and I will always seek to encourage local employment opportunities for our young people.
I will be working closely with Business North Oxfordshire to ensure that the views of local employers and small businesses are properly represented in Parliament.
I supported the former Prime Minister’s renegotiation efforts, and I was a founding supporter of ConservativesIN, a group which campaigned in support of the UK’s membership of a reformed European Union.
However, Britain has spoken and the result of the referendum was clear. The government and Prime Minister will respect the British electorate’s democratic choice. I believe we must crack on and make a success of the decision to leave, and I have full confidence that Theresa May will work to get the best possible deal for our country.
I am proud that the Conservative Party delivered on its commitment to give the people of Britain a say. It is important that we all work together to heal the divides that emerged during the campaign.
I recognise the strong feelings that many people have on this issue, and I appreciate that some of my constituents will disagree with my support for repeal of the Hunting Act 2004. I believe it is a bad piece of legislation, which has adversely affected both rural communities and animal welfare.
I realise that some people, by inference, have come to the conclusion that because I support repeal I must therefore have no regard for animal welfare. That is simply not true. I am committed to maintaining the highest standards of animal welfare and I strongly oppose cruelty. However, I am afraid that the Hunting Act does little to protect wild animals and in many cases is actually detrimental to animal welfare when other methods of control are used. In coming to this view I am influenced by those who work in animal welfare; the Veterinary Association for Wildlife Management has said that hunting is an “essential tool” in wildlife management.
I believe that the Government should work closely with rural communities, animal welfare experts and lawyers to ensure that a more sensible piece of legislation is introduced.
Controlled immigration can be of great benefit to our country – some of our best doctors, professors, and scientists, for example, have come to the UK from overseas. Nonetheless, it is clear that immigration to the UK must be properly managed, and appropriate to our requirements and situation. All those who want to live in the UK should be able to speak or learn English, and must be ready to contribute to our economy and society.
We must have the means to control entry to the UK, and the recent crisis at Calais has demonstrated why our border controls must be robust and well-funded. It is just and correct that we ensure those who break the law or breach rules in our country are removed.
It is important, however, that Britain continues to welcome those who are fleeing war or terror. I am very pleased that the UK will provide safety and security to many more Syrian refugees, on top of our high contribution to the aid effort on the ground.
On the NHS
The NHS is a vital national resource, and I have benefitted since birth from using its services in North Oxfordshire. I am committed to ensuring that the NHS is properly funded and remains accessible for all my constituents. I am delighted that the Government will protect the NHS by ensuring that spending will rise every year in real-terms.
It is very important that the Horton General Hospital in Banbury continues to thrive and to become a hospital fit for the future needs of our growing and ageing community. I plan to build on the great work of my predecessor, Sir Tony Baldry, in representing the views of my constituents on this issue. The Bicester Community Hospital is a vital resource for local residents, providing a variety of medical facilities close to one of the largest centres of young families in Oxfordshire.
I intend to work closely with local GPs, hospitals and care providers so that I am able properly to represent them in Parliament. Public money must be appropriately managed to offer the best services at the local level.
On rural communities
I am committed to protecting North Oxfordshire’s rural communities. I am the daughter of a local farmer, and was brought up to value Oxfordshire’s rural traditions and way of life. I also recognise, however, that our villages face challenges of their own, especially in the areas of service provision, employment opportunities and infrastructure.
I will work hard to protect amenities in the countryside, such as schools, post offices, pubs and medical surgeries. Our farmers must be supported in their dual role of operating businesses and conserving our beautiful land. Local transport infrastructure and bus services must be protected whenever possible, and it is vital that broadband services and mobile coverage are improved.
I plan to visit as many rural communities in the constituency as possible as part of my North Oxfordshire Pub Tour.
The North Oxfordshire constituency is lucky to have strong transport connections, both to the north and south. The M40 is a vital transport artery, which has helped economic growth in Banbury and Bicester, while we enjoy good train connections to London, Birmingham and Oxford.
I am, however, keen to ensure that transport within the constituency is improved. The recent decision by the County Council to end bus subsidy payments has presented many communities with a challenge, and I am working with OCC and local councillors to try to reduce any negative impact this is having. Upgrades on the train line between Birmingham and London, coupled with a new train service to London from Bicester Village, have been of benefit to some residents, though the reduction in service to Bicester North continues to be a problem. I am aware that many commuters continue to experience issues, and I, as one of them, know that there are improvements to be made. As Banbury and Bicester grow, traffic is becoming more of a problem, and I will continue to liaise with Cherwell District and Oxfordshire County councils to ensure there is proper planning of developments, highways and transport infrastructure.