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Weekly Updates
Each of my weekly updates, as published in the
Worthing Herald and Littlehampton Gazette, can be seen below:
Archived Updates
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Getting Teeth Into Everyday Problems

08th June 2023

Challenge is not always wise. On Tuesday I went to the Freemasons’ Hall for Lord Young’s memorial gathering. David Cameron recalled the ‘discussion’ between David Young and Norman Tebbit a week before the 1987 general election. When the dust settled, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher told them not to appear so often on television because they were old. Neither reminded her she was older than either of them. David Young was my Secretary of State when I was the minister working on industrial relations, health and safety, and confronting discrimination. 

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We Can't Make Everyone Happy

01st June 2023

Worthing’s hospital opened in Lyndhurst Road in 1884 and new churches were consecrated. Freddie Feest has written in the Worthing History series about the months that year between the interruption of a February Salvation army gathering and the notorious Skeleton army riot in September. A summer meeting intended to defuse tension failed. The anti-Salvationists thought processing through town while singing hymns disturbed their Sunday afternoons. In court, one magistrate rebuked a Salvationist applying for a summons against those who had assaulted him.

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Places of Sanctuary and Wellbeing

25th May 2023

Congratulations to Hunters for their 25 years of successful recruitment in Shoreham and now in Worthing’s Marine Parade. The Mayor and MPs admired their commissioned art. We know employment has many benefits for the individual and their household, as well to our wider community. Helping employers staff their organisation and getting individuals into the work that best suits them promotes wellbeing. At 6.30am on Tuesday I joined other members of the all-party group for gardening at the Royal Hospital, home to Chelsea Pensioners and the location of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Flower Show.

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Spaces for Communities to Prosper

18th May 2023

Constituency activity on Friday reminded me of William Temple’s discussion on building solidarity in his 1942 book Christianity and Social Order. He wanted the state to safeguard the liberty that fosters communities. We must include faith groups, neighbourhood associations, trades union branches, political parties and, I would add, public houses and social clubs. I try to be guided too by Temple’s advice on conversation: he recommended the first ingredient should be truth, followed by good sense, then good humour and wit. My first call was with the Worthing and District Jewish Community.


Crowns and Swords and Windows

11th May 2023

Virginia and I enjoyed the Coronation Eve Dinner at Simon Margaroli’s Ardington hotel on the Steyne. Town Crier Robert Smytherman declaimed the Proclamation and Tim Loughton delivered a fascinating history of past Coronations. As member of parliament, I want to help the local and county councils fulfil their responsibilities. In addition to legal functions, they have opportunities to help the community come together. The beacon on the front at Worthing could have been used for a Coronation event? The extra bank holiday associated with the Coronation has required five days work to be taken in four.

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Honour the Past, Embrace the Future

4th May 2023

Do enjoy these days approaching Saturday’s Coronation. On Tuesday I stood with Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer, the Leader of the official opposition, and Harriet Harman, mother of the house, in the Great Westminster Hall with the Speaker’s golden coach behind. Sir Lindsay Hoyle presented us to King Charles III after the National Anthem was sung. From a poacher’s pocket, I brought out the Commonwealth card created by a West Park Church of England primary pupil. ‘Dear King Charles. I am proud my card was chosen to represent Worthing. I hope you enjoy my card and have a wonderful coronation.’

April 2023
May 2023
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Beacons of Freedom

27th April 2023

Around the Worthing West constituency during the weekend, I reflected on the origins of things I take for granted. In East Preston and for much longer in Worthing I have called on REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) veterans. Why was that Corps of professional engineers created in 1942? I passed the Job Centre, the DWP office and Ian Ross’s retraining team in Worthing. How did modern state welfare help start? Sir William Beveridge’s 1942 report Social Insurance and Allied Services was the guide to post-war initiatives to increase well-being. Measures introduced by the 1945 Labour government were known as the foundation of the welfare state.


Aide Us In Our Strife

20th April 2023

On Sunday we attended the evening service at Westminster Abbey. After thanking Dean David Hoyle, we went down the new step-free gentle slope that makes access easy for people who find steps a barrier. Building-in mobility and overcoming or eliminating obstacles is overdue. One of the articles I commend in this week’s House Magazine – - is the tribute by the great athlete Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson about her late colleague, fellow wheelchair user Baroness Sue Masham. Each was a distinguished Olympian. Sue won medals in swimming and table tennis; Tanni gained eleven gold medals and won the London marathon six times.


Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Well

13th April 2023

At times of need, during nights of tears, comfort is given by many people, including nurses and doctors. In ‘The Book About Getting Older’ Dr Lucy Pollock comfortingly states that the age at which we might not survive the year is 104. She tells of a conversation with John whose mother lived alone and with dementia since the death years before of her husband. ‘I’m sorry . . .she seems comfortable, and I think she is peaceful, but it doesn’t look as if our treatment is working. It’s really bad pneumonia, and I think she’s going to slip away.’ He looked stricken. She put her hand on his arm. His head was bowed, his shoulders hunched.


Worthing's Invitation to Londoners

6th April 2023

‘So come to Worthing sunny and lead a simple life. Be free from care and worry from London’s toil and strife.’ Seven other verses by Owen Edwards include: ‘The sands are safe, the boats are good, the Downs a splendid view. When you return in sunny mood, you’ll say my words are true.’ I had sent these lines on a postcard to a retired teacher. Between the Christian Palm Sunday, Holy week, Good Friday and then Easter, overlapping with the Passover and through Ramadan to Eid, there are times to reflect on years past and on continuing obligations as we go forward together.


Emergency Care Crisis

30th March 2023

Worthing and neighbouring hospitals have been well served by the well led team of staff, combining the skills and dedication of clinicians, allied professions and everyone working in and around the hospitals. We rely on them and on their colleagues in general practice. Removing pension penalties and bringing in long-term workforce training and planning should make their lives better over time. Meanwhile, let us thank the paramedics and the hospital intake teams for reducing the longest waits. During our earlier years as members of parliament, Tim Loughton and I cooperated, campaigned and learnt how best we could help our NHS.


Supporting the Community Around Us

23rd March 2023

Across the constituency, political groups are nominating candidates and preparing leaflets for local elections. They present alternatives in each ward. In the past there have been examples of informal understandings; some parties do not nominate in the expectation that another favoured person or party will benefit. My view is that the real opponents are apathy and ignorance rather than public spirited people who have chosen a different political group. Do encourage friends and neighbours to become involved, in any positive way: vote, help choose candidates, and when an elected person does something right though possibly unpopular, consider sending a message of encouragement?

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Generosity From The Heart

16th March 2023

Wave of Compassion: those are words on the covers of the report on the Homes for Ukraine Scheme one year on. It was commissioned by the Sanctuary Foundation charity. Earlier, the Foundation developed ‘HELLO’, the welcome booklet for children from Ukraine. It explains that in Ukraine the president is in charge. In the UK there is the prime minster and the Royal Family. Their power, reputation and responsibilities help make sure the country is safe and strong and a good place to live. A Ukrainian mother spoke powerfully on Tuesday in the Lords. She and others like her wondered why hosts had been so hospitable and why communities had been so welcoming?

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Working Together for Common Good

09th March 2023

Friday was a rewarding day with students and staff at one of our excellent schools. Every teacher was confident and showed admirable interest in their subject and in each pupil. Students were quietly lively. Their questions were relevant and respectful. Some seemed interested in the life of political service. I said, quite seriously, that when they had concluded their education, if they were good enough and motivated, think of training to become a teacher. If they were not good enough, lower sights and become an MP?


Politics for People of All Ages

02nd March 2023

When asked what an MP can do, I answer: ‘Listen, carefully and with compassion.’ The reflection comes in welcome remarks, even when a constituent is writing strongly with their views on our relationship with the EU, on political leadership or on other issues, about recognition for what I do in work for local residents. The Windsor Framework is welcome. It is the result of grown-up discussions, based on trust. It could, it should have come earlier. This Sunday I shall be flying over Windsor to Belfast for a meeting of the British Irish parliamentary assembly. My specialty there is on economic and trade issues.

March 2023
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Do Leaders Win From The Extremes?

23rd February 2023

A fortnight can be quite a time for a political leader. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon appeared to be in command of her party. There was little known party dissent at Holyrood or at Westminster. She announced her party should choose a new leader. Within hours, every newspaper had columns explaining why life had not been rosy during her time in charge. Possible successors this week explain why the special party conference to set strategy for separation from the United Kingdom will not occur next month. The challenge to the blocking of unconditional gender change by a teenager at 16 may be dropped: it is no longer a priority.

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The World and Worthing Matter to
Each Other

16th February 2023

President Zelenskyy spoke in the Great Hall at Westminster in clear English. He was heard and understood around the world. He recognised Britain's support against Russia's war to end Ukraine's independence. He spoke of the need to defeat evil and to bring about a world free from war. I was placed in the front row with party leaders and former Prime Ministers.  Language matters. English matters. Locally, host families and the whole community welcome people of all ages. They come to improve their knowledge and language skills. Our country’s advantages include temperate climate and relatively moderate politics. Our time zone overlaps with the growing economies in east Asia and with the American powerhouse.


How Many Net-Zeroes Can We Achieve

09th February 2023

Weep for those killed and injured by earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. That disaster was not caused by actions of humans. More buildings around the world where there are faults in the earth’s mantle could be built to resist devastating shocks. The approach to carbon net zero rightly gains constant attention with growing agreement that achieving the target matters. Many other zero targets matter too. Good news: the campaign to achieve a polio-free world is close to success. This paralysing condition affected older friends. Now it only exists in the world’s poorest, marginalised communities, hitting the most vulnerable children.

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The Transition of Energy for Good

02nd February 2023

To save life on our shared planet, we have to reach net zero carbon emissions here and around the world. We can affect what happens here, not everywhere except by example and by developing more effective, more economic ways to need less energy and to change from hydrocarbons to sustainable sources of power. Simply, I think of renewable electricity, whether for direct heat and power or for green hydrogen, the fuel whose by-product is water. Vehicles throughout West Sussex will have to be succeeded by new ones with pollution free propulsion. Planes and ships have to change.

February 2023
January 2023
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Important Purposes of Politics

26th January 2023

The week started when I chaired a major meeting on gas safety and the dangers of carbon monoxide. It was a occasion to bring interest groups together with the common purpose of saving 100 lives a year. Then I was briefed on whether the government is going the wrong way in closing over half the BTECH courses, contradicting an assurance given by the previous education secretary. On Tuesday the prime minister invited environmental network colleagues and me to a breakfast discussion. I spoke about the challenge of decarbonising heating in leasehold properties...

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I Made A Mistake, I Apologise

19th January 2023

I apologise for my error last week about the result of the football match in August between Worthing FC and Welling United. As soon as I realised, I wrote to say sorry to readers, the team and supporters through the editor and Monty Street. Mistakes happen. That is in the nature of being human. How we deal with them is what matters most. When serving as junior employment minister, officials told me there had been confusion in a departmental press notice confusing two trades unions. I turned down a convoluted explanation; it was wrong to let officials take the blame.

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Onside With Shared Goals

12th January 2023

Meeting students reminds me of football. Discussing the purposes and the practice of politics has the mixture of cooperation and challenge that makes life interesting. Matt Crawley is the distinguished Worthing College politics teacher who cheerfully left me with a group of questioning students on Tuesday morning before they toured the Houses of Parliament. It was great to be at the Woodside Road stadium to watch most of the thrilling Saturday match. Between the storms, Worthing Football Club scored three goals against Welling United, holding on to win 3-2...

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Resolutions for Everyone, Every Day

5th January 2023

It is important to remember the individual and family lifecycle. Instead of a still photograph of society, think of moving pictures. At the turn of the year I was reviewing a novel. A frozen image could not show the ups and downs of life, including household formation, deformation and reformation. Locally, many people live in their home for decades, mostly by choice. That still leaves the challenge of how others find lodging, affordable flat shares, first homes and then perhaps space to house a family. 

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