It is often said that a week is a long time in politics and the recent turn of events has certainly demonstrated how quickly things can change. The resignation of many government Ministers required a reorganisation of the administration. In that regard, last Friday I was honoured to be asked by the Prime Minister to join the government as a Minister at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. My responsibilities are for Tech and the Digital Economy, and I am also Minister responsible for gambling. Many readers will know that I previously chaired the House of Commons select committee which scrutinised the work of this department, so these are policy areas with which I am already familiar. I would like to reassure you that my appointment to the government will not divert me from my efforts as your Member of Parliament, and that my constituency work and surgeries will continue as before.
Last week Boris Johnson also announced his decision to resign as Prime Minister. He is a courageous and wholehearted leader who has served his country through challenging times, not least the covid-19 pandemic. We now need to choose a new Prime Minister who will need to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, provide Ukraine the support it needs to defeat Putin, and reform our own armed forces so they are ready to meet the challenges ahead. It is an opportunity not just for a fresh face, but for new ideas and a competent team to steer the ship of state. My view is that Penny Mordaunt, the Minister of State for Trade Policy, a former Defence Secretary and a Royal Navy Reservist, is the right woman for the job.
This week I also made my debut at the Despatch Box as a Minister, leading the debate for the government on the Online Safety Bill. I have long been an advocate for this Bill, having formerly Chaired the parliamentary Joint Committee scrutinising it. This world-leading legislation will improve child safety on the internet, as well as helping tackle hate crimes, fraud and content that promotes self-harm and suicide, online. The sooner we get this legislation on the statue book the better.
I recently met with pupils from Selsted Church of England Primary School who wrote to me sharing their deep concerns about the safety of the A260 Canterbury Road. Since then, I have been in contact with Kent County Council and Kent Police asking them what urgent work they can do to make this road safer for pedestrians and motorists.
I have also been contacted by many constituents in Lyminge who are understandably deeply concerned about proposals for a lengthy road closure at the centre of the village that would inconvenience a great many people and businesses. I have taken up the matter with Kent County Council at the highest level, requesting that the proposal is looked at again to see whether a less disruptive way can be found to carry out the works. I will continue to do all I can to press for a more sensible solution and will be back in touch with everyone who has written to me about it when I have the County Council’s response.