Wednesday 19 January 2022
Earlier this week the Government announced that the Royal Navy will be given primacy over all other government agencies operating within the English Channel to help tackle the surge of migrants entering the country illegally from France. It is important that policy evolves with the situation and although plans are still being finalised, there are two immediate benefits from this development. These are: improved coordination and use of intelligence to detect vessels attempting to cross the channel. Having an experienced naval officer as a single point of contact coordinating government vessels will ensure a more joined-up approach when preventing and encountering crossings; and the state-of-the-art surveillance resources possessed by the military have the potential to make operations more effective.
The government is exploring all ideas on how to deal with this complex international issue and, as I have repeatedly said, the Home Secretary’s Nationality and Borders Bill is a compassionate and proportionate way to prevent illegal crossings, prosecute immoral criminal gangs and, ultimately, save lives at sea. The House of Commons has already passed this Bill and it is now down to the House of Lords to review the legislation before Royal Assent is granted by HM The Queen – I hope that this will be completed soon.
Through my casework and conversations that I have had with constituents, local schools, hospitals, and charities, I know that mental health needs to be a focus for this Government. I met with Simon Dolby, the Chief Executive of South Kent Mind, and his fellow trustees to tour their premises and discuss the work of the local charity. They offer free or low-cost counselling services, workshops, and advice without stigma to anyone who needs it. I welcome the charity’s big ambitions and am working with them to improve mental health services in the constituency.
On Friday, I joined the Chief Executive of Shepway Sports Trust to have a sneak peak of F51 – the new sports park on Tontine Street. Only by visiting can you truly appreciate how impressive the building is. The site brings world-class facilities for skateboarding, BMX, climbing, bouldering, and boxing into the heart of Folkestone and with opening just a few months away, I am excited to see how young people develop their skills, sports enthusiasts travel from afar, and how the reputation of the town will be positively boosted.
Finally, I would like to thank the sixth form pupils at the Harvey Grammar School for inviting me to speak with them about my role as a Member of Parliament. We discussed a range of issues on subjects as diverse as the impact of social media to the future of Dungeness B. I wish them well for their studies for the remainder of this school year.