George Osborne used his statement in the House of Commons last week, setting out the government’s spending review, to announce that he had allocated £250million towards preventing the chaos caused by Operation Stack. This is great news for Kent, and I am pleased that the Chancellor listened to our campaign for government funding to build the facilities we need to cope with congestion at the Channel Tunnel and Port of Dover. We should never again experience the kind of disruptions we saw this summer.
The Chancellor has announced the government will consult on a preferred site for this new lorry holding area close to Stanford, near to Junction 11 of the M20. On Friday this week I will attend a meeting at County Hall in Maidstone, along with Highways England, Kent Police and our local councils to discuss this. A considerable amount of work has been completed already looking at the best way to provide these facilities. The guiding principles are clear though. The lorry parking area needs to be mainly located off of the coast bound carriageway of the M20, it should be directly accessed from and exited to the motorway, and lorries should be made to use it whenever they need space to park; so that we stop HGVs parking up on roadsides and in residential areas. Now that the funding is in place the consultation on the proposals can begin with a view to getting started on the project as soon as possible. We have been debating this issue for years, and a last we have the resources in place to get on with the job.
On Wednesday this week the government will ask the House of Commons for its support to extend our role in the international coalition against Islamic State. This will allow the RAF to take part in strategic bombing strikes against terrorist targets in Syria as well as Iraq. I will be giving the government my full support on this measure. It should never be an easy decision to commit our forces to war, but we cannot stand by whilst Islamic State terrorises the lives of millions of people in Syria and Iraq, whilst also planning, funding and executing terror attacks in Europe and the Middle East.
A recent resolution the United Nations Security Council determined that Islamic State is an “unprecedented” threat to international peace and security, and recommended that countries with the requisite capacity take “all necessary measures” to prevent and suppress its terrorist acts.
Not acting against Islamic State has made the world a more dangerous place, seeing increased terror activity, most recently with the terrible attacks in Paris. Islamic State is also one of the most significant causes of the migration crisis in Europe as people have been forced to flee from their homes to save their lives. Britain cannot sit back and let this happen when we have the necessary means to make a significant contribution to defeating Islamic State and restoring peace to that troubled region.