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Westminster Column


Recently a number of important issues have been raised in Parliament which I know from my constituency postbag are of interest to many in Sutton. These include Britain’s relationship with the European Union and equal civil marriage.

So may I use this column to mention both! I am aware that many people in Sutton Coldfield are deeply concerned about Britain’s relationship, as it stands, with the European Union. I am, therefore, pleased that the Prime Minister has led the way in moving forward to reform the EU.

Firstly, the Prime Minister’s recent speech at Bloomberg made a commitment to a Referendum with a very simple in or out choice once he has negotiated a new settlement in the European Union. I hope that those concerned about Britain’s standing in the EU will welcome the Conservative Party’s commitment to achieving a better and more comfortable relationship and negotiating a new settlement in the next Parliament and giving all of us a vote on whether we approve.

Last Friday the Prime Minister negotiated the historic achievement of cutting the amount the EU can spend over the next seven years. He played a vital role in these negotiations to make sure that the budget is geared towards delivering growth as well as securing a good deal for British taxpayers.

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In the lead-up to the Second Reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill I received a substantial amount of correspondence both for and against equal civil marriage.

For some of my constituents the proposal to make marriage accessible to everyone goes beyond their beliefs and I fully respect their view. However, I also believe that the State has a responsibility to treat people fairly.

I voted for the principle of equal civil marriage at the Second Reading of this Bill, when Members of Parliament were given a free vote allowing us to vote according to personal conscience.

However, I would like to make it clear that I will ensure that all the legitimate fears and concerns that have been expressed to me are fully addressed in the body of the legislation when it comes back to Parliament. If the Bill does not adequately protect religious freedoms so that all religious organisations can act according to their doctrines I will not support the Bill at its Third Reading.

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Last week I met with senior representatives from BT to discuss internet coverage in Sutton Coldfield. I am conscious that easy access to high-speed internet is very important to both families and businesses in Sutton. I, therefore, arranged this meeting to check on the progress in delivering the Government’s ambition to provide the best broadband network in Europe by 2015. It is clear that in Birmingham – as in – Sutton Coldfield good progress is being made and we are significantly ahead of London in this important area of activity.

I will, of course, keep my constituents informed as the Government works with the private sector to invest in high quality broadband.



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