Despite a long break away from the Palace of Westminster, once back it’s as if you’ve never been away. I’m sure students returning to school feel much the same. We commenced the first week back with consideration of the Finance Bill 2016 and move onto the Wales Bill this week. I took part in an extended Westminster Hall debate on the effect of “Fly-parking” of lorries in Kent. We don’t suffer the same amount of blight in South Thanet as other constituencies nearby the M20 and A2 corridors to the Channel crossings, but it is clear that overnight parking is a particular problem in Kent, and with it the rubbish and filth that inconsiderate drivers leave. The minister John Hayes MP was left in no doubt as to the level of dissatisfaction by Kent MPs. The new lorry parking and Operation stack facility propose for Stanford West in Shepway will help enormously.
Over the summer break I visited as many events and businesses as possible: I had a formal visit to Instro Precision in Broadstairs following the well reported disruptive activities by protesters. I state again how much I welcome Instro Precision in the area and hope that their plans for a new purpose-built 46,000 square foot facility at Discovery Park come to fruition bringing more high-level and well paid specialist jobs to the area as they pitch for new Ministry of Defence contracts.
At the other end of the spectrum, but similarly fascinating, I visited Southern Water’s Richborough treatment site which is home to two facilities, one dealing with waste from Sandwich and Deal, the other which deals with sewage from Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate. As well as an extensive tour and explanation of how the process works from your sink (or loo) to finished clean water for outfall, there was a detailed discussion on the water quality around our beaches which are better than ever. One event that I wished I never had to witness however was the unwelcome live animal export movement through Ramsgate which continue through the Eid festival. I joined protesters to see for myself as I’d promise that I would. I want to see this trade stopped and have further Parliamentary time in November to progress my Bill to achieve that end.
The highlight of the last week of Parliamentary recess was a trip on HMS Diamond, one of the six new Type 45 state of the art Royal Navy Destroyers. It was an extended trip over four days from Portsmouth to Gibraltar across the Bay of Biscay. A rare privilege to be allowed such a detailed and lengthy trip as part of my year on the Armed Services Parliamentary Scheme attached to the Royal Navy. It was an opportunity to get fully versed on the full systems of the ship from propulsion, through radar and navigation to weapons, which are truly awe-inspiring in their defensive and offensive capabilities. The professionalism, commitment and dedication of the sailors puts us all to shame as they pursue their work 24/7, 365 days a year to protect the country’s strategic interests. Gibraltar was, as ever, fascinating, a vital outpost of British influence that controls the entry to the Mediterranean.