TIM LOUGHTON: Brexit, babies, mental health and trains
Back to Westminster on Monday and more late nights for day four of the Brexit Bill as a stream of blurry-eyed MPs left the Commons after a series of votes just before 1am.
There are another four days of committee stages to go in the Commons before the bill is sent for an even bumpier ride, probably, in the Lords.
Meanwhile a deal with the EU negotiating team looks as elusive as ever though they do have form when it comes to leaving it to the 11th hour before agreeing to anything.
Meanwhile beneath the Brexit shroud there were some important announcements in Parliament about babies, mental health and trains.
The Health Secretary announced a comprehensive programme to reduce the number of baby deaths in the UK, especially around stillbirth, where we have one of the worst records in Europe.
This is a subject I have raised often and which features in my Private Member’s Bill due to have its second reading on February 2.
I was delighted therefore that Jeremy Hunt announced he will support my proposals to change the law to give coroners the power to investigate stillbirths, something strongly supported by West Sussex corner Penny Schofield.
The Government has also published its long awaited Green Paper on mental health which will have a public consultation for the next 13 weeks.
There are important issues around school age mental illness in particular though I am lobbying hard to see much more about peri-natal mental health, where if we can do more to make sure parents and babies are well attached in the crucial first few years the problems later on at school could be greatly diminished. I have put a link to the Green Paper on my website.
The Transport Secretary made a welcome announcement about boosting investment in the railways including reopening some lines which fell foul of Dr Beeching.
I have already had a number of pleas to resurrect the Shoreham-Steyning line! More realistically this enhances the chances of a second line to London from East Sussex.
Even more welcome Chris Grayling announced that the shambolic GTR franchise will be broken up in 2021, though I did challenge him as to why this could not be done sooner.
After Saturday’s farmers’ market street surgery in Shoreham I will be out delivering our latest survey in Sompting dealing with the Sompting West development proposals.
Many local residents have already filled this in online and we will be presenting the findings to the Planning Committee again.
I can also confirm that we will be holding a public meeting on the issue on January 25, 6.30pm at Sir Robert Woodard Academy. The developers have been invited to account for their plans.
• If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or email me at [email protected]