Many of the people who live or work in Sussex are aware of its shape and some of the elements of its history. However when it comes to MPs they are all faced with a challenge. One option which is a way of them demonstrating a focus onto their own constitution is to refuse to engage in matters that go outside of their area. However the challenge for this is that most people who live or work in Sussex know that while they may not embrace the whole of Sussex in their thinking, that their resources and involvement goes beyond their home area. So a charity such as Action in Rural Sussex which a good friend of mine, Jeremy Leggett used to be the CEO of covers the whole of rural Sussex. A charity I used to be the Chair called YMCA Downslink Group and actually it covers the whole of Sussex and Surrey. A charity which I helped set up is called FareShare Sussex and that works throughout Sussex and indeed into Surrey. Another charity that I helped to set up is called Sussex Pathways and it supports people who have come out of prisons and who are based in Sussex. Then of course there are Religious groups such as Anglican Chichester Diocese who I used to work for and they cover the whole of Sussex. Their Roman Catholic companion is called Arundel and Brighton Diocese and they cover the whole of Sussex and all of Surrey. There are many other examples for both charities and religious organisations that I have worked with. When it comes to the public sector we have organisations such as Sussex Police who I have the privilege to help advise and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation which had Lisa Rodrigues as its CEO a few years ago who I knew. I can go on with lots more examples including many I have no contact with personally. The last example for me to include is Sussex Chamber of Commerce that my current business is a member of which is an organisation that seeks to assist all businesses in Sussex. So the question then arises whether any local MPs have a similar grasp of the need to support the whole of Sussex rather than just their local setting. My view is that they do and so I am focusing on Sussex as a whole. There are some MPs that have referred to East or West Sussex as part of their speeches but here is the last few times that Sussex got mentioned since towards the end of September. The image above is of Andrew Griffith who is the MP for Arundel and South Downs and his questions are by far the most in that 10 week period.
4th December, Andrew Griffith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to connect more Sussex towns to the railway network.
3rd December, Andrew Griffith: To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to help support the rural tourism sector in Sussex.
1st December, Andrew Griffith: To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what fiscal steps his Department is taking to support local authorities in Sussex during the covid-19 outbreak.
25th November, Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to provide daily updates to (a) the Sussex Resilience Forum and (b) other resilience forums on the capacity and prioritisation of Pillar 2 testing capability.
20th November, Andrew Griffith: To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps her Department has taken to help ensure that businesses in Sussex; (a) farmers and (b) food producers in Sussex; SMEs in Sussex can benefit from the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.
10th November, Caroline Ansell: Will he join me in thanking military personnel who have served in Sussex?
That led to a response from Jeremy Quin who began by stating: I should also declare an interest because I am a Sussex Member of Parliament.
9th November Andrew Griffith: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent estimate he has made of the number of loans provided through the Bounce Back Loan scheme to businesses in Sussex.
9th November, Andrew Griffith: To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what estimate she has made of the projected economic value of the trade deal signed with Japan to (a) Sussex and (b) England.
9th November, Andrew Griffith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to reduce knife crime in Sussex.
6th November, Andrew Griffith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many fatal road traffic collisions were recorded in (a) Sussex and (b) England in (i) 2015, (ii) 2016, (iii) 2017, (iv) 2018, (v) 2019 and (vi) 2020 to date.
5th November, Andrew Griffith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to tackle county lines drug trafficking in Sussex.
4th November, Peter Kyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the timeframe is for his Department to consider the Sussex Near Shore Trawling Byelaw proposal submitted by the Marine Management Organisation.
5th October, Peter Kyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many children have been released under investigation in (a) Sussex police force area, and (b) England and Wales since 23 March 2020.
2nd October, Peter Kyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how much additional funding has been allocated to Sussex Police to support enforcement of covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
28th September, Andrew Griffith: Will the Minister join me in thanking the Sussex rural crime team, which I long campaigned for and which was set up by police commissioner Katy Bourne in June this year? It is now doing excellent work, protecting our rural communities, farmers and isolated towns and villages in Arundel and South Downs.
28th September, Huw Merriman: I am encouraged by the Minister’s response. Last week, Sussex MPs met the south-east coast ambulance service team, and we were disturbed to hear of an increase in assaults where drink and drugs seems to be a factor.
So we have 17 references to Sussex in 10 weeks. 10 of them were made by Andrew Griffith, 3 by Peter Kyle, one each by Caroline Ansell, Caroline Lucas, Huw Merriman and finally one by Jeremy Quin in response to a question. One wonders how many more there might be if all Sussex MPs could spend longer in the House of Commons. However we clearly need a much stronger use of this reference. Once a week from every Sussex MP would increase the number of references from 17 to 160 over the same time period!