Last week two themes emerged from Parliament that together have both indicated that several of our Sussex MPs are involved in discussions and planning for children and their families in our nation. It would therefore be reasonable to ask these people to speak to people on all of our Sussex locations and the families in our various communities. Of course, these MPs are involved in planning for the whole of the Nation but given how local they are based, it seems reasonable for them to communicate their working activities into our area. Given that tomorrow Parliament will be closing down for Christmas, it would surely be possible for them to speak to our communities in the next three weeks. One of the two themes that emerged last week was a publication that emerged from a national website that focuses on children. The title was “MPs to investigate childcare costs” and the online document began with
The House of Commons education committee has launched an inquiry to investigate why early years education and childcare “has become too expensive for a growing proportion of young families”. The inquiry will examine concerns that the current system of early years entitlements, which is based on parents’ earnings and employment statuses, and the Tax-Free Childcare Scheme, is “too confusing and underutilised”.
After I had read the article I then checked out the education committee and the Government website lists the group members which includes Caroline Ansell who is the MP for Eastbourne. Along with the committee members, they also work with the Department for Education in the Government and that group involves two more of our Sussex MPs. The Senior Minister for DfE is Gillian Keegan who is the MP for Chichester and she is the Secretary of State for Education. There are four other Ministers in the DfE which includes the Minister of State for Schools which is Nick Gibb who is the MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton.
The second source which emerged last week was a debate that took place in Parliament on Wednesday. The session was under the heading of Public Bill Committees and so there are only a few MPs involved, given it is another committee. The event was entitled as “Child Support Collection (Domestic Abuse) Bill” and it then lists as “Clause 1 – Collection of maintenance in England and Wales and Scotland: cases involving domestic abuse” The document lists the MPs and Ministers who are involved and they include Mims Davies who is the MP for Mid Sussex and she is also a Minister for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The other Sussex person was Sally-Ann Hart who is the MP for Hastings and Rye. Although Sally-Ann is not a Minister she is the person who set out the debate that took place last Wednesday. She began the session by stating
The Bill, which will make provision to enable the making of arrangements for the collection of child support maintenance in cases involving domestic abuse, has only four clauses. I am sure, however, that all hon. Members recognise its importance, as it will help to protect victims of domestic abuse when using the Child Maintenance Service.” Sally-Ann then goes on to state “The purpose of the Child Maintenance Service is to facilitate the payment of child maintenance between separated parents who are unable to reach their own agreement following separation—a challenging job, done in very difficult circumstances. I am sure we all recognise from our casework that some separated parents find it very difficult to co-operate, especially when there may have been a history of domestic abuse.
The Hastings MP Sally-Ann did raise a number of other comments during the event and then later on in the debate Mims Davies spoke and some of the words she raised were
in particular my hon. Friend the Member for Hastings and Rye, who has made a brilliant contribution in introducing the Bill, and covered it in great detail.” …. “I also thank the charities that campaign on this important issue, particularly Gingerbread and, as we have heard, Surviving Economic Abuse.” She also stated “This weekend marks two years since the DWP and our partners launched the employers domestic abuse covenant, which is about supporting women in such situations with employment or to stay in employment.
Across these two elements, there are five Sussex MPs who are involved in at least one of these themes and so we can call for all of them to speak locally. In addition, three of them are Ministers who make decisions within the National Government. The call from Mims Davies referred to a charity and so it is vital that these MPs will connect with local charities and indeed to communicate with the three local Councils that deal with education in Sussex.