On the Big Issues

The long-term economic plan

A strong economy underpins everything. Without a strong economy we can’t have a strong NHS, or strong defence or ensure the best opportunities for the next generation.

When we came into government in 2010, Britain had suffered the deepest recession since the war, and had the second biggest structural deficit of any advanced economy. Our country is now on the path back to prosperity and long-term security. Unemployment is down nearly 50% since 2010 and down in East Hampshire by 65%; and wages are rising faster than inflation.

A lot of sacrifices have been made, but the British people have shown great tenacity and British business great creativity. It would be a bad error now to jeopardise all that this has achieved.

I support:

  • Getting more Britons back to work by controlling immigration and a robust welfare system for EU migrants
  • Reducing spending and controlling the welfare budget
  • Cutting taxes when we can, and raising the 40p threshold

You can read about the ways in which the Conservatives' long-term economic plan has helped you and your community here.

Investing in our NHS

I’m proud of our NHS. I will always support the principle of care to all Britons, free at the point of delivery. The 2010-15 government has rightly increased real health spending every year and we must continue to invest. With an ageing population, more costly treatments and the increased incidence of chronic conditions, the Health Service also has to evolve and reform. It can be tempting for politicians to oppose any change, but this would be wrong – we must trust the clinicians themselves.

Our long-term economic plan means we have been able to increase the NHS budget by £12.7 billion this Parliament. There are now more than 9,000 more doctors in the NHS and over 5,000 more nurses looking after patients. If re-elected, we will increase spending on the NHS each year of the next Parliament.

Quality Local Services

We are fortunate in East Hampshire to have excellent schools, medical facilities and other services, run and staffed by exceptionally dedicated people. I will work to ensure we have an adequate number of additional school places, and to support our community hospitals – including securing additional services at Chase Hospital.

The development of Bordon after REME vacates is a once in a lifetime opportunity for improved transport links, new modern school buildings, and attractive retail and leisure. I will work with the local council, public sector agencies and the private sector to ensure the town gets the facilities and services it needs.

These days connectivity is so important, especially with the growth in home-workers in Hampshire. The 2010-15 government has facilitated superfast broadband being extended to most of East Hampshire, but we do need to redouble efforts to address the gaps that do remain.

I welcome the government’s investment in our roads, including the start of resurfacing the A3 to quieten it, and dealing with the M3/A34 bottleneck. Rail travel has continued to increase in popularity (a good thing) – I will press for expanded capacity on the Alton/Bentley and Petersfield/Liss/Liphook lines, especially at the ‘throat’ on the Waterloo approach, for smart ticketing that suports different work patterns, and for extending wi-fi to more trains.

Read about the campaign for better broadband in East Hampshire here.

21st Century Education

My first passion is education and I have served on the Education Select Committee and as Chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on Social Mobility. In that group, we championed the role of character and resilience in improving the chances of success in life. The recent announcement that the Department of Education have allocated £5 million to dramatically enhance the role of ‘character education’ alongside academic learning indicates the Government’s acknowledgement of the importance of character building.

I support the Coalition’s key reforms, giving school heads more independence from bureaucracy, strengthening discipline, ending grade inflation, and steering youngsters towards the subjects most valued by employers and universities. The early years are particularly vital and I support the expansion of quality provision for disadvantaged children. We need to focus, too, on value-for-money in Higher Education and ensuring we are equipping young people with the skills they need in the new world economy.

For too long, vocational education has had insufficient attention. Following the 47% growth in apprenticeships from 2012/13 - 2013/14 here in East Hants, we need to continue this work. A Conservative government will create 3 million new apprenticeships, for skills to succeed.

Read the APPG’s reports: 7 Key Truths on Social Mobility, Capital Mobility, Character & Resilience.

Read other news pieces on this issue: Character and Resilience drive can improve social mobility, and Strength of character is the real x-factor.  

Housing and Environment

According to figures from the ONS, the average house in the South East is 11 times the average salary, a statistic that underlines how difficult it is for new buyers to get onto the housing ladder.

Alongside the need to build more, affordable housing, we also need to protect the character of our local towns and villages and beautiful countryside. There are many stunning places in East Hampshire which are a vital part of community life, and these must not be compromised.

Politicians have a key role to play in challenging global warming and promoting realistic changes that can make the biggest difference. Focusing on sustainable development is key, especially in cleaner energy generation and better electric vehicles. Taking firm action to prevent global warming will be a strong focus during the next parliament, and rightly so.

Read Damian’s letter to the Herald on taking a measured approach to climate change.

Britain and Europe

The British people deserve and demand a decisive say on our relationship with the EU. Only a Conservative government can and will deliver a referendum on membership by the end of 2017. It remains to be seen what it is possible to renegotiate ahead of that, and we have to have a sensible, measured debate on the costs and benefits. But with a Conservative government, ultimately it is you who will decide.

Read Damian's article on having a sensible debate before the referendum, and his speech on the EU at Petersfield First Friday.

Britain and the world

Britain has a unique, important and positive role to play in the world. Through ‘soft power’, our historic business links, and the excellence of our forces, we still punch far above our weight.

The world remains dangerous – in some ways more now than ever. In my two years as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for the Armed Forces, I got some insight into what our brave forces are doing to adapt to this more uncertain world and constantly shifting threats. It is important that we got to grips with the Ministry of Defence budget, delivering a fully-funded £163 billion equipment plan for our troops, and that we have met the NATO target to spend 2% of GDP on defence – one of the few countries to do so.

On international development I believe there is not only a moral imperative, but also a rational, national self-interest reason for Britain living up to the 0.7% of GDP commitment.

Read Damian’s speech in the Westminster Hall debate on 21st March 2013 on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.