It was clear when we inherited a record deficit that we would all have to make savings, and this week we had an opportunity for MPs to cut their own costs. The government brought forward plans to cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600, and to make all constituencies roughly the same size. I currently represent 83,495 people in North Swindon (apologies if I sometimes forget people’s names!), yet some MPs represent as few as 45,000 people. This is simply unfair, not only because it skews elections, but also because all MPs get the same budgets to support our residents, however many of them there may be. Our plans would not only have saved money by cutting the number of MPs, but would also have created a fairer representation where every voter was treated equally. Staggeringly though, Labour MPs were jumping for joy when they defeated this move in the House of Commons. And this came just a week after their leader rejected David Cameron’s pledge of a referendum on Europe and refused to give the British people their say. Is there any limit to Labour’s disregard for the electorate?
Turning to the future, anyone remember ‘Tomorrow’s World’? This could be the key to securing long-term economic growth in the global economy. The UK’s science budget is essential; we have a world-class research base and a strong history of delivering new discoveries and inventions. Just look at Swindon – we have the Research Councils based here as well as many innovative technology firms such as Intel and Alcatel-Lucent. The strength of our research base is crucial in attracting overseas investment. That’s why the government have ring-fenced current spending of £4.6 billion on science and research and announced a further £1.5 billion of new capital spending. Economic recovery depends upon commercialising our ideas more effectively than in the past. Our aim is to achieve a leading position in the general purpose technologies of the future. That will pay big dividends for the whole economy.
Finally, I was delighted that three North Swindon sports clubs have secured a total of £142,000 in funding as part of the Olympic legacy. The grants, from the Lottery Fund and Sport England, have gone to the Swindon Croquet Club, Stratton Churchway Bowls, and the Highworth Recreation Centre. Highworth Rec had already secured funding from their Trustees, Swindon Borough Council and Highworth Town Council, so they now have £130,000 for a much-needed refurbishment. Last year I took some of the country’s top sports executives to visit Highworth Rec, so I’m delighted that they’ve now had this brilliant news. I’m a huge supporter of grassroots sport, and these grants will be a major boost.