Sir Mike Penning MP  – Update from Parliament

As I write this, we are in conference season and I will shortly be heading to Manchester to attend the Conservative Party Conference. Brexit is far from settled and the immediate political future is impossible to predict.

However, at the moment I expect to return to Westminster and have a Queen’s Speech to herald the start of a new Parliamentary session. We have just had the longest Parliamentary session since the civil war, so a new Queen’s Speech is overdue.

The Queen’s Speech is an opportunity for the new Prime Minister to outline his domestic priorities for the year ahead.

Brexit is very much the dominant issue at the moment, but we already know that, Brexit aside, the Prime Minister wants to focus on the economy, global trade, more money for schools and the NHS, and more police officers. All of which I totally support. But there are many other issues that need to be addressed.

There is always unfinished business at the end of a Parliamentary session and there are several Bills that fell as a result of the end of the last Parliament. Many MPs will want to see these picked up and made into law in the new Parliament.

Personally, I am particularly keen to see the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill reintroduced as soon as possible. This law would have increased the maximum penalty for animal cruelty from six months imprisonment to five years in England and Wales. We have made some real progress on animal welfare issues recently and I am keen to keep the momentum going.

We also need to do more to tackle climate change and the environment. We need to reduce our use of plastics – particularly single-use plastics – and if the only way we are going to see change is by using legislation then that is what we have to do.

I am also appalled when I see plastic waste that is clearly from the UK being dumped in developing countries. Ethically, it is only right that we dispose of our own waste and not dump it overseas. It is wrong on so many levels so I would like to see a ban on exporting waste.

Whatever the outcome on Brexit, there is much to do and I just hope we get the time to get on with it.

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