Update from Sir Mike Penning MP

November 2021

This has been a busy month in Westminster and a difficult one.

We sadly lost two excellent MPs with, firstly, the death of former Minister and fellow Essex boy, James Brokenshire which, of course, was followed by the horrific murder of Sir David Amess in his surgery. Both of these tragic deaths were felt across the whole of Westminster – irrespective of the political divide. I knew them both very well and I was fortunate to be called in the debate to pay tribute to James Brokenshire.

I welcome the Government’s decision to move its position on storm water overflows. The only way we can really prevent sewage from entering our rivers is if we have two completely separate drainage systems – one for sewage and one for rainwater. Clearly, this is a major and long-term investment project. I supported the Government’s original position, and whilst it is disingenuous to describe this as voting to allow sewage to be discharged in our rivers, it is clear people felt the requirement was not strong enough.

Now the new amendment places a legal duty on water companies to reduce sewage discharges into rivers. Water companies are required to set out every five years a formal plan to show how it will reduce discharges progressively year on year. If their plans are not sufficient, Government has the power to direct how it will be done.

I also spoke in another debate on prescribed medical cannabis for children with severe epilepsy. It is being used on a regular basis in many countries yet here the medical profession is fighting against its use. Consultants are fearful of repercussions if they prescribe it – despite us having changed the law. The medical profession needs to sort this out. Parents of children with severe epilepsy who cannot access this drug are having to go to great lengths for their children.

Finally, I took the opportunity of a debate on new hospitals to, yet again, call for a new hospital on a new site. It is bonkers that the West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust are wasting this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to patch-up Watford instead of building a new hospital on a new site. They are worried that if they change their mind now they will be kicked out of HIP1 (the first six new hospitals), into HIP2. To be honest, if that’s what it takes to get it right, then I say fine. It is pointless rushing ahead with the wrong solution. A year or so delay would be worth it.

Hemel people understand Watford people are worried about losing their hospital – we know what that is like. But this is not the same, Watford will not be closed until the new one is built and the new one would be easily accessible for people from all three towns.”

Patching up the run-down Watford hospital, right next to the Football Club, is the wrong decision.

My message to the West Herts NHS Trust – listen to the people!

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