Written by the MP for Dover and Deal, Kent
In recent weeks, there have been successive “sitting Fridays” in Parliament. These are the days when backbenchers can propose and debate new laws.
This is distinct from the government’s legislative agenda or from issues raised by opposition parties for formal debate.
The last session on Friday debated a new law on funding and prescribing medical cannabis.
This was made legal in 2018. Despite this, families with children who suffer from epilepsy still cannot get the medical cannabis they need from the NHS.
One of my first cases of constituency surgery after being elected was with little Teagan Appleby, who lives in Aylesham. Teagan relies on this drug to manage his epilepsy.
Teagan’s mother Emma has been fighting for a long time to get Teagan to get the help she needs. I spoke up so Emma can get this vital drug for Teagan on the NHS.
Another Friday session saw a debate to help postmenopausal women – by reforming prescription fees for drugs like hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It was part of a national campaign backed by celebrities like Davina McCall, whom I met in Parliament.
It has made a real difference, with the government now making changes to prescription fees to help postmenopausal women, helping to make hormone replacement therapy more affordable.
More recently, I participated in a debate on birth and death registration. The administration of death is far too cumbersome and bureaucratic. This adds to the stress and upheaval of grieving friends and relatives.
I would like to see this process modernized – and it would be possible to upload wills to a secure government portal. Surprisingly, it is believed that some 30 million people do not have an up-to-date will, if any. Modernizing wills and administration of deaths would make a real difference.
Pensions were also debated recently in a debate on Friday. The question was whether there were adequate protections for the guaranteed pension amounts in occupational pensions which are transferred to other types of schemes. I took the opportunity to raise the issue of a constituent’s surgery and I spoke in support of a change in the law.
Another debate on Friday was about a fair deal for musicians. Advances in technology mean they aren’t getting the royalties they should for things like streaming. In our region there are many composers, songwriters and individual musicians.
Updating contractual arrangements and rights in the modern digital age is vital. I explained how this problem can affect even famous artists like Dame Vera Lynn, as much as lesser known artists.
When people think of Parliament, they often think of “box office” events such as the Prime Minister’s Questions. Debates on private members’ bills on Fridays present a more reflective side of the Commons.
It is a chance to speak on behalf of the many people I meet in surgeries in my riding, on issues that affect our community as well as to support important campaigns that would make a real difference in the lives of people across the country. .