THIS year I took part in services of remembrance in Newton Abbot and Dawlish, writes MP Anne Marie Morris.

In the morning I laid a wreath to the fallen in Newton Abbot and did the same in Dawlish in the afternoon. I also planted a cross in Parliament’s Remembrance Garden on behalf of the constituency, remembering all who gave their lives across Teignbridge.

It is important that we honour and recognise those who have served our country, and to remind ourselves of their courage

The Parliamentary week saw the first State Opening of Parliament by King Charles III as monarch. The King’s Speech sets out the government’s plan for the upcoming session, outlining proposed policies and legislation. There will be lots to digest as MPs debate its content over the next few days!

Stimulating economic growth in order to combat the cost-of-living crisis is a key part of the government’s plan. 

A new Bill to make the UK more energy independent is welcome, helping to protect the domestic oil and gas industry that supports more than 200,000 jobs, and help to bring down our energy bills as we meet our net zero targets in a pragmatic, proportionate and realistic way. 

The government also outlined its intention to continue securing the dividends of Brexit! A Trade Bill that will confirm our membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, guaranteeing UK goods access to tariff free markets in places like Canada and Japan. Cutting red-tape and opening up our goods and services to the rest of the world is welcome.

It is also a key priority for the Government to keep the public safe. The Criminal Justice Bill will force criminals to appear in court for their sentencing hearings. And a new Sentencing Bill will implement harsher sentences for the worst murderers, as the only proper penalty is life in prison without the possibility of release by the Parole Board. 

Alongside ensuring that dangerous offenders are locked up for longer, the government also wants to support victims by providing immediate and victim-centred support. The Victims and Prisoners Bill will introduce a joint statutory duty on Police and Crime Commissioners, health and local authorities in England to work together when commissioning support services for victims of domestic abuse, sexual abuse and other serious violence.

I was very glad to see the Prime Minister take aim at the ever-present menace of vapes. I find it deeply worrying that the number of children using vapes has tripled in the past three years, with 20.5% having now tried vaping as of 2023. 5 million disposable vapes are thrown away every week in the UK - often simply littered on high streets.

The Bill seeks to propose new restrictions on the sale of flavoured vapes as well as displays in shops which should help curb the rapid growth in illegal underage vaping. 

And whilst there was new legislation proposed, The Renters Reform Bill received carryover from the last Parliamentary session. We have moved at last to recognising that while home ownership is a worthy ambition, renting for many, long or short term is the reality of “home”. So, we need to improve the tenant’s lot. 

But we must strike the right balance to ensure that both renters and landlords have the security and stability they need to deliver a healthy private rented sector. 

The problem with the current proposals is that while improving the rights of tenants, the new limitations on landlords are driving many of them to sell up. That’s a lose lose.

This will impact not just private tenants, but also has knock-on effects for local authorities who use the private rented sector as the main route out of emergency accommodation for homeless households. The government needs to think again.

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