THE new parliamentary term has started and the main piece of legislation this week was the Finance Bill, a key cornerstone of the government’s strategy to steady the economy and get us growing, writes MP Anne Marie Morris.

The Bill contains provisions, announced by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement last year, to remove the pensions lifetime allowance. Limiting how much someone can put into their pension before it is taxed puts people off saving. As we live longer, we need to save more not less. On January 6 the cut to National Insurance contributions announced last year came into force which will make a difference to pay packets now.

Other legislation was delayed to make time to address the tragedy which is the Post Office Horizon Scandal. This is one of the worst miscarriages of justice in our country’s history. This was not merely a failure of technology but a failure of leadership and corporate governance. 

The impact on the victims cannot be overstated. Financial ruin, mental health crises and broken families can be linked to the scandal. 

The Post Office, an institution trusted by the public, betrayed that trust in the most dreadful way imaginable. I wrote to the Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business at the beginning of the week asking for convictions to be immediately overturned and compensation paid out in full. 

I was pleased to see decisive action from the Prime Minister who will bring legislation to do just that and each individual will be entitled to at least £600,000 in compensation to rebuild their lives. This is quite unprecedented. But this is not the end – there are individuals who must be held accountable for all this at the Post Office (beyond the chief executive) and Fujitsu.

On Friday, I had a great visit to Torbay Hospital. Despite the challenge of the old buildings there is a real pioneering spirit and lots of innovation. First of all, I had a look at the new endoscopy unit. Its new, clean and state of the art, a great place to work and be treated. 

As a result, waiting lists have been halved. Then I visited the new operating theatres being built, one specifically for eye surgery and one for heart and lung operations. I had not appreciated how crucial it was to have different equipment structurally to make these operations more efficient. These should be open next month. 

And finally, off to the Horizon Centre, an innovation, education and research facility, to meet a multi-skilled team including doctors and software developers. I was quite blown away by the leading work being done to create a virtual reality which can co-exist with physical reality for patients to help them in so many ways. 

The headsets that deliver this reality can help recovery in many patient situations. The technology can help those with Parkinson’s and other challenging diseases of the elderly, and the potential is there for more.

And finally on Saturday, I dropped in at the Kingsteignton Town Council open community coffee morning in their Community Hall. It was their first and such a great success. It will be repeated every month and if you missed this one, I would recommend the next ones!

Homemade cake is always a good start – well done the bakers! But there was so much more with activities for children (I enjoyed a spot of snow painting!) and lots of discussions about community projects, like the nature trail which will hopefully be ready in the summer.

The local police team joined the fun and it is good to see them out and ready to listen. The “knit and natter” group were there. A hot cuppa in freezing weather is always welcome and there was plenty of nattering going on.

As always, if you would like to book a surgery appointment (in-person or virtual) or raise a specific issue, please call my office on 01626 368277 or email [email protected] to arrange an appointment.