|This month we celebrated UK Parliament Week, a UK-wide festival, which aims to engage people, especially the younger generation, with Parliament and empower them to get involved.
As part of UK Parliament Week I was pleased to visit some of our local schools to answer questions and discuss this year’s centenary of The Representation of the People Act when we extended the right to vote to all men over 21 and the first women. Whilst this was only partial suffrage, it was a huge victory and a big first step that propelled the ongoing campaign and right for equality.
Throughout the course of 2018 “Vote 100” has celebrated a century of women’s voices in Parliament and the milestones in the journey towards universal suffrage and the first women MPs. This week marks another democratic landmark of 1918 when the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act was passed allowing women to stand for Parliament. It was less than one month later on 14 December 1918 when 8.5 million women were eligible to stand and vote in their first ever election. A year later and in December 1919 Nancy Astor was the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons. Some 96 years later and I was the 431st female Member of Parliament to be sworn in and take my seat on the Green Benches.
We still have a long way to go; however we can at least boast that a century later our Head of State, our Prime Minister and the President of the Supreme Court are all female.
|Back to Parliamentary business and whilst Brexit negotiations continue, the Finance Bill is currently going through Parliament, implementing the Budget. I was pleased to see the Chancellor give a welcome boost to our High Streets and small businesses, cutting business rates by a third and outlining a new ‘Future High Streets Fund’ supported with £675 million of additional resources to help transform them. I am hoping that locally we will see the benefit of this too. Small businesses are the lifeblood of local communities and remain the backbone of our High Streets and Village Centres, and of course our Industrial Estates and Business Parks too.
As your Member of Parliament I have had the privilege of meeting many small businesses that are working hard to serve their customers, grow their business and play an active role in creating job opportunities.
With this in mind, on Saturday 1 December I will be out and about talking to some of our local small businesses in support of Small Business Saturday. If you are a local business, and would like me to pop in and visit, please do to get in touch with me at email@example.com
This article was first published in the Sutton Observer on 23rd November 2018.