You could be forgiven for thinking that the House of Commons revolves around Prime Minister’s Questions at midday each Wednesday. This is the set piece of British politics that many at home see on TV, along with the primary legislation that is debated on the green benches. But there is much, much more to the workings of Parliament, as I have been learning as a Government whip. Indeed Secondary Legislation also passes through Parliament, albeit in a slightly different way. This is legislation created by Ministers under laws given to them by an Act of Parliament often taking the form of a Statutory Instrument.
Secondary Legislation provides practical measures that enable the law to be enforced and operate in daily life. A practical example of this was earlier in the year and the extension of licensing hours to allow people to celebrate the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s marriage. There are many hundreds of pieces of important legislation that take this course through Parliament, but which, importantly, are still open to scrutiny.
With Parliament undertaking preparations for us leaving the European Union a large number of these Statutory Instruments are being prepared across Government departments to ensure an orderly departure on 29 March 2019. This is work that often goes unnoticed by many but now more than ever, and with Brexit approaching, it is increasingly important.
In other news, across the NHS we are seeing that preparations are now well under way for winter, a topic I discussed back in the summer with Chief Executive Richard Beeken of Walsall Manor Hospital. There was also welcome news last week that in addition to the extra £145 million to improve emergency care facilities in our hospitals the Government has announced an additional £245 million of funding for local Councils for the social care system this winter is to be welcomed.
This means an extra £1.4 million for Walsall Council, which will ease pressure on our health service and assist Walsall Council with home care packages and adaptations to help patients leave hospital quicker, allowing people to regain their independence and confidence at home.
Another important part of the winter preparations in our health service is the annual flu jab, offered free to people who are at risk to help protect them and prevent against developing serious complications. I hope that as many as possible of you who are eligible will take advantage of the seasonal flu vaccination programme. I have certainly reminded members of my family.
Next weekend marks the 100th Anniversary of the ending of the Great War. As we stop and come together for the annual Act of Remembrance, let us remember all those brave men and women who served our country, to ensure our freedom today, and let us also never forget our strength as a nation.
This article was first published in the Sutton Observer on 2nd November 2018.