Monday, 19 September 2011

We should bury our electricity cables

When I drive home from Parliament there is a high point on the M2, just past Bluewater, where you can see miles and miles of Kent countryside. A first time visitor would be preparing themselves to gasp at the potential beauty of the Garden of England but instead join us regular motorists at gasping at the horrible vista that actually greets us – the large number of pylons transporting electricity to and from the north Kent sub-stations to wherever they are required. They are ghastly and every time I drive into the M2 valley I think whoever allowed our countryside to be overrun with these giant steel statues should hang their head in shame.

I am opposed to any proposal which would see more overhead pylons built through our countryside. In Kent, there are plans to build new high voltage pylons and upgrade existing lines which could see a further prolification of steel and cable. Given we have the technology now to bury cables, which could see huge savings in maintenance costs in the long term, I see no reason why we have to continue with overhead pylons. Where existing electricity routes need upgrading I also think we should remove the pylons and bury the cables. The short term cost will not only be mitigated by the long term financial savings but most of all it will provide a far more aesthetically pleasing response to supplying our electricity.

If we wish to build Jerusalem, In England’s green & pleasant Land we could do worse than start by burying future and existing electricity cables.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Caring for older people

Yesterday I initiated a Parliamentary debate on Care and Services for Older People. Having purposely chosen a wide-ranging a title for the debate, to allow for the diverse nature and varied issues that older people currently face in the UK, I am pleased that so many of my colleagues joined me in using the opportunity to highlight topics across different Government Departments. These included financial education, housing needs, funding of care, service delivery and appropriate levels of care being available to older people to allow them to stay in their own homes for longer.

The increasing size of our ageing population and increased longevity of life is not new information; it is something that we have been aware of for many years. Therefore, I am pleased that in his response to my debate, Paul Burstow, Minister for Care Services, agreed with me that it is time to take action and ensure that this Government does not act as previous governments have by kicking this issue into the long grass. We should celebrate the fact that people are living longer; it is a great credit to our society that many people in the UK are having a longer third phase of life and we must act to support them rather than let fears for those later years of life daunt and overwhelm.

The Minister made it clear that not only funding but delivery of care and services for older people is something that has not previously been given the priority it deserves. I welcome the Minister outlining the Government’s actions to move forward, next April, on implementing a White Paper for Social Care, including the recommendations of the Dilnot Report to secure a new funding system for social care. This will be a system which is both sustainable and fair whilst still ensuring that the quality of care is the greatest priority.

While I was disappointed to hear that the Government is not currently minded to create an Older Person’s Minister, I was pleased that the Government will look at my suggestion to establish a new Cabinet Committee on Older People’s issues and a new test within regulatory impact assessments that specifically looks at the effect of proposals on the over 65s in the way that it does for other defined sectors of society.

It was hard to get everything that people wanted to speak about on this issue into a 90 minute debate and I’m sure we could have covered even more topics but I am pleased I got the debate and highlighted the concerns of many people, young and old, across my constituency and beyond about the way we care for older people. But what was absolutely clear is that this is an issue we can no longer ignore.

The full debate can be read HERE.