On Monday I joined Conservative colleagues in a meeting with Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, to set out priorities for Government funding as part of the Strategic Spending Review. Further funding for education was a hot topic. On Tuesday morning, in a crowded chamber, I took part in a debate on funding for further education colleges. Numbers taking qualifications for health and social care workers are down, people taking qualifications in construction are down, qualifications for engineers are down and qualifications in IT are down. This does not bode well for Britain.
In Cornwall this week parents of young people who have special education needs met with the college and Cornwall Council to address the fact that many of these young people are only offered three days at college rather than five. They also raised the issue of the astronomical cost of transport - which could be better used for the education itself. It is inexcusable to short-change our young people in this way. The Chancellor must grasp this issue and fund education properly.
From Monday this week rail passengers on GWR can claim for delays of 15 minutes. Great news! This follows the introduction of a Delay Repay 15 Scheme across the network. As I travel every week I found the service largely reliable. However, when it does go wrong it is only right that people, who have paid good money for the privilege of using the network, are compensated. Previously delay of more more than an hour attracted compensation which was grossly unfair.
What is also welcome is that the process has been simplified and passengers can claim, on a sliding scale from 25% of the single ticket cost up to 100% of the return ticket cost depending on the length of the delay. The Transport Secretary is often the target of some pretty aggressive criticism although I’ve found him to be responsive and engaged (often to incredible detail) when I’ve raised transport related concerns. I hope he gets the credit he deserves for delivering against a resistant rail sector this Delay Repay 15 scheme and for the introduction of a Rail Ombudsman. The Ombudsman has the power to investigate and rule on passenger complaints, award passengers up to £2,500 in compensation and make decisions which are binding on rail firms.
The Indicative Vote process that took place in Parliament on Wednesday last week and Monday of this was basically a waste of time. It was brought forward by a small group of cross-party MPs who are clear:- they object to Brexit. Furthermore, the Speaker chose which of the motions put forward by any MP would be voted on which, in itself, compromises the process. I understand why people are so angry and rightly so. People that take part in our electoral system trust us (or would like to) to put the national interest first. Many of my colleagues on both sides of the debate have yet to grasp this and I fully understand why trust in politicians is so low.