Protecting the future environment and standard of living for our local area and beyond is one of great importance – and this is supported by the volume of correspondence to me from local people. Economic growth and respect for our planet are by no means two opposites.
Our abundant local environment, nature and wildlife are most welcome in North East Hampshire, such as the protected red kites, once hunted close to extinction in the United Kingdom, which we now see a lot of in the countryside around the constituency. Having founded, and served as Chairman of, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Endangered Species, I have and will continue to relentlessly make sure that animal welfare remains on the agenda.
HM Government is taking the issue of climate change seriously too, and you may be interested to know that we have decarbonised our economy faster than any country in the G20 over the last two decades. This is positioning Britain at the forefront of well-paid ‘green jobs’. We should be in no doubt: there is a global race to develop new green technology, kick-start new industries and attract private investment. But I get that bills are going up. Whether energy bills at home, or grocery bills in the shops. By seizing these opportunities we will improve our energy security and help with the cost of living. That’s because we will be less dependent on foreign oil and gas, so less affected by global price rises, and because these new jobs will boost wages across the economy. Tackling climate change and tackling the cost of living are linked more clearly than ever.
The literacy of our children is a priority for this government too, and we have made great progress recently – in 2019, 65% of pupils reached the expected standard in reading, writing and maths, compared to 53% in 2016. By 2030, our ambition is that 90% of all primary school children in England will achieve this standard across the country. That’s all why, to celebrate 25 years of World Book Day, I recently ran a short story competition for all primary school aged pupils in North East Hampshire, with the theme of ‘the natural environment’. I am most grateful to all the local children who sent me their stories. It was great to see their imagination and creativity, and the children clearly understand the intergenerational importance of our environment. Whilst it was difficult to select just three winning entries, I’m sure that, after reading them – which you can do at: bit.ly/ranilwbd22 – you’ll agree that they are especially brilliant and the standard of writing was exceptionally high. The top three entries received a WHSmith Achievement Reward voucher, kindly donated by The WHSmith Trust, to spend on stationery and books, which I hope will inspire the children to write many more fantastic stories in the future. My thanks again to all who entered, and I look forward to running this again next year!
I hope we will have the opportunity to discuss these and other important issues at one of my future ‘drop in’ sessions, advertised online at: ranil.uk/events and on my Facebook page.