Henry Smith MP welcomes long-term decisions at the King’s Speech and calls for further action

Henry Smith MP welcomes Government’s long-term decisions at the King’s Speech and calls for further action
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Henry Smith MP has welcomed the Government’s legislative agenda for the next year in the House of Commons (on Tuesday, 14th November).

King Charles III delivered his first King’s Speech on Tuesday 7th November, which is followed by six days of Commons debate. The Crawley MP took part on the penultimate day which was on the topic of securing high, sustained economic growth in every part of the country.

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While delivered by the monarch, the content of the speech is written in its entirety by the government of the day and marks the start of the new parliamentary session.

Henry Smith speaking in the House of CommonsHenry Smith speaking in the House of Commons
Henry Smith speaking in the House of Commons

Speaking in Central Lobby after his speech, Henry said: “We’ve seen the UK economy and in particular the aviation sector continue to bounce back from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There’s plenty more to do to boost our links with the rest of the world and utilise our position as an island trading nation.

“I continue to call on the Government to support the Crawley, Gatwick and UK aviation sector through backing business with development of sustainable aviation fuel to secure the flights of the future.

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“Ensuring duty-free shopping on arrival would provide a further boost to British business and jobs. These are sales which are taking place abroad – we can help passengers to spend their money in Britain.

“No live animal exports have taken place since we left the European Union and the Government’s Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill will make that position permanent. Let’s deliver the manifesto commitment to use the UK’s new Brexit freedoms to end live exports of animals for slaughter and fattening, and boost animal welfare standards.

“Another manifesto commitment I want to see kept is the pledge to ban trophy hunting imports. While my Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill was filibustered, blocked and eventually timed out by a small number of members of the House of Lords, my Bill had the unanimous support of the House of Commons and there is a clear will for Government to introduce its own legislation.

“It was a privilege to take part in the first King’s Speech debate for seven decades – and on King Charles III’s 75th birthday as well. Happy birthday, Your Majesty!”

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Speaking in the debate; offering birthday wishes to King Charles III, Henry said: “I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this debate on the King’s Speech. It was poignant to attend the House of Lords last week to hear His Majesty’s first King’s Speech. It is perhaps appropriate that this debate takes place on Charles III’s 75th birthday, and we all wish him a very happy day indeed.”

On the recovery of the Crawley, Gatwick and UK aviation sector from the pandemic, Henry said: “At the beginning of this parliament, almost four years ago, I do not think anyone could have predicted the events that would unfold after just a few months, with the global Covid-19 pandemic. It is quite remarkable and not by accident that the UK economy has had one of the fastest and strongest recoveries of any in Europe, including Germany and France, and elsewhere in the world, including Japan. I welcome the investment of over £20 billion a year in research and development. It is no accident that this country is decarbonising and reaching our 2050 net zero carbon emission goals more than any other country in the G7.”

On the importance of sustainable aviation, Henry said: “We are an island trading nation, and that is why economic growth has to be supported by a thriving British aviation sector. It has suffered hugely as a result of the pandemic but is coming back extremely strongly. I am delighted that later this month, Virgin Atlantic Airways, which is headquartered in my constituency, will be flying the first ever 100 per cent sustainable aviation fuel fight, transatlantic from London to New York. However, we need to do more to support the sustainable aviation fuels industry, which has the potential to create over 100,000 jobs in this country. It is better for our economic and energy security to produce SAF here in the United Kingdom than to be reliant on importing it from abroad, with all the expense involved.”

On the call for duty-free shopping on arrival at British airports, Henry said: “Another area in which we could boost our economic growth would be to use a Brexit freedom to introduce duty-free shopping on arrivals. Most of the rest of the world does so: parts of Europe that are not in the European Union have introduced duty-free shopping, including Norway and Switzerland, as have many other countries around the world. It is a freedom that we should be using. It would not cost the Treasury any lost revenue, but it would onshore those sales to UK shops and create employment.”

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On action to ban live animal exports, Henry said: “I very much welcome the Livestock Exports Bill. Live animal exports for slaughter and fattening have not taken place for a number of years, but certainly in the past, that was an extremely cruel practice that caused great distress to animals who were trafficked over long distances to meet a very sad end. It is very good that that practice will come to an end in law, so that it can no longer take place. That is another Brexit animal welfare benefit, and something that my late mum would have been very pleased about. Many years ago, she often used to write to her local MP calling for an end to live animal exports. It is great that that is now being achieved.”

On calling on the Government to ensure the UK leads the world on animal welfare, Henry said: “Finally, a manifesto commitment that the Conservative party made four years ago and that featured in most of the main parties’ political manifestos, was the banning of trophy hunting imports—the import of endangered species’ body parts into Great Britain. In the last session, I tabled such a ban in the form of a private member’s bill, but unfortunately that Bill was filibustered, blocked and eventually timed out by a very small number of peers—one of them a hereditary peer—in the other place. The ban passed this elected House unanimously, has widespread public support and was a Government commitment.”

Please click here for the full text and video of Henry’s speech.