MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

“GARDENING requires lots of water – mostly in the form of perspiration.”

A great quotation about the joys of tending to plants, gardens and allotments and other greenery.

And I must admit, not being a particularly avid gardener myself, I began to feel a drop of my brow at the mere sight of all the gardening equipment I handed over to the children at Heyhouses Primary School on Friday as part of Morrison’s “Let’s Grow” campaign.

Fortunately, other than handing the shovels and other equipment over, I didn’t have too much work to do.

However, I do have a massive amount of time for the principle behind the campaign.

Food sustainability and the importance of children learning where food comes from is, I believe, extremely important.

In an age when food wastage is a huge issue, obesity is a big problem and where some children grow up eating packaged fast-food by the box load, the more we can do to encourage them to understand the natural environment and where food comes from, the better.

Wastage and excess, of course, is firmly in the Government’s mind when it comes to the Welfare Reform Bill which has been heavily debated this week.

This is a subject that will not be without controversy and groups and individuals from across society will be scrutinising these proposals very heavily.

However, I hope you will agree with the overarching principles of reducing the reliance on benefits, simplifying the system and incentivising people to get back into work.

Universal credit, which will streamline the system, should help to achieve this and I think the proposed reforms of housing benefit, which the Government hope will ensure that unemployed housing benefit claimants are no longer able to afford to live in property’s that working people could not possibly afford, will be widely welcomed.

That said, because of the wide range of needs of citizens up and down the country, sensitive handling is needed and the Government must again listen carefully to the public.

How the policy is implemented will be vital but, as the Government has demonstrated both in relation to the NHS, forests and other issues, they are willing to listen, learn and work together with people to improve the country.

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