Column: Speaking Up for the Silent

In positions of responsibility, it is important that those with a platform use it well.  As the Sevenoaks MP, I speak up for thousands of people in Parliament; I knock heads together when people can’t cut through bureaucratic systems; and I stand up for causes I believe in.  I do this because I can, whilst most people cannot.

I’m not alone – most MPs worth their salt do this.  But speaking up for those without a voice goes beyond representing only people.  In many ways, I represent our environment, too: from streets to boundaries – even the air we breathe.

IMG_7468Recently, I have received hundreds of letters asking me to ‘stand up for the Green Belt’, for example.  My position on the matter should be clear, not only because I committed to doing just that at recent General Election – but also because I’m a conservative.

The clue is in the name: conservative.  I generally want to conserve things.

Where I think things work well, I think they should be conserved.  Where I think things should be learned from, I think they should be preserved.

But conservatism extends to protecting all things that are vulnerable.  This can include areas of land, and the wildlife they contain, as well as buildings, and the traditions they maintain.

Vellum – on which Acts of Parliament are printed – is a vital part of our national heritage and something I successfully campaigned to protect last year. MF with vellum

Heritage sites – remains from the Reformation or historic pubs – are windows into our local history and a key part of the district’s attractiveness to tourists.

And our Green Belt – about which I recently wrote to the Communities Secretary, urging him to maintain protections – is the jewel to which the rest of the country look.  Having successfully convinced the Chancellor to ring-fence Green Belt land, our beautiful area is safe for now.

But our work to maintain and enhance protections for the environment is not yet done, because the environment always needs looking after to meet our golden standards.

Over the last few months, the Government has raised those standards even further.

Now, we’re tackling the plastics that are damaging our marine environment, cracking down on the ivory trade and increasing jail time for animal abusers.

We have a duty to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better shape than when we inherited it.  And I will continue to help the Government work towards ensuring that this is the case.

Microbeads Ban helps ‘Keep Britain Green’

Michael has welcomed the Government’s decision to implement a full ban on microbeads.

The announcement was made by the Environment Secretary on Friday 21 July after a public consultation on microbeads, which are found in a wide range of personal care products including toothpastes.

Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic that are proven to have entered the world’s oceans where they are then swallowed by wildlife.

The ban will prevent microbeads from being manufactured and sold in the UK. Legislation to implement the ban will be introduced later this year, with the manufacturing ban due to become effective from 1 January 2018 and the sales ban to follow on 30 June 2018.

The announcement comes after figures that show plastic bag usage has fallen 83 per cent since the Government introduced the 5p plastic bag charge.

Michael said: ‘The UK has always been a leader in environmental protection.  We take our responsibility to marine life here and around the world very seriously.  Whether it’s banning microbeads or reducing plastic bag usage, I support this Government’s efforts to keep Britain green.’