At the G8 summit in Northern Ireland this week, much of the focus was on making sure developing countries can rely on the tax revenues they’re due from large companies operating there.
I’m pleased the British Government made this the priority under our time leading the G8, five months after I raised these problems with the Prime Minister in Parliament.
The summit has also provided the opportunity for the Prime Minister to meet with Russia’s President Putin and other world leaders to discuss the worrying escalation in hostilities in Syria, where almost 100,000 people have been killed since the conflict began three years ago.
I cannot help feeling that with Russia arming the Regime, America talking of arming certain rebels, and the Saudis arming another faction, what is needed is not more arms but more peacemakers.
That is a painstaking process which is likely to continue to be frustrating, but that makes it all the more deserving of sustained diplomatic effort.
Leaks last week revealed the American security services have been collecting ordinary peoples’ private data from internet companies on a massive scale. In Parliament I asked whether standard procedures exist to prevent Britain’s GCHQ obtaining information from the United States that it could not obtain legally in the UK.
It was altogether a happier agenda on my return to the constituency, where I visited Forest and Sandridge Primary School near Melksham, which is taking part in My Money Week. I watched pupils enjoy real world problem-solving, such as working out the cost of the ingredients for a recent charity cake sale, to practice what they learn about maths. Their enthusiasm demonstrated the benefits of our successful campaign to include financial education in the school curriculum, which may also help prepare young people to avoid financial pitfalls as they grow up.
There was welcome news last week as unemployment in the Chippenham constituency fell again last month. There are now fewer people here out of work and claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance than at any time in the last four years. Youth unemployment also fell last month and remains noticeably lower than last year. Both have a lot further to go, but recent progress is encouraging.
My next surgeries are at my constituency office, Avonbridge House, Chippenham, between 1pm and 2.30pm tomorrow, and at Melksham Town Hall on Saturday, July 6 (10.30am-noon).