I was delighted to welcome a group of 53 pupils from Pickering school to Westminster today along with some of their teachers. It’s a great privilege for me to show them my place of work. They were given a tour of the Houses of Parliament which they clearly found as impressive and inspiring as I do every day.
They put me through my paces during a question and answer session. I was not surprised to hear that climate change is a top issue of concern for them. I was pleased to be able to tell them that the UK achieved 5th place in the 2019 Climate Change Performance Index ahead of France, Norway, Iceland and New Zealand who have set net zero targets although I agree that there is much more we can and need to do. I told them that this Government is making good progress moving away from fossil fuels and towards cleaner energy. I have been pushing for a net zero commitment from the Government and was a sponsor of fellow MP Alex Chalk’s private members bill that first proposed legislation for this goal so I was pleased that the Prime Minister has recently introduced legislation to ensure we have a net zero carbon target in law by 2050.
The issue of school funding was also raised and I agreed that there is a need for more funding after the last few years when budgets have been tight. I assured them that I would be doing everything I can to ensure that we secure our fair share in North Yorkshire.
I was pleased that they raised the proposed dualling of the A64. This is a major priority for me and my fellow neighbouring Conservative MPs. I want this to be included in the next road investment period from 2020 to 2025 because the long tailbacks on that stretch of road are going to worsen in the years ahead and they already have a very negative impact on the regional economy for businesses and tourists wanting to travel to the East Coast.
Of course the leadership contest also came up in our discussions and I was very pleased to see that they were taking such a lively interest in these hugely important local and national issues.