Every one of us will face challenges in our lives. We may face difficulties at work, in our personal relationships or with physical or mental health. Few of us have the courage and strength to reach out and help others when we are fighting our own battles. Yet one of my constituents is doing just that.
In 2013, Andrew Scarborough from Ascot, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour at the age of 27. I cannot begin to imagine just how difficult this must have been for him and his family.
Andrew is a talented and admirable young man who is well on his way to a Master’s degree in nutritional therapy and is planning to go on to a career helping others to improve their lives through changing their diets.
Living with brain cancer
As his brain tumour has developed, Andrew has had to deal with the debilitating symptoms that go along with brain cancer. He began to suffer from epilepsy as the tumour started affecting his brain functions and was, at times, unable to leave his bed, such was the pain and fatigue of the disease.
Among financial and techie communities, digital currencies (DC), such as bitcoin, have become the exciting development to watch.
It’s exciting because it could transform the way we transfer money in the UK. Bitcoin payments are approved via a network of other users, who verify them. Payments are instantaneous and completely transparent because a record of every single transaction is stored on users’ computers in something called the “blockchain ledger”. There is no central bank involved, no credit card fees and no lengthy waits for the money to be wired through.
Many people recognise the huge benefits and implications of this technology. Remittances, online payments, contract clearing, multi-person derivatives and crowdfunding could all be made significantly cheaper, more transparent and more efficient using digital currencies. Not to mention the wider applications for the technology such as electronic voting.
And yet, it is not being widely discussed by politicians in the UK. That’s why I was delighted to be invited to participate in a ResPublica debate entitled “Digital Currencies: Will regulation stifle innovation?” along with Steve Baker, Conservative MP for Wycombe.
Today, with great trepidation, I accepted the challenge of discussing the gender pay gap on Radio 4 Woman’s Hour. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to explain why I believe passionately that we should finish the job of closing the gap in the right way.
Overall, the gender pay gap, as measured by the Office of National Statistics, stands at around 9% – the lowest in British history. This compares to a pay gap of 17% in 1997. Indeed, in many cases, women below the age of 40 are now earning more than men.
I want the current pay gap to close further, in the interests of economic growth and social progress, and, thankfully, progress continues.
This is why I could not bring myself to support a recent Bill that would risk the progress we’ve already made without awaiting the results of recent new initiatives by the Government. The Bill aims to ‘force’ private companies with more than 250 staff to publish data, as yet unspecified, about employees pay, which could cost businesses in the region of £70m.
This is the wrong approach and I voted against the Bill for several reasons:
Labour have announced plans that would introduce rigid criteria for fee-paying schools to meet if they want to keep tax reliefs. This will cause more problems than it solves.
In an article published by the New Statesman, I write that “We all want to see more children from less advantaged backgrounds gain greater social mobility, but this kind of visceral proxy class-war needs unpicking.”
Read the full article online here.
Who contributes the most to science? The UK does, according to the latest Good Country Index. But while we publish world-leading research and win Nobel prizes, we sadly haven’t always been able to take economic advantage of that research excellence.
Closing this ‘innovation gap’ must be a priority for the Government as I argue in The Huffington Post today. We must make sure our young people are learning technical skills at school and that our tax system is competitive for science and technology companies.
Read the article on The Huffington Post