OpEd on the Inauguration of Nana Akufo-Addo by Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Ghana, Adam Afriyie MP
When I was first elected to Parliament 11 years ago, mental health remained largely a taboo subject. One of my first acts was to contribute to a book called ‘The Forgotten’, a collection of policy ideas by Conservative MPs first elected in 2005. I chose to write about mental health, specifically the need to tear down the stigma around depression what deters so many sufferers from seeking treatment.
One of the most heartening trends of the last decade has been a greater awareness of the need to put mental health on parity with physical health alongside greater efforts to break down the stigma that still exists.
As society changes and technology deepens our understanding of the natural world, some curious anachronisms have emerged in our current prescription charge system. Unchanged since 1968, it is in need of reform.
A broad political consensus exists that it is unfair as some long-term conditions qualify people for free prescriptions – like diabetes, for example – whilst others don’t – like schizophrenia.
Today’s Autumn Statement highlights just how much progress this Government has made. Project Fear has been shown to be a phantom: This year Britain is set to remain the fastest growing economy in the G7! And next year we are likely to grow as quickly as Germany and outpace both France and Italy.
What’s more, the fastest growing region of the UK was the North East, the fastest pay growth was in the West Midlands, and every region recorded a record high employment rate. This Conservative Government has moved away from the London-centric economy built under Labour and opened up the powerhouses of the North.
In the Windsor constituency we are well aware of the devastating impact that floods can have on people homes, lives and livelihoods.
Almost every winter the River Thames swells and our flood defences are tested. Three years ago we watched with alarm as the gauges on the Thames reached the highest levels recorded since their introduction as we were hit by serious winter floods.