Having entered the Private Members Bill ballot every year since becoming an MP I was very pleased to hear I had been selected this time round.
These Bills are an opportunity for backbench MPs to bring forward legislation on an issue they feel passionately about; the only caveats being, you can’t spend any money and you need to win cross-party support to get it passed.
After considering a number of options, I settled on enshrining in law, the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7% of our Gross National Income on aid for developing countries.
For many years, there has been cross-party consensus on this issue and it was also a part of the Coalition Agreement. Although the Coalition’s priorities over the past four years have worked against making time for the Bill, I am very proud to have been a member of the first UK government to reach this target, set by the UN.
Now I want to see us make the commitment to keep achieving it in the future and play our part in tackling poverty, malnutrition and inequality across the globe.
International Development is the one issue which people write to me about all the time as local MP and it is clearly something that Borderers care about. In the next few months, I will be holding meetings across the Borders with interested groups to discuss the Bill and hear their ideas about what it should achieve. People regularly urge me to ensure the UK Government is committed to spending on international development and I believe that this Bill will make sure this happens.
A couple of weeks ago I met with our local NFUS branch to discuss the current issues facing our farmers here in Berwickshire and across the Borders.
The lack of information surrounding CAP implementation from the Scottish Government was raised as one of their key concerns as farmers begin to plan for the next planting season.
Local producers also want to see a reduction in red tape and simplification of the rules to ensure that they don’t face penalties by accident. It was a very useful meeting and I will ensure that these and other concerns are heard at the highest level.
Our local fishing industry has faced huge challenges in recent years on quotas and fishing opportunity so it was good to hear news last week that North Sea Nephrop stocks are on the increase.
The figures, released in a report from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), are based on scientific evidence and will feed into the negotiations for the 2015 quota in the autumn.