Investing in our great country

Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing
Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing

Walking from Worthing station home to my flat by Christ Church, I pass the Centre for English Studies which is now led by Nick Clark.

Twenty years ago I was introduced to students by Bruce Noble. On Wednesday I spoke with Dr Liam Fox MP, Secretary of State for International Trade, about the common sense approach that EU students should be able to attend short English language courses with their national identity cards rather than being required to apply for a passport.

The assumption is that the arrangements from April next year will allow that. Worthing can be counted as a significant exporter of services as much as of manufactured goods. There are payments to families who host students, to staff, to providers of the enjoyable social programme, to classroom rental including the summer school at Worthing College, to transport providers and to local contractors for property costs.

We can be glad that the rising generations have fun interrailing around mainland Europe and that their equivalents come to the United Kingdom to polish their use of English, the growing world language. This contrasts with the war storm clouds that shrouded previous generations in the great wars of the 20th Century and the wars of the previous centuries.

On Wednesday, it was reported that Clement Attlee had hosted a Jewish family shortly before the World War that started in 1939. This was arranged through the Labour leader’s local church. Attlee had lived and worked at the famous Toynbee Hall Settlement, as had Sir William Beveridge who was the Liberal co-founder of the welfare state. As a civil servant working for Winston Churchill he had created labour exchanges and the first stages of national insurance.

|Also in the news - Police are searching for a driver after a hit and run in Goring left a woman in hospital; two neighbours in Lancing are in the money after their postcode was announced as the winner of a daily prize in the People’s Postcode Lottery; and Highdown Gardens in Worthing is now a hedgehog rehoming site for Wadars Animal Rescue|

My uncle and Virginia’s grandfather had also lived and worked at Toynbee Hall. As a young MP, the then director John Profumo asked if I would take a post leading one of their projects.

This came to mind on Friday when I joined the caring expert staff at the modern Job Centre to hear and to see how they aid our fellow local residents to find gainful employment, to apply for appropriate allowances and support and to make life better: whenever possible this is a hand up, not just a handout. The Centre was that day hosting displays by the military reservists, highlighting the benefits to volunteers and to those they serve.

I want to lead the cheering for the students, staff and parents at Oak Grove College. Class 8RO welcomed me to their questioning on Fair Trade. I thank them for their good questions and for the interesting discussion on the similarity of the duckbill platypus and the echidnas as the only surviving egg-laying mammals.

On Saturday, I joined 15 constituents delivering leaflets across west Rustington. Some local residents discussed the progress and need for further progress in the agreement for the UK separation from the EU and the discussions about future relationships. It was no surprise when the news came on Wednesday this week that in recent days the Prime Minister is gaining respect for her endeavours on behalf of the country as a whole. She has my quiet determined backing. To people who might regard themselves as hard Brexiteers or as resolute Remainers, I say that I shall continue to find the positive way forward that avoids unnecessary distress or chaos.

Later, at a Solemn Evensong in Westminster Abbey to commemorate the Canonisation of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the Dean mentioned my links to his life and death nearly 40 years ago. To make us great, we should realise that prosperity and fair sharing matters, that being concerned for fellow humans troubled by strife and disasters around the world is a choice for us, and that knowing about the saints and sinners in other lands is part of our past and of our shared future.

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