Its been a busy couple of days at the party conference in Blackpool.
Yesterday I spoke in the health debate about hospitals. After all my parents were hospital doctors, my sister is a hospital doctor and I even sleep with a hospital doctor (my husband!). I therefore join patients in fighting for our hospitals.
I was incorrectly introduced as being from Grantham (not my mistake and sorry) - but I did want to tell the conference about hospital cuts in Grantham, where the Conservative MP recently switched to the Labour party. I said "Emergency surgery's been cut, A&E severely cut, the stroke service is facing cuts and as for the maternity service - they are still talking about those cuts. If that's how Gordon Brown treats his new friends I'm staying right here."
It is utter madness to be building thousands of new homes and then cut our most essential services. We have had similar cuts threatened in rapidly growing Cambridgeshire.
I was delighted to hear that the Conservative manifesto will include a promise not to close maternity or A&E services. My husband, a cancer specialist, is regularly frustrated that he can not prescribe the latest drugs to patients. He was pleased to hear the promise that the approval process for cancer drugs will be speeded up.
I went to a very poorly attended fringe meeting on Immigration. This is a huge concern all over the East of England. I said "We know how valuable migrant workers have been and don't want to send people back to persecution in countries like Burma or Zimbabwe but it already feels that our roads, housing, hospitals, police can't cope - uncontrolled immigration is a great worry for our services." I'm pleased to hear our pledge to bring back immigration controls.
On tax it was good to hear that first time buyers should be excluded from stamp duty up to £250,000 and inheritance tax thresholds raised to £1 million. This will help young and old. They are policies that I played a part in forming when I worked on the tax reform commission last year.
At other fringe meetings I heard about the disgrace of our prison service - It's not working when 2/3 of those released re offend within 2 years. We need not only to solve prison overcrowding but also to make sure those released are not just sent back into their old ways. I spoke to a PC last week who had just re-arrested a criminal with 26 previous convictions - and this was a 23 year old.
Finally I gave David Willetts a gentle handbagging on grammar schools. I know that in many parts of the country pupils don't have access to grammar schools and we must make sure they all get the benefits of education that fits individual pupils - however in many other parts they are working and if it ain't broke don't fix it!