This week we witnessed a big moment in our island nation's history - the first King’s Speech in more than 70 years. In it, King Charles marked the start of the Parliamentary year and unveiled the Government's agenda for the year ahead. This will now be enacted into law through a series of Bills. 

I want to update you on some of the key announcements that will benefit us in Andover. First, on policing and crime, you may be aware that we’ve just recruited 20,000 new police officers nationally — here in Hampshire, we’re getting at least 600 from the national programme, and I’ll be working with them to make sure they are visible and focusing on the bread and butter issues — kicking drugs out of our town and cutting burglaries and anti-social behaviour. Now, we’re building on that by making sure the most serious offenders such as murderers and rapists have to face their accusers and serve their entire terms in custody. We are also investing in more prison space and rehabilitation — all of this together will make our streets safer. 

Next, on the economy, we recently struck the biggest trade deal since Brexit, to join a vast free-trade area made up of 11 dynamic countries including Singapore, Australia, Canada and Japan. We are now making the most of this by focusing on growing our trade and investment with them — this will help our local businesses in the town centre find new export opportunities and grow. 

On the cost of living, we are backing North Sea oil and gas extraction which will make us more energy independent, safeguard hundreds of thousands of jobs, and help reduce energy bills for households. We will still meet our net zero commitments but in a more balanced without burdening households with undue costs. And of course, we are continuing in our efforts to cut inflation — the good news is that it is falling, at the time of writing it around half of what it was at the peak last year, and that too will help bring our energy and food bills down. 

There is much more in the agenda for the coming weeks and months too including banning live animal exports and doubling down on our work to stop illegal boats crossing the channel. I will keep you posted.