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Henry Smith MP: World Cancer Day and launching an inquiry into genomic medicine

In his article this week Crawley MP Henry Smith talks about World Cancer Day and an inquiry into genomic medicine.

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World Cancer Day

This week in Parliament I’ve been proudly wearing my Unity Band in support of World Cancer Day, which takes place each year on 4th February.

We all know someone who has had cancer, and I welcome the commitments in the NHS Long-Term Plan to increase the number of people diagnosed with cancer at stage 1 or 2 to 75 per cent by 2028, ensure 55,000 more people each year survive cancer for at least five years after diagnosis, and the launch of Rapid Diagnostic Centres across the country to transform diagnostic services and improve patient pathways.

The NHS Funding Bill will increase support for the National Health Service, with an annual boost of £33.9 billion by 2023-24. During the House of Commons debate on this legislation last month I spoke about the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Cancer which I founded and chair.

Now the Group has been reconstituted following the General Election, we’re continuing with our inquiry into genomic medicine in blood cancer. We’ve put out a call for evidence which is open until 16th March. Genomics is the study of the genome; all 3.2 billion letters (or ‘bases’) of a person’s DNA. There are around 20,000 genes within a person’s genome, these are akin to the instructions for making the proteins our bodies are built from.

Genomic medicine will provide benefits to both the biomedical research community and individual patients; potentially offering a more accurate diagnosis, and in turn, appropriate treatments and access to clinical trials.

The NHS will be the first healthcare system in the world to systematically introduce whole genome sequencing into routine healthcare.

In order to ensure blood cancer patients can make the most of the benefits afforded by genomic medicine we need to ensure the new Genomic Medicine Service is fit for purpose and integrated seamlessly into the wider NHS. This’ll be one of the key areas of the inquiry’s focus, which will have patients and their support networks at its heart.

Henry Smith MP
Crawley Constituency

Henry Smith

Henry Smith MP: Stronger sentences for cruelty to animals

In his article this week Henry Smith MP talks about stronger sentences for cruelty to animals.

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Henry Smith MP

When I’m out and about listening to people in Crawley, one issue which tends to unite those usually on differing sides of the political spectrum is the necessity to increase the punishment for those who hurt animals needlessly.

Recently in Westminster I was pleased to meet with Battersea – the dog and cat rescue centre – to reiterate my support for Government proposals to extend the current maximum penalty for animal cruelty offences, specified under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, tenfold from six months imprisonment to five years.

This change would provide the justice system with the flexibility to treat the most shocking acts of animal cruelty much more seriously than it can at present. 

At Battersea’s event alongside a host of other MPs, we signed the organisation’s pledge board to highlight the strength of parliamentary support on this issue.

The Government already has a strong record on animal welfare and protection of animals. From the introduction of mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses – a campaign I led in Parliament – to banning the use of wild animals in travelling circuses, it is right that action has been taken.

Other measures I have supported have been the introduction of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales to help stop the poaching of elephants, and the banning of commercial third party sales of puppies and kittens in England to end the terrible welfare conditions found in puppy farming.

I was pleased to serve as Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Animal Welfare in both the 2015 and 2017 parliaments. As Groups such as this one are in the process of being reconstituted following the General Election in December, I look forward to playing my part in this APPG’s work in the months and years ahead.

Henry Smith MP
Crawley Constituency

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