As many of you will have seen from the media coverage, President Zelensky of Ukraine made his first visit to the UK since the Russian invasion of his country began. I was present for his speech in Westminster Hall, which was a historic moment for both the UK and Ukraine. Although we have robust debates in Parliament the whole house came together on a cross-party basis to support the President, and this is very welcome in times of crisis. The UK has pledged a further package of weapon systems to Kyiv, including Challenger 2 tanks and AS90 artillery systems. Our military aid is having a decisive effect on the conflict, and I was pleased that our Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has made clear that all options are on the table going forward. We must continue to support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in their struggle to liberate the whole of their country and end the war on their terms.
Since 2015, 4,620 new apprenticeships have been created in North Cornwall as part of the Conservative’s drive to improve skills and productivity in our economy. Each new apprenticeship helps students to develop their skills, improve their earnings, and establish long and successful careers. As well as driving up the number of people boosting their skills through apprenticeships, the Government’s reforms are also improving the quality of apprenticeships. £2.3 billion of additional funding has been announced for 2023-24 and 2023-25 – with colleges that deliver skills and training getting the most focused support. Alongside reforms to apprenticeships, the Conservative Government has introduced T-Levels and established twelve Institutes of Technology. T-Levels provide students with as rigorous and robust vocational options as A-Levels, whilst Institutes of Technology will be the pinnacle of technical training. As collaborations between universities, colleges and, businesses will specialise in delivering quality, higher-level specialised training in STEM subjects, opening the door to highly skilled careers. Apprenticeships are fantastic ways for students to enter the world of work, helping them to build new skills and gain vital industry knowledge – all while being paid. I grew up in North Cornwall, so I know how important it is to improve local people’s life chances and I am committed to creating chances for the next generation; this news shows me delivering on that promise. Each new apprenticeship means another student building the skills and knowledge they need for a long and successful career.
Finally, I was delighted to sponsor Devon & Cornwall Police’s event in Parliament on Modern Slavery and Organised Immigration Crime. Human trafficking has very real consequences. It is vital we all keep an eye out for signs of people who might be trapped in modern slavery. Today’s event was a terrible reminder that there will be people in Cornwall affected by this practice. Stopping boats crossing the channel and cracking down on illegal immigration will massively reduce the number of people who are trafficked into modern slavery, and I am glad the government is taking the issue seriously.