Robert's Weekly Column - 10th June 2020

I am proud and privileged to represent a local community where people are valued not according to where they have come from but what contribution they can make to our town. The death of George Floyd in the United States and the protests that have been taking place across the globe are stark reminders that we still live in a world where prejudice sadly and unacceptably continues to play a role. We all have a duty to stand up to racism wherever we see it. The right to peaceful protest is one of the hallmarks of a mature democracy like ours, but under the rule of law. The rule of law is the guarantor of true equality. This is why we must never accept violence or criminal conduct as a legitimate in our democracy.

On Friday I hosted another one of my regular virtual advice surgeries for residents to have the chance to raise local and national issues directly with me. The topics raised during this busy surgery ranged from Covid-19 to cycling. If you would an issue you would like to discuss with me, please get in contact via

I have been working closely with Councillor Gary Sumner to help meet the need for fast and reliable broadband in all of rural communities of South Swindon. We have had a couple of meetings with the Rural Engagement Manager at Openreach to discuss the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s Broadband Scheme, which is aimed at supporting the provision cost of Gigabit capable broadband to homes and businesses in rural areas. I am pleased to announce that they have agreed to cost out the Fibre provision for all of our rural communities and this study is now underway.

On Monday I led the debate on the Divorce Bill. The end of a marriage is an extremely painful time for any couple, and I am aware of the strength of feeling on this issue. When a relationship ends, it cannot be right for the law to introduce or exacerbate conflict between divorcing couples.

This Bill will ensure that the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage will remain the sole grounds for divorce and will also remove the need to show evidence of the other spouse’s conduct, or a period of living apart. Removing the archaic requirements to allege fault or show evidence of separation would promote a less acrimonious process, helping families to look to the future.

On Tuesday I fielded dozens of questions from MPs in the Commons on the work of the Ministry of Justice and then opened the debate on the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill. This important Bill will strengthen every stage of the process of dealing with terrorist offenders across the UK, from sentencing and release through to managing risk in the community, helping to keep us safe.

Following the attack in Streatham, we introduced and passed emergency legislation into law to ensure terrorist offenders, including those currently serving, will no longer be released early automatically. This means that the earliest point at which terrorist offenders will be considered for release will be after they have serviced two-thirds of their sentence. Indeed, no terrorist offender will be released before the end of the full custodial term unless the Parole Board agrees.

My constituency team and I continue to work daily on Covid-19 related issues that affect residents, plus the issues that matter to our future too, as we come together to deal with the huge challenges that face us.