Last week saw the State Opening of Parliament and the first King’s Speech in over 70 years. The speech set out the plans and priorities of the Government for the coming year and laid down a total of 21 new pieces of legislation including proposals to introduce tougher sentencing laws and greater police powers, better support for renters and leaseholders, stronger animal welfare protections and a ban on the sale of cigarettes.

In recent years, our country has faced two unprecedented crises with the Covid pandemic and the ongoing conflict in the Ukraine. I am confident that in the measures outlined in the Kings Speech the Prime Minister has laid the foundations for a better future and the new legislation will address the issues that matter most to people in their day to day lives.

Thankfully, Suffolk is deemed to be in the top 20 safest counties in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but the new laws set out in the Kings Speech will go further in keeping people safe by making sure that our hardworking police have the powers that they need to tackle crime.

A new Criminal Justice Bill will give our police the powers that they need to prevent new and complex crimes, such as digitally enabled crime, child sexual abuse and child grooming.

The introduction of tougher sentences and greater police powers will also mean that criminals will receive the prison sentences that they deserve, under a new Sentencing (Whole Life Orders and Short Sentences) Bill. I am also pleased that those who commit some of the most abhorrent crimes will also now be required to attend their sentencing hearings, following recent no-shows in high-profile cases, such as that of nurse Lucy Letby, or the killers of Olivia Pratt-Kobel and Zara Aleena.

Since being elected in 2010, I have played my part in securing funding for an extra 148 police officers here in Suffolk, with numbers rising from 1277 to 1425. Having more police officers to fight crime will mean safer streets and more crimes being solved. Coupled with the new measures set out in the Kings Speech, our hardworking police officers here in Suffolk will have the required tools they need to keep us safe, and I look forward to joining them on a nightshift in the run-up to Christmas.

Many people here in Suffolk rent their homes from private landlords and no-fault evictions have historically caused considerable concern. The 1988 Housing Act gave landlords the power to evict tenants after the initial fixed term of their tenancy agreement (usually 6 months) without the requirement for a reason for the eviction. Understandably, this has left many private tenants vulnerable, and I am pleased that the Renters Reform Bill will abolish no-fault evictions, whilst also delivering new powers for landlords to strengthen landlords’ legal rights to evict tenants if they do not pay their rent.

Many private tenants also worry about their ability to move home with a family pet, or to bring a new pet into the family when living in private rented accommodation. I understand that this can be very distressing, but I am reassured that under the measures set out in the Kings Speech, landlords will no longer be able to impose a blanket ban on pets in their properties. Under the new laws, landlords will be unable to “reasonably refuse” the request of a tenant to have a pet.

As a nation of animal lovers and an animal-lover myself, I am often contacted by residents who are concerned about animal welfare. It is vitally important that animals are treated with care and respect and as a country, we have some of the strongest protections and highest levels of animal welfare in place. Under plans set out in the Kings Speech, I am reassured that the Animal Welfare Bill will bring an end to the export of live animals from the UK for slaughter abroad and better support will be available for our farmers with further improvements to animal welfare standards, including the funding of annual veterinary visits to all livestock farmers.

As both a practising NHS doctor and an MP, I believe it is the duty of every Government to improve the health of the nation. When I was Minister for Child Health, I was proud to be instrumental in introducing new laws to ban smoking in cars with children and I especially welcome the commitment to create the first smoke-free generation by ensuring that no-one aged 14 or under will ever be able to be sold cigarettes, protecting the health of the youngest in our society.

No parent ever wants their child to start the deadly habit of smoking. Becoming addicted to cigarettes in early life is one of the worst things that can happen for future health and these changes to the law now gives parents the support and backing they need to ensure a healthier and smoke-free future for their children.

I am proud that the Government is now taking necessary and robust action in the battle to stop England smoking. This game-changing plan will make for a healthier country and allow our children and grandchildren to have a much better chance of leading healthy and long lives.

Overall, I am pleased that the measures set out in the Kings Speech, together with the forthcoming Autumn Financial Statement will provide the platform for future health and financial prosperity for us all.

Dr Dan Poulter is Conservative MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich