I spoke several times in the House of Commons in January on the situation in Gaza and in the Red Sea.

My position is that we need a lasting ceasefire in Gaza and for negotiations to start for a two-state solution, and the pre-1967 borders, to end the war and bring lasting peace to the region.

The foreign secretary said the UK could officially recognise a Palestinian state if there was a ceasefire in Gaza prior to an agreement between Palestinians and Israel, although Hamas, who are terrorists, would need to have left Gaza following its appalling attack on Israel. I support this view.

I have been concerned about some Israeli comments suggesting the migration of Palestinians from Gaza and I received an unequivocal assurance in the Commons from the government that the UK would not support any resettlement of Palestinians outside of Gaza.

I also sought assurances that UK humanitarian aid to Gaza was still getting through and would continue.

Aid was also top of my agenda when I spoke about the Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.

I support targeted strikes by the US and the UK to protect shipping. However, I spoke of the consequences of a prolonged series of strikes on the Yemeni people if the Houthis shut out humanitarian aid, if the ceasefire in Yemen collapses or if navigation around the Yemeni coast becomes impossible.

Yemen imports 90 per cent of its food, and 17 million people are already at risk of famine. Seventy per cent of the Yemeni population live in the areas that the Houthis currently control. We must be mindful of this in addition to freedom of trade.

In the same speech, I paid tribute to our service personnel on station in the Red Sea but told MPs that we needed to treat them better if we want to keep them and recruit the people we need to keep us safe.

Major issues around the quality of service accommodation persist, alongside niggly things such as lack of free access to wi-fi on bases. I said our personnel need secure and happy family lives at home when they deploy.

I added: “If we want people to fight for our values, we must ensure that they feel valued themselves. Ships, tanks and aircraft without crews are useless.”

Closer to home I would like to urge everyone to get involved in the consultation about the proposed new hospital for mid Hampshire. I support it being sited at junction 7 of the M3 – the preferred option. This is an up to £900 million investment in our healthcare. Services will remain at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, including a 24-hour urgent treatment centre. A concentration of specialist services and equipment on one purpose built modern site with ample parking is convenient and is going to save lives. That’s not just my view, it is the view of all the health leaders and experts I have spoken to. I am happy to accept they know best.

Finally, the government launched Pharmacy First at the end of January. More than £600 million has been given to pharmacies across England so people can go to them for seven common complaints and be prescribed treatment, including antibiotics. This innovation will relieve pressure on GPs and offer more convenience and choice to patients.


Flick Drummond MP

Member of Parliament for Meon Valley