The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Quizzing the candidates: Henry Smith (Conservative)

with 4 comments

The pastors of Maidenbower Baptist Church wrote to the Parliamentary candidates of the three main parties with a series of questions, hoping to clarify some of the issues for Crawley’s Christian voters.  First out of the blocks with the answers was Henry Smith, the Conservative candidate.  His answers are below, and there are links to the other candidates’ responses.

Chris OxladeHenry SmithJohn Vincent

1.         Is our society broken?  If it is, how does your party hope to fix it?

There are many great examples of communities working well and harmoniously, often with faith based organisations at the centre of that. I believe, however, that there are too many people, often the young and under privileged, who are excluded from our society or who have decided to exclude themselves. In this sense I think significant sections of British society are broken.

I believe that part of the problem over the past half-century or so has been increased pressure on the family; pressures from changing work patterns, societal attitudes and a lack proper recognition from the state. My personal belief is that the family is a God given structure and the ‘bedrock’ of our society for millennia and that fact has not changed simply because we live in modern times.

I believe there is such a thing as society, it is just not the same as the state.

2.         Do you believe that Christian values have a beneficial role to play in contemporary society?  Is Christianity merely a private matter, or should it be allowed freely and publicly to influence the words and deeds of those who believe?

I believe in the values of freedom and faith. The Christian community and other faith groups have a positive and essential role in our society and believers should of course be free to express their faith.

3.         Do you believe that marriage is for a man and a woman alone and that it is the duty of the state to do all it can to strengthen and encourage the institution of marriage?

As the family is the basis of a healthy society so I believe marriage between a man and a woman is the basis of healthy families. Unfortunately it is not currently the case but the tax and benefit system should recognise and support marriage.

4.         Do you accept that people who believe that heterosexual marriage is the only proper context for a sexual expression should be free to say so without falling foul of the law or losing their jobs?

I believe in freedom of choice and freedom of individual conscience. As long as someone is not causing harm to another or breaking the law then I believe in allowing people to live their lives in the way they wish and also to have the liberty to express their beliefs freely.

5.         Do you believe that churches/religious groups should be free only to employ people whose beliefs and lifestyle are in accordance with the specific teaching of those churches/groups?

Yes.

6.         Should school governors be given discretion over the contents of sex education lessons and should the concerns of parents be taken into account when deciding what children are taught?

Yes.

7.         If elected, would you oppose any extension of Sunday trading hours in shops?

Yes.

8.         If elected, would you support a reduction of 24/7 licensing?

Yes.

9.         If elected, will you oppose the introduction of Sunday elections?

Yes.

10.       Do you believe that the law on abortion is too lax, too restrictive or about right?

I believe that the current law on abortion is about right.

11.       Do you think that the law on euthanasia should be changed?

I believe in the individual’s right to choose. The issue of voluntary euthanasia needs further debate and the law on suicide needs to be clarified.

12.       Local issues:

  • Crawley does not seem to have a great reputation locally or nationally.  Is this fair, and what – if necessary – should be done about it?

I think Crawley is a good place to live with just about everything on our doorstep, that is why I chose to live here when I got married and why we are raising our young family here. However, I think our town could be better still. As a local resident, if fortunate enough to be elected MP, I will speak for local people’s interests in Parliament, not be simply a Government mouthpiece here at home. Crawley needs more visible policing to tackle anti-social behaviour and the fear of crime. In addition we need to bring important hospital services, such as A&E and maternity, back to the area.

  • Do you oppose or support the idea of a second runway at Gatwick Airport?

My view on the future of Gatwick is exactly the same as the opinion of the airport’s new owners – that it should grow in terms of passenger numbers but on the current ‘one runway, two terminals’ configuration. the Department for Transport estimates that numbers can increase by an extra ten million throughput passengers per annum without the need for an additional runway. Gatwick and its effect is vital to our economic success and local employment. I believe economic growth can be achieved without runway expansion which would damage the local environment.

  • If elected, will you actively be seeking to obtain a new hospital for Crawley?

Yes. This is the most important local issue. An important town like Crawley with a growing and aging population; major transportation links, such as Gatwick, in addition to being at the centre of the sub region, needs a new hospital. East Surrey Hospital is ten miles away over congested roads, is overloaded and receives bad hygiene reports. My wife, Jennifer, used to work at Crawley Hospital until her job moved to East Surrey, from home in Maidenbower some mornings it could take her up to an hour to reach work – inconvenient for residents at best, life threatening at worst.

13.       Why should the people of Crawley vote for you at the upcoming election?

I am local, am raising my family here and have represented the area on the County Council for over a dozen years.  As Leader of West Sussex County Council I have been pleased to realise investment of over £100 million into three new Crawley schools, the new library (twice the size of the old library and the most sustainable public building in West Sussex) and the recycling centre at Metcalf Way which is now achieving a recycling rate in excess of 50%. I believe I have local knowledge and experience.

Thank you, Henry, for taking the time to answer our questions, and for your swift and precise answers.

Chris OxladeHenry SmithJohn Vincent

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 17 April 2010 at 08:53

4 Responses

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  1. Our conservative candidate is an openly gay christian man. Interestingly, he was firmly in favour of reviewing the abortion laws with the aim of lowering the limit.

    Jonathan Hunt

    Saturday 17 April 2010 at 17:25

  2. Nice to see my little idea taking off. Some other folks have let me know that they plan to do something similar. See you at Banner?

    Guy Davies

    Monday 19 April 2010 at 22:16

    • Thanks, Guy. Now we just need the other candidates to chip in. And, yes, I hope to be at Banner, so I shall look forward to seeing you there, God willing.

      Jeremy Walker

      Tuesday 20 April 2010 at 11:51


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