MAJOR political problems met issues closer to home as Chichester MP Andrew Tyrie took centre stage at a public meeting.
Conservative supporters rallied to hear the backbencher speak on current topics, including the economy, Europe and energy, on Friday evening.
Economic optimism was high on the agenda as Mr Tyrie, chairman of the treasury select committee addressed his audience.
“We need more competition in the banking sector,” said Mr Tyrie.
The politician was asked if he thought everyone would benefit from a low-tax high-growth economy.
“I grew up as the son of a small businessman whose business was almost destroyed by high taxation and it formed my political views,” said Mr Tyrie.
“We inherited a huge deficit. If we keep public expenditure under control there will be scope to reduce the burden of taxation. It is morally right to allow people to keep what they earn.”
“We want to encourage public spending to bring the country back to balance,” added Mr Tyrie.
“My last point is to say we are an advanced, sophisticated democracy. For all the difficulties, we are going to find ways of resolving them in a sensible and balanced way.”
Mr Tyrie criticised the Labour party, arguing it had moved the party to the left with its decision to ‘abandon competitive energy pricing’.
Energy efficiency and the subject of fracking was brought up by passionate members of the public as the floor opened to questions.
“It is quite clear to me that we should keep our minds open to new forms of technology to prevent this rise in energy prices,” said Mr Tyrie.
“The question, I, as an MP, have been considering is how much should this area contribute to the development of fossil fuels. I’m talking mostly about fracking.
“It seems to me clear that if the national park were to take on very large numbers of sites for this, we are talking about changing the character of the area for those who live in the park and those who live near it.”
“While I support the consideration of new technology, I support the need to find new ways of bringing down energy costs.”
However, Mr Tyrie said he did not think the national park was the place for large-scale exploration.
“I do not think it is a good idea to develop on a big scale close to big settlements in the national park.
“I’m nervous of what is going on in Fernhurst. I support the need to explore, but that should not take place in a way that would prejudice the beauty of the national park.”
Mr Tyrie lives in Sutton, but he confessed to ‘worrying’ about the national park authority.
“I worry it has removed local control of all key planning. But so far we haven’t had too much of a problem on that front.”
In the past Mr Tyrie has raised concerns about ‘extra housing being imposed upon Chichester’.
He has also spoken out against plans to increase housing numbers in Selsey.
Addressing his Chichester constituents, Mr Tyrie said he was concerned about ‘traffic pressures’ south of the A27.
“If we have those improvements and a good deal more homes on the peninsula, it will only make the road busier.
“When the improvement work is completed at Arundel and Worthing, that just means more traffic can get down here. The A27 will remain a bottleneck.”
The MP alluded to the floods and bad weather which had caused problems across the area.
“It’s not all doom and gloom on the flood front. There are some good stories to tell. It was with great difficulty that we managed to secure the flood relief,” he said.
Mr Tyrie also expressed his views on the Scottish referendum and proposed vote on the European Union.
“Many of us will have connections with Scotland. I think it would be a great loss if Scotland was to leave the union.”
He said there would be big considerations if Scotland was to become independent – including matters of currency and national security.
“The loss of Scotland would pose enormous problems unless agreements were made to defend ourselves. We have a natural frontier with Scotland and we should stay a single country.”
However, the Chichester MP espoused his views on the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.
The bill to allow the referendum has recently passed the first stage in the House of Lords.
“I support the decision to give the country a say,” said Mr Tyrie. “I’m 57 years old. I was 18 when that referendum took place. The point that I’m making is that so many people didn’t have a say.
“The European Union has been so transformed since the EEC that we joined in 1972.”
Mr Tyrie also told residents the Conservative party was ‘more united than it has ever been since 1997’.