Regular readers of my column will know that I often discuss the latest developments at Porton Down.

It is an honour to have represented South Wiltshire in Parliament for more than 13 years, and I am delighted that after the new constituency boundaries are changed at the next general election, Porton Down will remain in the Salisbury constituency.

This week is another important milestone in the history of Porton Down as it was announced that a new Vaccine Development and Evaluation Centre (VDEC) had opened as part of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) facilities.

The VDEC will employ more than 200 scientists who will be working in public health laboratories looking at tackling critical public health threats.

The past five years – with first the novichok nerve agent attack here in Salisbury and then a global pandemic – have shown the critical importance of cutting-edge scientific research to protect public health.

The new vaccine unit and the recently opened Collaborative Innovation Centre at Porton Science Park which I visited in June show that Porton Down is going from strength to strength.

I am very pleased that Porton Down is providing an increasing number of well-paid jobs for local residents in South Wiltshire, but I am not complacent and we must resist the temptation to rest on our laurels.

There is more investment possible to unlock even more potential and build on Porton Down’s stellar international reputation.

In recent weeks I have been turning up the pressure on ministerial colleagues to make sure the government exploits the unique synergies that are possible through the co-location of Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and UKHSA facilities.

Although it is summer recess, ministerial meetings have carried on in the Treasury where I have continued making decisions around public spending in my role as Chief Secretary.

But I will be returning to Salisbury at the end of the week, when I have a full slate of constituency surgery appointments.

Next Tuesday evening, I am looking forward to visiting the Ray Mac to cheer on Salisbury FC in their Southern League clash against Swindon Supermarine.

North Swindon MP, Justin Tomlinson, will also be in attendance so there will be a lot at stake for bragging rights between the north and south of the county!