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More must be done to tackle homelessness

Stephen Morgan (Portsmouth South)

The government has not evaluated the impact of its welfare reforms on homelessness, or the impact of the mitigations that it has put in place, according to the National Audit Office (NAO) which scrutinises how public money is spent.

The number of people sleeping rough on the nation’s streets has more than doubled in recently years whilst there were over 77,000 households in temporary accommodation in England in March 2017, an increase of 60% since March 2011.

These households included 120,540 children, an increase of 73% from March 2011.
The report by the NAO says that homelessness at present costs the public sector in excess of £1 billion a year.

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South said:

“This report tells us what we expected. The Government are failing to tackle the homelessness crisis in our country.

The NAO have said that the Department for Communities and Local Government does not have a published cross government strategy to prevent and tackle homelessness. This just isn’t good enough”.

In addition, although the report states that whilst DCLG is responsible for tackling homelessness, during its increase, the Department took a light touch approach to working with local authorities. This contrasts with the more interventionist approach that it has taken during previous periods of high homelessness.

Today Portsmouth churches came together at an event hosted by St. Mary’s Portsea to discuss how the city can respond to growing homelessness on the city’s streets. Stephen Morgan MP attended the event which saw presentations from the city council and local voluntary sector.

Stephen added:

The ability of councils to respond to increased homelessness is constrained by the limited options they have to house homeless families.

With the significant reduction in social housing over the past few decades, we must see more homes built for local people”.

While spending by local authorities on homelessness services such as temporary accommodation has steadily increased since 2010, spending on overall housing services has fallen by 21% in real terms over the same period.

Concerned about the impact the introduction of universal credit will have on homelessness Stephen added:

“The government must finally evaluate the impact of its welfare reforms on homelessness, and there remain gaps in its approach which must be addressed.

Homelessness in our country isn’t inevitable, it can and should be prevented”.

 

 


My conversations with Rohingya refugees

Paul Scully (Sutton and Cheam)

(This article originally appeared in the Times Red Box (paywall))

While the pressure from the international community has been intensifying on Myanmar, the border with Bangladesh remains a treacherous and congested route to safety for thousands of Rohingya fleeing for their lives.

As part of a week of social action with the Conservative Friends of Bangladesh, I have spent time with MPs and volunteers in and around the camps in Cox’s Bazar speaking to people who have been displaced from their burnt-out villages, aid workers and Bangladeshi government ministers.

One was a 60-year-old lady in Kutupalong refugee camp, holding her grandchild. Her son-in-law had been stabbed in front of them. Village children were beheaded. Other young boys had their genitals mutilated, suggesting that this was to stop the Rohingya population reproducing. In one of many health clinics at the camp, seeing an old man being treated for a deep gash, a young man was then brought in on a makeshift stretcher with blood pouring from his head. A family member told me that they were eating earlier that morning in Burma when they were attacked by men with axes and machetes. They escaped across the border and got treatment within hours at the camp.

Three days of solid rain have made the route across the border even more perilous. When we visited the Gundhum border area yesterday, 5,000 refugees were camping on a river bank in a designated “no man’s land” between Burma and Bangladesh, able to ford the river to get food. Arriving today after 24 hours of stormy weather, we saw a body being dragged out of the surging river which had risen by at least six feet.

A Bangladeshi soldier manning the border was frank, telling us how he had seen Burmese military digging there the previous week and drones being flown over the trees filming the refugees from the Burmese side. He had video of a lady who had lost her leg after stepping on a landmine four days before.

This is what the Bangladeshi authorities are having to deal with each day. Five thousand refugees are registering in Kutapalong every day. The Bangladeshi government has just allocated another 2,000 acres for the camp to expand. The area was so big, a lady with an ill four-year-old child was refusing to seek treatment because she was waiting for her husband who had gone to Cox’s Bazar to look for work. She feared that he would not be able to find them again in the sprawl.

There are 80,000 pregnant women in Cox’s Bazar and 13,000 orphans. Doctors said that they were treating mainly diarrhoea and malnutrition but saw several gunshot wounds. The authorities had taken to driving vans with loudhailers encouraging people to register so that they could get the help they needed. We saw makeshift camps that had become flooded. Even in the camps, 100 houses had been swept away in a landslide. As the forest is cut back further to provide more land for shelter, the bare earth is exposed to the heavy rain.

The authorities and NGOs are at breaking point but are working incredibly hard. They are reacting to a fast-moving situation with 420,000 refugees descending on a small, hard-pressed region. We saw the Union flag symbolising the contribution of UK Aid through the department for international development; the UN refugee agency, the International Organisation on Migrants; US Aid as well as support from Turkey and Saudi Arabia, all trying to cope with this man-made crisis exacerbated by terrible weather conditions.

Their worst-case scenario is that all 1.3 million Rohingya come over the border, the best is that the Burmese military stops its disproportionate response to attacks from the minority militant group ARSA and support those who have lived in Myanmar for generations. There may be some instances of civil uprising. If there is, no one with any value for life can think the answer is the mass eradication of a whole community through such barbaric methods.

Although the violence has escalated, this is not a new problem. Kutapalong has been a camp for displaced people for at least two decades. We did need to hear stronger words from Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s state counsellor, in her speech this week but she is also right that the country needs to be looked at as a whole.

Terrible crimes against humanity have occurred in nearly every state in Burma over the past seven decades and the peace process is having an effect in many parts. The country has just seen the first chink of light with a return to being part of the international community once more. Side-lining Ms Suu Kyi at this stage risks that light being extinguished and a return to full military rule with little reporting of the atrocities that will surely continue.

The commander in chief, General Min Aung Hlaing, is the man who can stop this today. I hope that Britain will take a lead on drawing international attention to him with a view to bringing this dark chapter of Burmese history to an end so that the Rohingya community can return to its safe homeland and Myanmar can continue its journey of development. Alongside this, we must remember the humanity and daily struggle of these victims on both sides of the border.

The result  of offering too many compromises with the EU is it will  make the Deal option less attractive than the No Deal Option. Paying large sums for a Free Trade deal makes no sense, when tariffs would  be a cheaper way where we can give the tariff money back to the UK consumers who paid it. Accepting EU control of our laws, trade policy, migration policy  and other matters after March 2019 means we don’t take back control.

The PM’s speech says considerably less than the versions of commentary that have been built on the back of it. She argues that we want as short a transition as possible, and says we need to  be able to run our own affairs from the moment we leave the EU. That is not the same as spending two more years in the EU and calling it transition.  She said “I dont  believe either the EU or the British people want the UK to stay longer in the existing structure than is necessary”, so lets get on with sorting everything out now. It need not be that difficult.

On money she says they might agree to stay in certain programmes where we would agree cash for benefits. I have  no problem with that, though there are no programmes which are a must as far as I am concerned, We can replicate the worthwhile ones for ourselves. She also reaffirmed we will “honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership” which some interpret to mean making  full contributions up to the end of the present 7 year budget cycle. There is no legal requirement to do that.

It is not possible to have a meaningful conversation about Transition or Interim arrangements without having a Deal agreed, or at least knowing the outlines of what the EU will offer and accept. I wish the PM well in her effort to get meaningful talks going. I am not persuaded that we owe them any money or that we want to stay in for moment longer than our legal requirement up to March 2019.

What the civil service have to grasp is there is no cliff edge. It is quite possible for the UK to have functioning borders and trade arrangements on March 2019 even with no deal. 160 other countries trade daily with the EU and most have no special Trade Agreement. The priority must be to get everything in order for 2019 exit. That will also strengthen our bargaining position for a better deal, showing we are ready and willing to just leave. The EU’s response to the speech shows that they will just go on  pushing for more and more money to make sure it is bad deal.

 

 

Adam Afriyie, the MP for Windsor, has welcomed the Prime Minister’s latest speech in Florence regarding the UK’s exit from the European Union.

In Florence today Theresa May reiterated the UK’s shared values with the rest of the Europe and continuing commitment to security, stability and prosperity. Her speech also proposed more details on the rights of EU citizen’s rights, a 2 year transition period and an ambitious co-operative partnership in economic and security matters.

This follows the 14 details position papers that the UK government has published fleshing out the details for a future relationship between the UK and the EU.

 

The MP for the Windsor constituency, Adam Afriyie welcomed the figures:

“Only a real ideologue, whether Europhile or Euroceptic, could possibly object to the Prime Minister’s speech today. She has reaffirmed our shared values with European countries and our commitment to security, prosperity and freedom.

“It lays out a great a sensible proposal that should give businesses that export into the Single Market and every EU citizen who lives in the UK the reassurance that our close relationship with the EU will  continue after Brexit. It’s a juxtaposition to Labour, who can’t even say whether they want to remain in the Single Market and Customs Union.

“The ball is now firmly in Michel Barnier’s court. And I very much hope that the EU negotiating team will welcome these proposals in a constructive manner.

“Conservatives and the country can unite behind the Prime Minister’s pragmatic, comprehensive and detailed proposals.”

ENDS

Note to editors

  1. Adam Afriyie is the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Ghana.
  2. He has a strong background in science, technology and innovation.
  3. He is currently Chairman of the Fintech APPG, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and President of the Conservative Technology Forum (CTF).
  4. He was shadow Minister for Science from 2007-2010 and has a background in the information services and technology sector.
  5. The Prime Minister’s speech can be read here.

Visiting the Intake Wives Group

Louise Haigh (Sheffield, Heeley)

Young Start Up Talent

Royston Smith (Southampton, Itchen)

It was a privilege to be involved in this year's Young Start Up Talent. I was really impressed with all the young people that entered and particularly those that made it through to the final round. The judges found it almost impossible to choose one winner from such a talented group. However, Jeremy Mutebi impressed [...]

The post Young Start Up Talent appeared first on Royston Smith - At the heart of Southampton.

Emma launches her annual Christmas card competition

Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East)

Did you know that there are only 94 days until Christmas! This year I am once again running my Christmas card competition.

Every primary school in Wolverhampton North East is invited to send in their most colourful and festive designs. Entries need to be in by the beginning of November.

Last year, I was delighted to receive hundreds of wonderful entries. The winner was Kit Lewis from Perry Hall Primary School.

If anyone wants to know more about the competition please email emma.reynolds.mp@parliament.uk or call my office on 01902 397698.

The post Emma launches her annual Christmas card competition appeared first on Emma Reynolds MP.

'Work hard, aim high and you will achieve...'

Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central)

I believe that education is absolutely vital in improving young people’s life chances. There should surely be consensus that everyone in the country deserves the same life chances, and that every child has a right to an excellent standard of education, whatever their circumstances, and wherever they live.

Jeff_-_394_Project.jpg
Jeff visited Project 394 in Withington this week.  Run by Riverside Housing Trust, it has accommodation for up to 19 people who are currently sleeping rough.  The scheme aims to move residents to permanent accommodation within 4 weeks. They provide an allocation of a Support Worker and referrals to other services and agencies if needed.  
 
Riverside Housing co-ordinate the No Second Night Out (NSNO) Programme in Manchester The aim of NSNO is to offer people that are sleeping rough for the first time an immediate alternative; to stop the need to engage in another night of rough sleeping.
 
They also support the Big Change Manchester campaign, which asks residents to support donations to get rough sleepers into housing, providing long term solutions to homelessness, rather than street giving.
 
Riverside are key partners in Manchester's Homeless Strategy and Jeff commented following his visit:
 
"It was really interesting to visit Project 394 in Withington and hear the excellent work being done by Riverside Housing Group and others to tackle rough sleeping"

Basingstoke MP Maria Miller met up recently with local “Ambassador” for Cancer Research UK, Effie Grant, for an update on how the charity is working to help prevent cancer.

Maria said: “I am very pleased to support Cancer Research UK’s work and particularly highlight how health awareness can help to prevent cancer related deaths. I was concerned to hear that the incidence of smoking is slightly higher in Basingstoke than the national average, including among young people aged 11 to 15.”

Letter to DEFRA on Bees and Neonicotinod Pesticides

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield)

Response to Leeds City Council’s Position Statement on the examination of the Site Allocations Plan and the initial stages of the Selective Core Strategy Review.

On 20th July 2017 I submitted the following Written Question to the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what mechanisms are available to his Department to require Leeds City Council to review its Local Plan to take into account the Council’s own downward revision of its housing target before it reaches public inquiry.”

The Minister of State Alok Sharma MP replied on 13th September 2017:

“Under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), local planning authorities should ensure that any Plan they produce is based on adequate, up-to-date and relevant evidence. This is tested by the independent Planning Inspector, during the statutory examination of a Plan.

The 2017 White Paper: Fixing our broken housing market, also set out the scope of Government powers and criteria for making decision on whether to intervene in local plan-making in exceptional circumstances.”

It is my firm belief that Leeds City Council’s Local Plan, in its current form, is reliant on inadequate, out-of-date and irrelevant evidence. As this evidence is tested in the upcoming statutory examination I believe it will be difficult for the Council to carry on arguing that the plan is sound.

What is the effect of the selective review on the soundness of the SAP?

The Council’s response to this question attempts to dismiss the relevance of the selective review as “minor and broadly contextual” (a.1). However, initial findings of the review suggest that the figure required is between 45,000 and 55,000 (a 20 to 35 per cent reduction on this initial target).

Indeed, Councillor Peter Gruen, Chair of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) Reference Group, confirmed in the Yorkshire Evening Post said initial conclusions of the technical work, which indicates that a revised housing need for Leeds was “in the region of 55,000 homes”.

I do not consider a reduction of the housing target by 20 to 35 per cent to be “minor” or “broadly contextual”. In fact the consequence of not reducing the housing target would be devastating to the greenbelt in my constituency.

The Council also indicates that its approach to the preparations of the selective review is to “commit to a review of the Core Strategy within three years of Adoption so as to reflect up-to-date housing and population projections” (a.4). It seems to me that undertaking a review is largely irrelevant if the authority is determined to ignore the outcome of the review or merely consider the results “contextual”.

What are the implications, if any, of proceeding with the SAP examination now that a selective review of the Core Strategy is underway?

If the selective review were to conclude that the annual housing requirement is lower going forward than set out in the adopted Core Strategy, is there potential that land may be released from the green belt through the SAP to meet the requirements of the adopted Core Strategy, that may not have been necessary had the selective review concluded first?

The implications of proceeding with the SAP examination now that a selective review is underway are stark: the unnecessary release of greenbelt land in the Outer North East Housing Market Characteristic Area (HMCA).

To achieve its current target the Council is proposing to remove the Grade II listed Parlington Estate (MX2-39) from greenbelt, whilst at the same time attempting to put rural land into the greenbelt. This is deeply questionable. What is the point of having greenbelt land if the Council then decides to shift it around to suit its self-imposed housing target?

If the selective review concludes that a much lower housing target is required but the current SAP has already been adopted, then the implication is that a Grade II listed site will have been removed from the greenbelt and built on unnecessarily.

The Council has suggested that the selective review could be delayed for a “number of reasons” (b.4), but does not explain what these reasons are. It strikes me that if the Council was determined to act upon the outcome of the selective review then it would make every effort to bring forward the conclusion of the review and set a rigorous work schedule. At present the Council has a mere “ambition” for examination during winter 2018 – to date I have seen no formal work schedule.

The Council makes reference to Government guidance on new methodology being a reason for delay (b.5). In the House of Commons on Thursday 14th September the Secretary of State made the following statement introducing a third stage OAN assessment:

“That is why we have added a third stage of the assessment, which is to set a cap on the level of increase local authorities should plan for. If a local authority has an adopted plan that is less than five years old, the increase will be capped at 40% above the figure in the local plan. If the plan is not up to date then a cap above either the level in the plan or the ONS projected household growth for the area, whichever is the higher.

I believe this significantly impacts upon the Council’s housing target. Initial targets established by the Council aim to deliver circa 3,600 dwellings per year, whereas up-to-date ONS figures could suggest a revised figure circa 2,600 dwelling per year.

To quote the Minister of State: “Under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), local planning authorities should ensure that any Plan they produce is based on adequate, up-to-date and relevant evidence. I no longer believe the Council’s current housing target, on which the Site Allocations Plan is centred, is based on adequate, up-to-date and relevant evidence, and the implications for greenbelt in the Outer North EAST HMCA if not corrected will be irreversible.

The post Leeds’ Labour Council must stop the destruction of greenbelt appeared first on Alec Shelbrooke MP.

Gwynne calls on Chancellor to Keep Pubs Afloat

Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish)

Denton & Reddish MP Andrew Gwynne has joined with representatives of the UK’s beer drinkers, pub goers, brewers and publicans to urge the Chancellor to keep pubs afloat in the Autumn Budget. Gwynne was one of over 50 MPs to add their voice to the campaign, calling on the Chancellor to give serious consideration to …

The Brexit Negotiations on Daily Politics

Kit Malthouse (North West Hampshire)

Yesterday, I joined Jo Coburn on the BBC’s Daily Politics to discuss putting optimism back into Brexit, Theresa May’s speech tomorrow and the future of the negotiations.

Gordon has been down to Preston New Road to reiterate his opposition to fracking - almost one year on after the Tory Government rode roughshod over the people of Lancashire and allow Cuadrilla to frack. Fracking_2.jpg

It’s the second time this year he has been down to the site talking with and listening to local residents, along with colleagues from both Blackpool and Fylde Labour Parties. He repeated the concerns about the costs of policing the site but this time he also heard worrying reports about the speeds of fracking delivery vehicles coming onsite and Cuadrilla breaching planning conditions set out by the council.

Speaking from Preston New Road, he said: “I am strongly opposed to fracking and I repeat what I said earlier in the year – it’s a disgrace that the Tory Government have rode roughshod over the original decision made by Lancashire County Council and ignored the wishes of local people who said no. I’ll continue to support the judicial review on this very issue with the results from the High Court expected soon.”

Gordon added: “I continue to be very concerned about the amount of money it is costing the police to facilitate Cuadrilla’s fracking. It is having a big impact on police resources and already stretched across Blackpool because of Tory cuts. I believe firmly that both the Home Office and Cuadrilla should be paying towards the costs of policing the site and not local residents. I have raised this with the Chief Constable Andy Rhodes and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire Clive Grunshaw.

“There are also the issues around the access and speed of fracking delivery vehicles to the site. This is not only a danger to the protesters but other drivers on the A583. This issue needs to be closely monitored by the police - we do not want a serious accident on what is a very busy road.”

Those who met with Gordon also spoke about their fears of possible contaminated water spillages from tankers and also had observed “slick” on land adjacent to the rig area where cows and other animals had been grazing.

 

Bridlington’s MP Sir Greg Knight said he was seeking ‘further information’ from the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust who have decided to temporarily close Waters Ward at Bridlington Hospital. Sir Greg said: “If this closure is truly of a … Continue reading

Pay, living standards and life expectancy are Britain’s dividing lines

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth)

We often hear that Brexit is the main dividing line in our country. It can seem that way in Westminster. Last week’s vote showed how divided Parliament is on the vital issue of how (not whether) Brexit should proceed. The irony that a campaign to restore parliamentary sovereignty has ended in legislation allowing this Government to ignore Parliament, was not lost on the 290 MPs who voted against the Government’s power-grab Bill. But beyond House of Commons, divisions in Britain run much deeper.

In recent years a gulf has emerged between those who earn extraordinary sums and those that scrape by; those who can find a job in their area and those who can’t; those that our slashed social security system still supports to get back on their feet or enjoy a healthy retirement, and those that it doesn’t. These inequalities were described recently by the International Monetary Fund as the ‘most defining challenge of our time’.

Pay, for example, has flat-lined throughout the seven years of Conservative rule, with real wages on average lower than they were in 2008, while executive pay has ballooned to more than 386 times the pay of a worker on the National Living Wage.

The Conservative policy of freezing, then capping, public sector wages to pay for a crisis caused by the finance sector has only made things worse. Hundreds of thousands of nurses, teachers, police officers and firefighters have seen their pay fall, sometimes by as much as £3 an hour in real terms.

The Government promised that work would be a reliable route out of poverty, but four out of five people in low paid work are still in low paid work ten years on.

A recent analysis by the New Policy Institute shows the link between poverty and disability growing stronger, with half of those in poverty now either living with a disability or with someone who is disabled. The same evidence shows that households with a disabled person are more likely to lack basic items than those on the same income without a disabled person. The Tories’ failing austerity agenda has widened the gap between disabled people and non-disabled people, taking us backwards in the struggle to overcome discrimination and ensure everyone is able to fully participate in society.

Inequality extends to healthy life expectancy. A man in Wokingham will expect to live with good health for 18 years longer than a man in Tower Hamlets, who will likely fall ill 14 years before being eligible for retirement. Yet the Government decided to go ahead with its plans to raise the state pension age to 68, which will further entrench that inequality.

But this unfairness is not inevitable. Labour’s manifesto set out our plan to rebalance our economy in favour of the many, and to reverse the cruel cuts that have further entrenched inequality and division in our society.

We will give Britain a long-awaited pay rise, closing the divisions in the labour market by introducing a real living wage of £10 an hour.

Our manifesto for disabled people ‘Nothing about you, without you’ committed to scrapping the Work Capability Assessment, reviewing and expanding the Access to Work programme, and to providing disabled people with the support that so many have been demanding to ensure they can participate fully in our society.

We will bring the State Pension Age back down to 66 while we review the latest evidence on healthy life expectancy to ensure the next Labour Government guarantees security and dignity in retirement. We will also provide transitional protections to women born in the 1950s, who were unduly affected by Government’s changes to the state pension age.

Brexit has been described as the challenge of our generation. But once Brexit is done and dusted in 2019, we will still be left with a divided country under this Government. Labour’s plans will begin to heal these divisions, ensuring that no one is left behind or held back because of where they come from, their income or disability, and that everyone has the opportunity to flourish in a society that truly works for the many. 

John Penrose takes part in the New Housing Design Debate and contributes his ideas on how the Government can fulfil its manifesto commitment to delivering high-quality, high-density living whilst preserving and even enhancing our country’s beautiful green spaces…

MP provides broadband update

Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Member of Parliament for Berwick-upon-Tweed has continued to lobby Openreach regarding the delivery schedule for their commercial fibre broadband programme.

Following months of work, the MP has received assurances from the company that the provision of broadband remains their primary focus and that they are on target to roll out around Alnwick and Berwick, with 14,053 premises on target to have fibre services by the end of the year.

West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas opens Google’s ‘Digital Garage’ event at the Exchange Gallery, Penzance.

West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas joined dozens of local representatives from the  tourism and hospitality sector in taking up tech giant Google’s offer of free digital skills’ training earlier on Tuesday.

Google’s pop-up ‘Digital Garage’ took place at the Exchange Gallery on Tuesday, delivering workshops with a particular focus on helping tourism and hospitality businesses acquire the digital tools needed to attract even more visitors.

In partnership with Visit England, The British Hospitality Association, The National Coastal Tourism Academy and Ukinbound, Google has been touring the UK’s coastal towns to provide one-to-one free mentoring and workshops to anyone interested in learning or furthering their digital skills.

Mr Thomas said that upgrading these skills is vital if local businesses are to survive and flourish in the future.

“Recent research by the Social Market Foundation has found that in 85% of coastal areas people earned below the national average in 2016 which indicates that initiatives such as Google’s Digital Garage and the government’s Coastal Communities Fund programme are hugely important,” he said.

“The absence of good digital skills can be a real barrier to growth for some small businesses and this welcome visit from Google will help people enhance their skills and ensure that they remain competitive in a global marketplace.

“More than 50% of international visitors currently only visit London when they come to the UK and I am keen to see that West Cornwall gets a bigger share of this market.

“Travellers are becoming more and more digitally connected and so investing in digital skills will go a long way to helping us achieve this objective.”

Scottish Public Pensions Agency celebrates 15 years in Tweedbank

John Lamont (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)

The agency in charge of administering the public sector pensions of more than 500,000 Scots has celebrated 15 years in Tweedbank.

The Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA) administers the pensions of all Scottish public sector staff who work for the NHS, the police and fire service and teachers.

From their headquarters at Tweedbank, the SPPA pay out £2.5bn worth of pensions each year to around 190,000 pensioners.

Chi condemns lack of money for Northern Power House

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Chi tackled the Minister in the House of Commons

” The north-east has been part of the northern powerhouse brand for some years now without  succeeding in obtaining any significant investment. The Democratic Unionist Party on the other hand seems to have managed the opposite trick of receiving £1 billion of investment without any scrutiny, oversight or branding —or at least not one that it would be orderly of me to cite.

“Does the Minister agree with me that it is far better to have the money without the branding than the branding without the money?

http://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2017-09-13/debates/F145030C-7856-42CE-9BBF-349DA8C103D0/NorthernIrelandPowerhouse#contribution-743412D9-0BFD-42ED-A446-A61F9B41F673

Livestock Attacks

David Hanson (Delyn)

Today I met with PC Dave Allen – who is an officer for North Wales Rural Crime Team – to discuss the crime of livestock attacks.

We met at a local farm where a livestock attack recently took place. This was to demonstrate the impact that this crime has on the farming industry.

Livestock worrying is an offence committed by anyone who owns, or is in charge of a dog which worries livestock. The term worrying means:

• Attacking livestock;
• Chasing livestock in such a way as may be reasonably expected to cause injury or suffering; in the case of ewes. This includes abortion or loss or reduction in the number of offspring;
• Not having a dog on a lead or under close control when close by, or in a field or enclosure with livestock.

There have been 450 attacks on livestock by dogs in the last 4 years in North Wales alone. That is why it is important that people are made aware of the importance of responsible dog ownership.

Discussions between PC Dave Allen and I focussed on four points where reform is needed:

• Currently, only a £1,000 maximum fine can be placed on dog owners who commit this offence;
• Police cannot seize the dog that has committed the attack;
• Police cannot issue a disqualification order on the dog owner to stop them owning animals again; and
• The Home Office do not record the number of attacks that take place centrally.

I have written to the Home Secretary on these four points calling for reform to be implemented now.

As a former Police minister I understand the importance of giving the police the tools they need to tackle crime. Meeting with PC Dave Allen has demonstrated that there are a number of measures that need to be taken by the Government to help our police tackle crime.

Livestock attacks have a huge impact on our farming community and without the proper powers given to the police it will continue to cost vast amounts to our rural economy. Calling for a review of the maximum fine, the ability for police the seize the dog which caused the attack, allowing the disqualification of ownership of an animal and for the Home Office to properly record the crime would be a positive step forward and I believe it should be implemented sooner rather than later.

North Wales Police have dedicated officers who are working hard to tackle rural crime, like PC Dave Allen, and I will always work with them to ensure that we can help make our communities a safer place.

The Outline Business Case (OBC) for taking trams to Newhaven was approved today by the City of Edinburgh Council. 

The Political Studies Association’s annual post-16 Student Video Competition has returned for 2017.  Thinking about the theme, “Fake News - Is this the end of facts?”, the PSA want you to get together with your friends and classmates to shoot a four minute video addressing this contemporary media issue.  The submission deadline is 30 October 2017, with shortlisted teams presenting their video at Speaker’s House, the House of Commons.  Prizes include the opportunity to shadow the YouGov pol

Evennett visits Fantastic Lighting

David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford)

Rt Hon David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford and Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury, paid a visit to Fantastic Lighting in Crayford yesterday afternoon (20 September).

Fantastic Lighting is a family-run business established in 1979, and since then they have been supplying Lighting Industry retailers across the UK. Their catalogue covers all aspects of Crystal lighting from contemporary to traditional.

 

Jon Cruddas MP calls for energy price cap

Jon Cruddas (Dagenham and Rainham)

Last week Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham Rainham was contacted by John Penrose MP regarding the introduction of an energy price cap. For years big energy companies have got away with charging big energy prices, and as the winter months approach this becomes an increasing concern for vulnerable people across the country.

The people that live in Dagenham and Rainham are currently overpaying for energy by £7,360,000 meaning 25,285 families are paying £291 too much every year.

In London alone £368m is being overplayed per year and in the UK the biggest paying area is Southern England which pays £580m more which is enough to buy about 20 luxury high end houses in Knightsbridge, London.

Jon Cruddas said: “I fully support this cross-party campaign calling on the big energy companies to introduce a price cap. The constant rise in cost is leaving vulnerable people faced with the question of eating or heating. As we approach the winter months this becomes a more prevalent issue.”

MP Harriett backs statue appeal for PM namesake

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire)

West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin has offered her support for a fund-raising campaign to erect a statue to commemorate the life of former Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. read more »

The Approach to Brexit Negotiations

Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset)

Boris Johnson’s four thousand word article for the Daily Telegraph is an important statement of Government policy. Although it has caused a storm of excitement it is exactly what the approach to Brexit negotiations ought to be.

Leaving the European Union should not be viewed as a painful problem which a reluctant Government has to endure because the people demanded it. This is undoubtedly the view of some commentators, politicians and officials who strongly supported Remain. Some Government departments are institutionally cautious because of the challenges they face. The Home Office’s poor record on immigration over many years inevitably makes it worry that it will not be up to the job in March 2019. Amber Rudd, as Home Secretary, faces a real challenge of political leadership to ensure her sluggardly department is ready. Likewise the Treasury after making humiliatingly incorrect forecasts last year predicting a sharp downturn purely on the back of a vote to leave, is hoping events take a turn for the worse to burnish its tarnished reputation. Philip Hammond’s challenge is to guide his department to think of future opportunities not its past failures.

Fortunately, the opportunities are tremendous. Europe is economically the past. The growth in Emerging Markets shows where the future lies. Opening trade to the new giants will improve the standard of living of the poorest most as tariffs and protection hurt them particularly. Reforming VAT, a European tax, offers the chance to have a more logical system that could boost the economy and see rates fall in some areas. Locally the removal of some harmful agricultural regulations could both support the sector and make food cheaper. Boris outlined all these advantages and more. The Remainers were shocked that a Minister had a temerity to back Government policy and present it positively. The British people rejoiced.

A dangerous gamble has been taken with poorer children’s life chances, according to Frank Field MP, following the first reduction since 2011 in the number of NHS Health Visitors in the North West of...

Safe Space is a fantastic place for children

Michelle Donelan (Chippenham)

I read with shock and sadness of the terror attack at Parsons Green and my heart goes out to each of the victims and their families. Whilst this attack took place in London we need to remain vigilant in all communities and so I will be speaking to Wiltshire Police to understand what plans they have in place to tackle terrorism here in the county and how they are adapting.

Michelle Donelan’s column in the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald

Last week I was honoured to be elected again by fellow MPs to the Education Select Committee. I came into politics with a passion for education and social mobility, ensuring that every child, no matter their ability, has the same opportunity to reach their potential and I am so pleased to be able to continue my work on this committee.

I have been privileged to have had the opportunity to visit every one of the schools here in the constituency in my first two years as MP and have continually been impressed with the innovative teaching, dedicated staff and constant drive for improvement I have seen.

Now in my second term representing the constituency, I am arranging to visit each school again, to hear first-hand about current projects, challenges and demands in the education sector and celebrate some of the fantastic achievements locally.

Keeping with the theme of education, this week I visited the The Safe Space in Chippenham, a fantastic facility dedicated to play therapy whose mission is to deliver ‘emotional healing through play’. A significant proportion of children who visit the centre have been referred by local schools and I heard inspirational stories of how children have increased their academic potential and attainment as a result of schools understanding the need for emotional support, alongside traditional teaching, for certain children to reach their potential.

I know a number of young adults across the constituency have just started or will be starting university, collage or an apprenticeship this month so I would like to take the chance to say good luck and I wish you all the best as you embark on the next stage of your life.

With Parliament in recess for the next few weeks I will be based in the constituency and will be out knocking on doors to hear the views and issues of as many people as possible.

I hope to see you on the doorstep, but if I do not and you would like to speak to me about anything at all then please email michelle.donelan.mp@parliament.uk or call my office on 01249 704465 and I would be happy to arrange a surgery appointment with you.

The post Safe Space is a fantastic place for children appeared first on Michelle Donelan MP.

 

c2c have just announced that they will be bringing back five new peak-time train services for Barking station with a sixth train to be doubled in length.

I have recently received a letter from c2c to announce these improvements after I met with Julian Drury (Managing Director, c2c) and Ernesto Sicilia (Managing Director and Chairman, Trenitalia UK) in June. At this meeting, I demanded that they stop cutting our services and get on with introducing the three-minute metro-style service they promised in 2014.

Here are the details of the new services which will come into effect from Sunday 10th December 2017:

  • A train will now stop at Barking at 07:03, arriving at Fenchurch Street at 07:21. Cutting an existing 8-minute gap between c2c trains
  • A train will now stop at Barking at 08:11, arriving at Fenchurch Street at 08:29. Cutting an existing 17-minute gap between c2c trains
  • A train will now stop at Barking at 08:49, arriving at Fenchurch Street at 09:08. Cutting an existing 9-minute gap between c2c trains
  • The existing 09:05 departure from Barking will be doubled in length from 4-carriages to 8-carriages
  • The 17:01 departure from Fenchurch Street will now also stop at Barking at 17:16
  • The 18:01 departure from Fenchurch Street will now also stop at Barking at 18:17

I was shocked when c2c took the decision in May to cut our peak-time train services in Barking. That’s why I am pleased that they have now realised the error of their ways and reversed these cuts.

These improvements for Barking residents would not have been possible without the support of hundreds of you who attended our rally in May and signed the petition on my website.

However we must not stop here. We must keep up the pressure on c2c to deliver on the service they promised.

In 2014 we were promised that a train would stop at Barking every three minutes at peak-times. I will not rest until C2C deliver on this promise they made to residents.

You can sign my c2c petition here.

Clifton North – New Flower Park Opened

Alex Norris (Nottingham North)

Labour Councillor for Clifton North, Josh Cook, joined Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, Dave Trimble at the official opening of the new play area at Clifton Flower Park in spring.

Local residents had their say on designs for the new play area over the winter. The comments were taken into account when designing the new play area which cost around £60,000.

Councillor Dave Trimble said, ‘It was really good to see so many kids at the event enjoying the activities and the new play area.’

Labour Councillor for Clifton North, Josh Cook said, ‘At the last election we pledged to improve play and youth facilities in parks and playing fields in Clifton North. The new play area at Clifton Flower Park is a step in the right direction and we will continue to make improvements for local residents. I hope the park will continue to be popular and used by families all year round.’

Josh, local MP Lilian and Dave at the event

The post Clifton North – New Flower Park Opened appeared first on Nottingham Labour.

Extra Funding For Local Schools

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe)

Last week the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, confirmed that the government will be investing an additional £1.3billion in schools over the next two years, in addition to the spending commitments on education that had previously been announced. This means that there will be an increase in the funding that every pupil in every school will attract. It also means that per pupil funding for schools will maintained in real terms for the remaining two years of the government’s spending review period, as the transition is made to the new National Funding Formula for schools.

The National Funding Formula will come into effect in April next year, and is designed to make schools funding clearer and fairer, and remove the previous rules that led to schools in different parts of the country receiving different levels of funding, for no justifiable reason. The Department for Education has prepared an illustrative level of funding for schools in the Folkestone and Hythe constituency under the proposed National Funding Formula. This would see increases in funding for all local primary and secondary schools, with an average budget increase of 4.9% across schools in the constituency. I hope that these new figures will reassure schools and parents who had raised questions about the impact that the new schools funding formula would have on their children. Earlier in the year there was a considerable amount of speculation, based on made up figures, and before the consultation on the new funding formula had been completed, which suggested that there would be cuts in school’s budgets and per pupil funding. This was not what we wanted and is not what is being proposed by the Department for Education.

On Friday this week I will be meeting with the GP led South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group to discuss their proposals to increase funding for practices in Folkestone, and for the arrangements they are looking to put in place to ensure that all patients have access to local GP services, following the closure of the Folkestone East Family Practice, in November. As I have stated before, and has also been made clear by the Health Secretary and the South Kent Coast CCG, proper access to local GP services has to be maintained for all residents. I will be updating my constituents on the latest situation following this meeting.

Last Sunday, I attended the annual Battle of Britain Sunday, memorial service at St Stephen’s church in Lympne. This year marks the 77th anniversary of the battle, where in the skies above Kent, those brave few airmen fought to defend this country and protect the peace and liberty of all mankind from the tyranny of Nazism. I would like to thank the Royal Air Forces Association for organising this important and moving service. It was also excellent to see the service supported once again by the Folkestone RAF air cadets.

The post Extra Funding For Local Schools appeared first on Damian Collins.

 

Victoria at the drop-in event in Parliament.

Victoria at the drop-in event in Parliament.

Victoria Prentis MP has recognised the vital role that South East farmers are contributing to the economy, the countryside and food production as she pledged to Back British Farming at an event in Westminster this week.  

Farming in the South East contributes £880 million to the local economy and provides 47,246 jobs – this is on top of the safe, affordable food farmers produce and British countryside they maintain.

In addition to its role producing food, farming also supports the work of other industries, such as vets, solicitors, surveyors and feed merchants.

The event in Westminster was held by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) as a rallying call to MPs to support farming – during a particularly crucial period for British farming as the Brexit negotiations begin.

Victoria said: “There are so many worthy reasons to support British farmers. They are responsible for securing a British food supply, looking after our world-renowned countryside and sustaining a dynamic rural economy. That is why I am proud to wear the NFU’s Back British Farming pin badge in Parliament today.

As one of the sectors that will be most affected by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, it is critical that we create the right regulatory environment to ensure our farmers can continue to provide the safe and affordable food that the public trust and demand.”

If you would like to find out more about how you can Back British Farming, you can join thousands of supporters of the National Farmers’ Union campaign here.

Jonathan recently joined members of the Sealed Knot Society at an event in Huntingdon town centre to mark the 375th anniversary of the start of the English Civil War.

 Richard’s response

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Commenting on today's news of the joint venture between Thyssenkrupp and Tata Steel, Stephen Kinnock, Member of Parliament for Aberavon, home of the Port Talbot steelworks, said:

"In principle I welcome this news as it brings together two giants of the European steel industry, creating the sort of scale and synergies that could potentially deliver significant competitive advantage. 

Veterans Badge Presentation

Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead)

Mike Penning presents veterans badges.

I’m pleased that the Scottish Government has announced new plans to tackle the problem of nuisance calls and scam sellers, with people across Glasgow North to benefit.

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill

Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East)

 EU_flag.png

An explanation of how I voted

MP’s Surgery Lochgilphead. 26th September 2017

Brendan O'Hara (Argyll and Bute)

I’ll be holding a constituency advice surgery in Lochgilphead on Tuesday 26th September between 12.30pm and 1:30pm @ The Stag Hotel. If you would like an appointment please don’t hesitate to get in touch.  Related Images: [See image gallery at www.brendanoharamp.scot]

Make a fuss for the E1 Bus

Steve Pound (Ealing North)

Gazette September 2017 :

In a long and pretty undistinguished political career I have come across some utterly bonkers ideas but every time I thinks that I’ve heard the maddest I can be sure that something even more lunatic will pop up.

May I, dear reader, direct you to an interesting website:

https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/buses/elizabeth-line

Transport for London were originally suggesting that frequencies on the E1 and E3 route be reduced because – wait for it – passengers would be using the Elizabeth Line (or the service formerly known as CrossRail) instead of the noble E ‘buses.

The good Dr.Onkar Sahota – our Member of the Greater London Authority – has managed to get the E3 route removed from the consultation but tragically the E1 is still at threat.

Now: a slap up feed at the works canteen here at Westminster awaits anyone who can make a plausible case for anyone at any time or on any section of the journey transferring from the E1 to the Elizabeth Line.

I travel on the E1 every day and have bent over backwards to try to discover what lies behind this bonkers suggestion.

Clearly the fare stages from the old Red Lion to Drayton Bridge Road could not by even the wildest stretch of the most fevered imagination possibly be subject to what TfL call “modal interchange”.

As the noble E1 makes its stately way up Drayton Bridge Road could anyone possibly think it remotely sensible to hop off and walk down Greenford Avenue to Campbell Road and then to Hanwell Station to catch a train to Ealing Broadway.

By the time you did all that the E1 would have circled Haven Green and be heading back to Greenford.

So what about Drayton Green? Can you see passengers pouring off the E1 to walk across the Green and the up Manor Road to await the Elizabeth Line at West Ealing Station and then to entrain for Ealing Broadway.

Again – the E1 would have come and gone long before the train pulls onto Platform 4.

If – like me – you believe that someone who has never set foot in our borough has come up with this ludicrous idea then get onto the website and make your views known!

Finally – a very charming but utterly irrelevant letter from Transport for London refers to an additional area of ‘bus to train transfer as the “Golden Mile”.

Now I’ve only lived in Hanwell for forty years but I’ve never ever heard of Ealing’s Golden Mile.

Anyone got any idea what they’re on about or has the last holiday in Blackpool been causing flashbacks?

Let’s hear your voice loud and clear and let’s keep the currently E1 timetable – you know it makes sense!

Riding Carousel Buses in High Wycombe

Steven Baker (Wycombe)

As part of a series of summer visits to local transport operators in High Wycombe, I visited Carousel Buses’ depot on Hughenden Avenue in High Wycombe. I enjoyed meeting Phil Southall, Managing Director for Carousel Buses and learning more about Carousel’s developments in e-ticketing as well as the next generation of buses. Many new buses travel on Carousel’s routes connecting Wycombe to towns including Stokenchurch, Reading, Chesham, Uxbridge and Heathrow Airport providing comfort for many passengers. I also asked a series […]

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins has joined with representatives of the UK’s beer drinkers, pub goers, brewers and publicans to urge the Chancellor to keep pubs afloat in the Autumn Budget.

Toby, who is the Chair of the AllParty Parliamentary Group for Pubs, has called on the Chancellor to provide an annual £5,000 business rate relief for pubs in England and freeze in beer duty for the rest of this Parliament.

Toby said: “In Chesterfield and the surrounding area we have 3 breweries, 105 pubs and the industry supports over 1,300 jobs. Pubs are already under huge pressure with hundreds closing their doors every year. Every time a pub closes, our communities lose out socially and economically. Pubs are struggling under the weight of a growing tax burden, with each paying nearly £140,000 on average in tax every year and I call on the Chancellor to do all he can to protect pubs this autumn.”

Toby at the launch of the ‘Keep Pubs Afloat’ campaign

Reviews of business rates across England mean many pubs are being hit with a massive new financial burden, which in some cases could only be covered by them selling thousands of extra pints of beer every year. UK beer duty is among the highest in Europe, with tax making up a third of every pint. Recent research carried out by YouGov for CAMRA found that 55% of people think beer duty is too high at 54 pence per pint.

Toby said: “A freeze in beer duty and an annual £5k business relief rate could save thousands of pubs from closure. The Government need to get serious about supporting our pubs before it is too late”.

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what (a) short-term emergency and (b) medium-term reconstruction aid his Department has provided to people affected by Hurricane Irma.

EU Withdrawal Bill

Ruth George (High Peak)

Late last night I spoke in the House to explain my vote against the EU Withdrawal Bill. That does NOT mean I voted against Brexit. The government is using the Bill to give themselves an unlimited power to change legislation without a vote in Parliament. That is why I voted against the Bill as I am so concerned what the Government will do to ordinary people if they have no opposition. Many MPs from all parties share my concern and I will now work with them to seek to amend the Bill so it focuses properly on the measures we need to transpose EU law.

Watch Ruth Speak in Parliament about Brexit and the EU Withdrawal Bill

The post EU Withdrawal Bill appeared first on Ruth George MP in High Peak.

Tracy Brabin has designed an ‘I heart Batley & Spen’ tote bag, as part of her efforts to fundraise for her Charity of the Month.

The Batley & Spen MP will be selling the limited-edition bags at her public events across the constituency over the coming months, with all proceeds going to her Charity of the Month.

The design of the bag is based on the iconic ‘I heart NY’ logo which sought to promote New York as a tourist destination in the 1970s.

Tracy Brabin launched her ‘Charity of the Month’ campaign this summer, and her chosen charity for the month of September is Kirkwood Hospice.

MP for Batley and Spen and Shadow Minister for Early Years, Tracy Brabin said:

“These tote bags combine two of my biggest passions; my constituency, and great local causes.

“I know that there are lots of people across Batley & Spen who are very proud of our area, and I hope that they will wear that pride with a Batley & Spen bag. It’s important that we aren’t shy about promoting our area as a great place to live, work and visit.

“All proceeds go to my Charity of the Month, so if you buy a bag this month, you’ll be donating to the incredible Kirkwood Hospice”.


Tyneside MP Backs British Farming in the North East

Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North)

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, has recognised the vital contribution that North East farmers make to the economy, our countryside and food production by signing a pledge to Back British Farming at an event held recently in Parliament. Farming in the North East contributes £251million to the local economy and provides 9,788 jobs – … Continue reading Tyneside MP Backs British Farming in the North East

Gloria’s latest expenses published.

Gloria De Piero (Ashfield)

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Gloria’s latest expenses as MP have been published.

 

They can be found here

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The post Gloria’s latest expenses published. appeared first on Gloria De Piero.

Recruiting Senior Secretary

Sarah Champion (Rotherham)

Sarah Champion MP is seeking a Senior Secretary for her Rotherham constituency office.  The successful candidate will be responsible for ensuring that very high standards of service are provided to the MP and that the smooth day-to-day running of the office is maintained.

Location:   Rotherham constituency office

Salary:        £21,951 – £30,328 (IPSA Pay Scale)

Closing Date: Monday 9th October

Interview date: Thursday 26th October

 

JOB SPECIFICATION

Responsibility for managing all aspects of the financial budget and ensuring the MP is kept informed of all relevant financial matters. Undertaking all necessary Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) processes regarding the MPs’ Expenses Scheme.

Management of the MPs’ diary, responding to invitations, organising meetings/events both in Rotherham and in Parliament, preparing letters and sending responses to emails/enquiries.

Ensuring accurate personnel records are kept, notifying IPSA of contractual changes as necessary.

Efficient secretarial and administrative support to facilitate the operation of the office; managing incoming telephone calls/enquiries and ensuring these are dealt with sensitively and confidentially.

A range of services to be offered in such basics as mail merge documents and sending out large volumes of mail, setting up/maintaining spreadsheets and undertaking simple research, keeping press clippings up to date, filing, ordering stationery and ensuring that the offices, both in Rotherham and in Parliament are fully equipped.

Supervise staff (interns/work experience personnel) as required.

 

PERSON SPECIFICATION

The ability to multi-task under pressure – to sometimes exceptionally tight deadlines – and to prioritise workload accordingly is absolutely critical.

To have confidence in managing an extremely demanding administrative workload.

To be able to work as part of a team as well as working unsupervised alone for long periods of time and balance the different aspects of this role.

You will need excellent written and verbal communication skills across all mediums and a good working knowledge of IT (Outlook/Word/Excel mainly) as well as a good knowledge of running budgets.

Previous experience in a PA/Office Manager or similar role is essential, as is experience of working with the public in a front-line role.

The ability to work flexibly is essential as work is occasionally required at weekends and evenings – sometimes at very short notice.

 

ADDITIONAL

In addition to completing the application form, please answer the following questions:

  1. What do you think the key challenges will be in managing an MPs’ office, and how will you deal with them?
  2. What strategies will you implement to manage the demanding workload?
  3. How will you cope with a confrontational constituent?

 

Senior Secretary Specification

Senior Secretary – How to Apply

Application Form – Senior Secretary

 

Esher High School U16 Campaign

Dominic Raab (Esher and Walton)

On Friday, I met with pupils from Esher High School to discuss their campaign to lower the voting age to 16. Saher and Lauren (pictured below) gave a great presentation, powerfully and eloquently making their case.

I remain to be convinced that lowering the voting age is the right thing to do, mainly because I believe that – in general – there is a significant difference in both maturity and experience as between 16 and 18 years old. That said, Saher and Lauren gave me plenty of food for thought, and I enjoyed hearing about their campaign. It’s great to see more and more young people in Elmbridge taking an active interest in politics. We took some time to discus the role of an MP and government Ministers – and I was really impressed with their knowledge and enthusiasm.

Backing British Farming

Christina Rees (Neath)

Christina Rees signs pledge to Back British Farming in Neath

Christina Rees MP has recognised the vital role that Neath farmers have contributing to the economy, the countryside and food production as [he/she] pledged to Back British Farming at an event in Westminster recently.

In addition to its role producing food, farming also supports the work of other industries, such as vets, solicitors, surveyors and feed merchants.

The event in Westminster was held by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) as a rallying call to MPs to support farming – during a particularly crucial period for British farming as the Brexit negotiations begin.

Christina Rees MP said: “There are so many worthy reasons to support British farmers: they are responsible for securing our fantastic British food supply, looking after our world-renowned countryside and sustaining a dynamic rural economy. That is why I am proud to wear the NFU’s Back British Farming pin badge in Parliament today.

“These reasons are why I have pledged to Back British farming in Westminster and to ensure our decisions in Parliament reflect the strategic importance of British food and farming to the nation.

“As one of the sectors that will be most affected by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, it is critical that as politicians we create the right regulatory environment to ensure our farmers can continue to provide the safe and affordable food that the public trust and demand.”

If you would like to find out more about how you can Back British Farming, you can join thousands of supporters of the National Farmers’ Union campaign here.

Many residents have recently rightly raised concerns about anti-social behaviour incidents and drug use in Ripley Town Centre. So, I’ve set up a public meeting for residents to attend and discuss their concerns with the relevant local agencies, including the local police, Councils, councillors, housing associations and charities.

The meeting will take place at All Saints’ Church off Church Street in Ripley on Monday 25th September 2017 from 7pm to 8pm, and I hope as many residents as possible can come to hear what’s being done to try and solve the issues, and ask questions about what else we can do.

If you need any further details or have any questions about the event, you can ring my office on 01773 744341 or email nigel.mills.mp@parliament.uk

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Plans for WGC Centenary Carnival in full swing

Grant Shapps (Welwyn Hatfield)

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps met with organisers of Welwyn Garden City’s centenary celebrations to see how plans for a carnival were progressing.

The carnival will form one of 14 signature events as part of the 100th anniversary of WGC in 2020, with this event expected to be the largest. A mixture of entertainment activities will be held, and there will be a procession of floats. The carnival will finish in the evening with a family concert in Stanborough Park.

Grant said: “Plans for WGC’s centenary celebrations in 2020 are well underway and it was great to get an update from organisers on how the carnival is shaping up. This will be a fantastic family event with lots of fun activities to celebrate 100 years since the founding of Welwyn Garden City.

“As well as the carnival, there will be many other events taking place around the city so I encourage everyone in WGC to join in with the celebrations!”

Madeleine Clark, Carnival Event Leader, said: “2020 is going to be a wonderful year for everyone who lives and works in Welwyn Garden City. Along with the other events planned for the year, the Carnival will bring together all the community groups from across the town, celebrating our shared history and centenary. The Carnival team are thrilled that Grant has given his support and look forward to working with him whilst we prepare Welwyn Garden City for a wonderful family day out!”

Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham has recognised the vital role that North East farmers have contributing to the economy, the countryside and food production as he pledged to Back British Farming at an event in Westminster last week.

Farming in the North East contributes £251 million to the local economy and provides 9,788 jobs – this is on top of the safe, affordable food farmers produce and British countryside they maintain.

In addition to its role producing food, farming also supports the work of other industries, such as vets, solicitors, surveyors and feed merchants.

The event in Westminster was held by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) as a rallying call to MPs to support farming – during a particularly crucial period for British farming as the Brexit negotiations begin.

Alex Cunningham MP said:

“There are so many worthy reasons to support British farmers: they are responsible for securing our fantastic British food supply, looking after our world-renowned countryside and sustaining a dynamic rural economy. That is why I am proud to wear the NFU’s Back British Farming pin badge in Parliament today.

“These reasons are why I have pledged to Back British farming in Westminster and to ensure our decisions in Parliament reflect the strategic importance of British food and farming to the nation.

“As one of the sectors that will be most affected by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, it is critical that as politicians we create the right regulatory environment to ensure our farmers can continue to provide the safe and affordable food that the public trust and demand.”

If you would like to find out more about how you can Back British Farming, you can join thousands of supporters of the National Farmers’ Union campaign here.

ENDS

For further information, please contact Alex’s office on 020 7219 7157

The post Alex signs pledge to Back British Farming in the North East appeared first on Alex Cunningham MP.

NEWS AND COMMENT FROM CHRIS LESLIE – Saturday 16th September 2017
(for more news also see my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/chrislesliemp)

It was a fateful week for our parliamentary democracy. First, the Government introduce a Bill take power away from elected MPs and place it the hands of the Prime Minister to decide on the Brexit deal. Second, Ministers decided to rig the composition of House of Commons committees so that they no longer reflect the ‘hung parliament’ where no party has an overall majority, insisting instead that all committees will have a government majority.

And third, the Prime Minister then deciding that any votes on issues in the Commons that aren’t to do with legislation will be ignored – so in future Conservatives won’t even take part when Opposition parties table motions for debate.

Normally the official Opposition Party is allocated a dozen occasions each year to bring forward a proposal on which the House of Commons has a debate and a chance to decide. This week Labour’s motions related to the below-inflation pay cap for NHS workers, and the planning government increase in tuition fees to £9,300 per year. But rather than contest these motions – Tory MPs decided on mass to boycott the vote. Now whatever you may think about non-government MPs putting issues up for debate and vote in the Commons when they are in the minority, it is still quite breath-taking to hear Ministers say they are happy to see these uncontested because motions passed are merely statements that can be discounted as ephemera with no legal effect.

If Parliament can’t have a say on the biggest negotiation affecting our country’s future – and proposals for a vote and decision can only really come from Ministers of the governing party – then our democracy is descending into dangerous territory. Many people may feel this a far-removed from their own lives for now. But when an issue that you care about arises, when the Government disagrees, your representatives will be less able to do anything about it. That’s really not a good state of affairs.

NOTTINGHAM

  • This week I had the opportunity to visit some of Nottingham’s many Green Flag award-winning parks. Nottingham is the UK City Council with the most Green Flag awards, which recognise parks and open spaces with the highest possible environmental standards, which are well maintained and have excellent visitor facilities. I visited Hedley Villas Park, a small garden square which is maintained by local residents in conjunction with the council (see pictured below in front of their new outdoor pizza oven!). The local residents association have really made the area feel like a strong and integrated community because of the events and shared sense of ‘project’ in getting this small park to where it is today. I then visited the Sports Zone at the Forest Recreation Ground, where I met with representatives from Nottingham Forest Football in the Community. It was wonderful to see these beautifully maintained parks, thanks to the hard work of both local volunteers and council staff, which are a real credit to our city.

HedleyVillas 150917

  • I met with local representatives of the Motor Neurone Disease Association on Friday to discuss the impacts of the disease and what could be done to help people living with MND. MND is a fatal and rapidly progressive disease, which tragically kills half of sufferers within two years of diagnosis. Alongside the physical symptoms of the disease, sufferers often have to deal with the financial implications of such a rapidly progressive disease. Benefits and entitlements often fall short of meeting the costs that living with MND incurs, and delays in accessing financial support can mean that help isn’t received quickly enough. The MND Association are campaigning to end the financial hardship faced by people with MND and their families, and I hope the Government will listen to calls to make the benefits system more responsive to the needs of people living with this disease.

MND Notts 150917

  • A report by BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour programme released this week claimed that Nottingham is “one of the worst places in Britain to live if you’re a woman”, coming in ranked 355th out of 380 local authority districts. Their statistics are particularly bad for women in the 30-65 age bracket, where Nottingham ranks at the bottom of the table. The report looked at income (including the gender pay gap), housing affordability, personal wellbeing, safety, education, life expectancy and environment across 380 local authority areas. While Nottingham scores well on housing affordability, it ranks much lower in the other areas. I’d be interested to know your thoughts on this – do you think that Nottingham is a bad place to live as a woman? Or would you dispute the BBC Woman’s Hour methodology on all this? I’d be particularly interested to hear from people who have lived in different areas. You can read the full report online here.
  • It was nice to get out and about yesterday meeting residents on the doorstep in Berridge ward in the neighbourhoods around Sainsburys including Lortas Road, Malton Road and Glamis Road. Lots of issues came up including the impact of the new housing developments in the area.

NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • On Tuesday the House of Commons debated the main principles of the Government’s Finance Bill. The Bill gives effect to tax measures set out in the Budget in March which fell by the wayside because of the snap election. While the Bill makes some welcome gestures towards tackling tax avoidance – in my view it doesn’t go as far as it should. More fundamentally though, tackling tax avoidance effectively depends on giving HMRC the resources it needs, something this Finance Bill conspicuously fails to do. Looking at the economy in the round, big challenges remain: persistently low levels of productivity and investment; far too many of us relying on insecure, short-term and casual work; the prohibitive cost of living, now exacerbated by the weak pound; the four million children growing up in poverty. In my view, the Finance Bill offers nothing significant to deal with these and other structural problems.
  • I was in the Commons on Thursday when the Communities and Local Government Secretary, Sajid Javid, made a statement on the Government’s housing strategy and outlined a new approach for assessing different local authorities’ housing needs, geared towards meeting a national target of building 266,000 homes each year. The extent of the housing crisis is plain to see – home ownership stands at a 30-year low, rates of homelessness are rising, and just 1,000 new homes for social rent saw building work commence last year – and the public rightly expect action from the Government which matches the scale of that challenge. It’s just not credible to believe that tinkering at the edges of the planning system, much though it’s a small step in the right direction, can deliver in the way it needs to.
  • Friday morning brought the deeply troubling news that, in what has now been confirmed as a terror attack, 22 people were injured in an explosion at Parsons Green tube station in west London. It’s clearly too soon to speculate further about the incident, but my thoughts are with those caught up in this appalling and cowardly attack, along with the emergency services and medical staff who came to their aid with the swiftness and professionalism we have come to expect.
  • I’m appearing on the BBC1 Sunday Politics East Midlands programme tomorrow at 11am, up against Tory MP Andrew Bridgen. We’re discussing the Government’s decision to cancel electrification of the Midland Mainline and Brexit.
  • After returning for a fortnight after the summer recess, the Commons is now adjourning again for the party conference season. As usual, these MP Updates will return when Parliament gets back in October.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Boris Johnson has surfaced in today’s ‘Daily Telegraph’ newspaper with a splash 4,000 word article extolling the virtues of Brexit, reasserting the (nonsensical) claim that £350million per week can magically be repatriated for the NHS, and letting the cat out of the bag on his plans for cutting regulations. So much for merely cutting-and-pasting EU protections into UK law!

It is deeply undermining for the Foreign Secretary to contradict the Prime Minister so directly about a transition, about the ‘divorce bill’ issue, and exposes what a sorry state the EU/UK negotiations are in. Time is ticking by and many businesses are worried that by the beginning of 2018 they may have to locate in Dublin or Frankfurt or Paris in order to be sure they can trade freely after March 2019.

The EU (Withdrawal) Bill got through its first vote in the Commons on Monday – and so I have tabled 34 amendments which would retain the power for MPs to give the go-ahead to any final ‘deal’ that is reached, that would maintain power for Parliament to decide on new regulations and that would keep our options open on a Single Market and customs union involvement. If you want to see the amendments they are at the link here and I’d be very grateful for any feedback you might have. It would also be useful if you can think of any other areas where I should try to amend the Bill; this is the most important legislation for a generation and I appreciate all ideas and suggestions.

East Riding schools are set to benefit from a new National Funding Formula (NFF) in 2018 after years of campaigning by local MP, Graham Stuart. Graham founded the national Fair School Funding Campaign and organised a long series of Parliamentary events, debates, meetings and photo calls to highlight the issue and pressure the Government into action. He has worked closely with local heads and the East Riding Council to demand a fairer system. The formula, which will come into effect from 2018, will give every local school a cash boost and provide a more transparent system for educational funding.

The Department for Education have said that every school will benefit from the new formula. Had the NFF been in place for the 2017/18 academic year, schools across Beverley and Holderness would have seen a 4.9% increase in their income on average.

While the NFF will give specific assistance to schools and pupils in deprived areas, the funding is designed to help every single schoolchild. Particularly important is the introduction of a minimum spend of £4,800 per child in secondary schools in 2019-20, and £3,500 in all primary schools. This would mean more than 10% extra cash for the three most deprived primary schools in the area, for example.

Graham Stuart said: “I am delighted that all schools and every pupil in Beverley and Holderness will benefit from the new National Funding Formula – a campaign that I have worked on for many years. For too long, some areas have received an unfair share of the education budget, and it is welcome that the Government is continuing to redress the balance.

“The previous broken system meant the ten best-funded areas of England received an average of £6,300 per pupil of schools block funding, compared to just £4,200 in the ten worst-funded areas.

“Having campaigned at length for better funding in our schools, I am therefore pleased we are getting a more transparent, fairer, and more generous deal for our pupils. Coming after the Secretary of State’s promise of an extra £1.3bn being invested into schools over the next two years, this new formula promises more vital money and better resources for our teachers and pupils in the years to come.”

As former Chair of the Education Select Committee and Vice Chairman of the f40 Group for under-funded educational authorities, Graham has been an ardent champion of fair investment in schools. He founded and led the Parliamentary Fair School Funding Campaign and helped to persuade the Government in 2014 to give an additional £390 million to schools of which the East Riding received £1.8 million.

In 2015 Graham’s campaign helped persuade the Government to introduce a new national funding formula, another important milestone on the road to ensuring children in Beverley and Holderness were funded properly. Previously the East Riding has consistently featured amongst the worst-funded authorities across the country.

Dave Cross / Sunday 24 September 2017 02:22