From: Cool Connexions Subject: ProjectDate: 2 September 2015 To: graham.jones.mp@parliament.ukHello Mr JonesWe're planning to set up a social enterprise shop/café, with profits going into providing better access to work/business training & activities for young people with ADHD & ASD and of course support for their families. Training such as CV writing, interview

The story broke today that people with learning difficulties in the UK are being inappropriately over-medicated.

A study in the BMJ looked at GP data spanning over a decade and found that more than a quarter of 33,000 adults with learning difficulties had been prescribed antipsychotics, often with no obvious clinical justification.

Unfortunately this revelation is just the latest in a long line of controversial discoveries regarding the misuse of antipsychotic drugs. For years I have campaigned against their use in care homes, where it was discovered that it was common practice to use these drugs on residents. To administer strong nueroleptics that are intended for people with severe mental problems as a type of sedative is despicable. It is also, it must be noted extremely dangerous as the drugs can be highly addictive.

Below is the EDM I tabled in 1999 to raise awareness on this issue.  

That this House is shocked by the evidence from the Alzheimer's Disease Society and Age Concern on the dangers of the over-medication of the elderly; is alarmed by reports that up to one in five admissions to hospital of the elderly are caused by the misuse of medicines and by investigations in England and Scotland that found 54 per cent. and 88 per cent. of prescriptions of powerful neuroleptic drugs in care homes were wrongly prescribed; congratulates the School of Psychiatry of the University of Manchester on their recent study which resulted in reduced drug use in homes with no detriment to the mental and physical health of residents and savings of substantial sums of money that could be re-used to improve care services; and calls on the Government to replicate widely the reviews nationally in the interests of care home residents and staff.

Examples of what was happening were provided to me by Action on Elder Abuse and Age Concern. I was told of one nursing home where all the residents are woken up at 6 am and made to go to bed at 6.30 pm. Age Concern said:It has been suggested that the residents are drugged in the evening to go to sleep early, as this would not happen naturally. Elderly people are put to bed at 6.30 pm; when they wake up they are drugged again and hauled out of bed at 6.30 am because that suits the shifts of the staff.

The organisation gave another typical example in which groups of elderly people were being sedated without prescription. Age Concern stated: A relative believed the owner was in financial difficulties. Sedated elderly required less attention and less staff. The home went broke. The health of one lady improved when she was removed from the home. That woman went on to a milder drug, although she is addicted for life to the drug that was illegally prescribed to her in that home. 

Those are not isolated examples. In 2010 Every independent investigation of such homes undertaken in the United States and in this country reported gross over-use. The most devastating conclusion of such reports is that when the use of those powerful drugs has been reduced or stopped, there has been little, if any, deterioration in the patient's health. The drugs were being needlessly prescribed.

Sadly this frivolous use of nueroleptics continues to be an issue in care homes, and as the story shows today  it is also too liberally prescribed to people with learning disabilities. Antipsychotics is clearly an area of drug use that is in desperate need of regulation and I will continue to call for it in Parliament.      

 

 

 

 

I have looked at Christine Hardmans background and experience and she will be a great asset to the region. Women are playing a wonderful role in the faith of the region - with a female Canon of Hexham Abbey only recently having taken office. I have long supported and voted in the Commons for Women Bishops and I am certain that Christine will do a great job.


The endorsement from Riding Mill's acting Bishop the Right Reverend Frank White is clear:“This is such a good moment to welcome Christine Hardman to be our new Bishop and I look forward with eager anticipation to serving alongside her. Her wide interests and experience and her desire to encounter and learn from the spirituality of this region offer us all real opportunities for growth."
Full details of the appointment here:
http://www.newcastle.anglican.org/news-and-events/news-article.aspx?id=3983
Yesterday, the Electoral Commission recommended a change to the question to be put to voters in the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. The Government is accepting the change. Via the BBC: The Electoral Commission said the wording proposed by ministers – “should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?” – could be perceived as biased to the status quo. It has proposed adding the words “or leave the European Union?” The government has said it will […]

I accept the advice of the Electoral Commission. The EU referendum deserves a neutral and clear question. Remain or leave is quite straightforward and meets with general approval as fair. I will vote for that and trust the government will recommend it as an amendment to their Bill.

I read that Mr Farage does not wish to co-operate with other Eurosceptics in running a Leave campaign. He wants to run his own campaign, with one topic, that of immigration. Fine. I now hear that Mr Farage has wisely said he does wish to co-operated with the official campaign but not to run it.

I do not think it would be wise to run the Leave campaign on just one issue, however topical it currently is and however central it clearly is to an important group of voters. The reason we need to leave is wider than current migration problems. We need to leave so we can regain control over our future. We need to leave to be a free and prosperous people. We need to leave to restore our democracy. We need to leave because the EU is increasingly becoming the political union for the Euro area. We need a new relationship with the rest of the EU so we can trade, be friends and co-operate with them outside the current centralising treaties.

We do want to make our own decisions about who to invite into our country. But we also want to make our own decisions about what welfare benefits to give out, about how to regulate our banks, about how to generate our power, what price to charge for electricity, about how we can best look after our environment and who we can deport and extradite. Most of the rest of Europe is embarked on a project to create a United States of Europe. The EU is on a wild ride to political union. UK voters can keep us out of that by voting to leave the current treaties, or by accepting the new relationship Mr Cameron negotiates if he succeeds with this wider vision of fundamental change. The rest of the EU will want to trade with us and do deals with us, and many will be relieved there is no longer worry over the difficult question how does the UK have a relationship which works from inside the centralising EU, now dominated by its single currency.

I hear the government also plans to amend the Bill over the issue of purdah, or the rules over what government can do during the referendum period. As an MP who voted against their original proposal I look forward to seeing their second thoughts.

Imagine that you are the government of Hungary. Or the head of a municipal authority in Italy.

Tens of thousands of migrants have just turned up in your jurisdiction over the past few weeks, and you haven't the resources to cope. At the same time, the migrants that you are struggling to feed and house don't really want to be there anyhow. Most are keen to press on north, into Germany, Scandinavia or the UK.

At first, perhaps you turn a blind eye if any of them clamber aboard a train heading north. Or maybe you issue a rail warrant to encourage them on their way.

How long before you do something more drastic and begin to issue migrants with official documentation that will allow them to travel freely across Europe?

The debate about how many asylum seekers we should accept from Syria is a side show. Last year, 636,000 people came into Britain. A mere 12,000 people were offered asylum.

The real issue is how many of the hundreds of thousands of migrants coming into Europe will get the right to come to Britain. So long as we remain in the EU, they will all eventually have the right to come.

Rather than focusing on the 5,000 migrants camped around Calais, we should be thinking about the 800,000 migrants who have just arrived in Germany. As soon as they get official status in Germany, they will have the right to come to Britain – and there is nothing David Cameron can do to prevent it.

As long as we remain in the EU, our borders are not controlled by British officials at Heathrow, Harwich or Calais. The ability to cross our borders is today in the hands of any official in any EU memberstate minded to issue a migrant with an ID card or passport.

At the moment, EU nationals can travel to Britain with just an ID card. These ID cards, with which one can enter the UK, are issued in many EU countries by local municipal authorities. What is to stop some local authorities in Italy or elsewhere issuing ID cards as a way of getting migrants to move on? 

I suspect it is only a matter of time before this happens.

From monetary policy to migration policy, the EU seems to export public policy failure from one member state to the next. We need to leave.

The UK economy’s ticking over fine: that’s the view of Carney, Osborne’s man.   So that’s alright then.   Or is it?   With time-honoured spin we were treated to the most optimistic scenario on every count, with the flip-side downturn kept carefully out of sight.   His central message was that “there is no...
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Maryline Stowe's website kindly invited me to do a guest post. I did this about adoption statistics. A response with questions has been written by Lucy R on the transparency project blog I have written this blog post to answer the questions and reconcile the statistics. All figures are figures for the English jurisdiction. Most (if not all) are based upon the SSDA903 return. The SSDA903
Today, I went along to Painshill Park with the family. As well as enjoying the stunning grounds, the Napoleonic Association put on a fastic historic re-enactment of various aspects of the Battle of Waterloo - as detailed here. It was a great way to bring alive the reality of the battle. I sat with both my young sons watching the skirmish before us, pictured below, and they absolutely loved it. It's on again tomorrow, in case anyone is interested. I just hope we do as well against the French in the rugby next month!




I've never enjoyed saying "I told you so". Actually, the thought usually annoys me. That's how I feel reading through DECC's newly published 'Consultation on Feed-in-Tariffs'. Arising out of my noisy opposition to National Grid's Mid Wales Connection Project, I've warned about cost of subsidies for renewables running out of control for years. So let's start with this aspect of the debate.

In 2010, the Coalition Govt decided to go big on promoting renewables. It put in place two major schemes to subsidise it - Renewables Obligations and Feed-in-Tariffs (for small scale dev'ts). A generous budget was granted, paid for by energy users. This budget (or Levy Control Framework) was to protect consumers - set at what was thought a very generous £7.6bn up to 2020/21. The OBR claim that £9.1bn is already committed. Amber Rudd, has an office with a big desk and an empty cupboard. Wasn't  difficult to see coming. Irresponsible is understatement.

Now we are faced with potential massive disruption of all the technologies dependent on Feed-in-Tariffs. Huge reduction in subsidy levels are proposed, until scheme is ended in 2018/19. A cap of £75m-£100m is being put on the FiTs total over those three yrs. Daresay that much has been spent on the idiotic proposals to cover mid Wales in wind farms. And if it looks as if this cap is too small, (which it will be) the scheme be completely ended in January. I was quite shocked to read the consultation document, even it was giving voice to the warnings of some of us over recent years. 

Its not good news in those areas where new businesses have developed to supply the renewables sector. Parts of my constituency, Montgomeryshire will inevitably see loss of business and jobs. I've always been a fan of PV solar in particular, which is now to suffer a major setback. Grieves me to think of all the money committed to wind farms. I'm bound to be criticised, despite all of my warnings of what would happen - the inevitable collision when DECC ran into the buffers of financial reality.
The government calls its failure to reduce migrant numbers “deeply disappointing”. What, then, is to be done?

As elections for the General Synod near an end, groups campaigning to change the make-up of the Church of England’s governing body have laid out their hopes for the next five years.

The deadline for nominations to stand for the Synod close early next month. The membership of the new Synod will be sealed by mid-October, once each diocese has concluded its elections.

Forward in Faith’s elections officer, Anne Gray, said that, although the reputation of the Synod had been hit among traditionalist Catholics during the women-bishops debates, plenty among that constituency were still keen to stand.

“General Synod is in a much better place now than it was in November 2012,” she said on Tuesday. “The new women-bishops legislation passed quickly due both to a consensus being reached and a genuine willingness on all sides to move forward together. Being Catholic means being concerned for the whole Church; so of course we are concerned for the General Synod.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by the election campaign co-ordinator of Inclusive Church, the Revd Stephen France. Inclusive Church has assembled a list of 108 people, clergy and laity, standing for election to the Synod under its banner.

“I had no difficulty finding people who want to see the Church change and are willing to stand,” he said last week. “Clearly what happened with women bishops caused an outcry, and was bound to affect the reputation of the Synod, but that’s why we have had no difficulty finding people to stand.”

Mr France said that the women-bishops debates, which dominated the last quinquennium, had prompted many of Inclusive Church’s candidates to stand. “Obviously that issue was resolved, but it’s early days yet. Rachel Treweek is the only diocesan woman bishop still.”

One of those who are standing for the first time under the Inclusive Church banner is the former Conservative MP Sir Tony Baldry. Previously an ex-officio member as the then Second Church Estates Commissioner, he is standing for election in the diocese of Oxford.

He acknowledged that some would wonder why he might voluntarily seek a return to the Synod. He recalled, however, how he had been expelled from his C of E Sunday school three times as a child, but had always been readmitted.

“I think my shortcoming was ‘over-enthusiasm’,” he joked last week. “Having spent five years on General Synod ex officio in my capacity as Second Church Estates Commissioner . . . and given my task as chair of the Church Buildings Council looking after the maintenance and care of 16,000 parish churches in England, I hope I have something to contribute.”

The second Anglican priest to enter a same-sex marriage, the Revd Andrew Foreshew-Cain (News, 27 June 2014), is also among those on Inclusive Church’s list of candidates, standing in the diocese of London.

In his election address, Sir Tony emphasised his belief that all should be welcome in the C of E “regardless of our gender, or wealth, or the colour of our skin, or disability, or sexual orientation”.

The shared conversations on sexuality currently being run throughout the dioceses will come to an end during the next quinquennium, and Mr France said that the sexuality debate was bound to be a flashpoint for the new Synod. “I suspect that will be the most divisive issue to happen in the Church for a long time.”

He also said, however, that Inclusive Church was interested in other issues, such as disability, wealth inequality, and racial equality — topics on which the Church had a “variable history”.

For traditionalist Catholics, the confidentiality of the seal of the confessional and the requirement for ordinations to be by bishops would be among the big issues coming up in the next five years, Ms Gray said.

As for the shared conversations, she said that while everyone should be encouraged to take part in them, Forward in Faith could not support any change to the sacrament of marriage.

“This will probably be a much harder issue than women bishops,” she said. “We would hope that in the light of the positive atmosphere around the [women-bishops] settlement that past suspicions will remain in the past so that we can all move on together, thinking the best of each other.”

But electors should not just look at theological stances when deciding how to cast their ballot, Ms Gray said. “Above all, we are encouraging electors to pray for right decisions to be made. We need a new General Synod . . . which will reflect the diversity of the Church.”

Mr France said that the Inclusive Church campaign resources encouraged candidates to be clear in their election addresses. “[They] should say exactly what they believe, so that people who do want to have representation in that area know that they getting it from that person.”

This week, the Office of National Statistics issued the latest figures for those who have passed away in the last year from Mesothelioma, a lung cancer caused only by exposure to asbestos. It was sad, but alas not surprising, to see an increase in the number of deaths. I say unsurprising because it is a latent disease that only presents itself decades after exposure and I am afraid therefore we will continue to see an increase for a few more years to come yet. Medway, given its dockyard and heavy industrial past, has the highest number of deaths in the county and remains one of the UK's mesothelioma hotspots.

This week, the Office of National Statistics issued the latest figures for those who have passed away in the last year from Mesothelioma, a lung cancer caused only by exposure to asbestos. It was sad, but alas not surprising, to see an increase in the number of deaths. I say unsurprising because it is a latent disease that only presents itself decades after exposure and I am afraid therefore we will continue to see an increase for a few more years to come yet.

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Harriet Harman MP calls on Camila Batmanghelidjh to give the London Borough of Southwark the information they need to help vulnerable children and young people affected by the closure of Kids Company.

Harriet Harman MP has today also written to the Cabinet Office to ask the Government to provide the necessary resources for Southwark Council to enable them to support these children and young people.

She thanks the staff of Southwark Council for their hard work in seeking to protect vulnerable children and young people from the impact of the closure of Kids Company.

 

Notes to editors:

 1. Kids Company was based in Camberwell and supported many of the children and young people in Harriet Harman’s constituency

 2. Full text of the letter to Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster:

 

Dear Oliver,

Re: Kids Company

Following the closure of Kids Company, Southwark Council has been undertaking a great deal of work to make sure that vulnerable children and young people do not suffer because of the closure.

As you know I am very concerned that Southwark Council has the resources it needs to be able to protect these children and young people.

I am writing now to ask what additional resources are being made available to Southwark Council.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Harriet Harman

Ends

 

For further information contact Rachel Smethers on 0207 219 2057 or email harriet.harman.mp@parliament.uk

I started to play the violin from the age of seven, and played for about 15 years. I do have very good memories, though some bad ones too – in the school orchestra I scrubbed my way through a lot of operatic overtures and symphonies.

I received lots of outstanding applications for the roles of Parliamentary Assistant and Constituency Support Manager in my office. I interviewed some excellent candidates, including many candidates local to South Northamptonshire, and whilst it was a difficult decision, I am delighted to welcome Tommy Gilchrist and Hilary Edwards to my team as my Parliamentary Assistant and my Constituency Support Manager respectively.

Hilary and Tommy will begin work over the next few weeks and I'm sure will be great additions to the team and will work hard to support constituents in South Northamptonshire. Tommy will be leading local campaigns on HS2, planning applications, potholes, wind farms and the Towcester Relief Road to name a few. Hilary is joining us to help support my caseworkers, organise local surgeries and help set up our new constituency office in Towcester. I am looking forward to working with both of them.

Former Magdalen College student, Jonathan Riley has also started as my new Apprentice Caseworker for the next year. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ellie Hanger for all her hard work over the last year as my Apprentice and wish her all the best as she moves on to university.

For any local student who would be interested in joining my team as my Apprentice Caseworker for a year, further details of this role can be found by following this link: http://www.andrealeadsom.com/working-for-you/andrea's-blog/would-you-like-to-work-in-my-team/565

Karen was of course very concerned to learn that the temporary relocation of gynaecology services from the Alex to Worcester Royal appears likely to extend until February next year, and possibly longer. She said would be extremely concerned if there was any suggestion that the move was to become permanent.

Karen has already written to the Secretary of State for Health, The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt, to ask for reassurance that there is sufficient capacity to take the Redditch patients at Worcester Royal, and also if to ask if consideration has been given to how patients and their families are going to get to Worcester. She has also written to Chris Tidman, Interim Chief Executive at the Worcestershire Acute hospitals NHS Trust to ask the same questions.

Karen said:-

"I was informed that the relocation was to last for a week, not six months, and I find it unacceptable that I should learn of this change from a newspaper, and not directly from the Trust.

However, I feel strongly that since the changes have been made for reasons of safety since the Trust has been unable to recruit sufficient junior doctors to run a fully staffed service, then I wouldn't want Redditch mums to be at the Alex until such a time as safety is assured.

I am seeking reassurance from the Secretary of State and the Worcestershire Acute Hospital Trust that this change is temporary and have asked to be kept informed at all stages of the process."

Last week John Whittingdale, the Secretary of State for Culture, was in Redruth to see work on the new Cornwall Archive project and to confirm the £12 million of Heritage Lottery Funding needed to see the construction completed.

Cornwall has a unique culture and an industrial heritage to be proud of, with Redruth playing a particularly important role as one of the birthplaces of the industrial revolution and as the centre of the Cornish diaspora across the world. In its prime, Redruth was at the heart of the tin mining industry and there were many feats of engineering developed in Cornwall at that time.

After the decline in the fortunes of tin mining in the late nineteenth century, there was a huge exodus to the new world with Cornish tin miners founding the industry in Australia, California, South Africa, South America and Mexico. As a result, today there are some six to eight million people making up a worldwide Cornish diaspora and the vast majority of them can trace their family roots back to Redruth.

It is this history that makes Redruth the ideal place to host the new Kresen Kernow archive project and that is why I have supported this initiative from the start. The new funding of £12 million secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund is a major boost.

The money will be used to help transform the old derelict Redruth brewery site into a centre for holding the world’s largest collection of maps, photographs and manuscripts relating to Cornwall. In addition, once complete, the centre will host a range of exhibitions and activities allowing audiences to celebrate and share in Cornwall’s history.

As well as safeguarding the iconic brewery, the site will also see the construction of homes and shops all of which will play a key role in kick starting the wider regeneration of Redruth and leading to an estimated 300 new jobs in the town.



With regards to today’s news from the High Court, my solicitors, Clifford Chance, have prepared this statement on my behalf: "This petition was part of Mr Ireland's continued campaign of harassment against our client. Our client believes that the p...

Jeremy Hunt MP for South West Surrey joined children from Loseley Fields School, Godalming today on the steps of No.10 Downing Street as they handed in to the Prime Minister their very special petition supporting the Send My Friend To School Campaign

 

Jeremy Hunt MP for South West Surrey joined children from Loseley Fields School, Godalming today on the steps of No.10 Downing Street as they handed in to the Prime Minister their very special petition supporting the Send My Friend To School Campaign The students

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Between 2010 and 2015 I was the Minister of State for Pensions and continue to take an interest in pensions issues.  I tweet regularly (@stevewebb1) but occasionally 140 characters doesn't quite do justice to the wonderful world of pensions.   I have therefore relaunched this blog site as an occasional location for pensions thoughts.

Dominic Grieve supports the future of the Colne Valley by signing the Colne Charter

On the signing of the Charter, Dominic Grieve said:

 

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JONES WELCOMES YSGOL PEN Y BRYN TO WESTMINSTER

Westminster, 13 July 2015

Clwyd West MP, David Jones, has welcomed a delegation from Ysgol Pen y Bryn, Colwyn Bay, to Westminster.

The group, comprising two teachers and four pupils, was given a tour of the Palace of Westminster, and was then taken over to Downing Street by David Jones in order to deliver a petition to the Prime Minister.

The teachers and pupils, representing the school as a whole, travelled to Westminster on 7 July 2015 in order to support the ‘Send my Friend to School’ campaign, which strives to ensure that every child in the world can attend school, and can receive a good education. In delivering a petition to the Prime Minister, the school hopes to encourage the British Government to continue supporting efforts to achieve that aim.

David Jones said:

“I was delighted to be able to welcome teachers and pupils from Ysgol Pen y Bryn to Westminster, and to accompany them to Downing Street in order to deliver their ‘Send my Friend to School’ petition.

“I am proud that the British Government’s record on supporting the provision of education in the world’s poorer countries and regions is so strong. However, it is clear that much remains to be done with regard to ensuring that every child in the world can receive a good education. I believe that the Send my Friend to School campaign is a worthy one, and I commend the teachers and pupils at Ysgol Pen y Bryn for their endeavours.”

 

Ysgol Pen y Bryn - Send my Friend to School visit 06.07.15

Yesterday evening Caroline spoke at the launch of 'Sanctuary on Sea'. Here is a blog by her following the launch and at the start of this year's Refugee Week:
 
Last night was one of the most moving in a long time.  I was honoured to have been invited to speak at the launch of Sanctuary on Sea, the Brighton and Hove branch of the national City of Sanctuary movement.

Hello. If you are reading this it might be because you want to sign up for my campaign to be deputy leader of the Labour Party. There is a separate site for this which can be found at this Tom for Deputy link.

The Haringey Indepedent asked me to outline reasons why people should vote for me… Here’s my response!

“Starting with the very basic – I am local! I grew up in Haringey, went to Highgate primary, and still live in the constituency of Hornsey and Wood Green today.

“It’s so important to know the area you want to represent.

“I also have a 20 year record of working with residents and campaign groups to protect and improve our local services.

“If I had to pick the single most important campaign – it would be saving the Whittington A&E from the previous Labour Government’s closure plans. The second I got wind, I posted the information on my website (where it remains today!) and kicked off a massive campaign.

“Joining forces with local residents and campaign groups – I marched, I petitioned, I secured a debate and asked questions in Parliament, and together we were successful and Gordon Brown’s Government backed down. If we hadn’t saved it – I don’t think we’d still have a hospital.

“Nationally, I’ve fought for policies that benefit our borough. The Lib Dems in parliament have taken the lowest paid workers out of paying tax, and introduced the Pupil Premium to get extra money to schools in more disadvantaged areas.

“These measures mean that thousands of low-paid Haringey workers have be taken out of paying income tax altogether, and £13 million extra has been given to our local schools, teachers and pupils.

“In Government, I’ve used my ministerial positions to push a progressive agenda. As Equalities minister, I was the originator and architect of equal marriage. I then moved to the Department for International Development, where I announced a £35 million programme to end FGM within a generation, and protected the aid budget.

“Finally, I would like you to vote for me because there is still more that needs to be done – for all the reasons I got into politics. We need stronger public services. We need to continue to promote fairness and equality. We need to fight for a community where we take care of those less able than ourselves. I’d like to be a part of that work for the next five years.”
Am I the only one who has found that the rise and rise of twitter (and to an extent) facebook has eaten their blog? Despite the best of my intentions, I have ended up posting minute by minute stuff on Facebook and Twitter. Does this say something about our ever diminishing attention-spans as a society? Or just about me not being very good at managing the blogger app on my iphone...?   Who knows.  But be warned - this blog may not be updated as much as it should be. A big blue bird came and ate it up.

Make sure you stay up to date with all of James’s news by liking his Facebook page!

jamestwitter2-e1403712392869

So, avid readers will notice that I've been a little absent in the blogging world over the past few months.  I've been busy, which isn't an excuse as we are all busy, I know, but writing a blog can't be top on the list of my priorities so posts on here have fallen by the wayside a little bit, sorry.

Summer recess, however, is a great opportunity to catch up, take stock, and get on top of things as best as possible, so here I am again with a new (Parliamentary) year resolution to get back to blogging.

I hope I still have at least one reader left!

First published by The Observer Parliament talks ceaselessly of “the next generation”. But, in Cumbria, where I’m an MP, voluntary activity and politics are generally driven by people over the age of 55. Every village seems to have a retired engineer attempting to build a community fibre-optic cable network and baffling the most confident civil servant […]

The post Our culture excludes the old when they have so much to contribute appeared first on Rory Stewart.

Shadow Fisheries Minister Tom Harris has welcomed a campaign by representatives of the smaller fishing industry to win a fairer share of UK fishing quotas.

Speaking on the day that Greenpeace and NUTFA (the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association) launched their Manifesto For Fair Fisheries, Tom called on the government to take the lead in supporting small fishing communities. He said the case had now been made for a “radical overhaul” of the way fishing quotas are allocated within the UK.

Smaller “inland” fishing vessels make up three quarters of the UK’s fishing fleet and employ nearly two thirds of all full-time workers. But they are restricted from catching more than four per cent of the UK fishing quota, with 96 per cent being allocated to the larger industrial fleet.
 
Tom added: “Labour wants reform that tackles vested interests and rewards those who fish more sustainably and selectively, with less impact on the environment. It is unacceptable that fleets representing the smaller, sustainable end of the industry, and which employ nearly two thirds of full-time workers, should have to survive on just four per cent of the UK fishing quota.
 
“The Government should be taking a lead in supporting our small fishing communities that are the lifeblood of many coastal areas.

“The case has now been made for a radical overhaul of the way fishing quotas are allocated within the UK. The Government needs to issue a definitive list of who exactly owns the rights to UK quota, and begin urgent talks on significantly increasing the percentage quota allocated to the Under Ten fleet.”
I recently organised a meeting with a number of local residents about the upkeep and maintenance of Kew Bridge Railway Station. I met with representatives from Strand on the Green Association, St George's, Kew Green, The Kew Bridge Society, Express Tavern, West Thames River Group, a disability interest group, Friends of Stile Hall Gardens, Brentford Community Council and Network Rail.
Prior to the meeting, I had already been in touch with Network Rail, to strongly urge them to deal with some of the key issues around the station. Network Rail confirmed at the meeting that, as a result of my request, they had immediate plans in place now to paint the station, address the rodent problem, board up unused windows and clear graffiti They had also requested additional litter bins from Hounslow Council. At the meeting, St George's highlighted the work they had been doing too to clear up graffiti in the local area.
I am very pleased that Network Rail responded so well and are giving Kew Bridge Station a 'facelift,' which will help local residents. It will make the station seem cleaner and safer and I welcome their efforts to improve it for passengers. As a group, we are also in discussion regarding the future of the station building at Kew Bridge. As it is a Listed Building, it is obviously of architectural importance. It would be excellent if it could be restored to its former glory and put to good use.
The group is going to meet again within the next month to review progress and discuss next steps.
Maria Miller, MP for Basingstoke, has welcomed the Localism Bill published by the Government on 13 December. The Bill will give individuals, groups, and their local councils a much greater say in decisions affecting their local communities.

 

Maria said: “This new legislation will make a real difference to how local matters are decided. The Community Rights measures, for example, will give new rights to local community and voluntary groups to protect, improve and even run important frontline services that might otherwise close down, such as local shops, pubs and libraries,.”

 

Maria added: “This Bill offers great opportunities for Basingstoke. Among other things, it will radically reform the planning system so that local people have a greater say and influence over what Basingstoke looks like in the future. Giving local people the opportunity to shape the development of the communities in which they live is something that I have long campaigned for, and I am delighted to see it being enshrined in law.

 

“The Borough Council’s current consultation on the number of new homes needed in Basingstoke is part of this process of taking local people’s views into consideration in developing a vision for the future. I would urge all residents to let the Council have their views on this before the end of the consultation on 14 January.”

 

Starting with a Bang

The long parliamentary recess has started - weeks without time being spent in the weekly grindingly boring train ride to London and back. Mind you its a hectic pace back at Southport but you can control your agenda better.

Yesterday I found a little time for light exercise the odd game of table tennis and a workout with heavy weights.
I've done the latter all my adult life and it has a slight addictive quality. If you don't do it for a while you actually feel muscle cramps only relieved by putting the old system under pressure.
Constraints of time often mean I forego all the warm ups and warm downs etc. So there I was on Tuesday doing a few front squats in excess of 300lb. I finished, replacing the barbell on the shoulder-high squat stand or so I thought. The stand was not aligned right .It tilted sideways as I released the weight and as the weight crashed to the floor the stand was pulled rapidly down by it pausing on its way to hit the stooping me on the head and catching me on the hand.
If you wanted to dramatise it , it might be compared to being hit on the head by a 20 stone man with an iron bar from a short distance. I thought I'd better take a break. We've had enough by- elections recently
When the family saw me with a lump as though a tennis ball had been buried in my scalp I was advised to pop into A&E. So clutching a plastic bag filled with ice cubes to my temple and bleeding from my finger I was run there and tested by some very nice jolly staff who established so far as we could tell that there was no skull or brain damage.At any rate I could still recall who the Prime Minister and reigning monarch was. I left a wiser man with a determination to avoid photo opportunities for a few days.
Desperate to prove they are doing something about the rising toll of deaths from guns and knives the government have resorted to the old idea of an "amnesty." This will enable a few aging war veterans who collected a "souvenir" and some farmers who forgot to renew their shotgun licenses to hand over guns that would never have been used for any kind of crime. Some of the younger "wannabe" gansters may also find that their weapons, usually replicas, are handed in by angry mothers.

This will be enough for the amnesty to achieve its real objective - photos of a smiling Minister in front of an impressive looking array of guns claiming that the government have "taken action".

But make no mistake the serious criminals will continue to roam the streets without any fear of being stopped and searched, (human rights) and knowing that even if by some chance they are found in poossession of a gun or knife the sentence will be minimal.

The toll of death will continue to rise.