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Meet Your MP in Hurstbourne Tarrant

Kit Malthouse (North West Hampshire)

Last Friday HBT saw a crowd of constituents grill me on issues of the day in my latest “Meet Your MP” event.

I’ve been holding these evenings across the patch over the last couple of years so that people can ask questions, raise issues and get a sense of my thinking and government strategy on topical issues.

As you would imagine Friday night was dominated by Brexit, Chequers and all things EU, although housing and defence got a look in too. There was shepherds pie for those with an appetite for a hearty supper too.

I accepted the verdict of UK voters as a young man in 1975 when I was on the losing side of the referendum on staying in the EEC. I decided I had to make the best of it. When I entered Parliament I  tried to limit the EEC/EU to what people voted for, a common market. My worry had always been it was a much mightier political project, but Remain always told us in the early years it was  not a currency and political union in the making. Later of course it became obvious that it was a currency union, with a political union in the offing.

So what changed my mind about the common market part of it? It was being given the role of Single Market Minister in the 1990s, when the EU wished to “complete” the single market. That turned out to be a double lie. The EU did indeed have a massive legislative programme which it called the single market programme in those days, and did more or less complete the stated programme by 1992. It then went on to invent many more legislative programmes in the name of its new creation for many years afterwards, proving the single market was in its view no where near completed in 1992 despite the claims. It was also misleading, because as I discovered it was not primarily a programme to open and liberate a wider market. It was a huge power grab. It  thrived on the doctrine of “the occupied field”, pressing EU legislation into many new areas in the name of the single  market to take powers away from national democracies and to place them in the hands of unelected Commissioners and European Court judges.

As I used to point out to the bureaucratic, legal and regulatory minds assembled, you only need one simple rule to have a common market. That rule, established in a famous  European Court case, states that if a product is of merchandisable quality and has passed the tests to be offered for sale in one part of the common market, it should also be allowed for sale anywhere else in that market. It does not mean British people have to suddenly develop a passion for German sausage or French people need to learn to love English cheese. It does mean that as Germany tells us their sausage is fine for consumption their sausage makers should be allowed to offer it to British consumers to see if they want to buy it. It means each part of a common market has to trust each other part for their standards of safety, hygiene and the rest, or allow only limited specified national overrides for public health and safety  but not much else to restrict the flow of goods.

Instead the EU embarked on a comprehensive legislative programme to superimpose EU law on top of member state law to govern everything from food standards to control of hazardous chemicals, and everything from labour rules to environmental protections, all in the name of the single market. The laws often told businesses  how they were to make or design something. It was very clearly a programme to create a supranational government. It soon replicated all the main departments of national governments, with a foreign policy, a security and defence policy, an environment , transport and employment policy and much else.

The market part of it proceeded by the Commission working with the dominant companies of the day in each sector to draw up a set of rules which would be required of everyone. These rules were welcomed by the big business that helped inform them, because they already met them. They were opposed by some big businesses which had not been so successful in lobbying and drafting. They often acted as restraints on c0mpetition and innovation, as they prescribed the way firms were allowed to make and sell things. These rules were imposed in the name of cross border trading, but were also mandatory for the much larger flows of goods and commerce within each individual member state where they were not needed to assist international trade and might override perfectly good familiar national systems. Many smaller businesses found the extra cost of EU regulation, and greater prescription, made market entry and offering competitive product more difficult.

In the first ten years of our membership of the EEC our motor car output halved, unable to face the onslaught of German and French competition without tariffs and under EEC rules. Meanwhile in the areas where we were strong in services no similar market opening occurred, leaving us a growing and large balance of payments deficit which has persisted to this day. I came to the conclusion that the single market was not designed to help the UK, and we would be better off making our own rules and running our own global trade policy.

 

I’m backing the campaign to end period poverty

Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree)

Period povertyI am supporting the Communication Workers Union campaign to bring forward the day when no one has to rely on charity to tend to their period needs.

Basic period products will cost around £5,000 over a woman’s lifetime. Many people who cannot afford them are reliant on charity or resort to using unhygienic alternatives.

A survey conducted by the children’s charity Plan International UK found that one in 10 girls have been unable to afford sanitary products and almost half had missed an entire day of school because of their period.

It is estimated that 137,000 girls in the UK skipped school last year because they didn’t have the period products they needed.

It’s a scandal that children are missing school days because of period poverty, and that people here are going without these basic necessities.

The government has left it up to schools to decide whether to use some of their shrinking budgets to provide free sanitary products. That is not good enough.

The CWU makes the case that there is only one way to end period poverty and that’s to make these products universally and freely available.

This is a human rights and gender equality issue that schools, employers and community organisations can support.

City MP helps host launch of new plans for St Luke’s

Stephen Morgan (Portsmouth South)

Inner-city Portsmouth church St Luke’s has launched its redevelopment plans with an event hosted by Portsmouth MP Stephen Morgan.

St Luke’s Church wants to use its city centre location to serve those who live and work in the local community more effectively. That includes those who work in the city centre and thousands of students living in newly-built tower blocks nearby.

Worshippers want to open up its building to passers-by on Isambard Brunel Road, creating a brand new entrance and a café on the west side of the existing building – as well as revamping the existing community garden.

The £1.5m project would also involve revamping the interior of the Victorian church and its adjoining church hall, providing better facilities for community groups that already use the building and making it available for others too.

The church is also working with Portsmouth City Council on plans to redevelop the area to the west of the building, with an nearby underpass filled in and landscaping to make the area look more attractive.

It also hopes to employ two people who can work alongside young adults who may need help to take advantage of local employment opportunities.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan – who is also the local ward councillor – is enthusiastically supporting the plans. He offered to host a launch event for local residents, community groups, councillors and interested parties.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

It was great to host this event launching these exciting plans for the Church. I’m really excited about the difference this development could make to this special part of our great city.

There has been a lot of re-development recently, and there are many more people living locally, as well as all those who work in the city centre.

Having a place in the heart of Portsmouth that can give them some spiritual support, as well as the chance to relax and unwind in the café or community garden, will be really helpful.

St Luke’s has already done a lot to bring people together – it hosts an annual barbecue at the start of each autumn term to bring together brand new students and local residents. It also runs community fairs and fun days, and hosts all sorts of local community groups.

I’m hoping this development will make it even easier for them to bring local people together.”

The Diocese of Portsmouth has indicated its support for the plans, which will shortly be considered by Portsmouth City Council.

HIGH STAKES WITH ONGOING TORY BREXIT GAMBLE

Brendan O'Hara (Argyll and Bute)

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland published yesterday a stark warning about business confidence in light of a Brexit no-deal, no-transition scenario. The Scottish small business confidence index fell from +5.1 points to -13.2 points and a separate FSB survey shows that 56% of Scottish businesses believe a no-transition, no-deal Brexit would impact … Continue reading HIGH STAKES WITH ONGOING TORY BREXIT GAMBLE

MP backs campaign for free period products

Lesley Laird (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath)

Lesley Laird MP has joined the call by the Communications Workers Union (CWU) to make period products free for anyone who needs them.

At the parliamentary event in Westminster on Wednesday, September 12, Lesley met with representatives from the Union to hear about their campaign to bring forward the day when no one has to rely on charity to tend to their period needs.

The CWU highlighted the fact that basic period products will cost around £5000 over a woman’s lifetime, and that many people who cannot afford them are reliant on charity or resort to using unhygienic alternatives. At the same time, it is estimated that 137,000 girls in the UK skipped school last year because they didn’t have the period products they needed.

Lesley discussed ground-breaking plans by Monica Lennon, Labour MSP, to give universal free access to period products across Scotland. The proposed system, which has been piloted in several localities, will run in the same way as people currently access free condoms.

Lesley Laird MP said after attending the event: “It’s fantastic that Scotland is leading the way by providing free sanitary products in school, colleges and universities.

“But there’s really only one way to end period poverty and that’s to make these products universally and freely available everywhere.

“Sanitary products should be a right not a privilege and I will certainly support the CWU campaign and Monica’s Bill.”

Beryl Shepherd, CWU President said: “We’re delighted that Lesley Laird MP has pledged to help us in our campaign. This is a human rights and gender equality issue.

“We will also be urging that employers be more responsive to the issues faced by many of our members, who are outdoors workers and not always equipped with what they need – or told the location of toilets when they are out and about”.

The post MP backs campaign for free period products appeared first on Lesley Laird.

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Council seeks views on long term plans for change

Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith)

The City of Edinburgh Council has outlined its plans to engage with residents on developing a four-year strategy to meet the changing demands of the city and its services.

Raising Awareness on World Alzheimer’s Day!

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills)

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day and is an opportunity for us all to raise awareness, highlight issues faced by people affected by dementia and demonstrate how we can overcome them to help people live well with dementia.

Across the world dementia is one of the biggest challenges we face, with nearly 50 million people living with dementia. To tackle this global dementia challenge we need to work together, and to collaborate and share best practice with one another.

With many of us having personal experience of family or friends affected by dementia, I am pleased to continue to show my support for the Alzheimer’s Society as a Dementia Champion.

Together we need to create more communities and businesses that are dementia friendly so that people affected by dementia feel understood and included.

Blood Cancer Awareness Month

Royston Smith (Southampton, Itchen)

To mark Blood Cancer Awareness Month this September I attended a reception in Westminster, to celebrate the number of potential stem cell donors in my constituency on the Anthony Nolan register. This achievement was celebrated by Anthony Nolan as part of its Communities vs Blood Cancer campaign, which shines a spotlight on the vital work [...]

The post Blood Cancer Awareness Month appeared first on Royston Smith - At the heart of Southampton.

Bill Wiggin MP has today welcomed the Government’s introduction of the Agriculture Bill to the House of Commons, as he attended an event to show his support for British farming at Back British Farming Day in Westminster, recognising the crucial... Continue Reading →

Office Closed 21st – 24th September

Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire)

My Constituency office will be closed on Friday 21st September and Monday 24th September for the local holiday weekend. It will re-open at 10am on Tuesday 25th.

Please note that GP Surgeries across much of Ayrshire will also be closed as well as some pharmacies. For anyone who needs medical advice during this period, below are links to what help will be available in South, North and East Ayrshire:

https://www.nhsaaa.net/news/latest-news/pharmacy-opening-times-in-south-ayrshire-over-the-september-bank-holiday-weekend/

https://www.nhsaaa.net/news/latest-news/pharmacy-opening-times-in-north-ayrshire-over-the-september-bank-holiday-weekend/

https://www.nhsaaa.net/news/latest-news/pharmacy-opening-times-in-east-ayrshire-over-the-september-bank-holiday-weekend/

 

The post Office Closed 21st – 24th September appeared first on Dr Philippa Whitford MP.

Party conference season is a bit like Glastonbury for politicians. Over the next month, all the major political parties will be holding their annual conference to set out the priorities for the year ahead. The Labour Party’s conference will be held this year in Liverpool, and I’m looking forward to a busy 4 days speaking at various events, meeting members and making the case for a more sustainable approach to funding our public services.

This conference I will be laying out Labour’s vision for Local Government and how a future Labour administration will repair the damage caused by years of austerity. In Tameside, the council has faced brutal cuts of almost £200 million, losing almost 70p for every £1 that we received in 2010. For too long, the funding for our councils and for our local public services has been neglected by central Government. Councillors from all parties now agree that how we fund our public services needs reform; but even as the Government’s own councils collapse into bankruptcy, they are refusing to acknowledge the problem. The BBC recently reported that 80% of the councils under the most financial strain are Tory-run. The funding crisis in our communities demands long term answers, but all we get from this Government are botched sticking-plaster solutions.

We will also be launching a major review of the planning system, to learn how we can make sure that all communities are part of the decisions that affect them. Roberta Blackman-Woods MP from my team in Parliament will be travelling the country to speak to planners, councillors and local people to learn what is good and bad in the current system, and what needs to be changed and how. The Commission will look to put people and communities back at the heart of planning, ensuring that planning decisions have proper democratic accountability, and are made in the public interest.

Austerity has created a hole in our public services that demands more from us than simply throwing money at the problem; it demands that we consider new ideas and new approaches. That is why under the next LabourGovernment, my department will increase the accountability, transparency and public control of our public services, including those operated by private companies; and will empower councils to to take a leadership role in shaping the communities they serve. We need to put local people at the core of how our public services are delivered..

Taken together we are planning some of the largest set of reforms to local government in generations. Rebuilding local government capacity and giving power back to communities – because they are your public services, and you are more important than profit.

Meeting the Llanelli Police Cadets

Nia Griffith (Llanelli)

Delighted to meet the newly-formed Volunteer Police Cadets at their third meeting in Llanelli.

I am sure they will have a lot of fun participating in an exciting range of activities and acquiring skills like teamwork which will serve them well whatever they choose to do later in life.

Many thanks to Staff Gareth Richards and Staff Vicki Price for their hard work in establishing and running the Cadets, and to those in charge of the Army Cadets for being so helpful about the use of their hall in Murray Street.

I wish you all every success and look forward to keeping in touch.

AB in chamber

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has hit out at the UK Government’s handling of Brexit negotiations and says exiting the EU will impact the economy even if a deal is struck.

Mr MacNeil, who is also Chair of the House of Commons International Trade Committee, has repeatedly questioned the Tory Government including the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU on what lies ahead, but has not been given any satisfactory answers.

First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has today written to all UK party leaders saying that if the UK does end up facing a choice between no-deal or a blind Brexit, then an extension to the Article 50 negotiation process “must be on the table” as the only way to avoid an economic cliff-edge and to allow all alternative options to be considered

Mr MacNeil said: “With every passing day, it is becoming clearer that Brexit – with a deal or without a deal – will have negative consequences for our economy.

“What the media are not reporting is that Brexit, even with a deal – is bad news for our economy.

“Leaving the EU with a deal, a Free Trade Agreement – will mean a loss of 6 per cent to UK GDP – GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is the measurement of the value of economic activity within a country.

“Leaving the EU with no deal – a hard Brexit – will harm the UK’s GDP by 8 per cent.

“The USA makes up 28 per cent of global GDP and so a Free Trade Agreement with the US will boost UK GDP by 0.2 per cent.

“Therefore, to make up the difference, the UK needs a Free Trade Agreement with 8.4 times or 11.2 times global GDP! That leaves us with a gaping hole in our economy.”

Mr MacNeil says Scotland’s situation has changed radically since 2014 and that the time for a 2nd Independence Referendum is coming.

“We’re heading for unknown territory but we do have another option.  Voters were told in 2014 that the only way to remain in the EU was to vote NO, Scotland as part of the UK is now leaving the EU.

“We have that get out of jail card, that emergency exit that gives us another option and the time is coming to use it.”

Local MP, Maria Miller launched Gas Safety Week in Parliament to raise awareness of the dangers of poorly maintained gas appliances.
 

Not quite - but Rotarians recently listened to a talk from Mike Dean, their President Elect, on Charles Darwin’s theory on creating new climate systems.

A genetic condition which can kill children before the age of 2, and which has recently had funding cut for its only known drug was the subject of a recent Parliamentary reception attended by Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins

Spinal Muscular Atrophy is a very serious genetic medical condition, which usually has an onset in childhood or at birth, progressively results in the deterioration of a person’s muscles and movement in general. It causes severe disabilities, and drastically reduces life expectancy. A child with Type 1 SMA would be unlikely to live past the age of two.

Recently, to the anger of SMA patients, the NHS was advised not to offer the only drug to treat this condition because of cost, despite the drug being potentially life-saving.

Last week, the charity Spinal Muscular Atrophy Support UK held a drop in session in Westminster for MPs wishing to learn more about the illness, and what can be done to help those suffering.

There are 4 different types of SMA, each differing in severity, onset and long-term prognosis, amongst other things. Nonetheless, all the types of SMA affect each patient and their families considerably.

It is estimated that between 660 and 1320 people in the UK are living with SMA, meaning that the cohort of people who would receive the drug is a relatively small one.

Whilst the drug is not a cure for the condition, it is known to extend the life expectancy of sufferers and it is too early to say whether it might offer SMA patients the chance to live into adulthood.

There is evidence that the drug helps improve a patient’s prognosis, which is why NICE and NHS England should take urgent action to review their judgement that the drug is not cost effective.

Toby was recently approached by the parents of a child in his constituency to help after their child was diagnosed with Type 1 SMA.

Luke Catt, contacted Toby recently to ask for his support to get NHS England to offer the drug Nuisinersen to its patients. The drug is currently offered by NHS Scotland, but is much more difficult to obtain in England. NICE provided first guidance that NHS England should not offer this drug, as they say the cost is too high to be considered cost-effective.

Fortunately, Mr Catt’s daughter Grace, is one of the last children to receive the drug before the NICE guidance comes into effect in November, which offers her hope of a longer life.

But any children in England who are diagnosed after November will be denied the drug.

Doug Henderson, an SMA Support UK worker, discussed in detail with Toby what he could do as an MP to support those affected.

TOBY PERKINS MP SAID:

“There is nothing more devastating than the news that your child has a life threatening condition. To then discover that the NHS is refusing you a drug that would be available if you lived in most of the countries in Europe is doubly heart breaking. I will be putting pressure on the Health Secretary and NICE to re-consider their decision, so that other children like Gemma might have the chance to live a longer life with SMA.”

 

Apprentice Administrator – application invited by 30th September

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

All applications must be made via the website:

https://www.findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/apprenticeship/-330267

 

On Friday I held my second consultation event with local students about the impacts of social media and screen use on their health.

This time I was at Fullhurst Community College and had a really interesting chat with the students. They told me all the things they thought were good and bad about social media, who they take advice and learn about social media from and how to keep themselves safe online.

Over the coming weeks and months I will be carrying out more consultation events with students across Leicester West. The feedback that I gather will be submitted to the Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into the impacts of social media and screen use on young people’s health.

The post Liz talks to Fullhurst students about social media appeared first on Liz Kendall.

‘The Bedroom Tax snatches money back from social tenants who can’t move to smaller accommodation – often none is available. It is netting the Treasury around £1 million a year from poorer people in...

On Thursday 13 September, Victoria Prentis MP contributed to the Urgent Question on the Government’s plans for HMP Bedford.

Mohammad Yasin (Bedford):

(Urgent Question): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will make a statement on the Government’s plans for HMP Bedford.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Rory Stewart):

May I begin by paying tribute to the hon. Gentleman for bringing forward this urgent question? We spoke briefly on the telephone yesterday. I know that he is a champion of the interests of the people of Bedford and Bedford prison, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to discuss this in more detail.

I begin by setting the broader context of what is happening at Bedford prison and then talk more specifically about what we need to do to resolve the serious issues in Bedford prison.

A number of local prisons with significant challenges have come before the House in the past six months, of which Bedford is the latest. I want to clarify a number of things before I focus specifically on the issues at Bedford. The first is that some of these issues are fundamental to any prison. Prisons are challenging places to run at the best of times. By definition, the people inside a prison do not want to be there, and we are now facing a cohort of people in prison who have multiple needs. Nearly half the people in prison have a reading age of under 11, and nearly 30% have a reading age of under six. Very large numbers are coming to prison directly out of care at the moment, and only 18% of people coming into prison had a job beforehand.

There is also a rising tide of violence in prisons. I am pleased that Royal Assent has today been given to the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant). The Bill clarifies that this is not just an issue in prisons. Assaults against police officers have risen to an all-time high, and assaults on ambulance workers have risen to a very disturbing level. It would have been almost inconceivable 30 years ago for someone to get into an ambulance and assault the paramedic who was trying to treat them. It was almost unheard of 30 years ago for prisoners to assault prison officers, yet last year there were more than 9,000 such assaults.

With your permission, Mr Speaker, in relation to Bedford prison, I will return to the question of how we address violence in prisons and how the new legislation brought in by the hon. Member for Rhondda, which we on this side of the House are proud to support, will help to address some of the issues.

The second thing I want to put on record is that although there are many challenges in prisons, there have been improvements. It is worth remembering in this difficult atmosphere that some things are getting better. The situation relating to escapes and security is much better than at any time in the past. Similarly, while any suicide is a tragedy, because of our understanding of the drivers of suicide and the evidence that we gather, the measures that we are taking are beginning to work. The suicide rate is now considerably lower than it was a year ago, two years ago or indeed in the historical past, because we are beginning to address that issue. We also have a much better idea about how to deal with some of the underlying issues around reoffending. Our ​first night reception centres are much stronger, as are the family links that we are able to promote. More prisoners are now actively in work or education than before, and the education strategy ensures that the education they receive is much more relevant to the workplace.

Nevertheless, as the hon. Member for Bedford and the chief inspector have pointed out, there are three very significant challenges in Bedford. The first is a big problem around decency and conditions in Bedford. The second is a problem around drugs in Bedford. The third is a problem around violence, particularly assaults against prison officers in Bedford. How do we deal with this? Bearing in mind that there are underlying problems in all local prisons and that the problems we are talking about—decency, drugs and violence—are familiar from inspections in other places, what is it that gives me some hope that we can turn this around? Do we have a plan to turn this around?

The answer is that there are prisons out there in the country—local prisons with similar problems to Bedford—that are already showing that we can tackle these issues. Hull is a good example, as is Preston. There has also been a significant improvement in tackling exactly these kinds of issues in Leeds over the past three months. In Bedford, we put the prison into special measures some months ago, and we are now beginning to see some key improvements. We are seeing improvements in the physical infrastructure, more investment is going into windows, the mental health provision is better than it was, areas such as the showers and the segregation unit are better than they were, and we are now bringing in a more experienced management team.

However, that still leaves those three fundamental problems to be dealt with. How do we deal with them? Addressing the issue of drugs is first a question of technology. We have done a lot to understand the criminal networks through gathering intelligence on how the drugs are getting in, but there is much more we can do to get the right scanners in place to investigate the drugs being carried in in people’s bodies, and to spend money on the scanners to investigate drugs being put in the post that is getting into the prison.

Decency is fundamentally a question of spending money, which is why we are putting an extra £40 million into addressing basic issues, such as windows. That is not just about producing decent living conditions for prisoners—

Victoria Prentis (Banbury):

This report is particularly damning, and it is the fourth such report in recent times. It talks of men who are locked up for 23 hours a day without food or lavatory paper.

I accept that the Minister is doing his level best to sort out the situation, and I wholeheartedly support his reforms, including those to increase the number of prison officers and to work hard on rehabilitation, but if we are to continue incarcerating this number of people, we simply have to ask the Treasury for more money so that we can do it safely. Does he agree?

Rory Stewart:

We are definitely putting in more investment, and we need to put in more investment. That is why we are spending £40 million on additional improvements in the existing infrastructure, and that is why we will spend well over £1 billion on building new prisons, but the urgent problem we face will not be addressed overnight by new prisons. These prisons will take serious time to build, and the problem will have to be addressed on the landings and outside the cells by legislative measures such as the Bill tabled by the hon. Member for Rhondda, by body-worn cameras, by CCTV, by training and, above all, by management and support for staff.

Street Drinking: The Facts

Matt Warman (Boston and Skegness)

Street drinking was a real issue in Boston at the 2015 election, and I pledged to work with the council, police and others to tackle it.

As one of the first towns in the UK to use legislation to try and limit anti-social street drinking, there’s a Public Space Protection Order that makes it an offence to fail to surrender alcohol when asked to do so, and since the introduction of the PSPO we’ve seen a significant drop in reports. There is more to do, but significant progress has been made. Today, we see lower numbers of reports than ever, and pro-active police action outweighs complaints from the public, as the data in the graphic below shows. I’d like to thank all those involved who have helped to tackle this problem, and would urge all those who want to see even more done to bear in mind that if an offence isn’t reported, authorities won’t know how best to act.

Street drinking 2

 

Year PSPO letters issued Public reports
2015 364 157
2016 264 159
2017 147 104
2018 (to end August) 128 40

 

The post Street Drinking: The Facts appeared first on Matt Warman MP.

Alex backs campaign for free period products

Alex Cunningham (Stockton North)

Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, has joined the call by the Communications Workers Union (CWU) to make period products free for anyone who needs them.

At the parliamentary event in Westminster on Wednesday 12 September, [NAME] met with representatives from the Union to hear about their campaign to bring forward the day when no one has to rely on charity to tend to their period needs.

The CWU highlighted the fact that basic period products will cost around £5000 over a woman’s lifetime, and that many people who cannot afford them are reliant on charity or resort to using unhygienic alternatives. At the same time, it is estimated that 137,000 girls in the UK skipped school last year because they didn’t have the period products they needed.

Alex heard about ground-breaking plans in the Scottish Parliament to give universal free access to period products across Scotland. The proposed system, which has been piloted in several localities, will run in the same way as people currently access free condoms.

Alex said after attending the event:

“It’s a scandal that children in Stockton North are missing school days because of period poverty, and that people here are going without these basic necessities.

“There really is only one way to end period poverty and that’s to make these products universally and freely available. Scotland is leading the way on this, and we must follow their example.”

Beryl Shepherd, CWU President said:

“We’re delighted that Alex Cunningham MP has pledged to help us in our campaign. This is a human rights and gender equality issue. We will also be urging that employers be more responsive to the issues faced by many of our members, who are outdoors workers and not always equipped with what they need, or told the location of toilets when they are out and about”.

MP highlights funding improvements for county schools

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire)

Schools across Worcestershire are set for budget increases as part of reforms which will offer a better funding deal for primary and secondary schools. read more »

Agriculture: it’s showtime

Richard Benyon (Newbury)

One of the biggest and most popular events of the year is the Royal County of Berkshire Show, formerly the Newbury Show. Between 60,000 and 70,000 people come to see a proper agricultural show and to be entertained by a huge diversity of activities and spectacles. The show is a meeting place for many but […]

Theresa May claims to not have a magic money tree, but whenever she raids the back of the sofa she always comes up with the money she needs: there was the £1bn she found for Northern Ireland and then the £20.5bn for the NHS. Well now she needs to go back to that sofa and find the money for local government because without the resources they need councils are teetering on the cliff edge.

Ben Bradley, MP for Mansfield attended Treasury Questions at the House of Commons.
Ben highlighted the campaign to extend the Robin Hood Line with the Exchequer Secretary Robert Jenrick MP. He urged the Treasury to support the planned extension of the line for passenger service.
If the Robin Hood Line was extended to Ollerton with trains calling at Shirebrook, Warsop and Edwinstowe there would be huge economic benefits locally with improved links to jobs and tourism across North Nottinghamshire, and potentially even further opportunities in the future to connect with the planned HS2 station at Chesterfield.
Commenting, Ben Bradley MP said:
“It was good to raise this issue in Parliament again after Mark Spencer and I have been pushing this for several years. Proposals to extend the line across Warsop have appeared in various Budgets and it is great news that the Transport Secretary has ensured that the new train franchisee will have to consider the business case. That means whoever takes over East Midlands’ train services early next year will have a duty to put the case together for this extension, and I am keen to continue to press the Treasury to support it financially. The cost is minimal for a project like this and the benefits are clear. It would be a huge boost for Warsop, Mansfield and North Notts generally.”
Good luck to all three of our wonderful Mayoral candidates. All would bring vibrancy and skills to fight the campaign our Party needs. One in particular would also bring what London needs.
In government the changes we are able to enact and the difference to people’s lives that we can make, hinge upon what vision we have for the people we serve. Our successes and failures are often decided on whether or not we are willing to put forward a bold plan that challenges the status quo, that says yes to innovation, and that doesn’t shy away from the difficult decisions.
Since taking over from Boris Johnson two years ago, Sadiq Khan has failed London: he has failed to address our crime epidemic, failed to tackle pollution, and has left London at the mercy of the irresponsible unions. It’s clear the Mayor doesn’t have what it takes to deliver for the people that elected him.
But we have to be honest; despite Khan’s dismal record, taking City Hall is a challenge for our party. To win we need a candidate who has a bold vision and can demonstrate the difference Conservatives can make to people’s lives. They will need radical and innovative policies to tackle London’s challenges. They will need an energy and drive to motivate and deliver. And they will need courage.
That is why I am backing Andrew Boff to be the next Mayor of London.
Andrew holds unparalleled experience in holding Sadiq Khan to account. Every time we see Andrew challenge Sadiq, he reminds us of how he can beat Labour in London. Through his many years of public service, first leading a council and then as a GLA Assembly Member, he has shown that he is a true champion for London and a formidable campaigner.
Last week Andrew launched his ‘Manifesto for Change’, a document that sets out bold and comprehensive policies that will reform our capital city and prepare London for the future.
His policies aren’t rooted in ideology; their foundations are in research, logic and common sense.
He believes that people are better spending their own money than any administration, so his record is one of tax cuts. The Taxpayer’s Alliance has endorsed his policies including cutting council tax which will let Londoners keep more of their money.
On crime, Andrew will not only support the police to increase ‘stop and search’ and put more visible police officers back onto London’s streets; those policies are part of a much wider approach to bring together the public sector and tackle London’s crime epidemic.
And he is serious about ending a situation which has left London at the mercy of irresponsible unions and strikes. He will bring the Underground into the 21st century.
To deliver for Londoners, our candidate must have vision, a plan, knowledge and immense experience, strength and courage. Andrew does.
In 2016 we lost the Mayorship; last year we lost six seats in the capital and barely held on to those we won. More of the same just won’t do it. Unless we as a party are prepared to put forward a candidate who speaks the language of Londoners and who is brave enough to propose radical ideas and steely enough to deliver them, we risk finding ourselves out of office until 2024.
I’m backing Boff because I want us to win the keys to City Hall. Londoners need us to.
He will take responsibility, he will grasp the problems, he will work tirelessly to deliver, and he will lead. That’s what London needs its Mayor to do. So let’s give them someone who will.

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP has congratulated three West Dunbartonshire community groups after they were successful in securing over £100,000 in grants from the Big Lottery Scotland Fund. In the latest round of Big Lottery funding announced for local good causes, Clydebank … Continue reading

The post WEST DUNBARTONSHIRE COMMUNITY GROUPS SHARE IN BIG LOTTERY CASH BOOST appeared first on Martin Docherty-Hughes MP.

MP supports Wooler safety campaign

Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, has backed a local campaign to improve safety in Wooler.

child at computer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Labour proposes new duty of care for social media firms to protect children online 

Labour will create a new duty of care for social media firms, demanding digital giants take action to protect children from online harms. 

The announcement comes as Labour submits its evidence to the Information Commissioner for a new statutory code that will require tech firms to keep children safe. Labour pushed for, and supported, the creation of a new Age Appropriate Design Code for social media platforms in the Data Protection Act earlier this year. 

In addition, Labour is calling for:  

  • A single Internet regulator to marshal the power of the nine different regulators with responsibility for the online world in the UK. Today Ofcom, the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Competition and Markets Authority, the Payment Systems Regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, the Electoral Commission, the Advertising Standards Agency, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, as well as a host of non-regulatory bodies have some kind of responsibility for online regulation. This fragmentation means the whole is less than the sum of the parts. So Labour is backing proposals for Doteveryone to bring regulators together. From Ofcom, with its general but limited online mandate, to bodies with specific narrow responsibilities like The Payments Systems Regulator, the regulatory environment as it stands is a mess that needs tidying up. It is clear we need a single internet watchdog with the power and expertise to monitor and enforce a regulatory framework for the digital world. 

  • Bigger fines for firms for firms failing to take steps to keep children safe online. The law currently allows for companies in breach of the Code to be fined up to £18 million, but with internet giants like Google holding more than £90 billion in cash reserves, Labour is calling for harsher measures against companies that fail to protect, or use predatory techniques, against their youngest and most vulnerable users. 

Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s Shadow Digital Minister said: 

“The internet offers so much space for anonymity, so much scope to set foot in spaces out of bounds in the offline world, that it becomes easy to forget: children are still children, online or off. And this isn’t a marginal issue. Children are one third of online users. That’s why it’s time for social media giants – some of the largest firms on earth – to step up to their responsibilities.” 

Labour’s proposed regime draws on a tried and tested approach, dating back to Health and Safety regulation of the 1970’s and recently updated by the Carnegie Trust for the social media age. The statutory duty of care is proven to be futureproof, allowing companies to innovate but not in a harmful way, largely avoiding the need for endless detailed laws that are in danger of being of date before they are passed. 

Notes 

  1. The Carnegie Trust’s proposals for a new duty of care can be found here 

  1. Doteveryone’s proposal for a single internet regulator can be found here. 

  1. The Labour Party’s submission to the Information Commissioner’s Office can be read on the People’s Plan

The post PRESS RELEASE: Labour proposes new duty of care for social media firms to protect children online appeared first on Liam Byrne MP.

Commons Touch - Over 50's Fair

Damian Green (Ashford)

In a week’s time I will be trying a new experiment to see if I can help older people in and around Ashford. It’s an Over 50s Fair, which I hope will attract as big a crowd as the Jobs Fair I held earlier in the year at Ashford College.

John recently wrote to Ministers about speeding up new laws to reveal UK properties bough with dirty money by kleptocrats, oligarchs and organised criminals.

Here is the reply he was sent:

Thank you for your letter of 26 July 2018 about the draft Registration of Overseas Entities Bill, and your kind message of congratulations following my appointment as Miníster for Small Business, Consumers & Corporate Responsibility.

I am grateful for your support of the new register, which will improve transparency and trust in the UK property market, and in our broader company law framework. lt will also assist law enforcement in their investigations and act as a deterrent to money laundering and other illicit activity.

The policy is novel and complex, and the register will be the first of its kind in the world. We need to ensure that the new requirements are workable, proportionate, and that the register strikes the right balance between improving transparency and minimising burdens on legitimate commercial activity. We consider therefore that there is enormous value in the draft Bill undergoing parliamentary pre-legislative scrutiny, which is likely to take place in the autumn. Establishing the register will require significant secondary legislation: new functions will be delegated to the Registrar of Companies and the Land Registries in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern lreland, and they will need to set up systems to put them into effect. We must ensure they have the tools and time needed to deliver this successfully. Above all, we want to deliver a register that is robust, effective and can withstand legal challenge.

Publishing the draft Bill ahead of the summer recess and meeting the timetable committed to, has demonstrated the Government’s commitment to tackling illicit finance and the Bill has been welcomed by stakeholders. You will be aware that there is limited Parliamentary time available in the first session of this Parliament and that it ís highly unlikely that time could be found to introduce the Bill before the second session. The Government remains committed however to introducing the Bill to Parliament early in the second session and for the register to be operational in 2021.

I welcome your support in this work and look forward to working with you on the lnter-Ministerial Group on Anti-Corruption.

Anne Marie's Weekly Column

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)

Westminster Week

Weekly Column 13.09.18

Michelle Donelan (Chippenham)

It had been a busy start to September with events and visits across the constituency. Regular readers of this column will be aware of my concern around the volume of plastic waste being produced in the UK so it was a delight to be one of the keynote speakers at the Greener Bradford environment and climate forum.

This was a fantastic community event which brought together charities, local councillors, religious groups, businesses and schools to discuss the issues facing our climate and solutions which we can all take to reduce our carbon footprint and the amount of waste we produce. The issues of climate change and plastic pollution can only be effectively tackled if we all work together and so I was pleased all sections of the community took part.

It was particularly interesting to hear a Bishop from South Sudan talk of the environmental challenges from the perspective of a less economically developed country than our own and I certainly have many ideas to take back to Westminster.

I have been contacted recently by school children from across the constituency concerned with the issue of plastic pollution and so it was a pleasure to conduct the first of a series of school forums on the issue of plastic waste. I was impressed with the positive and innovative approach our youngest generation have towards tackling this issue and preserving our beautiful countryside, wildlife and environment for their future and generations to come.

I pledged when first elected to visit every school in the constituency as it is vital as MPs we are accessible to all residents and not just those of voting age and with environmental concerns top of many younger peoples’ agenda I look forward to the many more forums I have booked in this year.

As we celebrate the centenary of the first women to get the vote this year it was a honour to be photographed and take part in the 209 women project, profiling all women who have taken seats in the House of Commons. I had the pleasure of working with Rosemary Despres, a recently graduated photographer who took some beautiful pictures in and around the constituency. I was delighted to be paired with Rosemary for the project and to be able to support her as she grows her portfolio and business and I hope to get the opportunity to work with her again in the future.

If you would like to attend any of my surgeries or speak to me about any issue you may have please do get in contact with my office on 01249 704 465 or michelle.donelan.mp@parliament.uk

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Steve welcomes Chinese delegates

Steve Pound (Ealing North)

Still looking for post Brexit trade opportunities  I met with a large delegation from Shanghai and tried to impress on them the importance of high quality UK manufactures.  Let’s see if the orders flow!

Evennett backs Proxy Voting for maternity leave

David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford)

Yesterday (13 September) in Parliament MPs debated implementing a proxy voting system for maternity and paternity for MPs who become new parents. The debate followed a recent report from the Procedure Committee, which is a Select Committee in the House of Commons, that gave recommendations on how such a system could work.

Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin is urging the Government to listen to the “dire warnings” from the struggling early years sector after new research showed an alarming number of nurseries are being forced to close.

The closed nurseries, which count Windy Millers in Birstall among their number, cited the Government’s underfunding of their 30-hours ‘free’ childcare policy as the main reason.

During a treasury debate in the House of Commons, Ms Brabin explained to the Government’s Children’s Minister the crippling effect the underfunding is having on the sector.

Tracy Brabin MP, who is the Shadow Minister for Early Years, said: “The National Day Nursery Alliances’ survey last week exposed the scale of closures caused by underfunding the 30 hours entitlement – a rise of nearly half over a year.

“Bright Beginnings in Stockport said that ‘the reality is we can’t provide Outstanding nursery care on the funding provided’. The Ark Nursery in West Sussex said they were ‘closing because of a decade of underfunding’.

“Windy Millers, in my own constituency, on the estate where I grew up, closed its doors a few months ago due to the same pressures.

“These aren’t outliers. Four in ten providers fear they will have to close in the coming year.

“These are viable businesses that just can’t square the circle of frozen funding and rising costs. If the Minister won’t listen to us – will he at least listen to them?”

In Tory Children’s Minister Nadhim Zahawi’s response he detailed the current rates paid out to nurseries, making no attempt to acknowledge the extreme difficulties many nurseries are facing.

Tracy Brabin MP later added: “His condescending response showed that he is completely unwilling to listen to the dire warnings coming from the sector.

“All he is willing to do is stand at the dispatch box and tell us what we already know. His response is an insult to those who we rely on to care for our children.

“A Labour Government would put quality at the heart of its early years offer, providing 30 hours of free childcare to every 2 to 4 year old in England.

“And we’ll pay providers properly for the incredibly valuable work they do.”

The National Day Nurseries Alliance annual survey of their members found that rising business costs, inadequate funding rates, growing deficits and additional administration are causing huge challenges for nurseries.

ENDS

More on the NDNA survey can be found here

https://www.ndna.org.uk/NDNA/News/Reports_and_surveys/Annual_Nursery_Survey/2018.aspx

Unscrambling the Compass: the Conservatives, business and capitalism

Ten years ago, Lehman Brothers went bust. It wasn’t quite the beginning of the Global Financial Crisis. But it signalled that it really was a crisis. A decade later, many people in Britain and elsewhere are still trying to make sense of it.

 

Discontent with capitalism and with business abounds

One popular story is that the crisis was a reckoning, a judgment on a failed system. The near-collapse of the Western banking system and the long recession that followed are taken by some to be a sign that liberal capitalism and free markets were fatally flawed. …that the long period of steady growth since the early 1980s, what Ben Bernanke called the “Great Moderation”, was really a grand illusion. …that capitalism had been a big mistake all along.

This has been a field day for far left around the world, from Syriza in Greece to Bernie Sanders in the US – and it played a major role in the takeover of the UK Labour Party by its hard Left, almost exactly seven years after Lehman failed. This week we’ve seen Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell setting out their plans to dismantle the free markets should they take power, reintroducing mandatory sectoral wage bargaining and Bennite schemes for worker control.

That the IPPR, once the Blairite think-tank par excellence, released a report on the economy this week that was warmly welcomed by John McDonnell is a sign of how total Corbyn’s victory has been. The Left think capitalism’s goose is cooked, and they can’t wait to carve up the carcass.

But it’s not just Labour. One of the things I’ve been doing as universities and science minister is going around the country, talking and listening to students and young people. In most of these meetings, I’ve asked what we could to raise prosperity for the next generation. And you know what? I never got an answer that was not about raising taxes and spending more. The idea of growing the national cake, or moving up the economic league table so there would be more to share, never comes up.

So why am I here? I figured that the far Left have got their ambassadors – from Stormzy to the Archbishop of Canterbury – and a grassroots operation, Momentum, to spread their ideas. I think we need a similar renaissance on the Right…with our thinkers, our musicians, our artists, and our politicians all making the case for open markets….and the CPS has to help lead the way.

There is a long charge-sheet against capitalism, and some of it is justified. When some big businesses can privatise profits and socialise losses, as the big banks did in the financial crisis, you can understand the thirst for revenge among the populace. It’s also true on a day-to-day basis.

The email I got today from a constituent complaining that a utility company had hiked his bills by 20% for no reason is depressingly typical.

We’ve got to be honest: capitalism is not perfect. But it is the best system we’ve got. To those who say that true socialism could work, but hasn’t been tried – I say: I do not want my children to be guinea pigs for a Marxist experiment. And this is precisely what it would be. Let’s not forget that some of the plans and policies that Corbyn’s Labour most admire are those that were too crazy even for the 1970s left, from Sweden’s socialist Meidner Plan to forced worker cooperatives in the UK.

 

What’s the Right thing to do?

This brings me to the subject of my talk today: what the Right in the UK should make of all this.

The fortunes of the British Right in the last century have been shaped in no small part by our relationship with business, and with capitalism. The Conservatives’ remarkable electoral success in the last hundred years has relied on it. Not just because we have had, for most of that period, a reputation as the party of business, and the party of sound economic management. But also because we offered a vision of how capitalism benefited citizens.  Our electoral success was based on our ability to reinvigorate capitalism – not fix it – in order to match the challenge of the time .

Between the wars, we offered Noel Skelton’s “property-owning democracy”. As Britain was rebuilding itself after the Second World War, we were comfortable with consumerism and the birth of an affluent society. And as the Seventies rolled into the Eighties, Margaret Thatcher grasped faster than anyone the dynamics of the entrepreneurial, post-industrial society that Britain was becoming. The genius of her government was in her diagnosis of what the world of the 1980s was about, as in her policy prescriptions.

We are at our best when we are pro-enterprise and pro-endeavour, and when we do this in a way that is clear that our motive is to make the world a better place and improve the lot of ordinary citizens.

But if all voters hear from us is an echo of the Left’s concerns, and singing from Labour’s hymn sheet, without an enthusiastic and full throated endorsement of open markets, we will have only ourselves to blame when turn away from capitalism. We know we are the party of sound economic judgment, but we also need to offer an optimistic vision of the prosperous country we want to create.

 

So: how are we measuring up? Well… Firstly, let me share with you a story about fascinating pieces of research which epitomises the current relationship between parts of the Right and Business.  It was carried out a decade ago, coincidentally about the time that Northern Rock and Lehman Brothers were going under.

A team of psychologists from Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics asked a question: what happens to people who find themselves in the wilderness without a map? They recruited volunteers and sent them to remote places – a thick forest, open fields, the Tunisian desert – and recorded where they ended up. Without a map, unsurprisingly, they all got lost. But interestingly, they all got lost in the same way. Very quickly, all the volunteers ended up walking in circles, and quite small ones, endlessly retracing the same steps. Sometimes they turned to the left, sometimes to the right, but all going nowhere.

When I look at how we on the Right have reacted to the perceived failings of capitalism, I can’t help thinking of those volunteers as a salutary warning.

Disconcerted by what seems like a change in attitudes to business, and by the cumulative surprises of the financial crisis and the EU referendum, there’s a risk that we find ourselves going round and round in unproductive circles.

And like the hapless volunteers in the experiment, the circles can begin by turning left, or turning right.

Sometimes we appear to accept criticisms of capitalism at face value and out-Corbyn Corbyn…a futile task. At other times, we seem to want to take on the mantle of Trumpian economic nationalism and protectionism. And sometimes we just reach for the old playbook, implying that if we simply deregulate and cut taxes, all will be fine.

The end result is we can look confused and directionless, like the hikers in the experiment. We simultaneously risk conceding the arguments of the populist extremes of both Left and Right, while also seeming complacent about people’s concerns.

When Conservatives veer between talking business down, ignoring voters’ concerns, and telling businesses to shut up – or worse – it is clear sign we have lost our way. When it comes to our relationship with Business, we must unscramble our compass if we are to stand any chance of defeating the hard Left. We need to find our way, and quickly.

Unscrambling the compass

If you’re lost in an unfamiliar place, like the volunteers in the study I talked about earlier, there are three things you need to do.

First of all, you need to get some sense of where you are. Secondly, you need a reference point, some fixed object to guide you. Only then, can you make a plan to get yourself to where you want to be.

The same is true in politics, more or less. First, we need to take stock of the current economic position we find ourselves in, and the challenges we face. Then, we need to remind ourselves which way is north – in other words, the principles and values that we will adhere to. And based on that, we develop a plan of action.

 

The state we are – and aren’t – in

So, how do we win this fight. We must start by defending our record on the Economy… these are points you won’t hear at a Momentum rally:

  • Employment is at record highs, and unemployment at record lows. This did not happen by accident. So when Labour say they want to raise corporation tax, we should ask them: what price do you want to pay? How many jobs are you willing to destroy? Let’s celebrate and salute those who take risks, build businesses and create jobs.
  • The deficit continues to fall, thanks to the policies of the Coalition and of the present government. But for many young people I speak to, austerity is seen as a central tenant of Conservative faith. We should always be clear: austerity was not a matter of religion, but a matter of necessity. And without it, we all would be worse off.
  • There is good news too when it comes to inequality. For all the talk of rising inequality around the world, inequality in the UK has fallen to its lowest levels in 30 years, according to the Office for National Statistics and the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • And it was a Conservative government that delivered the living wage and our flexible labour market, which cushioned people in their jobs during the great recession.

We also need to recognise what our record and success rests on –  our “can-do” optimism as a country.  No where is this more obvious than in the area of technology and the industries of the future.

The UK is undoubtedly the UK’s tech hub. We play host to 13 of Europe’s 34 tech unicorns.  More venture capital is invested here than in Germany, France and Sweden combined. In 2017, our tech sector grew 2.6 times faster than the economy as a whole, increasing by 4.5%.

This is a far cry from the picture that John McDonnell would paint of our country.

And why are we so successful: our strong, agile institutions…our capital markets…our widely admired legal system…our world-class universities. And others that sometimes get less recognition, like our intellectual property regime.

Britain is a beacon of global excellence.

Our enduring strength is our openness and our tradition of entrepreneurship.  So as we look to the future, we need to double down on these strengths.

 

Our guiding values

So we are doing well and have the right foundations for a bigger, brighter bolder future.  But if we are to this fend off McDonnell and his Momentum hoardes, we must also be clear and confident in defence of the values that underpin capitalism and open markets. We should not be cowed in defence of timeless and proven values.

There is a moral case for free markets that is even more important than the material one. As the American writer Conor Friedersdorf put it, “nothing better protects minorities than a system where they can pursue their needs and wants outside the realm of popular control”. Free markets are inherently liberal – and they give people more choices than a system where the government, even a democratic one, decides who gets what.

Some of my colleagues have said that the Archbishop of Canterbury was wrong to hold forth on his views about capitalism this week. They’ve said politics and morality don’t mix. I say the opposite: economic growth is a moral issue, and I am convinced that capitalism is the best way of delivering it. I extend the hand of friendship to the Archbishop, and I’d be more than happy to debate this with him – perhaps over a Deliveroo pizza, with an Uber dropping us off at home afterwards.

As Conservatives, we believe that individuals are better interpreters of their own destiny than bureaucracies or impersonal forces. Institutions or rules cannot solve all our problems, and they have a tendency to grow; to counteract this, we must assiduously create space for individuals to thrive, and resist state overreach.

This means I put a lot of store on enterprise and initiative. A society that empowers individuals and businesses to innovate and to compete will do better than one that stifles those urges.

 

Finally, I’m an optimist. I’m optimistic for Britain’s future. I’m also an optimist about technology, science and the future. Every technology of the past, from the computer to the aeroplane to the power loom, had its detractors, worried that it would upend society and change things for the worse. These worried have not always been baseless, but the benefits of innovation have massively exceeded the downsides. Instead, technology has made the modern world more prosperous than any society in history. There’s a pragmatic reason for my optimism too: if Conservatives treat the modern world with scorn and scepticism, the modern world will return the favour. Optimism is intellectually justified – but it is also good politics.

 

A Plan

Our plan for the future has to have enterprise and innovation at its heart. If we want Britain to prosper, we need to commit to being a place where entrepreneurs and businesses can thrive and take on the world.

What this means is we need a New Model Economy. It must be based on entrepreneurship, innovation and new approach to regulation that allows them to flourish.

Too often, society only recognises entrepreneurs when they’ve made it – and then it take their success for granted. But for most of them, it is a tough, often lonely process where you try and try again, and often fail. We should make it easier for them to succeed, and celebrate their success.

How then do we do this?

A good place to start is by talking the talk. We on the Right must state unequivocally that we believe in entrepreneurs and risk-takers and that businesses matter to us.  There are times in politics when talk is cheap, but given the mixed messages about business from across the political spectrum, now isn’t one of them. Stating our beliefs is an important place to begin.

The next thing we need to do is to recognise that enterprise is an international undertaking. Look at countries that have become prosperous through innovation – Israel, Ireland, Singapore – and you’ll see that they all share a profoundly international outlook. As the computer pioneer Bill Joy said, “no matter how good you are, the best people work for someone else”, and what is true for tech companies is true for countries too. This is certainly true if we look at our most dynamic startups – a majority of the UK’s tech unicorns were founded by people from overseas. We need to make sure the UK is open to trade, that we provide a welcome to the brightest and the best, whether they are students, researchers, businesspeople or company founders. Because these people, like our own best and brightest, have a choice about where they live and work. We must give them a reason to be here.

We also need to think seriously about how these businesses are regulated – especially when technology is changing industries fast. But this isn’t because, as some have suggested, governments in the UK or elsewhere have somehow taken our foot off the pedal when it comes to regulation. Nor is it simply a question of cutting regulation: the old one-in two-out model. It’s because the challenges are changing as we see more information-rich businesses with novel business models. We need new, tech-savvy rules and processes to deal with the challenges of a new economy, and enable the businesses of the future to thrive.

Take one example my department has worked on: when people used search engines like Google to search for films or songs, rights-holders discovered they were often being pointed to pirated content. This is bad for artists, and discourages the next generation of creators. But it’s hard to deal with under existing rules. It required careful, government-brokered discussions between search engines and rightsholders to reach a fair deal. As technology changes business models, it’s the sort of nimble regulation we’ll need to see more of.

And nimble regulation doesn’t just help stop market abuses: it also benefits consumers.

Government needs to understand when rules need to change to allow new business models, from Uber and electric scooters to challenger banks and fintech. When I was a backbench MP, I wrote a report proposing the quantitative easing be channelled through alternative lenders like Funding Circle, as well as the big banks; in a small way, this helped the UK’s alternative finance sector grow into the global force it is today. Now, with the same end in mind, we’re setting the Regulators’ Pioneer programme to get more regulators thinking in a tech savvy way, so they can protect consumers without stymying honest entrepreneurs.

We face challenges from robots, AI and automation, which will change the way we live and work, and lead to different ways of working. If we react to those challenges with attitudes built for the old labour-intensive economy we will lag behind the rest of the world. This is the kind of thinking we need to deal will the so-called Gig Economy. Just attacking it is a cheap shot. Instead, we should champion the job opportunities and flexibility it allows, rather than trying regulate it out of existence.

It needs to start from an understanding that new technologies have the potential to improve things for consumers and for workers, and that they need tech-savvy regulation – which will take careful thought, which is what the review of modern employment practices led by Matthew Taylor has been doing. It needs to respect that some employees value flexibility, and that new employment models can benefit both worker and consumer. But at the same time, it must recognise that it’s wrong to use new employment models to exploit what are in practice full-time workers.

This is precisely what Labour’s recent proposal to simply treat all gig economy workers got wrong – it ignored the potential of new technology, and sought for ideological reasons to simply impose old economy regulation. This process of building new institutions won’t be straightforward, but it is a vital task for government if we want a prosperous economy that works for everyone.

Another challenge will be getting tax policy right for the new economy. We’ve lowered tax rates for businesses, and it’s right that we should be aiming to have one of the most competitive business tax regimes in the world. The quid pro pro is that companies should pay their taxes. I’m proud that it was a Conservative government that put tax and tax avoidance on the G7 agenda, and we should continue to be on the front foot when it comes to making sure our tax system is fit for the modern, intangible-intensive economy.

The new economy will also require new approaches to finance. Entrepreneurship cannot flourish if businesses can’t raise the finance they need to grow. Increasingly, the most promising businesses have few tangible assets that banks are willing to lend against – and getting bank finance for early stage businesses was never easy to begin with. A small minority of businesses solve this problem through venture capital.

But we should be helping more businesses access equity finance, ensuring working with institutions like the London Stock Exchange, with its ambitious programmes for high-growth companies. Increased equity ownership also creates more chances for ordinary people to own a stake in the economy – an essential part of popular capitalism.

Government has a role to play in investment too. This is particularly true when it comes to R&D. If we want to make the most of the coming technological opportunities, we will need, as a country, to invest in R&D and innovation. Most of this investment needs to come from business. But economists have long recognised that the uncertainties of R&D mean that government needs to coinvest alongside business, either through tax credits or through public research. This is exactly what has happened in countries like the US and Israel, whose tech sectors have become global leaders.

As technology becomes more important, this role will grow – which is why the Government has committed the biggest ever increase in public R&D funding – and why we have even more ambitious goals for the future. It is already reaping benefits. One example I’d point to is the success of Genomics England, the organisation set up with the support of the Coalition Government to sequence 10,000 human genomes. Many thought it would never work. But through a bold, entrepreneurial approach, it has established itself as a world leader in genome sequencing, and has positioned the UK for success in this important field. I see the same in other fields: the UK’s dynamic, entrepreneurial space sector; our world-leading nuclear fusion researchers; our deep expertise of artificial intelligence – they all rest on a combination of entrepreneurship and public investment. We need to think big, and to back the kind of moonshot projects that will help us prosper as a nation.

Done well, this kind of investment can also address the regional inequality we see in the UK. I believe that many of Britain’s great cities and towns have the opportunity to become the centres of thriving tech clusters, generating jobs and improving wages not just for tech workers, but for the wider economy. Enrico Moretti’s work showed compelling how this kind of innovation-driven growth has the potential to deliver not just for the well-educated, but for the whole population. We should heed this lesson.

The other area for public investment is skills. When I talk to the founders and CEOs of Britain’s fastest growing businesses, they’re quick to tell me that the difference between success and failure is their ability to hire talented, skilled employees. And they are clear that success in the new economy is not just about science and tech skills. Skills like management and creativity matter too – as anyone who’s run a business will recognise.

The OECD this week pointed out that employers’ demand for graduates shows no signs of slowing – it shows it’s all the more important to make sure our universities are providing high quality teaching. It’s why I’ve been tenacious in pushing them to deliver value for money, in cracking down on grade inflation, essay mills and “bums on seats” courses, and in publishing data to help applicants understand the returns from different courses.

And the coming months are the right time to make these investments.

One thing that Leavers and Remainers agree on is that leaving the EU will be anything but business as usual. It offers us a once-in-a-generation chance to ask ourselves what sort of economy we want to be. If we are to make a success of it, we need to seize this chance, seize the future, and invest in it. We need to do so in a spirit of optimism: optimism about the future, about our country, and about capitalism itself.

Some people might think that it’s self-indulgent to spend time now thinking about the future of the economy. That we’ve got plenty on our plate with Article 50 and the process of Brexit. That the next General Election is far away. I disagree. We need to unscramble our compass, find our way, and proclaim our plan. This battle is being fought now – and it is one we have to win.

MP calls for debate on “gig” economy

Charles Walker (Broxbourne)

Charles Walker MP speaking in the House of Commons on the gig economy

Charles Walker calls for a Parliamentary debate on the “gig” economy. [read more] about MP calls for debate on “gig” economy

Following the UN fact finding mission, over 160 Parliamentarians call for justice over the Rohingya crisis

Over 160 Parliamentarians across parties have signed a letter urging PM Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP to refer the Myanmar military to the International Criminal Court. This is ahead of the Foreign Secretary’s visit to Myanmar later this month.

 

Catherine calls on PM to fund, not fail seriously ill children

Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North)

Newcastle North MP, Catherine McKinnell, yesterday joined the children’s palliative care charity Together for Short Lives in delivering a petition to 10 Downing Street which calls on the Government to fund, not fail seriously ill children in England. Signed by 6,670 people, the petition calls on Prime Minister Theresa May to use some of the … Continue reading Catherine calls on PM to fund, not fail seriously ill children

Nottingham Labour’s record in Clifton North…

Alex Norris (Nottingham North)

Over the past four years Nottingham Labour has worked hard to make Clifton North a brighter and better place to live. With your help we have be able to deliver:

  • New Play Area at Clifton Flower Park following £85,000 of investment by local Labour councillors for local children and families to enjoy.
  • Lidl Store on the Clifton Triangle site creating new jobs and providing an affordable supermarket option for local people.
  • 50 New Jobs with the B&M store on the Clifton Triangle, 85% of places went to local residents in Clifton.
  • Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair hosted in Clifton with more than 30 stalls from employers such as Nottingham City Transport, Boots and many others.
  • Better looking A453 following landscaping work with Highway England, including 3000 bulbs planted to improve the look of the area.
  • Warmer Homes through external wall, cavity and loft insulation on 2,185 houses with the Green HousING Project which is also helping bring down energy bills for local people.
  • Free bulky waste collections in order to prevent fly-tipping and help keep Clifton, Wilford, Silverdale and The Grove clean.
  • Free residents parking scheme in Clifton Grove so local people always have somewhere to park their car.
  • Fun family events including Teddy’s Bear Picnic, Ruddington Lane Family Fun Day and Clifton Parkrun for local people to enjoy in their free time.
  • More School Places with £770,000 invested in expanding South Wilford Primary School, creating 100 new places so local children can go to a local school.

Lilian Greenwood and Cllr Josh Cook have already been able to achieve all this. By electing Shugutah Quddoos on Thursday 27th September, we can achieve even more for Clifton North. 

The post Nottingham Labour’s record in Clifton North… appeared first on Nottingham Labour.

West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas has welcomed the launch of a campaign seeking greater support for the South West economy from the Government.

MPs from all parties together with business, Local Enterprise Partnerships, universities and other stakeholders have come together to launch the Great South West Proposition which has three key ‘asks’ for the Government.

Great South West’ meeting at Westminster. MP’s from the South West together with representatives of the Great South West Partnership.

The proposition calls for:

  1. Recognition of the Great South West in the Autumn Budget and a commitment to working in partnership
  2. A Ministerial ‘champion’ for the South West – similar to the Northern Powerhouse Minister
  3. Match funding to complement private and public sector investment in the South West.

“I am delighted that we are making long overdue progress to ensuring that the South West – and Cornwall in particular – gets the support and investment that it deserves,” said Mr Thomas.

“The whole region has historically been neglected by successive governments which is something the South West MPs first sought to address in 2015 when the South West Powerhouse was formed, resulting in the development of the South West Charter.

“The next step was the formation of Great South West, which has now resulted in the launch of the Great South West Proposition which seeks Government support for the investment and policies which will boost productivity here in the South West.

“Successfully meeting the Proposition’s three key priorities – boosting rural productivity, increasing investment in our marine and offshore renewable industries and in improving the infrastructure of our road, rail and air network – will have a massive positive impact on businesses and the community here in West Cornwall and I, together with the other South West MPs, will work to keep the pressure on to ensure that the region does not get left behind the rest of the country.”

 

 

MP “Backing British Farming Day”

Greg Knight (East Yorkshire)

“British farmers produce the world’s best food and provide the raw materials to keep 4 million people employed”, according to East Yorkshire MP Sir Greg Knight, who adds “It is crucial that we support the industry by ensuring measures are in place to encourage people to join the sector and to give farming a prosperous long-term future”.

In the past 12 months Sir Greg has supported campaigns calling for a crackdown on rural crime, preserving farmers rights to give pigs important dietary supplements and calling on the Government to swiftly introduce clearer nation of origin food labelling once we leave the EU.

On ‘Back British Farming Day’, 12th September, Sir Greg remarks: “Farming is vital not only for the jobs it provides both in East Yorkshire and across the country but for its crucial contribution Britain’s £108 billion food and drink industry. The best way to help farming in Britain is to ‘buy British’. I am certainly giving my backing to Back British Farming Day”.

Pictured: Sir Greg Knight at the House of Commons supporting the NFU National Farming Day.

I hear from lots of older people, but political decisions affect young people most, so I want to make sure I can represent your views and support you if you’d like my help. 

Please fill in my short survey

Young People's Survey

Young People's Survey

Please tick your top three priorities

 

The post Ruth George MP – Young People’s Survey appeared first on Ruth George MP for High Peak.

After several exchanges of correspondence, Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns has finally backtracked on claims that the UK Government had fully and properly shared with the Welsh Government their White Paper on Brexit. Below is his latest letter which, I am pleased to say, sets the record straight.

A14 upgrade project

Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon)

Jonathan on a recent visit with Highways England to see how well the A14 upgrade project is progressing.  read more »

Walton and Cobham Heritage Days

Dominic Raab (Esher and Walton)

On Saturday, I joined Walton and Cobham Heritage Days.

First, I went to Walton where Joanna Gordon from the Walton on Thames Trading Alliance (WoTTA) showed me round the various stalls and activities, from the screening of black and white films at Cecil Hepworth Playhouse to the dog show down by the river. I then put on a hard hat and a harness and abseiled down St Mary’s Church to help raise money for it (pictured below).

Next, onto Cobham Heritage Day where I had a great time in the river picking out the winner of the famous duck race with Chairman of Cobham Conservation and Heritage trust, Sir Gerry Acher (pictured with me below). Cobham residents sponsored over 8,000 ducks to race down the river from Cobham Mill to the finish line at Riverhill, with a range of prizes for the winners.

These Heritage Days are great community occasions, an opportunity to showcase our civic spirit and take pride in the amazing local businesses, charities and civic groups that give our towns and villages such a strong sense of identity and pride.

'Working Win' and Mental Health

Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central)

As Mayor of the Sheffield City Region (SCR) I recently launched ‘Working Win’ – a new health-led employment trial that aims to break down barriers that stop people from getting or keeping jobs.

‘Working Win’ is being run by the SCR and involves a number of different organisations – such as the Department of Work and Pensions, the South Yorkshire Housing Association and our local NHS trusts – working together to help local people get and stay in work. It is not right that people with physical and mental health issues often face barriers to realising their full potential.

If you are unable to work through no fault of your own then it is right that the Government steps in to support you. That was the intention of the post-war Labour Government that built our NHS and Welfare State – a safety net when times are hard.

-588 Cases taken up –217 Visitors to Casework Centre –30 Surgeries Held –68 Hours of Surgeries –42 Cases referred to other MPs –80 Cases referred to Councillors or outside agencies –392 Letters received –2590 Emails received

The post Weekly Office Statistics from 1st January 2018 – 7th September 2018 appeared first on Keith Vaz.

Karin says “The restoration of the Ashton to Hengrove MetroBus link on the route-map was one of the key demands I made in April following the decision to drop it. Since then, I have brought together the key players and made the case for why this route matters so much, and have kept the pressure on week in, week out.

It’s great to see that our campaign has paid off, and this is a helpful first step. What we now need is a clear timetable for delivery of the route, and a confirmed launch date. It’s nothing less than people across south Bristol deserve”.

I was very happy to receive an invitation recently for a commemoration event in Buckley for Frederick Birks – a Victoria Cross (V.C) award holder who was born in the town. Mr Birks received the V.C – the highest and most prestigious award given for bravery – for his actions in Ypres in August 1917. […]

Mercury column – September 2018

Brandon Lewis (Great Yarmouth)

Wow! What a summer we’ve enjoyed this year. It has been fantastic to see the town and seafront crowded with visitors from near and far enjoy everything the area has to offer. Of course, it’s not just Great Yarmouth that …

Diana is charmed by Jake the Labrador

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North)

Diana met Jake, the handsome Labrador, a Dogs Trust rescue dog. 
 
Jake was Diana's entry in this year's Westminster Dog of the Year contest, held by the Dogs Trust and the Kennel Club to promote responsible dog ownership. 
 

Debbie leads rail campaign at Greenfield station

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth)

As part of my rails campaign, I was at Greenfield station yesterday to meet commuters and highlight Labour’s commitment to nationalise the country’s entire rail network.

Our railways should be run in the interests of passengers and taxpayers not for private profit.

I recently met the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, face-to-face as well as challenging him in Parliament, to demand that he take action over the debacle surrounding the introduction of the rail timetable affecting commuters from Greenfield station and across England as a whole.

I first contacted Mr Grayling with my concerns around the proposed timetable changes last November, but my concerns were ignored.

The poor service provided by train operators TransPennine Express and Northern Rail not just over the last few months, but for many years according to accounts of my constituents, has been unacceptable. I demanded that given their appalling record these franchises should be brought in-house and I will continue to push for this.

To add insult to injury, the chaos of the new timetabling arrangements has accompanied an increase in train fares. Labour is demanding that there should be a windfall tax on the profits of private train operating companies to fund a fares freeze next year.

As part of my rail campaign, I have called on the Government to improve rolling stock and access for people with mobility issues at Greenfield Station. Although Greenfield commuters have seen some of the rolling stock improve with the introduction of TPE services, our economy and our environment still needs affordable fares and reliable services, which the Tory Government’s policy is failing to deliver.

Labour will take our railway system back into public ownership as franchises expire, using savings to cap fares, and would upgrade and expand the rail network.

The following letter has been released by the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP to his Welwyn Hatfield constituents today:

September 2018

Dear Welwyn Hatfield resident,

Since May 2018, Welwyn Hatfield commuters have suffered from an appalling service at the hands of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) with increased journey times, countless delays and an unacceptable reduction in trains.

However, even if the implementation of this new timetable had gone entirely to plan, Welwyn Hatfield has still lost out. The purpose of re-organising the schedule was to add 6,000 more carriages to the overall train network. In principle each area should therefore be experiencing more trains and services. Instead, Welwyn Hatfield has moved backwards and this is completely unacceptable to those of us who rely on the trains.

Having pored over the timetables, I have now pieced together what I think are the fundamental problems with the new schedule. But before I take this to the desks of the bosses at Govia and demand our services back, I want to ensure this information is as accurate as possible. And that’s where I need your help!

If you or someone you know has been affected by the rail chaos, please could you look at the document attached and alert me if I have not fully captured the change in timetable that has caused the problem.

With best wishes,

 

 

The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP

 (Encls.)

P.S. There is a month’s free travel available to those who suffered the post-May timetable chaos. I specifically requested that this be extended to non-season ticket holders who travelled at least 3 times a week. The Secretary of State agreed and details of both schemes can be found here https://railcompensation.thameslinkrailway.com/faq

The following ‘Missing Trains‘ document can also be downloaded from here.

 

Statement on US ending UNRWA funding

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield)

Richard Burden MP, Chair of the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group, has responded to the decision of the US administration to to end funding to UNWRA. Mr Burden said today: “The action taken by the US administration to end funding to UNRWA is appalling and threatens the security of millions of Palestinian refugees. Many of the refugees […]
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