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Welcome to my latest newsletter to keep you updated on my work in Parliament and around Amber Valley.
As always, you’ll find a selection of what I’ve been up to over the last few months and details of upcoming events. You’ll also find the usual information about my columns, surgeries and how to contact me.
Brexit and Parliament update:
Recent events in Parliament have been some of the most tumultuous – and frankly bizarre – ever seen. Our new Prime Minister was elected on a clear promise to deliver Brexit on 31 October preferably with a deal, but without one if necessary. I agree with Boris that we need to resolve Brexit as soon as possible. The continued uncertainty and delays are damaging to our economy, as well as preventing the Government and Parliament taking action on other priorities. The only realistic way to convince the EU to amend the deal Theresa May agreed is for them to believe firstly that we are serious about leaving without a deal if there are no changes and secondly that Parliament would approve a revised deal. The events of this week will only have undermined both these criteria and made achieving a good deal much harder.
The bill approved by the House of Commons on Wednesday will force the Prime Minister to seek, at the EU summit in the middle of October, an extension to 31 January 2020. It will also force him to accept any alternative extension that the EU leaders offer instead. As we learnt in March, once an extension is agreed at the summit it becomes binding in EU law, and so this bill has effectively surrendered control of the date we leave the EU to the other EU leaders. This is an utterly unacceptable position for our country to have been placed in.
The Prime Minister is therefore right to seek a General Election to finally resolve this matter. It is clear that the current Parliament will not permit the UK to leave without a deal, will not accept Theresa May’s deal and has now effectively ended any realistic prospect of achieving a deal it will accept. This is stalemate, it’s damaging the country and it’s time for the people to elect a Parliament that will finally deliver Brexit.
My votes this week were as follows:
Tuesday – I voted against the “rebel alliance’s” bid to take control of the business of the House of Commons – this was a fundamental breach of the rules of the House of Commons that have always allowed the Government to control the business and initiate new laws. To have laws in critical issues rammed through with only 4 hours of debate by a group of MPs utterly unaccountable for the policy they were pursuing was unacceptable to me. The proper approach is to pass a vote of no confidence in the Government and then either form a new government or hold an election.
Wednesday 1) – I voted against the bill requiring the PM to seek an extension to the Article 50 date for our departure from the EU for the reasons set out above.
Wednesday 2) I voted for a General Election on 14 October 2019
On the specific questions constituents have been raising:
Ruling out no deal – the best way to avoid a no deal departure would have been to let the Prime Minister negotiate a deal. There was sufficient time between the EU summit on 17/18 October and the scheduled departure date for Parliament to either approve a deal or consider whether to leave without one. The irony of the bill passed this week is that leaving without a deal has not been ruled out, just the deadline has been delayed again – assuming the EU agrees which they are not obliged to. Fundamentally if we cannot obtain and pass an acceptable deal our only choices are to leave without a deal or to cancel Brexit – and for Parliament to overturn a referendum result would be to fly in the face of democracy.
Prorogation – it is common practise for Parliament to be prorogued each year to end the annual session and allow the Queen to formally start a new one. The “closure” period can range from a few days to a a couple of weeks – for example the 2014 prorogation was over a fortnight. Clearly the decision to prorogue at some point next week and return on the 14th October is exceptional and we effectively lose, after the usual conference recess, the sitting week starting on 7 October. However these are exceptional times and frankly until the EU summit on 17/18 October there’s nothing Parliament can now do on Brexit and we have run out of other business. This session of Parliament is already the longest in 300 years, and we do need a new one to start a new legislative programme. Of course if an election is called Parliament will be dissolved and so the prorogation will be academic.
Calling an election – I voted to call an election and will do so again next week. The Government now has no majority in Parliament. Parliament has rejected the deal, rejected no deal, rejected revocation, a cross-party agreement failed and now the new Prime Minister’s new approach has been blocked. It is in nobody’s interest to carry on like this. The only way forward is for the parties to present their Brexit plans to the country and for the people to decide which they want.
Spending Round – Councils, Education, Health & Police:
Earlier this week the Government set out a new bold and ambitious agenda to build a brighter future for our country as we prepare to leave the European Union.
As part of the Government’s commitments to fund the nation’s priorities, the Spending Round confirmed:
- More funding for schools so that every child gets a superb education, wherever they are in the country. Spending on schools will rise by £2.6 billion next year, rising to £7.1 billion by 2022-23, enabling per pupil funding to increase. This will particularly benefit Amber Valley secondary schools such as Heanor Gate, John Flamsteed and Swanwick Hall, and primary schools such as Waingroves Primary, Ripley Juniors, Heage Primary and Christ the King in Alfreton.
- An investment of £400 million in Further Education, ensuring young people have the skills they need for the future.
- An extra £750 million to recruit 20,000 new police officers – ensuring the police has the resources it needs to tackle the rise in violent crime and keep the public safe.
- Making sure people start seeing the £33.9 billion cash increase for the NHS in their frontline services. We are investing in upgrading facilities and equipment, and supporting and training the NHS workforce.
- More funding to local councils so that they have the money they need to continue delivering vital services such as social care.
- Further funding for other domestic priorities – including £200 million to transform bus services, more funding for Homes England to help more young people onto the housing ladder, and an extra £30 million to help us achieve Net Zero by 2050.
I am delighted that this Spending Round is continuing to support the nation’s priorities. These ambitious plans will ensure a fantastic education for every child, safer streets across the country, and better healthcare.
Amber Valley Badger Vaccination Programme Visit:
Many constituents have understandably recently contacted me to raise concerns over badger culling and consideration of its extension to this area.
As a result, earlier this week I joined Derbyshire Wildlife Trust volunteers on a badger vaccination programme visit to learn more about the benefits of badger vaccination over culling. My interview with BBC Radio Derby during the visit can be found here, at around 1hour 25 minutes in.
I recognise that TB in cattle is of great concern to farmers, and I do believe that we do need to find a solution to this problem. I am of course against any sort of cruelty towards animals, and was delighted to see effective vaccination in action during my visit with volunteers.
Given there is no current TB problem in Amber Valley, I now understand that vaccination is a more effective solution and better for badgers, and I cannot see any need for any culling in this area. I will support more funding for vaccination so the programme can be extended, and will oppose badger culling wherever possible.
Heanor Town Centre Regeneration – let me know your views:
As mentioned in my last email newsletter, I’m delighted that Amber Valley Borough Council’s bid to this Government’s £675 million Future High Streets Fund, to help transform and regenerate our town centres, has been selected to progress to the next stage.
The Council are now progressing a bid for up to £25 million to transform Heanor Town Centre, and I’ve been delivering a survey across Heanor and Loscoe to ask for suggestions and views from residents on improvements you would like to see. Thank you to everyone who has already returned a survey, but if you haven’t had one, please do still get in touch to let me know your thoughts.
Summer Tour of Amber Valley:
Over the end of July and August, Parliament was on Summer Recess.
Alongside visiting local businesses such as trentbarton, Wildgoose, Ormonde Fields Gold Club and William Bailey Ltd. to discuss their views on issues such as Brexit, and joining residents at community groups, meetings and coffee mornings, I was also able to have a go at some new activities such as bell-ringing and the Warriors fitness group.
I’ll include more details about further visits in future newsletters, but a few of my Summer Recess activites included:
‘Meet Your MP’ event – Horsley Woodhouse:
I held another ‘Meet Your MP’ event in Horsley Woodhouse to update constituents on what had been happening in Parliament and discuss local and national issues. Brexit and the recent leadership contest unsurprisingly was the focus of discussions, alongside the new Prime Minister’s pledges on education and the NHS.
Thank you to everyone who attended – look out for further details of the next meeting soon.
I was delighted to catch-up with volunteers at Heage Windmill in August, and discuss their current projects and plans.
The windmill currently only has four of its usual six sails as two were in need of urgent replacement and had to be removed. Volunteers are spending hours working on two new sails, which is a complex and skilled task.
You can read more about my visit, and find out how you can get involved in supporting the windmill and ‘Sails On’ project here.
Open Door in Ripley:
I also visited ‘Open Door’, the weekly Friday morning community café at All Saints Church in Ripley, and joined some of the regulars for coffee and cake. Open Door offers a meeting place for friends and an opportunity for friendship and conversation for people on their own.
It’s hosted by church members, who also supply the popular (and delicious) homemade cakes. It’s a fantastic local project which provides a valuable support and social opportunity in the centre of Ripley.
I also had a go on the vicar’s unicycle, but didn’t quite have enough time to master the skill!
Bell ringing – Heanor & Ripley:
I also had a go at bell-ringing at All Saints Church in Ripley and St Lawrence Church in Heanor. It was great to join volunteers and learn more about this ancient activity, which is a mixture of physical exercise and mental agility. Many thanks to Mrs Susan G Hall for her photography.
BASC bird box, Horsley:
I met with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) to discuss a range of ongoing conservation projects, including an update on the association’s birdbox education project.
The meeting, at Horsley Lodge, focused on the importance of education and the aims behind their birdbox project and we used the visit as an opportunity to install a new one within the grounds of the golf course.
Discussions centered around the conservation work that BASC is doing in the region and hearing about the work of the Horsley Lodge team in putting bee hives and birdboxes in the grounds of the golf course.
Protecting and enhancing the countryside for future generations is of vital importance, and I’m grateful to the BASC for donating this birdbox.
10 Today Lawman Gardens:
I was pleased to join residents of Lawman Gardens to learn more about the ’10 Today’ easy, accessible daily 10-minute workout for older people.
It was fantastic to meet residents who enjoy the daily routine, and to take part in one of the programmes too. You can find out more here.
As always, if there are any street repairs in your area, such as potholes, pavement repairs or broken street lights, you can report these issues and concerns to me quickly and easily here so I can ask for the repairs to be investigated and addressed.
I regularly hold surgeries to give you the opportunity to meet with me and discuss any concerns or problems you may have. These are held on Friday evenings between 5pm and 7pm.
If you would like to meet me and discuss any issues, the dates of my upcoming surgeries are:
- Codnor – 6th September 2019
- Kilburn – 13th September 2019
Please contact my office on 01773 744341 to book an appointment for any of the above, or to arrange an alternative meeting.
GDPR and privacy notice:
Tours and Public Gallery Tickets
As your MP, I am able to book tours of the Houses of Parliament and arrange public gallery tickets for constituents. If you would be interested in having a tour of Parliament or arranging public gallery tickets to sit in on the business of the House or Prime Minister’s Questions, please do get in touch.
Get in Touch!
As always, you can contact me by hitting the ‘reply’ button on this email, or you can ring my office on 01773 744341.
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Promoted by Nigel Mills MP, of Unicorn House, Wellington Street, Ripley, Derbyshire, DE5 3EH.