This week started with deeply troubling revelations regarding inappropriate behaviour of a number of MPs. Allegations of sexual assault should be taken seriously. The Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom, came before the House on Monday to answer questions on what can be done to make sure those that have experienced sexual harassment in Parliament have the tools available to be confident enough to report it. Any new grievance process must be independent of the political parties to make sure all staff have confidence in it.
Later on Monday the Armed Forces (Flexible Working) Bill came before the House for its Second Reading. The Bill makes provision for regular armed forces personnel to work part-time or to restrict the amount of time they spend separated from their normal place of work. The opposition also used part of their opposition day allocation to bring forward a motion on Armed Forces pay. Our armed forces are an important part of the South West and have a long and proud history. It is right that we listen to their concerns and I’m sure the Government will do just that.
The Third Reading and Report Stage of the Finance Bill took place on the floor of the House on Tuesday. The House considered a number of amendments. The Bill is the second of three Finance Bill’s that will be brought before the House this year. The third Finance Bill will enact the Chancellor’s upcoming Budget later this month. This Finance Bill is significantly shorter and gives rise to clauses that the Government did not have time to pass prior to the dissolution of Parliament back in May.
On Wednesday the House approved a motion to release the Sectoral Impact Assessments with regard to Brexit to the Committee for Exiting the European Union. It is now up to the Government to make sure that what is released is not going to have a damaging effect upon our negotiation position or have a damaging impact against the national interest. The Government has however committed to releasing the documentation within a reasonable time frame.
Since the revaluation of business rates last year the Government has made a number of concessions to make sure small businesses and those most affected aren’t adversely affected. Pubs however continue to be affected due to the strange nature of the way they are calculated. I have been in continued dialogue with the pubs in our constituency to make sure I know what their concerns are. I was delighted therefore to get the opportunity to raise a number of issues surrounding our pubs in a Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday.
Pubs provide 2,000 jobs within the constituency. They are crucial not just to the economy of our rural areas but also to the social scene as well. Many of our local pubs are no longer just pubs but also double up as a village shop and a place where many residents look out for each other over a meal or a drink. Unfortunately pubs are currently punished for being successful. Business rates are based on turnover which penalises successful pubs and effectively gives handouts to those pubs which are unsuccessful. I hope to see some help for our pubs in the upcoming Budget otherwise I fear we may lose them.
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Air Ambulances had its annual reception in the House of Commons this week. Air Ambulances are a key part of our healthcare system and play a vital role where seconds matter to a person’s life. They rely heavily however on the kind donations of the public to continue to do this work. I have made it clear on previous occasions that I support our air ambulances and this commitment still stands!
My next surgeries will be at 14:00 in Newton Abbot, on the 10th and the 17th November. Please call 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.