Anne Marie's Weekly Column

Westminster Week

The Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Bill, nicknamed the Customs Bill, went through the House for its Third Reading last week, helping to ensure we can operate a fully functioning and independent trade policy after we leave the EU. The Customs Bill includes provisions for the UK to impose tariffs, quotas, anti-dumping measures, enter Customs Unions and agree cross-border VAT regimes. The Bill protects British businesses against unfair competition from dumped or subsidised imports, so that the UK remains one of the best places in the world for companies to do business. These trade defence measures will be implemented by the new body, the Trade Remedies Authority, and will ensure that we protect British jobs.

The Public Accounts Committee last week took evidence from the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to explore how to improve the health and social care interface in a way that not only saves money, but gives a better experience for patients and those requiring care. The Committee also held an inquiry session examining the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s work decommissioning the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria.

Major General Robert Magowan CB CBE, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Capability), briefed colleagues and I on information warfare last week. Information warfare, or propaganda, has taken on a new form and severity in recent years as the internet and social media have undergone exponential growth in popularity. Cyber attacks present policy makers many difficulties in attributing responsibility and for determining a proportionate response.

Last week, the Justice for Equitable Life Policyholders APPG held its AGM. Along with over 40 other Conservative members of the APPG, I have signed an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer seeking to bring the Equitable Life issue to the attention of the Treasury ahead of the Budget later this year. The Parliamentary Ombudsman’s report in 2010 concluded that serial maladministration in the regulation of Equitable Life had led to more than one million savers suffering losses totalling an estimated £4.3bn. A decade later, 945,000 pension savers have received less than 23% of their losses which the PO had directly attributed to regulatory failure. This is simply unacceptable.

Teignbridge Matters

I continue to communicate regularly with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) regarding the postponed dumping at Sprey Point. Dumping of silt from Exmouth Marine at Sprey Point is not simply a matter of pollution but could potentially result in economic harm to local businesses and have an adverse effect on tourism. I made clear to the MMO how strongly local residents, stakeholders and I are opposed any further depositing of dredged material from the Exmouth Marina at Sprey Point.

I met with Barclays to discuss the closure of the Teignmouth Branch on 7 September. I heard how the way we bank has changed radically over the years and that most branch customers now use different ways of banking such as online and by telephone. Barclays reassured me that they are listening to the concerns of the local community and will provide guidance to help people adapt to the alternative ways in which they can carry out their banking requirements.

Stephanie Berkeley from the Farm Safety Foundation met with me last week to talk about the work the charity does to raise awareness of farm safety among young farmers aged 16-40. Despite making up only 1.5% of the UK’s working population, the farming industry accounts for 20% of all deaths in the workplace. Stephanie explained about the great work being done by the FSF’s ‘Mind Your Head’ campaign that works to increase awareness of how to support those dealing with mental health issues. On Thursday, the FSF launched their Mental Health Directory. This will signpost farmers to contact information for services that are local and relevant to them.

My next surgery is in Newton Abbot on Friday 3rd August at 2pm. Please call my office on 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.