February 2015

John’s Monthly Newsletter February 2015

This is a selection of my constituency activities over the last month.

Stop Heathrow Expansion Presentation to 10 Downing Street 3

No_10_petition.jpgI joined Heathrow Villagers, Local Heathrow Ward Councillors, June Nelson and Peter Money and West London MPs to present a letter to No 10 Downing Street calling upon the Prime Minister to honour his commitment in 2010 “No ifs, No buts, No 3rd Runway.”

Tuesday saw the end of the Airport Commission’s consultation on airport expansion options.  “I am confident that if we continue our determined campaign we will see off this threat to our villages once again.”  

Sri Guru Ravi Dass Gurdwara 8

I visited the local Sri Guru Ravi Dass Gurdwara to meet constituents who worship at the temple. John’s relationship with the temple goes back to the 1980s when as a GLC Councillor John awarded the temple a grant to support its work in the community as an advice and counselling agency. This was the first gurdwara in UK history to be recognised in this way by a public body.

“I have worked with the Sri Guru Dass gurdwara for over 30 years and congratulate them on the work they undertake in our local community, often supporting the most vulnerable in our society.” 

Heathrow Arts Project

harts_2.jpgI spoke at the launch of the community arts initiative in Heathrow Villages (Harts) in St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church, Harlington, which was organised by Rose Music. Harts is using community led arts of different mediums to combat the blight from the airport, encourage a more cohesive community, and cultivate creative resistance to the increasing dominance of the aviation industry.

It was a really creative afternoon with local residents and local artists committed to saving our community. The group will be launching a ‘Forest of Defiance’.      

Brunel Students Question and Answer session 17

I attended a question and answer session with students at Brunel University on Tuesday 17th February. It was an extremely lively session on a wide range of political issues in the run up to the election.

Friends of Cranford Park 24

I chaired the Friends of Cranford Park, which I helped set up a couple of years ago.This month the Friends meeting concentrated on planning its events and activities in the park for the Spring and Summer, starting on Saturday March 7th 11am with volunteers undertaking a guided walk and tidying up the park. The re-opening of the secret garden will take place on Sunday 8th March at 10am.  

Go to the Friends website www.cranfordparkfriends.org for further information.

Launch of New Professional IT Training Centre at Uxbridge College, Hayes Campus.

I visited the Hayes Campus of Uxbridge College in Coldharbour Lane, Hayes to learn about the new IT centre the college has launched this month. The centre will provide hands on training to local people interested in a career in IT. The college has linked up with local companies like Rackspace, to offer training to their staff and to link the college students with direct work experience in the IT industry. Uxbridge College also has an open day for all its courses on its Hayes Campus on 18th March which I will be calling into.

Prologis Exhibition

prologis_2.jpgI went to see the exhibition by Prologis setting out its plans for the development of its site on Stockley Park by the canal. The plans for an office development overlooking the canal offer the opportunity of refurbishing the canal side and towpath, opening up the canal area. In addition the company is planning to improve a number of other green sites. I am pleased at the approach the company is taking. There is an outstanding Section 106 agreement on this site which provided for a financial contribution to the nearby Lake Farm Country Park following any development of the Stockley site. I have asked the local councillors to follow this up. 

Hillingdon Canal Partnership 27

canal.jpg

I went along to the Canal Partnership meeting, which I helped to set up a few years ago, to talk about the Canal Festival we are organising for May 10th this year and also to continue the pressure for both the re-opening of Shackles Dock for a canoe training base and for residential moorings in Hayes Town to help open up the canal. It’s a slow hand slog but we will get there.

 

 

Grow Heathrow 5th Anniversary 28

grow_heathrow_2.jpgI joined in the 5th anniversary celebrations of Grow Heathrow. I have supported the group of young people who occupied this site 5 years ago as part of our campaign to prevent the 3rd runway going ahead. It is on this site that the 6th Terminal was intended to be built. I am grateful for the support Grow Heathrow has given our campaign. They have became part of our community. I spoke at the celebrations to thank everyone involved in this creative campaign to save our villages and our environment.

 

Dog Meat Trade Cruelty28th January     pics both

dog_meat_judy.jpgI hosted an event in Parliament to highlight the cruelty of Dog Meat Trade and call for a ban on this barbaric practice. Participants viewed two films, Sio Dog and Django Story and heard speeches from Tobias Ellwood MP, John Hawkridge and an excellent and moving speech from Peter Egan. Judy Dench, a supporter of the campaign also attended the meeting.

136 MPs signed at Early Day Motion to call for an immediate end to Dog Meat Trade Cruelty http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/159

National Gallery Strike10th February     

national_gallery.jpgI held a public meeting with PCS workers who are on strike. It is disgraceful the way these dedicated staff are being treated. Their jobs are being threatened, the union reps are being victimised and our art collections are being put at risk.

Gallery bosses announced plans to privatise almost all staff, including those who look after the paintings and help the gallery's 6 million annual visitors. They have also reneged on a promise to introduce the London Living Wage, meaning the institution is the only major museum or gallery in the capital that does not pay it.

Launch of Public Consultation of Conscience’s “Taxes for Peace Bill” 11th February

conscience2.jpgI chaired a meeting of the People’s Parliament last night focusing on non-military alternatives to building long-term peace and stability.

The event also served as a launch for the public consultation of Conscience’s Taxes for Peace Bill which will enable Conscientious Objectors to Military Taxation to have the military portion of their income taxes redirected towards more peaceful alternatives.

The consultation will be open until September 2015. For further information or to make comments and suggestions please click on the link below.

http://www.conscienceonline.org.uk/new-taxes-for-peace-draft-bill/

Government Scrapping of ILF 

john_ilf_4.jpgDespite widespread opposition from disability groups and two legal challenges, the government is pressing ahead with the abolition of the Independent Living Fund. Funds will be transferred to local councils to set up their own schemes. However the money transferred is not ring fenced and there are fears that some councils like Hillingdon will cut the support and use the money elsewhere at the expense of disabled people.

I have written to the Chief Executive of Hillingdon Council to ring fence and protect the funds for disabled people.

I am totally opposed to the scrapping if the ILF and have supported lobbies of Parliament against this Government policy. Now that it is going through I am demanding that Hillingdon Council commits itself to ring fencing and protecting the funds transferred and introduces a local ILF scheme to support people with disabilities in the way the ILF did. The ILF makes the difference for many disabled people between living a full life in our community or being placed in a residential home. I say Save the ILF.

Petition against closure of BBC Three  17th February

bbc3.jpgI joined campaigners who have been fighting to save the popular youth-orientated BBC Three television channel. After gathering outside BBC Broadcasting House, the delegation of petitioners walked to the BBC trust where we delivered a petition against the closure of BBC Three to the BBC trust.     

 

 

 

 

FBU Rally 25th February  

fbu_ralley.jpgI was proud to address yesterday's (Wednesday) FBU rally convened by the union to enable firefighters to lobby MPs about the attack on their pensions imposed by the Government. We now know that the assurance given to Parliament that no firefighter would lose their job as a result of increasing the pension age was a lie. Its no wonder firefighters are angry. I am calling for this legislation to be rescinded now it has been confirmed that the minister mislead Parliament before the vote

Shaker Aamer Cross Party Group  26th

shaker_aamer_meeting.jpgThis week I convened a meeting of the cross party group of MPs campaigning for the release of Shaker Aamer. After raising Shaker's case with the Prime Minister and with the US Embassy, we have applied for a  Parliamentary debate to gather more support for the release of Shaker from Guatanamo Bay. We are also planning to send a delegation to Washington to meet officials from the Obama administration to press for Shaker's release and return to his family in London.  

Below is a list of the interventions I have made on the floor of the House of Commons this month. Please click the link below to take you to the debate set out in the Hansard.

Suicides (Remand Prisoners) 3rd February

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150203/debtext/150203-0001.htm#15020343000324

Tax Avoidance (HSBC) 9th Feburary

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150209/debtext/150209-0001.htm#1502093000656

Counter-terrorism and Security Bill (Police) 10th February

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150210/debtext/150210-0004.htm#15021066000343

Engagements 11th February

I raised this week's Hillingdon Hospital CQC report with Cameron at PMQs. 

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150211/debtext/150211-0001.htm#15021185000288

Serious Crime Bill (Lords) 23rd February

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150223/debtext/150223-0003.htm#15022339000088

Mining in Goa (UK-Listed Companies) 24th February

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150224/halltext/150224h0002.htm#15022464000217

Written Questions I have asked recorded by the date the answer was received.

Department for Transport 2nd February

First Great Western

Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the food for the at-seat catering service provided under the rail franchise directly awarded to First Great Western in October 2014 will be prepared by staff on-board the trains.

 Answered by: Claire Perry

The current rail franchise which has been directly awarded to First Great Western started on 13 October 2013. It did not specify details of on-train catering services, which train operators are best placed to manage. The refreshed Franchising Schedule published on 10 October 2014 said that a further directly awarded franchise of 3½ years was anticipated to be awarded to First Great Western after the end of the current franchise on 19 September 2015. The Department for Transport is currently in discussion with First Great Western about the terms of this second directly awarded franchise. 

Department for Transport 2nd February

First Great Western

Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the terms of the rail franchise directly awarded to First Great Western in October 2014 retain the role of guard on all trains for the duration of the contract.

Answered by: Claire Perry

The current rail franchise which has been directly awarded to First Great Western started on 13 October 2013. It makes no provision about the role of the guard. The refreshed Franchising Schedule published on 10 October 2014 said that a further directly awarded franchise of 3½ years was anticipated to be awarded to First Great Western after the end of the current franchise on 19 September 2015. The Department for Transport is currently in discussion with First Great Western about the terms of this second directly awarded franchise. 

Department for Transport2nd February

First Great Western

Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the at-seat catering service provided under the directly awarded franchise on the Great Western Main Line will be in addition to a buffet car or café-bar on the train.

Answered by: Claire Perry

The current rail franchise which has been directly awarded to First Great Western started on 13 October 2013. It did not specify details of on-train catering services, which train operators are best placed to manage. The refreshed Franchising Schedule published on 10 October 2014 said that a further directly awarded franchise of 3½ years was anticipated to be awarded to First Great Western after the end of the current franchise on 19 September 2015. The Department for Transport is currently in discussion with First Great Western about the terms of this second directly awarded franchise. 

Department for Transport 3rd February

Railways: Franchises

Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will place in the Library an updated copy of the franchise payment profile for all train operating companies until 2023.

Answered by: Claire Perry

The Secretary of State for Transport will endeavour to place an updated copy of the contracted franchise payment profiles for all train operating companies until 2023 (as they exist) in the Libraries of both Houses within three weeks from today. This time is required as the schedule is being updated to reflect the major changes to the payment profiles as a result of CP5 and changes to fares policy. 

Home Office 9th February

Data Protection: Acquisition

Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether she plans to publish all responses received to her Department's consultation on the codes of practice relating to the acquisition and retention of data.

Answered by: James Brokenshire

The consultation on the codes of practice relating to the acquisition, disclosure, and retention of communications data closed on 20 January. Over 290 responses were received, which are currently being considered. Final version of the codes will be laid before Parliament. Not all of those who responded to the consultation gave their consent for their responses to be made public. 

Home Office 9th February

Data Protection: Acquisition

Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what the timescale and process will be for her Department's response to its consultation on the codes of practice relating to the acquisition and retention of data; and if she will make a statement.

Answered by: James Brokenshire

The consultation on the codes of practice relating to the acquisition, disclosure, and retention of communications data closed on 20 January. Over 290 responses were received, which are currently being considered. Final version of the codes will be laid before Parliament. Not all of those who responded to the consultation gave their consent for their responses to be made public. 

Home Office 10th February

Communications Data and Interception Powers Review

Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what the timescale and process will be for public discussion of the Communications Data and Interception review conducted by David Anderson QC; and what opportunities will arise for parliamentary scrutiny of those conclusions.

Answered by: James Brokenshire

Section 7 of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 provides that David Anderson QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, must, so far as reasonably practicable, complete his review of investigatory powers before 1 May 2015. The Government has been clear that David Anderson’s findings will be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny. 

Ministry of Justice 27th February

Criminal Proceedings

Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he is taking to reduce the delays in criminal proceedings in courts in England and Wales.

Answered by: Mike Penning

The Transforming Summary Justice programme is a collaboration between the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts designed to ensure that magistrates’ court cases are prepared and prosecuted in a timely and efficient manner. It is in the process of being rolled out and will be operating throughout England and Wales by May 2015. The recent report of the Review of Efficiency in Criminal Proceedings, which was carried out by Sir Brian Leveson, President of the Queen’s Bench Division, makes detailed recommendations for improving efficiency, some of which build on these initiatives. The Government is now considering these recommendations

Ministry of Justice 27th February

Victim Support Schemes 27th

Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what government funds are available for victims' support organisations in England and Wales. 

Answered by: Mike Penning

This Government is committed to supporting victims, by ensuring that they have access to high-quality, effective and timely support. We have made more money than ever before available for this purpose, increasing the contribution offenders make to the costs of providing support, and more than doubling the victims budget to over £92million for 2015/16.

Locally accountable Police and Crime Commissioners are now responsible for the provision of support services in their areas and will receive the bulk of the available funding with which to do so. This was £63.15m in 2015/16.

Some services remain nationally commissioned. This includes support for families bereaved by homicide, support for victims of rape and modern slavery, and support for witnesses at court. National services have recently been competitively re-commissioned. 

Ministry of Justice 27th February

Criminal Proceedings

Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what procedures are in place to inform victims of the reasons for any delays in criminal matters being listed for court.

Answered by: Mike Penning

Witness Care Units (WCUs) update Victims on information relating to their case. Under the Code of Practice for Victims courts have responsibility for providing information to WCUs about matters affecting the victim and WCUs then provide a single point of contact for victims throughout the duration of the case.

The Government has committed to creating a system that puts the highest emphasis on victims’ needs and set out their rights clearly in legislation.