Tim Loughton's Parliamentary Newsletter
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Parliamentary Newsletter - December 2015

Dear Constituent

Welcome to my last constituency e-newsletter of 2015. I have included a copy of my Christmas card brilliantly designed by 4 year old Shoreham College pupil Kira Robinson-Fleck. Volunteers (including ‘reluctant’ members of my own family!) have been delivering them by hand across the whole constituency, but with some 45,000 letter boxes to find my, apologies if a few have been missed and you have not received one.

They say all publicity is good publicity and Worthing certainly got prime time billing when Andy Murray was crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year and in his acceptance speech claimed he was duller than a weekend in Worthing! Loyal Worthingphiles instantly went into overdrive on social media and I immediately invited Andy to come to Worthing any time to see that our town is indeed a fitting place for champions. After all, I enjoyed a  tennis match against Greg Rusedski when he came to open the new facilities at West Worthing Tennis Club last summer and he had no complaints! Watch this space to see if he accepts.

Next year is likely to be a busy year and important issues, such as the impending referendum on our EU membership and military action in Syria, are likely to dominate the agenda. I will also be launching a series of public meetings called ‘Talk to Tim’ to encourage constituents to come out and engage with me and local councillors on these and other important issues. This is something I have tried before with mixed results but given the amount of lobbying emails I receive every week now I know that many constituents are not shy in giving their views! The first of these is planned for January 9th in Sompting Village Hall and everyone is welcome.

In the meantime I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and peaceful New Year.
Best wishes
Tim Loughton MP
Member of Parliament for East Worthing & Shoreham
Upcoming Surgeries
Fri 8 Jan 2016
5 pm - 7 pm

Street Surgery
Shoreham Farmers' Market
Sat 9 Jan 2016
10:00 am - 12 pm

Street Surgery
Lancing Family Centre
Sat 16 Jan 2016
10:00 am - 12 pm

Street Surgery
Worthing Town Centre
Sat 16 Jan 2016
12:15 pm - 2 pm

Thu 21 Jan 2016
5 pm - 7 pm
Talk to Tim - Upcoming Public Meetings
As mentioned in my opening paragraph, I will be launching a series of public meetings called ‘Talk to Tim’ to encourage constituents to come out and engage with me and local councillors on the important local, national and international issues.

The first of these is planned for 9
 January in Sompting Village Hall in West Street at 3pm. I will be focusing on the upcoming referendum on Britain's membership of the EU, which is likely to be a defining moment in this country's history, but I am happy to discuss any local and national issues.

Everyone is welcome to come along and discuss this monumentally important decision we will all have to take in the coming months.
In East Worthing and Shoreham
Annual Christmas Card Competition
Every year I challenge the children from primary schools in East Worthing and Shoreham to design a festive cover for my Christmas greetings card, which I send to senior politicians, including the Prime Minister, and every constituent across Adur and East Worthing.
I had a large number of high quality entries and had the tough job of whittling them down to an overall winner and two runners-up.

It's been a brilliant year with a collection of delightfully imaginative entries. It really was difficult to pick out the winner. However I eventually agreed on the design by four-year-old Kira Robinson-Fleck from Shoreham College, which featured a simple but imaginative reindeer design based on Kira’s footprint. I am delighted that the card will be popping through the letterboxes of residents across my constituency.

I am also very grateful to award-winning temperature instruments firm, ETI from Worthing, who have again generously sponsored the printing costs of the card, which will also be delivered by volunteers at no cost to the taxpayer. 

The runners-up were Katie and Macy, both 10, of Eastbrook Primary Academy, and their designs feature inside the Christmas card.
Latest report from the Air Accident Investigation Branch on Shoreham Air Show crash
I welcome the AAIB's latest interim report into the circumstances around the air crash at the Shoreham Air Show on 22 August 2015.The report specifically looks into the nature and condition of the aircraft rather than the actual causes of the crash.

The report makes 7 safety recommendations for future displays involving ex-military aircraft. A further report detailing the likely causes of the crash itself is expected in the spring of 2016.

However there is still a long way to go before we find out exactly what led to the crash on that fateful day.

The details published this month make recommendations about how safety can be improved in the future, particularly in making sure that appropriate maintenance is up to date and relevant data is fully shared with those flying and servicing the aircraft.

Given the age of the Hawker Hunter which crashed and many other ex-military planes, especially those used in the over 300 civilian air shows around the UK each year, it is important that safety considerations are absolutely paramount and more is done to protect people on the ground especially. This will help to build a full picture of what happened at Shoreham and explain to relatives of the victims exactly what caused this tragic accident. Until then it would not be helpful to speculate further whilst this important and painstaking work carries on.

Our thoughts continue to be with the families and friends of the victims, many of whom returned to the Old Toll Bridge in Shoreham on Sunday for a special pre-Christmas private ceremony conducted by Reverend Ann Waizeneker.

You can read the report here:
Electric Storm Youth - Winter Newsletter 2015
Please find below Electric Storm Youth’s Winter Newsletter 2015 for your perusal. It is a local charity and I am proud to be their patron.
Harrison Road Footpath
I am delighted that the new Harrison Road pathway has now been properly tarmacked. It will form an important connection between the two adjoining roads and will be used by hundreds of the employees on the Decoy Road Industrial Estate in east Worthing, as well as nearby residents. 
Sports Personality of the Year Andy Murray invited to visit Worthing
Within minutes of Andy Murray’s acceptance speech for BBC Sports Personality of the Year, in which he described himself as ‘duller than a weekend in Worthing’, I tweeted an invitation to the tennis star to visit Worthing and see what a great place it is for champions. I also pointed out that Murray’s colleague and West Sussex resident, Greg Rusedski, had visited Worthing last year to launch the refurbished facilities at the West Worthing Tennis Club and had no complaints. 
I think we would all be delighted to welcome Andy to Worthing and show him how the old caricature of Worthing is very much out of date and that we offer a great place to live, do business or just enjoy a short stay.

We can also introduce him to some of the finest facilities for alternative sports like kite surfing, swimming and beach volleyball if he would like to diversify.

I am sure Andy’s wife will have a word or two to say to him, as she knows Sussex well having been born and brought up here. Perhaps they can make an early visit in 2016 once their new child is born and we wish them both well for that and the New Year.
Donating bikes to raise money for charity
I made a couple of visits to ReRide recently to donate old bikes to the charity, which was set up to raise money for the Worthing Churches Homeless Project. With me in the photo above are Paul Maxted (right), the trustee of the charity, and Matt Shaw (left), who runs the project. 

ReRide were founded in 2011 by the Worthing Churches Homeless Project. It takes used donated bikes and restores them for resale. Their tag line is Restoring Lives by Restoring Bikes - a very worthy cause, I would certainly encourage you to support them if you have any bikes you no longer use, particularly if Father Christmas delivers a new model. 

You can find out more on their Facebook page, here:
Adur Local Plan
The final version of the Adur Local Plan is going to consulation before being finalised. You can see it here:

The consultation period runs from 9th December 2015 to midnight 4th January 2016.

Please note that if you previously sent comments on the Proposed Submission Adur Local Plan 2014 there is no need to resubmit them during the representation period unless you wish to alter or withdraw your representation in the light of the amendments proposed.

If you have any queries regarding the Adur Local Plan please contact:

Amnesty International UK - Write for Rights

Every year Amnesty International UK have their Write for Rights campaign, which assists people in writing a letter or sending a message of hope to someone suffering human rights abuses.
This year, at the behest of the Shoreham Amnesty branch, I have written a couple of cards to women suffering human rights abuses in Mexico and Burkina Faso.
Digging up the past
In my role as the Chairman of the Parliamentary Groups for Archaeology and for the British Museum, I attended the launch of the annual report of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) at the British Museum last week.

It was one of the last engagements for Director Neil MacGregor, who is standing down after 13 distinguished years at this world institution.

The PAS scheme was begun in 1997 and now covers most of England and Wales. It is primarily focused on private metal detectorists who through their hobby regularly discover artefacts that would otherwise go unrecorded.

Members of the public can also report objects they have found and finds of non-metallic objects are also covered by the scheme. Finds that legally constitute treasure are dealt with through the Treasure Act 1996, but the PAS concentrates on precious metals, prehistoric base metal, and finds in association with them. Non-prehistoric base metal and non-metal finds would not be recognised as treasure and therefore be unrecorded.

The PAS exists to fill this gap and so far over 1,000,000 items have been recorded.

At the launch, I was able to see a new hoard of coins from Oxfordshire which sheds new light on the time of King Alfred in the late 9th century. This is of particular interest for those people like me who have followed the excellent recent BBC series The Last Kingdom.

The photo above is of some of the ingots and coins from the hoard. In Sussex we have a Finds Liaison Officer employed by the scheme who is based at the Barbican Museum at Lewes castle.
Shoreham Lifeboat celebrate 150th anniversary

Well done to Shoreham Lifeboat who finished an excellent year of events to celebrate their 150th anniversary with a carol service at the lifeboat station last Thursday.
Friends of Shoreham Fort December Newsletter

You can read Friends of Shoreham Fort's December newsletter by following the link below. In this edition, you can read about the good news regarding their application to the Coastal Revival Fund.
Fairer Funding for West Sussex Schools at last

I am delighted that the Government has committed to introduce a new national funding formula for English schools, ending the postcode lottery that meant children in Adur, Worthing and across the whole of Sussex received much less than other children throughout the country. This is something I have been campaigning on along with my fellow West Sussex MPs for some time. 

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, The Rt Hon George Osborne MP, announced that there will be a National Funding Formula from 2017 to phase out the arbitrary and unfair school funding system, which left many schools in West Sussex receiving much less per pupil than other areas. There will be a detailed consultation in 2016, and I look forward to seeing the proposals. The ten best funded areas receive an average of £6,297 per pupil per year, compared with an average of £4,208 in the ten worst funded areas, including West Sussex. 

West Sussex has already received a 'damping' payment of an extra £1 million a year ahead of the National Funding Formula, but we need to go much further than this to put our schools on an equal footing with those in other counties.

I will now be working hard to ensure that, when the Education Secretary publishes the consultation on the new National Funding Formula in the New Year, we make the strongest case to improve funding for West Sussex schools as soon as possible.

As always, the devil will lie in the detail and we will need to see the full detail of the consultation, but in principle this represents a huge step forward and is a decision of lasting significance.

You can watch a news story on this topic by ITV here:
Unacceptable queues in Lancing Post Office

I have been contacted by a number of residents regarding ridiculously long queues being formed in the Lancing Post Office. This was something I was concerned would happen when we were campaigning against the closure of the other sub-Post Offices in Lancing and Sompting. Thankfully we managed to keep the North Road Lancing Post Office open, something I fought hard for. 

Some residents have had to wait over an hour to be served due to the length of the queue, apparently because of under-staffing. This is simply not acceptable only a few weeks before Christmas, especially considering the number of people who still use the Post Office to send their cards and gifts to loved ones.

I have taken these concerns up with the Post Office and will keep you updated as and when I receive a reply. 
Major changes to trains in Sussex this Christmas
Christmas is just one week away, and Network Rail is preparing for major improvement work over the festive period.

I must admit to being very concerned about this, particularly after I suffered another chaotic journey back from London courtesy of Southern Rail. There were no annunciator boards at Victoria and precious few crew were visible and the ones that were did not really have a clue. My own experiences aside, many of you have been in touch to tell me of your personal nightmares suffered at the hands of Southern Rail. 

Along with other Sussex MPs, I have written to Southern Rail to complain about their poor service, whilst others have raised the issue of their performance in the House of Commons. As a result of this pressure, there will be an urgent summit in the New Year between the management of Southern Rail, the Minister for Railways and MPs.

The major works will will see a busy section of railway completely replaced at Purley, which will mean major changes for trains to Gatwick Airport, Brighton and stations along the south coast. This work will take place from close of service on Christmas Eve to 3 January 2016 inclusive, and includes three working days (December 29-31).

As a result of this work there will be no trains between South Croydon and Redhill and Gatwick Express services will not be running. There will be some diverted train services and bus replacements to help passengers complete their journeys.

As part of the work, the Thameslink Programme is continuing to rebuild the railway around London Bridge. This work will mean major changes to Southeastern services, including no trains at London Bridge, Cannon Street, Charing Cross or Waterloo East from 8pm on Christmas Eve through to Sunday 3 January 2016.

Network Rail have chosen to carry out this vital work at Christmas, because fewer passengers travel at Christmas making it a good time for us to do major investment work while minimising the impact on the travelling public.

Southern have shown they can barely cope whilst operating on a daily basis during the regular season, so I wince when considering what they may be like with all this disruption. We shall have to wait and see. 
Network Rail £4.1m Improvement Plan

Network Rail have released details of a £4.1m improvement plan to improve passenger journeys on routes into London Bridge and London Victoria.

The improvement plan focuses on passengers served by Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express trains and is designed to increase reliability, punctuality and overall passenger experience.

The fund has been agreed with the Office of Road and Rail (ORR) and takes the place of the £2m penalty handed to Network Rail by the regulator earlier in the year following a poor record of reliability and punctuality in 2014-15 on the Thameslink and Southern train services.

Among the initiatives Network Rail’s plan will fund are:
  • Further increases to staff numbers at London terminus stations, including 15 extra staff at London Victoria
  • Further improvements to passenger information displays at stations
  • 20 new fast-response staff based at Brighton and Croydon depots to tackle problems on track when they happen
  • Up to four times as many security patrols at stations in Sussex to reduce delays caused by trespassers
I hope this information is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Southern Rail's Latest Performance Update
December’s update on the joint performance improvement plan from Southern, Thameslink and Network Rail is now available at or
Southern have noted that performance on the Southern route this week has been particularly disruptive for passengers. There has been a series of incidents affecting the service each day.  The infrastructure has suffered from numerous problems including signalling failures at Norwood, Bognor and London Bridge; a power supply failure at Littlehaven and a major signalling failure at Purley.  These events went on for extended periods of time and meant that the service took some time to recover, particularly the incident at Purley on Tuesday.
They say that they have also had some unusually disruptive fleet failures which affected the service this week including a train at Coulsdon with door problems and a Horsham bound service with power issues and a broken down train at Clapham Junction, as well as a fatality on the Tonbridge line and a trespass incident at Streatham.  There have also been some issues this week with temporary shortages of available crew with the start of the holiday season.  They are, however, running the UK’s biggest driver recruitment and training programme to increase the number of drivers in the longer term.
Against a background of an already very busy network, with little margin for delay under normal circumstances whilst London Bridge station is being rebuilt, these issues made for some frustrating and long journeys this week, and they send their apologise. 

Apologies are great and all, but they don't wipe away all the awful memories of using their service. Time to stop apologising and pull themselves together. 
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Newsletter - Protecting vulnerable people from harm


Last week I wrote about Sussex Police's campaign - Operation Ribbon - to crackdown on domestic abuse in the run up to Christmas and the New Year. The campaign encourages both women and men to report abuse and empathises with the emotional experience of victims, regardless of their age, gender, sexuality, race or religion, reassuring them that they will be believed and understood, and encouraging them to report either to the police or to other organisations that can provide support. 

A report published this week showed that Sussex has a strong commitment to protecting vulnerable people from harm and supporting victims. I was particularly pleased to see that from April 2014 to March 2015 there has been a 37% increase in recorded incidents of domestic abuse compared to the previous year. This tells me that victims have the confidence to come forward and not suffer in silence.

Further to the updates I have provided in this newsletter recently around police funding, the Policing Minister announced the grant settlement for Sussex yesterday. This is broadly in line with the Chancellor’s Spending Review announcement that there would be no further cuts to police budgets and it also confirms increased flexibility for PCCs to raise local funding contributions through the police precept. My public consultation, which is designed to explore the appetite of residents to pay more through their Council Tax for policing will remain open until 4 January. I hope you will take the time to tell me what you think.

This will be my last newsletter in 2015 and as the year nears to an end I would like to extend my thanks to all the Sussex Police officers, staff and volunteers for their continued hard work and dedication. The importance of their work in keeping us safe can never be underestimated.

Finally, I would like to wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year.

Best wishes,

Katy Bourne
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner

You can read the rest of the newsletter here:
Roffey Homes appoint new architect for Aquarena

I was happy to hear that Roffey Home have appointed a new architect to the Aquarena project. New plans and designs should be ready within three months. I was less happy however to hear that they had appealed the decision by the Worthing Planning Committee, which resoundingly rejected the original plans back in the Autumn. At the time, the local developed, who has pioneered some innovative and sensitive designs on other Worthing sites, lost a lot of goodwill after they forged ahead with entirely inappropriate and overbearing plans for the Aquarena site. 

They are now saying they will withdraw the appeal, but only if their new, as yet unpublished, plans are approved. This is not the best way to go about getting local residents on side and we wait to see what the new design by Allies and Morrison will be. 
Healthwatch West Sussex - December Newsletter

In this edition, Healthwarch West Sussex provide an update on their various activities across the county, including their RAISE IT campaign and the work they have been doing on their activity plan, which will guide their work up until the end of December 2016. 

You can read the December newsletter here:
Changes to the Role of PCSOs

Sussex Police have developed a new model for local policing which will help the Force prioritise resources and target improvements in service for the public, whilst making efficiency savings.

Their programme has three core objectives:
  • Deliver an affordable, resilient model of local policing in Sussex for the future
  • Deliver the benefits on time and in line with the programme plan
  • Implement changes whilst maintaining operational stability and effectiveness
The proposed model developed by the Local Policing Programme aims to provide a resilient model of local policing in Sussex and it is proposed that PCSO’s will:
  • be deployed more flexibly in teams to vulnerable locations across Sussex assessed on the level of threat, risk and harm;
  • have an increased focus on prevention and problem solving, rather than predominantly on reassurance;
  • be equipped with a range of skills to enable them to resolve problems and prevent crime and disorder, alongside partners;
  • have additional powers to enter certain licensed premises and enforce certain licensing offences, in order to address the selling of alcohol to those under age, street drinkers and people who are drunk;
  • be issued with body worn cameras and have enhanced staff safety training;
  • provide a tailored approach to the specific needs of communities and neighbourhoods.
These proposals are currently undergoing an internal consultation period. I know that you will be keen to understand the changes to the PCSO role, and I will certainly share the outcome of the consultation in February.

Should you have any questions, please contact the Local Policing Programme via email
Woodland Trust Tree Packs

Primary Schools in East Worthing and Shoreham are being offered the chance to plant free trees with help from the Woodland Trust.

The Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is now supporting The Woodland Trust to offer an additional 45,000 British native trees to 7,000 state funded primary schools in England. 
As well as free tree packs, there is help with finding somewhere else to plant if there isn’t room in school grounds; protection to help the trees grow; and on-line curriculum-linked resources to support teachers’ lesson plans.

This is a great opportunity and will help schools improve their local environment and enable children to learn about nature.

You can apply for a free tree pack by visiting the Woodland Trust website, or search ‘School tree packs’ online. 

The closing date for applications is 8 January 2016.
Visit to Fire and Rescue Control HQ

I had the pleasure of visiting the Fire and Rescue Service Control Headquarters at Hayward Heath. These men and women do some incredible work in keeping us safe and it was also an opportunity to thank the professionals again for their outstanding work at the time of the Shoreham Air Show crash. 

The new centre brings together the Fire and Rescue Service from East and West Sussex under one roof. 
In Parliament
WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) - 2 Minute Tim
WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) - 2 Minute Tim (7)
The Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign has really be gaining traction recently. I have set out my views in a couple of podcasts. 

Changes that came in a number of years ago are impacting on women born in the 1950s and are seeing their pensionable age rise from 60 to 66. 

I have had a number of representations from constituents and I think the changes are unfair. Whilst I am supportive of equalising the pensionable age between men and women, what I think has been missed here is that these women have been given very little notice of when these changes were coming in, in some cases just 18 months. This gave them very little time to make other previsions. 

There could be up to a million women who are affected by these changes. In the past, Ministers indicated that there would be transitional relief for these women, yet none has been forthcoming. 

Many women are now coming up to what they thought would be their retirement age, only to find out that they will be required to work another six years. 

I attended a Westminster Hall debate on this issue, led by Labour MP, Barbara Keeley. She was calling for the Government to look at this again. I spoke at the debate and have written to the Secretary of State urging him to look at the original proposals and the possibility of bringing in more generous transitional relief, as mooted by the former Pensions Minister, Steven Webb. 

You can watch the podcast via this link:

You can watch my update here:

or by clicking on the photo above. 

You can find the minutes of the Westminster Hall debate here:
My Reaction to the Vote on Syria - 2 Minute Tim (Extended)
My Reaction to the Vote on Syria - 2 Minute Tim (Extended) (6)
After a great deal of thought, I decided to vote in favour of extending military action by the RAF into Syria. It was my own decision and not one subject to a party whip. I thought long and hard about it and voted with my conscience. Every step of the way I have made my views known and accountable to you, the public.

I have split my reasons for voting for military action into six distinct areas:

1) What exactly are we doing?
2) Will it make us safer?
3) Will it kill innocent civilians?
4) Will airstrikes alone achieve the end result?
5) Why us? Why now?
6) Will this result in more home grown extremists? 

By watching my podcast above, you will be able to listen to me set out step-by-step why I arrived at my decision.

You can watch the podcast via this link:
or by clicking on the photo above.

You can also read the full Hansard of the debate in the Commons here:

Alternatively, you can watch the full debate here:
All Party Parliamentary Group on Bees 

I have recently joined the new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Bees, as vice-chairman, along with a number of other MPs including fellow Sussex MP for Bexhill and Battle, Huw Merriman MP, who has taken on the role of chairman. The new parliamentary grouping of cross-party MPs had its inaugural meeting on 9 December 2015.

The APPG will provide an opportunity for MPs to understand the issues facing bee colonies and to help MPs learn more about beekeeping and bees in general, including consideration of current concerns with bees’ health and neonicotinoids.

Tim Lovett, from the BBKA, attended the inaugural meeting of the group to discuss the current issues facing bees.

Thank you to all those who wrote into me regarding neonicotinoid insecticides and bees.

I entirely agree with those who wrote in that bees and other pollinators play a vital role in the security of our food supply and the quality of our natural environment. I welcome the work the Government has done over the last few years to understand and protect them, most recently through the National Pollinator Strategy.

Decisions on the approval of substances that can act as pesticides are made at the European level. Since December 2013, three of the five currently approved neonicotinoids are not permitted for use on a wide range of crops considered "attractive to bees". A number of other uses remain permitted. These restrictions are not time-limited, and will remain in place until and unless the European Commission decides to change them.

The Commission has begun a review of the science relating to neonicotinoids and bees. This will include looking at the effects on bees caused by seed treatments and uses of the restricted neonicotinoids in the form of granules on any crop. The Government will contribute fully to this review, and will base its view on future regulation of neonicotinoids on all the available scientific evidence.
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

Thank you to all those who contacted me about the EU - US Free Trade Agreement, which is also known as TTIP. I realise your concern but would be glad to clarify a few things as this agreement does not carry the risks that some have put forward.
Underlying the agreement is the opportunity to add £10 billion to our economy every year, which is almost £400 per household, which means more jobs, more choice and reduced prices.
UK governments alone decide how public services, including the NHS are run. This agreement does not change this and does not change UK laws or lower consumer, labour or environmental standards. This agreement is about helping our consumers and our businesses access new markets. Where mutually high standards can be recognised with the US they will be, but where this is not possible US businesses will have to raise their standards to meet ours, not the other way around.
There have been claims that investors could sue a government for losses and win if a government takes a decision in the wider public interest, whether on health, the environment or consumer safety. However, this could not happen. It is important that businesses investing abroad are protected from discrimination and unfair treatment, but there is nothing to allow companies to undermine public policymaking. Extensive consultation has taken place and all provisions are being looked at carefully.
More documents relating to negotiations will be made available to MPs as the process continues and a wealth of material has been published on the European Commission's website. Parliament has also had a number of opportunities to debate this agreement, will scrutinise the final agreement and ultimately has the final veto power.
Free trade agreements of this kind are not unique. The EU already has many existing free trade agreements with countries throughout the world and none have encroached upon public policymaking. For example, both South Korea and Mexico have private sector elements in their respective healthcare systems and yet our free trade agreements with them have not contributed to any change in our health policy. 
Fracking in the UK

A number of constituents have contacted me about fracking in National Parks and whilst I fully understand and appreciate people's concerns about fracking, let me reassure you that the Government is creating a regulatory regime that provides clear, strong protections for the environment. They will be some of the strongest environmental protections in the world. With these in place, I think it is right that we explore and make use of shale gas and oil to help towards a mixed economy in energy as we expand renewable opportunities over the next few years. The opportunity to extract this energy, as well as to secure jobs and investment, cannot be ignored.
As you may be aware, MPs were asked to vote on regulations, which will protect some of the country's most beautiful areas from fracking wells and drills. I would like to reiterate my assurances that National Parks are covered by these protections. As a result of these regulations, fracking cannot be conducted from wells that are drilled at the surface of National Parks. I am pleased that the landscapes of these beautiful areas have been safeguarded by clear, strong rules. This was what was intended in the original safeguards for national parks which I supported and nothing has changed.
As a further protection gas cannot be extracted at depths of less than 1,200 meters under National Parks, which is almost as deep as Britain’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis, is high. These regulations were previously debated and discussed by MPs, and we then voted to approve them on 16 December. I know that the Government is listening closely to people's concerns, and have, for example, recently launched a consultation that could see these protections extended even further. In addition, the recent round of new licences announced last week did not include any in Sussex and it is highly unlikely that it would affect our part of the Sussex coast in any case even if the price of oil and gas recovers to make it economically viable again.
The UK has one of the best track records in the world when it comes to protecting our environment while also developing our industries, and Ministers have assured me that that this experience will be brought to bear on the shale gas protections. The industry will be developed safely with world class environmental protections, creating jobs and delivering better energy security, while all the time safeguarding some of our most precious landscapes. 
Government’s immigration cap does not fit
In a recent report from the Home Affairs Select Committee, of which I am a member, it was revealed that the Government’s immigration cap is not working as intended, and may be counter-productive to both net migration and economic aims.
You can read the reports here: The aim of the cap is to help deliver the Government’s objective of reducing net migration to the 'tens of thousands'. However, there is a significant disparity between the net migration figure, currently 336,000 a year, and the relatively small number of 20,700 possible visas. The number of people coming to the UK to take up work has not reduced, and the number of people seeking to come to take up a high skilled job in the UK has increased. While the cap may serve a purpose in discouraging recruitment from non-EU countries, it has stimulated recruitment from EU countries, which will not help the Government reach their target of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands.
The report set out three key points:
1.Under the Cap public sector workers recruited from abroad are subject to unacceptably high salary threshold in prioritising cases. The result of which could have created a crisis in Nurse recruitment, effectively crippling the NHS over winter.

2.“Recycling” unused sponsorship certificates was a good move, but should have been done earlier. The Committee calls on Government to explain why it did not consider this measure before the cap was reached.

3.One of the stated aims of the cap is to incentivise domestic training and recruitment, in business and public services. However, the evidence shows that UK businesses that recruit skilled foreign workers do train their own workforces, and training more nurses domestically, for example, would require the Government to increase the number of nursing training places available.
It would appear that the cap is having no effect in bringing down net migration. Indeed the latest net migration figures show a third of a million people entered the UK last year, roughly the size of Cardiff. Yet the cap actually blocks the recruitment of vitally needed skills required by individual employers and the economy as a whole. When the monthly allocation is used up, employers are left with a stark choice between a nurse or an engineer. Britain must be open for business, to achieve this we need skilled workers.
When the cap was reached earlier this year, we saw the perverse effects of the system, as the cap prioritises higher paid jobs. In June, Nurses were being prevented from working in the UK, which necessitated the Government taking emergency measures to allow recruitment to continue. Whilst this was a very welcome move, it is clear to see that the system could have caused a crisis in the NHS this winter. A system which encourages panicked adjustments to be functional is not fit for purpose. 
Debates on 1001 Critical Days: Importance of Conception to Age 2

On Thursday 17 December, I called on the Government, during a debate in the House of Commons, to adopt the recommendations in the cross-party manifesto entitled The 1001 Critical Days. MPs from across eight different parties took part in the debate and wholeheartedly supported my calls for the Government to follow the manifesto’s recommendations as to how to achieve better perinatal mental health and stronger attachment between babies and their parents.
The ‘1001 Critical Days Manifesto’ was recently re-launched at an event I hosted in the Houses of Parliament. The event was well attended by 200 people, including experts, politicians and other influential people, all united by the goal of persuading all political parties to incorporate these measures into their election manifestos.
The manifesto sets out how many of the social problems we see in society today have resulted from poor parenting skills, which are themselves a result of a parent having had bad experiences as a baby and creating a generational downward spiral. The goal is for every baby to receive sensitive, appropriate and responsive care from their main caregivers in the first years of life with more proactive help from the NHS, health visitors, children’s centres and other public bodies engaged in a joined-up preventative strategy to affect great change, as pregnancy and the birth of a baby is a critical window of opportunity.
The new manifesto draws attention to a variety of concerning statistics, not least that around 26% of babies (198,000) in the UK are estimated to be living within complex family situation, of heighted risk where there are problems such as substance misuse, mental illness or domestic violence, whilst 36% of serious case reviews involve a baby under the age of one. The best chance to turn this around is during the 1001 critical days.
It is crucial to change our mind-set in how we reconfigure our health – particularly mental health services – education and children’s social care services to intervene earlier to prevent the causes of poor mental health for mother and baby, which indisputably lead to life disadvantages that become mired in vicious cycle of intergenerational underachievement.

The alternative is that we continue to firefight the symptoms at great cost to our society.

You can watch my contribution here:

Alternatively, you can read them in Hansard here:
Campaign to Protect Teens from Sexual Exploitation
During a recent debate in Parliament on older teenagers at risk of sexual abuse and exploitation , I called for the Government to step up its response to child sexual exploitation and develop a truly cross-party response.
I was one of several MPs to speak during the debate, which heard calls for action to tackle the huge number of sexual offences against 16 and 17 year-olds that go unreported and unpunished every year.
The Government have a good record in starting to approach this issue. The Child Sexual Exploitation Action Plan, which I launched back in November 2011, has produced many practical results. The Home Office produced a CSE report earlier this year. Since last year, there have been new sentencing guidelines for courts, enabling courts to give individuals more severe sentences in cases where the victims were particularly vulnerable, such as 16 or 17-year-olds.

Much has happened, but much more needs to happen. The Government need to step up their response to this huge problem with a truly cross-Government strategy. In this debate, we have rightly raised serious concerns about 16 or 17-year-olds, but that is only part of a much bigger issue that we are only just beginning to get on top of.

It is a subject I am deeply concerned about, which is why I so determined when Minister for Children and Young People to establish an inquiry into historic acts of child abuse.

You can watch my contribution here

Alternatively, you can read them in Hansard  here:
All Party Parliamentary Group says Government must take action to address Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Time bomb
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) into the current picture of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) has report in which it found that the UK is lagging far behind other developed countries in raising awareness of the condition and implementing effective services and strategies to confront the growing challenges posed by FASD.

FASD is a condition caused when a person is exposed to alcohol in the womb, leaving the person with a range of physical, behavioural and cognitive difficulties for the rest of their life. The World Health Organisation estimate that FASD affects 1% of people born today although in some critical areas the numbers could be significantly higher.

Conducted over the autumn, the Inquiry heard evidence from Martin Clarke of TACT, Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Raja Mukherjee, Professor Sir Al Aynsley Green, SAB Miller plc and British Pregnancy Advisory Service and Public Health Research Midwife, Anne-Marie Winstone, as well as parents, carers and individuals living with FASD.

The Inquiry heard of the confusion caused to midwives and pregnant women as a result of conflicting advice on alcohol consumption in pregnancy given to them by NICE, Department of Health and the various Royal Medical Colleges. The Inquiry heard reports of families struggling tocope without adequate support for their children, and social workers, teachers and other professionals struggling to know how best to support the increasing number of children with FASD.

The Inquiry noted that while other developed nations such as Canada and the USA have demonstrated the positive impact of promoting clear abstinence guidelines for women during pregnancy, alongside extensive research and public awareness campaigns, such a support structure is sorely absent in the UK and will not be rectified until the government and its affiliated bodies recognise the severity of the issue.

The cost, both economically to the tax payer and emotionally to affected families, is enormous and whilst we continue to ignore this issue, those costs will continue to spiral out of control.

It should not be the responsibility of parents and carers to fight for support services for their children. Tackling FASD requires a governmental response. Without such a commitment the credibility of FASD as a national issue will continue to be overlooked by the population as a whole.
The Inquiry concluded by recommending a raft of measures for immediate consideration. These included;
  • The Department of Health, NICE and the Academy of Royal Colleges adopt a consistent message of, “no alcohol in pregnancy is best for baby and you,”
  • Mandatory wording and sizing of warning labels on alcoholic products
  • The launch of a public health campaign raising awareness of FASD
  • The National Curriculum is revised to warn children of the dangers to unborn babies of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
  • Better training for medics, teachers, social workers and other professionals on how to recognise FASD and support those affected.
I really do believe that this is a completely over-looked crisis in our society. The economic and social impact of FASD uncovered by this Inquiry is overwhelming.

You can read the full report here:
BBC's Royal Charter Renewal

Thank you to those who have contacted me about the renewal of the BBC's Royal Charter. I was slightly surprised to see that the lobby groups behind this latest circular email campaign have sensationalised it as some sort of ‘cover-up.’ This is complete nonsense and in fact the Government are scrutinising the consultation very closely and seriously rather than rush out a token response.
The Government's BBC Charter Review Public Consultation closed in October, and set out 19 different questions. Over 190,000 people responded, which is the second largest response to any Government consultation. This clearly emphasises the strong interest a great many people have in the BBC and my constituents are no exception. I share that interest and concern.
I know that the Government is taking the responses extremely seriously and is in the process of reading and analysing all of them. It is not right therefore to suggest the Government is trying to bury the responses and such allegations are not based on fact and are unhelpful. You may wish to question the instigators of your circular what their own motives are.  I am assured that once all the responses have been read and analysed, the Government will, of course, be publishing the consultation results. 
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