This is the start of a week by week summary of the parliamentary activities of my MP, James Heappey. I’m starting this weekly summary for mainly two reasons. Firstly (and mainly), because I have to fill up this blog with something. And secondly, as my Parliamentary representative, and just possibly yours too, James Heappey must be kept to account. Now that is not to stay that James Heappey’s parliamentary activities are secretive, they are certainly accessible. The issue is that they are scattered.
Here I aim to collate and organise what James Heappey gets up to week by week in Parliament. I’ll cover speeches he makes, questions, both spoken and written, that he asks, how he votes on legislation, his activity on the Energy and Climate Change Committee, and finally his expenses.
To cover these issues I plan to use the following sources:
But firstly, who is James Heappey?
James Heappey is the Conservative MP for Wells. He won his seat with a 7500 vote majority in May 2015, beating the Lib Dem incumbent Tessa Munt. Prior to his career in politics James Heappey served for ten years in the Rifles, the Army’s largest infantry unit, and reached the rank of Major. He served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan between 2005 and 2009. He later worked as a Parliamentary assistant for Conservative MP and former Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox. From there he was chosen as the Conservative candidate for Wells in 2013 and two years later became my MP.
I somewhat wish I had thought of this idea ten months ago so I could have covered all of James Heappey’s parliamentary career so far. The best I can do in the circumstances is a general summary of what James Heappey has done in Parliament since the election last May. So here is the first installment of James Heappey MP weekly.
Week(s) 8 May 2015 – 27 March 2016
Speeches and written questions
James Heappey has spoken in the House of Commons on 34 occasions. His maiden speech, that is to say his first speech, came on Monday 1 June 2015 on a debate about Britain’s role in the world. He spoke about Britain’s place in major multi-national organisations like the UN, NATO and the EU. He also spoke about his service in the army before moving onto his own constituency and paying tribute to he predecessor Tessa Munt. James Heappey ended his maiden speech on the issue of spreading high speed broadband to rural areas.
The MP for Wells also spoke during the Autumn Statement in November last year. He asked the Chancellor to assure the House that the government remained committed 100% of homes to super-fast broadband.
On one of the most significant debates of this parliament so far, the debate on carrying out air strikes against ISIL in Syria, James Heappey spoke in support of the proposed action. He started his speech by talking about his previous experience of going off to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr Heappey said that though military action was just one part of the way to defeat Daesh it was the necessary first step.
James Heappey got his chance to directly question the Prime Minister in a session of PMQs in January this year. He raised the issue of the the closure of all the bank branches in Glastonbury and asked the Prime Minister to encourage those banks to think again.
The most recent occasion in which James Heappey spoke in the Commons was on 8 March on the issue of Hinkley Point C Reactor. He spoke twice in the debate, on the second time asking the Minister of State at Department of Energy and Climate Change to encourage EDF to come to a final decision on their investment in Hinkley C.
In terms of written questions James Heappey has submitted six questions, four of which have been to the department of Business Innovation and Skills. His most recent question was asked on 18 March to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs about what the Secretary of State’s policy is to defining caves as ‘mapped open countryside’. The question is so far unanswered.
James Heappey’s voting record is 100% loyal to the government with no rebellions. He has voted 195 times out of a possible 232 votes in this Parliament, an attendance rate of 84.1%.
Only twice when voting has James Heappey been in the minority opinion, all other votes he’s taken part in have gone the way he voted. The two minority votes he made were about allowing local authorities to change Sunday trading hours, which he voted for, and on whether the government should be try to influence voters in the run up to the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, which he voted against.
Some other votes on James Heappey’s record include: voting for air strikes against ISIL in Syria; voting for reducing the amount paid to those who are ill or disabled, but who are not deemed to be severely limited in what they can do, by £29.05 per week; voting against allowing a terminally ill person to be lawfully given assistance to end their life; and voting for replacing higher education student grants with loans.
Energy and Climate Change Committee
James Heappey was appointed to the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee on 8 June 2015. As of time of writing the Committee has announced nine inquires. James Heappey has obviously asked a huge number of questions across these inquires and it would be unreasonable to list every question he has asked.
The most recent Energy and Climate Change Committee hearing was a one off session on the future of the nuclear industry in the United Kingdom. Among those summoned to appear before the committee was the Chief Executive of EDF, the energy company aiming to build the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point.
James Heappey asked many questions during this committee session and particularly pressed Vincent de Rivaz, CEO of EDF, on when the company will make a final investment decision on the planned new nuclear power point at Hinkley. He pushed for an specific answer to this question for several minutes and was told that a decision would come by early May this year. The MP for Wells was dissatisfied with the answer he received from the French CEO and put it to him that the power to make decisions around investment in Hinkley C was not in his hands.
The currently available data on James Heappey’s expenses only goes up to 18 November 2015. As of that date James Heappey has claimed £31,619.17 in expenses.
£11,850.00 worth of these claims has been on accommodation costs, this mainly means renting accommodation in London during the week when he cannot go back to his constituency home. He regularly pays £1,950.00 for his accommodation.
Another £2,481.37 of James Heappey’s expenses have been for travel. This includes costs of petrol when driving between his constituency and London as well as driving within his constituency. Travel expenses also cover the costs of food and drink during travel and the costs of public transport.
He has also claimed £2,685.00 on staffing costs, £5,886.82 on start up costs (the costs of setting up offices), and £8,715.98 on other general office costs. So far James Heappey has made 238 expenses claims. All of his claims have been paid and none have had to be repaid to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.
The IPSA publish expenses data in large bulks every couple of months so it will not be possible to do weekly updates on James Heappey’s expenses claims. Instead I will do a summary of the data when it is released.