Ben Dean-Titterrell

Politics and beer. Travel content coming soon…

Month: July, 2016

James Heappey weekly: No.18

jamesheappey

Week 18 July – 24 July

In a week when MPs overwhelmingly backed the renewal of the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system, Angela Eagle withdrew from the Labour leadership election leaving Owen Smith as the only challenger to Jeremy Corbyn, and Theresa May had her first PMQs session since becoming Prime Minister, what did James Heappey do?

Speeches and written questions

James Heappey did not speak in any parliamentary debates this week and has not spoken in the House of Commons since 6 July.

Voting record

James Heappey voted six time this week on various issues from Trident to housing benefit.

On 18 July Mr Heappey voted: for a motion to renew the four Trident nuclear missile submarines that make up Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent.

On 19 July he voted: for moving the Higher Education and Research Bill onto a second reading.

On 20 July James Heappey voted on four times. He voted: against an opposition motion that would call on the Government to exempt supported housing from its planned housing benefit cuts; against an opposition motion calling on the government to withdraw the Charter for Budget Responsibility and replace it with a new plan to stabalise the British economy; for approving the draft Nuclear Industries Security (Amendment) Regulations 2016; and for approving the draft Climate Change Act 2008 (Credit Limit) Order 2016.

The Wells MP voted with the majority and was loyal to the government on all six votes.

Energy and climate change committee

It still remains unclear what will happen to the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee following the abolition of the Department for Energy and Climate Change. The Committee hasn’t held any hearings since the decision was taken to break up and reorganise the department in Whitehall but still seems to exist in some form.

 

Parliament went into recess on 21 July and will not return until 5 September. Therefore James Heappey weekly will also go on holiday and will return on 11 September.

Advertisements

James Heappey weekly: No.17

jamesheappey

Week 11 July – 17 July

In a week when Theresa May became Prime Minister, Labour’s National Executive Committee ruled that Jeremy Corbyn would automatically be on the ballot for the party’s leadership election, and there was an ultimately unsuccessful attempted coup in Turkey, what did James Heappey do?

Speeches and written questions

James Heappey has not spoken in Parliament since 6 July when he spoke about the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war.

His written question submitted last week was answered by the then Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Sajid Javid on 14 July. Mr Javid replied to Mr Heappey’s question on the impacts of introducing a £17.50 per hour minimum wage by saying that introducing such a wage in 2020 for people aged over 25 would be a 143% increase on the current National Living Wage. He added, “We also estimate that there would be somewhere close to 1.75 million job losses and somewhere between 65,000 and 119,000 business deaths. There would also most likely be a substantial reduction in hours worked, increased labour costs and increased prices, and obvious disincentives to starting new businesses.”

Voting record

Mr Heappey voted four times this week on four separate issues.

On 12 July he voted once on the impact of the EU referendum on energy environment policy. He voted: against an opposition motion that would make the House recognise  the uncertainty created by the result of the EU referendum for the protections currently in place for the UK’s energy security, climate change commitments and the natural environment and would urge the government to identify and fill any legislative gaps in environmental protection that may arise from the removal of EU law.

Also on the same day Mr Heappey voted on the issue of SATs tests for schoolchildren. He voted: against an opposition motion that would note the fact the Government has published figures showing that a lower proportion of children were meeting the expected standard at the end of Key Stage 2 overall in 2016 than in 2015 and call on the government to urgently review primary assessment and the 2016 SATs results

Finally on 12 July Mr Heappey voted on civil proceeding and tribunal fees. He voted: for a motion to approve the draft Civil Proceedings, First-tier Tribunal, Upper Tribunal and Employment Tribunals Fees (Amendment) Order 2016.

On 13 July the MP for Wells voted once on a motion regarding an appointment to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. He voted: for a motion to present an address to the Queen asking her to appoint Jenny Willott to the office of ordinary member of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority with effect from 7 August 2016 for the period ending 31 December 2020.

Mr Heappey voted with the majority and was loyal to the government on all four votes.

Energy and climate change committee

The committee held an evidence session for their inquiry into 2020 renewable heat and transport targets on 13 July. Mr Heappey asked several questions during the evidence session.

He asked Andrew Jones MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, what was the average cost of installing an electric vehicle charging point. Mr Jones replied by saying, “This varies by how much work is required to provide the power supply as much as anything else. The actual charging point units themselves are coming down in price as technology develops.”

Mr Heappey then asked whether government on the issue was sufficient, “So the money allocated by the Government’s programme should be sufficient, in your expectation, to achieve your aim of one every 20 miles on the major road network?” Mr Jones assured the Wells MP that it was, “Yes. We already have over 11,000 public charge points now in the UK, and there are 60,000 domestic charge points. Most people, of course, charge their vehicles overnight—just a trickle charge when it’s cheap.”

Since be becoming Prime Minister Theresa May has decided to abolish the Department for Energy and Climate Change and replace it with the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The details remain unclear and it is currently unknown what will happen to James Heappey and the other members of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee.

Expenses

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority have just published MPs expenses data for February and March 2016. Mr Heappey made 32 claims in this period totaling £3,234.18. This brings his total expenses claims as an MP to £54,518.71.

James Heappey’s largest claim over this two month period came on 25 February and was for £1,693.56 to pay the rent on his London accommodation. He also claimed £911.64 on 18 March to pay for his constituency office rent.

Most of his claims were small and medium sized amounts for travel within his constituency and between his constituency and London. He made 23 travel own vehicle travel claims in the February and March which ranged fro £0.22 to £61.65.

All of Mr Heappey’s claims have been paid in full and none have had to be repaid to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

How to defeat Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbin

Jeremy Corbyn by Garry Knight / CC BY 2.0

Jeremy Corbyn is going to be on the Labour leadership election ballot. The National Executive Committee voted 18-14 to allow him automatically onto the ballot without the need for nominations from the Parliamentary Labour Party and the European Parliamentary Labour Party. This puts Corbyn in a strong position to win the leadership race and reaffirm his mandate as Labour leader.

I realise Corbyn is likely to win. I’ve said endlessly that Corbyn getting straight onto the ballot means he’ll win and the Labour party will die as a serious political force. But I think it might just be possible to beat him.

Both Angela Eagle and Owen Smith have announced their bids for the leadership, presumably Eagle and Smith will agree that whichever one seems to be doing worse will drop out of the race and throw their full suport behind the other. Regardless of who ends up being the challenger to Corbyn, the strategy required to win remains the same in my mind.

The key step on the path to beating Corbyn is don’t make it Angela Eagle/Owen Smith vs Jeremy Corbyn. Do not, under any circumstances, make it a battle of personalities. If you make it Jeremy vs Challenger then you will lose, he will win and Labour will be doomed. The Cult of Jez will prevail if you try to defeat it.

Instead, make the contest Eagle/Smith’s full alternative front bench team vs Jeremy’s floundering shadow cabinet. With 172 MPs explicitly saying they don’t have confidence in Jeremy’s leadership you have an invaluable weapon. Use it.

Here’s a step by step guide:

  1. Appoint an alternative shadow front bench team from across the party using the 172 MPs who declared no confidence in Corbyn. Use people from all strands of the party and make it clear this is a unity shadow cabinet.
  2. Make sure it’s a full team, shadow junior ministers and all. Literally an entire government in waiting needs to be prepared and don’t announce it until you’ve got every post filled.
  3. Do a photo-op, a really good one. All stand on a stage and look ready to govern the country. Plaster that image everywhere, show it to people at every oppertunity and talk about your alternative shadow front bench all the time.
  4. Contrast it with how Jeremy has a threadbare front bench team with people doing two shadow cabinet jobs. Corbyn cannot hold the government to account with his current shadow cabinet.
  5. Make the point that Labour is a parliamentary party and not a revolutionary party of protest. Make that point endlessly. Corbyn has made the membership believe Parliament doesn’t matter, remind them that it matters above all else.
  6. Most importantly, make it clear how you’re an alternative team not just an alternative leader. Jeremy Corbyn can’t be the leader alone, needs a large team behind him in Parliament and he just doesn’t have that.

This is, in my view the only way to defeat Corbyn and save Labour. There are a lot of minds that need changing in this leadership election. A lot of Corbyn loyalists that need winning over. With all due respect to Angela Eagle and Owen Smith, you’ll never develop the cult following that Jeremy Corbyn has. The membership won’t love you in the way they love him.

So be pragmatic. Come across as the sensible, capable majority of the parliamentary party that can construct a genuine government in waiting. That’s what the Opposition in the House of Commons should be. It will never be that under Jeremy Corbyn, and if you can get that message out there clearly and firmly to the membership then you might, might, win.

James Heappey weekly: No.16

jamesheappey

Week 4 July – 10 July

In a week when the UK was guaranteed its second female Prime Minister as Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom made it onto the ballot to be presented to Conservative Party members to elect their new leader, the United States seemed more divided than ever on the issues of race, guns and police violence as five police offers were shot dead in Dallas, Texas following two high profile police killings of unarmed black men, and Portugal and France made it into the Euro 2016 final, what did James Heappey do?

Speeches and written questions

Mr Heappey spoke three times in Parliament this week, twice in a Westminster Hall debate on electric cars and once in the Commons on the inquiry into the Iraq war.

All of Mr Heappey’s contributions this week came on Wednesday 6 July. During the debate on Electric Cars and Hybrid Electric Cars, Mr Heappey first rose to make an intervention while fellow Conservative MP Neil Parish was speaking. He pointed to a previous debate that he had participated in on the matter, “Our hon. Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire (Glyn Davies) secured a similar debate in this Chamber a few weeks ago, in which I made the point that when the petrol combustion engine was rolling out at the beginning of the last century, the cars came before the petrol stations.” He added his thoughts on how the government should go about trying to increase the uptake in electric and hybrid cars, “Rather than focusing on the provision of charging points, the Government should focus on incentivising the take-up of electric cars. The charging points will surely follow.”

Mr Heappey later rose to give a full speech on the debate. In his speech he outlined the three areas he wished to talk about, “I want to talk briefly about three areas of Government policy: fuel duty, low-carbon generation capacity and the preparedness of our energy system.” On the first issue Mr Heappey outlined how “road duty is worth about £27.2 billion a year, which is about 4% of the Exchequer’s money.” He pointed to his estimate that each vehicle pays about £460 of fuel duty and said that “The big challenge for the Department for Transport is to work out how that £460 of fuel duty per vehicle can be transferred to some other tax, be that car tax—although then we could be talking about paying £500 or £600 of car tax per vehicle—or a road pricing scheme.”

Moving onto the second area of his speech, low carbon generation capacity, he said “Bloomberg envisages that, on current expectations, by 2040 electric cars will require about 1,900 terawatt-hours of electricity around the world. That represents about 10% of what we are currently generating globally.” He added that there needed to be a focus on “creating the renewable generation capacity to meet that increase in demand.”

On his final point about the preparedness of our energy system, the Wells MP said “This is not just about the number of charging points; it is about the ability of the energy network behind those charging points to carry the energy to the required areas so that cars can be charged.” He also drew attention to recent appearances by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in front of the ECC select committee. “The Secretary of State has been to see the Energy and Climate Change Committee, on which I sit, on many occasions, and she has told us of a mythical cross-departmental Cabinet-level working group that is working on all these things. We have pushed her quite hard on who sits on it, how often it meets and where we can see the minutes of those meetings, but they do not seem to be forthcoming.” Mr Heappey asked if the Minister could “reassure us that the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Department for Transport and the Treasury are working on these issues in parallel?”

Also on 6 July James Heappey spoke in the Commons following the Prime Minister’s statement about the Chilcot report of the inquiry into the Iraq war. Mr Heappey said that it had “been sobering this afternoon to hear the reflections of those who took the decision here in 2003.” He reflected on his own experience of being sent to Iraq, “I went to Iraq in 2007 to deliver on that decision; it was a difficult and dangerous time. During that summer and the rest of the campaign, many of my friends and colleagues were sent home dead or injured.” He asked whether the Prime Minister could “reassure the House that the urgent operating requirement process is now quick enough so that we will never again send troops into battle in vehicles that are not fit for purpose?”

The Prime Minister responded to Mr Heappey’s question by first thanking Mr Heappey for his service in the Armed Forces in Iraq and then went on to say “one of the positive things that has come out of this and Afghanistan is that the urgent operational requirement system means we have commissioned some fantastic kit for our soldiers, sailors and airmen more quickly, and responded to their needs.” The Prime Minister added, “There are some positive lessons to learn from all of this, as well as, obviously, the negative ones.”

James Heappey also asked his first written question of the Parliamentary session this week. His question, submitted on Tuesday 5 July was directed towards the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The MP for Wells’s question asked the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid whether his department will undertake an assessment of the potential effect on business of introducing a minimum wage of £17.50 per hour. The question is yet to be answered.

Voting record

Mr Heappey voted a total of six times this week, once on energy spending priorities and five time on the Wales Bill.

On 4 July Mr Heappey voted once on energy spending priorities. He voted: for a motion on the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s expenditure that would reduce resources authorised for current purposes by £2,605,722,000.

On 5 July James Heappey voted five times on the Wales Bill. He voted: against a proposed Plaid Cymru amendment to the Bill that would replaces the Bill’s proposed recognition of Welsh law with provisions to separate the legal jurisdictions of England and of Wales, as drafted by the Welsh Government; against a proposed Labour amendment to the Bill that would require the Secretary of State to keep the justice system as it applies in relation to Wales under review with a view to its development and reform, having regard in particular to divergence in the law as between England and Wales; for a clause that would ensure the requirement of a justice impact statement when a Bill is introduced to the Welsh Assembly; against a proposed Labour clause to the Bill that would amend the Wales Act 2014 to replace a provision that requires that the majority of the voters in a referendum in Wales vote in favour of any income tax provisions coming into force with a provision for a fiscal framework to be prepared by the Secretary of State, which must be approved by the Assembly and each House of Parliament before the income tax provisions may be commenced; and for adding the clause in the Wales Act 2014 that requires a referendum to change income tax rates to the Wales Bill.

Mr Heappey voted with the majority and was loyal to the government on all six votes.

Energy and Climate Change Committee

The Committee held two oral evidence sessions this week on 5 July and 6 July.

On 5 July the committee held a one off hearing looking into the Competition and Market Authority’s proposals to reform the energy market. Mr Heappey asked several questions during the hearing. Among the questions he asked the panel was “Why is it necessary to have a transitional price cap for prepayment customers and what did you hope it would accomplish?” Roger Witcomb, Chair of the Energy Market Investigation at the Competition and Market Authority (CMA), replied by saying “I think the first thing to say is that the prepayment market is very different from the credit meter market.” He added that “In the prepayment market there is not nearly so much competition. The deals available to prepayment customers are not nearly so good.”

Another member of the panel, Simeon Thornton, Project Director at the CMA, also helped answer Mr Heappey’s question by saying “we were very convinced that the situation for the prepayment customer was very different to that of other customers.” Mr Thornton gave some statistics on the scale of the issue, “They are overpaying to the extent of about 12% of their bill…It is a last resort, but that is why we thought a price cut was necessary.”

On 6 July the Energy and Climate Change Committee, along with the  European Scrutiny, Business, Innovation and Skills, Welsh Affairs and Work and Pensions Committees all asked questions to Anna Soubry, Minister of State for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. They asked questions on the matter of the steel crisis and the implications of the Brexit vote on the UK steel sector. Mr Heappey was not present at the hearing.

James Heappey weekly: No.15

jamesheappey

Week 27 June – 3 July

In a week when Boris Johnson stunningly ruled himself of the race to lead the Conservative party following Michael Gove’s last minute decision to withdraw his support and run for the leadership himself, the Labour party fell into turmoil as Jeremy Corbyn lost a no-confidence vote by Labour MPs 172-40 following mass resignations from his shadow front bench team and then nearly a leadership challenge from Angela Eagle, and Wales beat Belgium 3-1 to make it into the semi-finals of Euro 2016, what did James Heappey do?

Speeches and written questions

James Heappey spoke at length in the House of Commons this week firstly asking a question during Defence questions and then leading a debate on bank branch closures later in the week.

Mr Heappey asked a question during Defence questions on Monday 27 June about expanding the number of school aged cadets. He expressed his gratitude for earlier comments made by Julian Brazier, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Defence with responsibility for the Reserve Forces, about the cadet expansion programme before asking if he would “tell us at what point, if at all, expressions of interest from schools in non-priority areas will be accepted if insufficient applications are made from priority areas?”

Mr Brazier replied to the Wells MP’s question by stating that he was reflecting on the problems of success. He added, “We have many applications from priority areas” but said “I cannot make any firm promises, I am afraid, for those who do not meet the priority criteria.” He finished on a positive note by affirming “We are firmly on track to deliver the schools we need.”

Later in the week on Thursday 30 June James Heappey led a debate on the issue of bank branch closures, something that has been a issue of great concern in Glastonbury in his own constituency. Mr Heappey spoke at great length throughout the debate. He opened his contribution to the debate by thanking the Backbench Business Committee for allowing the debate to go ahead and outlined the scale of the problem of bank branch closures by pointing to the 222 branches that closed in 2013, the 681 in 2015 and the 333 that have closed so far this year.

Mr Heappey pointed out the scale of the problem in his own constituency, “There have been closures in, for instance, Wells, Shepton Mallet, Burnham-on-Sea and, most recently, Glastonbury.” He added that due the recent Glastonbury festival, held just a few miles from Glastonbury itself, it seemed ridiculous that the area didn’t have a single bank branch, “Today’s debate is timely, because the following week there were 200,000 people in fields not far outside Glastonbury. The idea that the town does not have a single bank must seem quite remarkable to all Members.”

The MP for Wells affirmed how the issue should not be taken lightly, “Glastonbury contains only about 10,000 people, but it serves a much wider hinterland. How extraordinary it is that 750 businesses should reply to a survey entitled “Glastonbury Bank Closures”! That tells us just what an important issue this is.”

He took an intervention from Labour MP David Lammy who asked whether “the bank bother to consult him before making its decision, or was he presented with a fait accompli?” Mr Heappey responded that the banks did notify of their decision and did agree to meet him to discuss the issue. However he added that “It was more about assuaging my fears and trying to persuade me that various steps were being taken in mitigation.”

James Heappey also took and intervention from Labour MP Albert Owen who said the Wells MP was giving an eloquent description of his constituency’s situation. Mr Owen complained about lack of government action, “There is also a survey by Government to retain and regenerate town centres, which has been ignored, because the hon. Gentleman highlighted four empty buildings in his relatively small town.”

Mr Heappey then took an intervention from Gareth Thomas, a Labour Co-operative MP, who drew attention to the United States, “when banks take significant deposits from particular communities, they are required by regulators to demonstrate that they are offering significant financial services to those communities in return.” He asked Mr Heappey whether he thought “such a requirement might have meant that his Glastonbury constituents might have had some confidence that the banks were at least going to help a credit union or community bank to get up and running, to offer an alternative service if those banks were still determined to leave?”

Mr Heappey replied to Mr Thomas by saying he had read “Congress’s Community Reinvestment Act”. He said that many some of the things carried out in the United States, such as making a requirement for banks to “offer equal access to banking in less affluent areas” could be something for the government to consider.

Mr Heappey later moved onto the impact of bank branch closures on small business. He stated that “The reality is that the bank branch network is most valuable to small businesses” adding, “It is the small business community that has no other choice. Small businesses rely on cash, and sometimes they have no other staff.”

James Heappey continued to detail the reasons why convenient and accessible bank branches were so important before bringing his speech to a close. He finished by saying “This is a simple matter of fairness. People value their access to a bank. There are many reasons why the access to banking protocols need to be strengthened, and I am sure that the Treasury will take note of this debate today.”

Voting record

James Heappey voted eight times this week on matters relating to the Finance Bill.

On 27 June he voted three times on aspects of the Finance Bill. He voted: against a proposed opposition amendment to the Bill that would have made an exception for low emissions vehicles in changes to how diesel cars are taxed; against a proposed SNP amendment to the Bill that would require the Chancellor of the Exchequer to conduct a review of the impact on workers defined as providing services through intermediaries of their treatment for income tax purposes; and against a proposed Labour amendment to the Bill that would require the Chancellor of the Exchequer to conduct a review of the impact of the Climate Change Levy in reducing carbon emissions.

On 28 June the MP for Wells voted a further four times on matters relating to the Finance Bill. He voted: against a proposed Labour amendment to the Bill that would require a relevant group to include a country-by-country report in the publication of its tax strategy; against a proposed Labour clause to the Bill that would require the Chancellor to publish an estimate of the impact on levels of tax avoidance and tax evasion of extending the current requirement on UK-based companies to publish information about people who have significant control over them to companies incorporated in the Crown Dependencies and the Overseas Territories which have significant levels of trading activity within the UK; for a proposed clause to the Bill that would lower the rate of corporation tax for the 2020 financial year from 18% to 17%; for a proposed clause that would reduce the rate of capital gains tax; and against a proposed Labour clause to the Bill that would require the Chancellor to commission a review of ways in which the law could be amended to ensure that no element of the remuneration paid to an investment fund manager may be treated as a capital gain, and that such remuneration shall be treated for tax purposes wholly as income.

Mr Heappey voted with the majority and was loyal to the government on all eight voted this week.

Energy and climate change committee

The committee carried out two oral evidence sessions this week on the issues of progress towards the 2020 targets for renewable transport fuels and the impact of Government policy on confidence in the energy sector.

On 28 July the committee heard evidence for their inquiry into 2020 heat and transport renewable targets. Mr Heappey asked many questions during the session among which were questions about the rate of uptake in biofuels. He asked Dr Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association, “It is predicted that if sterling continues to fall quicker than the price of oil petrol pump prices will become higher and, therefore, people might seek alternatives. Would you agree with that?”

Dr Skorupska replied that “I haven’t worked out the economics around the arguments about what would drive people—sorry for the pun—to make those choices” adding “Who knows how low the currency will sink?” Mr Heappey put it to Dr Skorupska that “It must figure that higher pump prices are a problem for the cost of living, of course, but they do make people think about what the alternatives are.”

She replied by saying “It does. Also a large proportion of what they are paying at the pump is fuel duty, so there are then choices for the Government whether to help negate those impacts if there is a perception that having bioethanol introduced into the price of the fuel would cause it to be higher.” She put forward the introduction of lead-free fuel as an example, “There was a great success in the past with the introduction of lead-free fuel, for example, through changes in duties.”

On 29 July the committee held an oral evidence session for their inquiry into investor confidence in the UK energy sector. Andrea Leadsom, Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change was questioned during the session. Mr Heappey was not present at the session and hence did not ask any questions to the Minister.