Bernard Jenkin weekly: No.12
by Ben D-T
Week 23 January – 29 January
In a week when Donald Trump signed an Executive border banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, Theresa May visited the new US president at the White House, and the Supreme Court ruled that MPs must be allowed to vote on the activation of Article 50 before Brexit negotiations have begun, what did Bernard Jenkin do?
Speeches and written questions
Mr Jenkin made four contributions in Parliament this week on four separate issues, the first of these coming on Monday during a statement by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon on reports of the misfiring of a Trident missile during a test operation.
Mr Jenkin rose to ask Mr Fallon whether it wasn’t ironic that many MPs who had already spoken and expressed concern about any possible lack of credibility of the deterrent when some of them do not believe in the concept of a deterrent in the first place. He added, “It would be unwise of the Russians or any other potential adversary to suggest that they could take the risk of invading this or that country on the basis that we might have a misfire of one of our missiles.”
The Defence Secretary replied to Mr Jenkin by saying that he agreed with him and expressing his pleasure that the overwhelming majority of MPs voted to maintain the deterrent last year.
Mr Jenkin’s next contribution in the House of Commons came the following day during a session of questions to the Brexit Secretary David Davis following the Supreme Court’s Article 50 ruling. While fellow Conservative MP Anna Soubry was asking a question she said “The reality is that we have abandoned the single market and the free movement of people without any debate in this place, never mind a vote.”
In response to this Mr Jenkin said “We had a referendum.” Following the MP for Harwich and North Essex’s interjection Ms Soubry replied “Well, there was one question on the paper: leave or remain. We are leaving the European Union—that is accepted.” and continued with her question to the Brexit Secretary.
Later on the same day Mr Jenkin made a more substantial contribution during a debate on appointing the new Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and Health Service Commissioner for England. In his speech he spoke of the history and purpose of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
He also spoke about what the PHSO must do in the future, “The PHSO must improve the quality and speed of its investigations. It must implement technological change. It must adapt to the way in which people in our society expect a complaints process to work, and it must better retain and engage its staff in order to do so. It must do all that while reducing costs and overheads.”
Mr Jenkin concluded by saying he believed the candidate for the roles of Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and Health Service Commissioner for England, Rob Behrens, had the skills to be successful and that he looked forward to working with him in the future.
Mr Jenkin’s last contribution of the week came when asking a question to David Jones, Minister of State in the Department for Exiting the European Union, about farming regulations post-Brexit. He asked the Minister how the government will “approach the regulations and directives that will be created and implemented between now and the date we leave the European Union?” Mr Jones replied to Mr Jenkin by saying “The great repeal Bill will absorb the body of EU law into British law. Once we have left the European Union, we will be in a position to review all that legislation and take the decisions that are best for British agriculture.”
Bernard Jenkin voted six times this week on a variety of issues.
On 24 January Mr Jenkin voted three times on three different issues. He voted: for a motion put forward by fellow Conservative MP Chris Philip to bring forward a bill to regulate industrial action by those providing certain critical national services; against a proposed opposition amendment to an earlier Lords amendment to the Wales Bill which would have changed the maximum charge of gaming machines under regulations in Wales; and for a motion that would approve the Charter for Budget Responsibility: autumn 2016 update.
On 25 January Mr Jenkin voted another three times on another three issues. He voted: for approving the draft Bank of England and Financial Services (Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2017; against a proposed opposition motion that would have called on the Government to reduce overcrowding and improve safety while still ensuring that those people who should be in prison are in prison; and against a proposed opposition motion that would have called on the Government to ensure that all schools have the funding that they need to provide an excellent education for every child.
Mr Jenkin was loyal to the government on all six votes this week. He voted with the majority on all but the first division he voted on this week.
The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee was the only one to carry out any oral evidence sessions this week. The committee carried out one hearing on the structure and organisation of the Civil Service.
On 24 January the committee questioned Rupert Soames, Chief Executive and Serco and public services specialist. As chair of the committee Mr Jenkin led the questioning.