Bernard Jenkin weekly: No.13

by Ben D-T

Week 30 January – 5 February

In a week when MPs voted overwhelmingly to give the government power to activate Article 50, thousands joined protests around the world against President Trump’s travel ban, and a judge in Seattle suspended the travel ban nationwide across America, what did Bernard Jenkin do?

Speeches and written questions

Mr Jenkin spoke many times in Parliament this week, mainly when he made a statement to the House of Commons in his role as chair of the Public Administration and Consitutional Affairs Committee.

First however he contributed to a debate on Brexit on Thursday 2 February. He asked the Brexit Secretary David Davis whether after activating Article 50 the government will “take that opportunity to frame the negotiation by making it clear that we expect to agree the framework of our future relationship, as specified in article 50?” Mr David replied by saying that Mr Jenkin was quite right and the issue he raised would be thew first the government would need to resolve at the beginning of the negotiations.

Later that day Mr Jenkin made his statement to the House as chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, the statement focused on the committees recently published report into the National Health Service. Mr Jenkin started his statement by laying out how the NHS has consistently made the same mistakes repeatedly over the last several years despite multiple reports into the problems within the organisation.

“In its report “Learning from Mistakes”, which was published last year, the Public Health Service Ombudsman highlighted the fear of blame that is pervasive throughout the NHS. That fear drives defensive responses and inhibits open investigations, which in turn prevents NHS organisations from understanding what went wrong and why. That also undermines public trust and confidence, because the public can see that NHS organisations are failing to learn from mistakes—if they did, that would drive improvement.”

The MP for Harwich and North Essex said the committee’s report “Will the NHS never learn?” concluded that “if the Department of Health is to achieve its policy of turning the NHS into a learning organisation, it must integrate its various initiatives to tackle the issue and come up with a long-term and co-ordinated strategy. That strategy must include a clear plan for building up local investigative capability, as the vast majority of investigations take place locally. We will hold the Secretary of State for Health accountable for delivering the plan.

Mr Jenkin also commented on the establishment of the Health Services Investigations Branch, “The Government accepted our recommendation, and HSIB is due to be launched in April. It will conduct investigations into the most serious clinical incidents, and is intended to offer a safe space to allow those involved in such incidents to speak openly and frankly about what happened.”

He brought his statement to a close by expressing his hope that the government will implement the committees recommendations, “There is an acute need for the Government to follow through on their commitment to promote a culture in which staff feel able to speak out and in which the emphasis is placed on learning, not blame. I very much hope that they will implement PACAC’s recommendations as a step towards achieving that as soon as possible.”

Mr Jenkin then took several questions from other members on the committee’s report, one of which came from Labour MP Justin Madders. He first said Labour welcomed the report and thanked those who contributed to it before asking about delaying the launch of HSIB, “To give HSIB the strongest start, it was the clear view of the Committee, HSIB, the Expert Advisory Group, HSIB’s chief investigator and even the Minister himself that legislation is needed, but, as of today, no legislation has been forthcoming. Given that, does the Chair of the Committee agree that it might be better to delay implementation to allow time for legislation?”

Mr Jenkin replied, “The answer is, as the hon. Gentleman suggests, for the Government to bring forward the legislation as quickly as possible. I know that efforts are being made in that direction, but perhaps the Minister will have something to tell us.”

Voting record

Mr Jenkin voted three times this week all on 1 February regarding the bill to give the government the power to activate Article 50.

He voted: against a proposed SNP amendment to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill that would decline giving the Bill a second reading; for a motion to give the Bill a second reading; and for setting out a three day programme for moving the Bill onto a third reading.

Mr Jenkin was loyal to the government and voted with the majority on all three votes.

Select Committees

None of the committees Mr Jenkin sits on carried out any oral evidence sessions this week.

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