Ben Dean-Titterrell

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Category: Bernard Jenkin weekly

An update on my MP weekly series

Those of you who read this blog regularly, or have at least read it once, will likely be aware that I used to publish a weekly blog on the activities of my local MP. At first, it was about James Heappey, and then, for a while, it was about Bernard Jenkin. Now is the time where I should be posting about my new MP, Will Quince. However, I will not be posting blogs about Will Quince’s weekly activities in Parliament on this website. I will instead be publishing them on a different website.

Rebel is the University of Essex’s student media organisation. And from (hopefully) this Sunday I’ll be posting two weekly blogs about the activities of two local MPs, Will Quince and Bernard Jenkin. The first will be for students, like myself, living off campus and in Colchester, the second for those on campus and, I believe, in Wivenhoe. As a new Deputy News Editor (online) for Rebel, I’ll be publishing these straight to the website every Sunday (hopefully).

This is fairly big news for me. A little project I started two years ago that was read by almost no one on my own website will now be read by (hopefully) a few more people on someone else’s website. Three cheers for perseverance.

Bernard Jenkin weekly: An update

Anyone who pays any kind of attention to this blog (that’s pretty much no one but let’s pretend like there is someone out there) will notice that Bernard Jenkin weekly has not been updated in over a month.

I have found updating this blog particularly difficult during this term of uni. I fell a couple of weeks behind, neglected to rectify the situation, and before I knew it I have half a dozen missing installments.

I’ve decided to put Bernard Jenkin weekly on hold for the time being. It’s time consuming, kind of monotonous, and, to be honest, not very enjoyable. So for the foreseeable future I’ll be doing something else with this blog.

I’ve got another project planned, one that will certainly be more enjoyable (not to give too much away but involves drinking a lot of beer). I expect to start that new project in the next few weeks so keep your eyes peeled. You never know, someone might actually start reading what I write one day.

Bernard Jenkin weekly: No.13

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.

Bernard Jenkin weekly: No.12

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.”

Voting record

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.

Select committees

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.

Bernard Jenkin weekly: No.11

Week 16 January – 22 January

In a week when Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States, Theresa May outlined her negotiating objectives and a twelve point plan for Brexit in a speech at Lancaster House, and Jeremy Corbyn said he will order Labour MPs to vote in favour of triggering Article 50, what did Bernard Jenkin do?

Speeches and written questions

Mr Jenkin spoke twice in Parliament this week, both times on Thursday 19 January.

His first contribution was to raise the issue of the Supreme Court judgement due on 24 January on whether Parliament must vote on the triggering of Article 50. He suggested to the Leader of the House, David Lidington, that the government should make a statement to the House immediately following the judgement.

The Leader of the House replied that though he could make promises at that point about the timing of any statement, and that the implications of whatever the Supreme Court rules are of yet unknown, he agreed in principle with what Mr Jenkin suggested.

Later on the same day Mr Jenkin made his second contribution to the House of Commons.

He asked a question to the Prime Minister following her statement to the House on the previous weeks European Council meeting. He asked whether the UK would offer free trade in any deal it put forward to the EU in Brexit negotiations. The MP for Harwich and North Essex also asked in the same contribution if the Prime Minister would ask why anyone in the EU was suggesting a reversion back to protectionism.

The PM replied by saying Mr Jenkin was raising a very important issue but avoided the idea of offering free trade to EU negotiators, saying instead, “what we want to focus on is the outcome: the best possible deal in terms of trading with and operating within the European Union.”

Voting record

Mr Jenkin voted once this week on a deferred division.

On 19 January he voted: for approving the draft Combined Authorities (Mayoral Elections) Order 2017, which had first been laid before the house last November.

Select committees

Two of the committees Mr Jenkin sits on carried out oral evidence sessions this week, both on Friday 20 December.

Firstly the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee carried out a session in which they questioned Sir David Norgrove to scrutinise his suitability for Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, for which he is the preferred candidate. As Chair of the committee, Mr Jenkin led the proceedings.

Later on the same day Mr Jenkin was part of a Liaison Committee hearing which put questions to the Prime Minister on two issues. Firstly on the main issue of Brexit, and secondly on health and social car spending.

Bernard Jenkin weekly: No.10

Week 12 December – 18 December

In a week when Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria launched a devastating assault on Aleppo,  Theresa May was not invited to a dinner of EU leaders during a summit on Thursday, and Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox put in an £11.7 billion bid to take full control of Sky, what did Bernard Jenkin do?

Speeches and written questions

Bernard Jenkin did not make any contributions in any parliamentary debates this week.

Voting record

Mr Jenkin voted four times this week.

On 12 December he voted: against a proposed amendment that would place a duty on HMRC to review annually the impact of Lifetime ISAs on automatic enrolment in workplace pensions; against a proposed amendment that would remove the provision for Lifetime ISAs from the Bill; against a proposed amendment that would allow a credit union to provide a Help-to-Save account; and for approving the draft Coasting Schools (England) Regulations 2016.

Select committees

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee was the only committee Mr Jenkin sits on that carried out any oral evidence hearings this week. The committee questioned representatives from the Electoral Commission about the role and purpose of referendums.

Bernard Jenkin weekly: No.9

Week 5 December – 11 December

In a week when MPs voted overwhelmingly to back a motion that backed the Prime Minister’s plan to activate Article 50 by the end of March next year, the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson got himself in trouble for saying Saudi Arabia is involved in proxy wars, and the Supreme Court heard the government’s appeal to an earlier High Court ruling that said Parliament would have to vote on the activation of Article 50, what did Bernard Jenkin do?

Speeches and written questions

Mr Jenkin spoke several times this week during one debate on Wednesday about the motion to back the governments plan for Brexit. His first contribution to the debate was an intervention while Ken Clarke, MP for Rushcliffe, was speaking. He said that he welcomed what he saw as Mr Clarke agreeing with the idea that Parliament should be supreme. Mr Jenkin added, “Is it not rather odd that we now have a Supreme Court that sees itself as a constitutional court able to direct that this House shall have to do something, which has always previously been our right?”

When Mr Jenkin next spoke he began his speech by saying he found the speech by Labour MP Andy Burnham, which had just preceded him, refreshing. He spoke of the need to, as he put it, “take on board the points made about healing divisions and adopting the right tone.”

He spoke of the need to, as he put it, “take on board the points made about healing divisions and adopting the right tone.” Mr Jenkin stressed that the UK has been a member of the EU for less than 50 years and said that while we debate the issue hotly now, “all the controversy will pass, and we will look back with much more equanimity than we feel today.”

The MP for Harwich and North Essex then took an intervention from John Redwood, a fellow Conservative MP and Brexit supporter, who said that it people should unite and not look for “possible or imaginary problems” regarding Brexit if the UK is to have the best negotiating position. Mr Jenkin said he agreed with Mr Redwood.

Mr Jenkin outlined that he saw two aspects to the motion the House was debating, that the government will produce a plan for Brexit and that most members of the House would vote for the activation of Article 50 by the end of March 2017. He said that this raises the question of why there is a the need for a Supreme Court case on the issue, “it prompts the question of why there is a court case, and why the courts have chosen to become involved, particularly once the motion is carried. We do not need a court to tell the House that it is sovereign.”

“The House could stop Brexit whenever it wanted, as it could stop anything else that a Government do if it chose to do so. It is unfortunate that a different kind of judiciary is developing, as I do not think that Parliament ever voted for that.”

After taking an intervention from SNP MP Angus MacNeil in which he warned that rushing into Article 50 may leave the UK without a trade deal with the EU after the negotiations were concluded, Mr Jenkin asserted that “a great deal of industry is quietly preparing for the possibility that there will not be an agreement.”

Later in his speech Mr Jenkin said that the government should look to put as little as possible into and not overload the agreement with the EU after Article 50 is activated. He made several suggestions about a couple of negotiating positions the government should take.

“Our opening pitch should be very simple. We should make an offer—a zero/zero offer: we will give EU countries zero tariffs on their exports to our country, if they will give us zero tariffs on their imports from us.”

“We should also offer an opportunity for mutual recognition of services agreements so that we can continue trading in services, as we do now. That, again, would be in everybody’s interest.”

Mr Jenkin finished his speech by speaking about the need for a simple repeal Bill to remove the European Communities Act from UK statute, “We need a repeal Bill of only a few clauses, setting out the principles by which we leave. It is worth reminding ourselves that the Czech Republic and Slovakia were one country and within six months of deciding to split, they split, and they are better friends now than they ever were before. That is the kind of relationship that I look forward to having with our European partners.”

Voting record

Mr Jenkin voted twice this week, both times on the motion calling on the government to activate Article 50.

On Wednesday he voted: for the Labour motion calling on the government to publish its plan for Brexit before Article 50 is activated; and for the government amendment to the motion which called on the government to activate Article 50 by the end of March 2017.

Mr Jenkin voted with the majority and was loyal to the government on both votes this week.

Select committees

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee carried out one oral evidence session this week. The session was for the committee’s inquiry into the government accounts.

Four MPs were questioned during the hearing: Craig McKinlay MP, Parliamentary Representative on the Financial Reporting Advisory Board, Dr John Pugh MP, co-author of Options to improve Parliamentary Scrutiny of Government Expenditure: a report to the Chancellor, and Rt Hon David Gauke MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Julian Kelly, Director General, Public Spending and Finance at the Treasury was also questioned during the session.