Ben Dean-Titterrell

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Category: James Heappey 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.

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James Heappey weekly: No.21

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Week 19 September – 25 September

In a week when Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected leader of the Labour Party, Tim Farron gave his speech at the Lib Dem party conference, and the latest ceasefire in Syria collapsed, what did James Heappey do?

Well, he didn’t do anything. There haven’t been any debates or votes to participate in for the last week, due to the start of the party conference season.

Next weekend I move to university, so this will be the last James Heappey weekly. Though I have often disagreed with Mr Heappey, I have always found him to be a hardworking local MP who cares deeply about his constituents and his party. I wish him well.

My new MP will be another Conservative, Bernard Jenkin, representing the Harwich and North Essex constituency. From 16 October I will start ‘Bernard Jenkin weekly’.

James Heappey weekly: No.20

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Week 12 September – 18 September

In a week when Diane James was elected the leader of the UK Independence Party, David Cameron announced he was standing down as an MP, and the last hustings of the Labour leadership election was broadcast on Sky News, what did James Heappey do?

Speeches and written questions

James Heappey has not spoken in any Parliamentary debates since 8 September when he contributed at length to a debate on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Voting record James Heappey did not vote in any Commons divisions this week.

Energy and climate change select committee

The Energy and Climate Change Select Committee are yet to hold any oral evidence sessions since Parliament came back from its summer recess.

Details of this are hard to find but James Heappey’s lack of activity in Parliament this week may be explained by a visit to a US based electricity company.

 

James Heappey weekly: No.19

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Week 5 September – 11 September

In a week when Parliament came back from its summer recess, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, attended the G20 Summit in China, and the government announced plans to lift the ban on opening new grammar schools, what did James Heappey do?

Speeches and written questions

James Heappey spoke several times in Parliament this week, firstly at Prime Minister’s Questions and later during two House of Commons debates.

During PMQs on Wednesday Mr Heappey asked the Prime Minister a question on the issue of high speed broadband. He raised the example of event he held the previous week where local residents and businesses could claim a £500 voucher from Connecting Devon and Somerset to fund an alternative broadband connection capable, asking whether the Prime Minister would “confirm that the Government remain committed to delivering a universal service obligation of at least 10 megabits per second by 2020?”

Later on the same day James Heappey spoke multiple times in a debate about the Paris Climate Change Agreement, his first contribution to the debate was an intervention during the debate’s opening speech by Barry Gardiner, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. The Wells MP took issue with what he saw as Mr Gardiner’s manufacturing of a disagreement, saying “I think that there is consensus on both sides of the House that we should ratify it [the Paris Climate Change Agreement]. All member states of the EU must ratify it in their time, so in my view, his sense of urgency is also manufactured.”

Mr Heappey’s main contribution to the debate came later on when he gave a lengthy speech on the matter of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, as well as alternative and renewable energy issues. He started his speech by affirming his belief that the agreement reached in Paris last December will be ratified by the UK government, “as far as I can tell, there is consensus in the House on tackling climate change and ratifying the Paris agreement.” He again dismissed the idea of there being a division in the Commons on the issue, “To present a picture of disunity is rather unhelpful when there is real consensus of opinion in this place that we must all tackle this real challenge together.”

He then sought to alter the frame of the debate by looking at the opportunities presented by decarbonisation, specifically focusing on the issue of supplying energy for heating. He described an occasion in which he met a man on benefits and living in fuel poverty in east London and how a district heating system had helped him heat his flat. “Once the district heating system had been installed, he had put £30 on to his new meter in his flat. He had done so in October; when I went to see him at the beginning of March, there was still £13 left on the meter. He had heated his flat for an entire winter for seventeen quid. That is just extraordinary. It is socially just to adopt such policies; it does not just help tackle climate change.”

James Heappey also pointed to a hospital in London carrying out “socially just” energy policies, laying out how the hospital “combined heat and power station to cut down its energy bills by synergising heat and electricity.” It realised it could sell the excess heat to a district heating system at low cost. He described as extraordinary how it was able to us the proceeds from the heating network have allowed it to build a new cancer centre.

The final example the MP for Wells pointed to was a chain of hotels he knew of that were installing combined heat and power stations, “It is making huge savings on its energy costs while still absolutely meeting its customers’ needs for roasting hot water at whatever time of day. It is achieving that while saving money and decarbonising.”

Mr Heappey’s speech focused on this theme of finding new and profitable ways of decarbonisation rather than subsidies. Warning about the overuse of government subsidies for renewable energy, he said “Sound climate change policy is not about the levels of subsidy. Subsidy can become a crutch if we are not careful. The Government have used subsidy as a lever to grow the renewables industries to the point at which they can go it alone.”

Bringing his speech to a close he briefly touched on the plans to build a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, “as far as I can see, new nuclear is the only low-carbon generation technology that is ready to guarantee now that it will meet our baseload needs in the middle of the next decade. We cannot wish away the reality that our existing nuclear fleet will decommission in the next decade or so.”

Looking to the future of energy policy, James Heappey said he sought to “champion decentralised energy, a digitised smart energy system and the incredible economic and industrial opportunities that come with it.”

The following day Mr Heappey spoke at length in another Commons debate, this time on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (essentially a period of further development of advanced digital technologies). His first contribution to the debate was an intervention during a speech by Ronnie Cowan, an SNP MP. He gave more detail on the hospital he mentioned in his speech the previous day, “Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London has been able to install in a hospital a combined heat and power system that saves it £2 million a year on its operating costs. It has done that not through Government promotion but because the technology is there and it has sought to adopt it, and it is doing immediate good for that public service.”

Minutes later Mr Heappey rose to give his speech to the debate, it was long and touched on a vast range of different issues. He started by mentioning that there was still some contention as to whether this is currently the third or the fourth industrial revolution, but said that reading about the topic had led to him developing his thinking on the changing nature of energy policy.

A large portion of James Heappey’s speech was about challenging the idea that consumers would have to change their habits in a changing energy market, “The idea that we have to change our consumption habits to meet a changing energy market sounds like a nightmare to most people, but the reality is that we already have many of the technologies in our homes.” He also pointed to the importance of smart meters, “As Ministers know only too well, the smart meter programme is the keystone in achieving the digitisation of our energy system, and I know that they will be keen to push on with that roll-out at best speed.”

Another part of Mr Heappey’s speech focused on electric cars and he commended the government’s actions to increase the number of electric cars on the roads. He pointed specifically to “the £4,500 that they contribute towards the car and the contribution they make towards a charging point at the buyer’s home” and described such policies as fantastic. However he said more work needed to be done in growing charging infrastructure across the country if more are to buy electric cars.

He began to bring his speech to a close by saying that focus on energy infrastructure was just as important as more high profile technology issues, “The bottom line is that, while we will focus very much on our digital infrastructure with broadband and 5G mobile phones and we will worry very much about the preparedness of our airports and air routes, as well as of our roads and rail, the energy infrastructure is just as important.”

Voting record

The MP for Wells cast nine votes this week, all on the Finance Bill.

On 5 September Mr Heappey voted five times on the Finance Bill. He voted: against a proposed amendment that would require the Chancellor to carry out review of corporation tax treatment of UK oil and gas companies; against an amendment that would abandon plans to lower the rate of corporation tax from 18% to 17% for the financial year 2020; against a proposed new clause that would require the Chancellor to carry out a review of the tax regime which applies to Scottish Limited Partnerships on levels of tax avoidance and evasion by such partnerships; against a proposed new clause that would require the Chancellor to carry out a review of the UK tax gap for the previous five financial years; and against a proposed amendment that would make women’s sanitary products manufactured, acquired or imported any date before or after 1 April 2018 no longer subject to VAT, rather than leaving the Treasury to choose the day when the changes take place.

On 6 September Mr Heappey voted a further four times on the Finance Bill. He voted: against a proposed amendment that would abandon plans to reduce the rate of capital gains tax; against a proposed new clause that would require the Chancellor to carry out a review into  changes to the tax on dividend income implemented the Act affect directors of microbusiness companies; against a proposed new clause that would prevent the raising of VAT on energy saving materials; and for a government amendment that would delay from 1 October 2016 to 14 November 2016 the introduction of excise duty of aqua methanol.

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

Energy and climate change committee

Even thought the Department for Energy and Climate Change was abolished by Theresa May when she took office as Prime Minister, the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee still exists and is publishing reports. However it has not carried out any evidence hearings in the week since Parliament came back from summer recess.

Expenses

While Parliament was away the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority published data on MPs expenses for April and May 2016.

During the two month period Mr Heappey claimed a total of £12,498.35 through 27 expenses claims. The most expensive of his claims was for a subscription to the Parliamentary Resources Unit (PRU) for £2,671. The PRU is a scheme available to Conservative MPs which makes the process of hiring researches  by allowing research staff to be shared among subscribing MPs.

James Heappey claimed £7,944.80 on accommodation and constituency office rent. The rest of Mr Heappey’s claims throughout April and May were mainly small claims almost all below £50 for things like office stationary.

One of Mr Heappey’s claims during this period was made on 14 April for a banner, it was listed as an stationary purchase in the office costs category. It says he claimed and was subsequently paid £-9.60, that’s minus nine pounds sixty. My best guess at what this means is that it relates to a claim made on 26 October last year, a banner for £9.60. I believe he made the claim back in October accidentally on his expenses when it was for personal use, realised this in April and decided he needed to pay back the IPSA the £9.60. Rather than be forced to repay the claim, he submitted a claim which allowed him to repay it voluntarily. I have no assurances that’s what happened but it is my best, and I think most likely, interpretation of the evidence available.

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

James Heappey weekly: No.18

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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.

James Heappey weekly: No.17

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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.

James Heappey weekly: No.16

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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.