Ben Dean-Titterrell

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Tag: Liaison Committee

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.4

This edition of Bernard Jenkin is a week late. It should have been published on Sunday 6 November but, to be honest, I just forgot to do it. 

Week 31 October – 6 November

In a week when the High Court ruled that Parliament must vote on triggering Article 50 to begin the process of Brexit, the government confirmed it would appeal the High Court decision at the Supreme Court, and Conservative MP Stephen Philips, who voted Leave, resigned in protest of the government’s approach to Parliament’s role in Brexit, what did Bernard Jenkin do?

Speeches and written questions

Mr Jenkin spoke once in Parliament this week, asking for an update from Ben Gummer, Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the government is undertaking a suggestion made by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which the MP for Harwich and North Essex chairs, that the government “conduct a review of civil service capacity in view of the extra workload being piled on Whitehall” following the EU referendum.

Voting record

Bernard Jenkin voted in three divisions this week on three separate issues.

On 1 November he voted once on the Investigatory Powers Bill. He voted: for rejecting a proposed Lords amendment that would have required major news publishers who aren’t members of an approved regulator to pay the costs of any court cases in relation to claims of unlawful interception.

On 2 November Mr Jenkin cast his other two votes. He voted: against an Opposition motion that would have called on the government to rethink its plans to change funding for community pharmacies; and against an Opposition motion that would have called on the government to accurately record the number of assaults on police officers and ensure officer numbers and funding are not reduced further.

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

Select committees

Mr Jenkin was involved in three select committee oral evidence sessions this week, one for the Liaison Committee and two as chair for the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

The first hearing he sat in was on 2 November when the Liaison Committee questioned Sir John Chilcot over his inquiry into the Iraq War. Mr Jenkin spoke at length at several points during the session, but his opening question asked Sir John directly whether the then Prime Minister Tony Blair had made his decision to go to war regardless of what the evidence said.

” Which do you think was more at the forefront of the Prime Minister’s mind: was it to evaluate the evidence that was put in front of him or was it to make the case for a decision that, in his mind, he had already made?”

Sir John replied by saying clearly that in his opinion the Prime Minister was focused on making the evidence fit his decision to go to war, which he had already made, “It was the second and not the first. There was no attempt to challenge or seek re-evaluation of the intelligence advice.”

On 4 November Mr Jenkin chaired two sessions for the Public Administration and Public Affairs Committee, one questioning former Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell on the Civil Service and the other on a report by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman into how the NHS failed to prevent the death of three year old Sam Morrish.

During the first session with Lord O’Donnell Mr Jenkin remained quiet for the most part and mediated as the other members of the committee asked questions to the former Cabinet Secretary. At one point during the session Mr Jenkin interjected to seek clarification on what Lord O’Donnell was saying about moving away from being “process driven to being outcome driven.”

He asked “How does focusing on outcomes make an official more empathetic, more sympathetic, more understanding? Isn’t that about attitude and rather than about focusing on outcomes?”

Lord O’Donnell replied by saying that focusing on outcomes will in turn make an official more empathetic and sympathetic. He used the example of helping someone get a job, “[It requires you] to not say ‘fill in all of these forms’, it’s actually to have that empathy with the person and say ‘my job is to get you a job. If that works it’s success for both of us.'”

Following the session with Lord O’Donnell, the committee moved onto holding its session for the report into the death of Sam Morrish and how the NHS can learn from its mistakes. Present at the hearing was Sam Morrish’s father Scott. Mr Jenkin made it clear from the beginning of the session that he wanted to allow the witnesses present at the session to say what they needed to say rather than being asked a series of questions as though they were being held to account.

He asked Mr Morrish “you asked the PHSO to undertake a second investigation into your case because you thought its first report in 2014 did not deal sufficiently with the systemic issues underlying the mistakes that you felt led to Sam’s death. How satisfied are you now that the report has got to the bottom of these issues?”

Mr Morrish replied by saying he though the report represented a huge step forward. He added “It’s probably as much as we could hope for from a complaints system. It gives you a glimpse of what could be delivered through learning investigations.”

When asked what he thought the key reasons that led to the organisations investigating Sam’s death to do their job ineffectively, Mr Morrish said “The main reason that they failed would be put down to a combination of just basic human responses in tragic circumstances which would be effected by fear of having failed in some way and being responsible.”

“And then it was compounded by very poor governance and in the end a system that really has no checks and balances unless they come from the family.”

Bernard Jenkin weekly: No.1

Week 10 October – 16 October

Firstly, welcome to the first edition of Bernard Jenkin weekly, the follow up to James Heappey weekly. Here, every week, I will summarise Bernard Jenkin MP for Harwich and North Essex’s actions in Parliament. This will include contributions and speeches made in debates, written questions submitted, any select committee hearings, and, when possible, expenses data. So, let’s get started.

In a week when Unilever briefly said it wouldn’t be providing Tesco with stock, Republican nominee for President of the United States Donald Trump was accused of sexual assault by several women, and the SNP held their party conference, what did Bernard Jenkin do?

Speeches and written questions

Bernard Jenkin spoke many times in Parliament this week, especially on the debates regarding Britain’s exit from the European Union.

His first contribution of the week came on Monday 10 October when he asked a question to the Brexit Secretary, David Davis. He wanted to make clear to Mr Davis and the rest of the House that leaving the EU meant leaving the single market and that the leave campaign had been clear on that from the start, “May I point out, as a director of Vote Leave, that it was made clear in our campaign that leaving the EU meant leaving the single market.”

Mr Jenkin also expressed his confusion at the way he sees the Remain campaign’s argument about single market membership now, “Is it not ironic that the remain campaign spent a lot of time telling us, “Oh, if you leave the EU you will have to leave the EU internal market.” Now they are all saying that there must be a way of leaving the EU and staying in the single market, even though all the EU leaders say that that is not possible.”

His next contribution in parliament came on Wednesday 12 October when he made an intervention to Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary. He wanted to know how Mr Starmer would vote if their was a vote in the House on invoking article 50, “This is the question that he has to answer: suppose there was a vote in this House; how would he vote? Would he vote against article 50 invocation, or in favour?”

Later in the debate he intervened while Stephen Gethins, an SNP MP, was speaking. The MP for Harwich and North Essex spoke of how Parliament and the Devolved Assemblies need to work together to answer questions about Brexit. He pointed to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which he chairs, and an earlier visit he had made to Scotland.

“I have already visited the Scottish Parliament with my Committee to that end, and am offering to give evidence to the Scottish Parliament on those questions and how we should address them. I hope that the dialogue he wants will be in that spirit of co-operation.”

His final contribution of the week came in the same debate when he made a point to fellow Conservative MP John Redwood about how article 50 was included in the Lisbon treaty to make it less complicated to leave the EU, “Is it not also incumbent on the Government to be mindful that article 50 was not put into the Lisbon treaty to make it less complicated to leave the European Union? If we try to include too many things under article 50 that stray into mixed competences, we will finish up with an agreement that requires unanimity?”

He added that in his view it could be beneficial for withdrawal from the EU to be done in less than the two years stated under article 50, “In fact, it would be an advantage to business if we could complete this in a much shorter period than the two years specified under the article 50 process.”

Bernard Jenkin has not submitted any written questions so far in this Parliamentary session.

Voting record

Mr Jenkin voted four times this week, including three times on the Wales Bill.

On 12 September he voted on the issues relating to the Wales Bill. He voted: against a proposed amendment that would establish two distinct legal jurisdictions of England and Wales; against a proposed clause that would remove restrictions on certain public sector bodies bidding to operate a rail franchise that is made up of or includes rail services within Wales; and against a proposed clause that would make air passenger duty a devolved tax in Wales.

On 14 September the MP for Harwich and North Essex voted once on a piece of business that came without a debate. He voted: for approving the draft West Midlands Combined Authority (Election of Mayor) Order 2016.

Mr Jenkin way loyal to his party and voted with the majority on all four votes.

Select Committees

Bernard Jenkin sits on three House of Commons Committees. He chairs the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee as well as sitting on both the Liaison Committee and the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission.

None of the committees carried out any oral evidence sessions this week.


Bernard Jenkin’s expenses records going back to 2010 are accessible on the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority website. Here I will only present the most recent data published by the IPSA, expenses for April and May of this financial year.

In April, Bernard Jenkin made 25 expenses claims, totaling £3,072.55. The data published says he did not make any expenses claims during May.

His largest claim during April was for £2,671.00 to pay for a PRU (Policy Research Unit) subscription, a scheme only open to Conservative MPs that lets them share researchers and save money as a result.

Most of his other claims were small claims to pay for travel costs within his own car. The lowest of these claims was for £0.32 to pay for a 0.7 mile journey within his own constituency.

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