Bury Hospice visit

With our Hospice hitting the front page of the Bury Times again this week by coincidence I am making another visit to the Hospice today. I am always impressed by the dedication and compassion of all the staff and the many volunteers. After all the recent adverse news stories it is absolutely vital everyone unites behind our Hospice and helps put it back in a sound financial position.

Last Day of Term

Well, I thought Theresa May and  pretty good debut at Prime Minister’s Question Time yesterday. She demonstrated her willingness to use a little humour and was clearly well prepared and briefed. For older readers who remember Margaret Thatcher it was hard not to draw comparisons particularly when Theresa leaned over the despatch box!

Today, is the last day of term before the summer recess and after Questions to the Attorney General and the Women and Equalities department there is the weekly business Question. The main business is a debate on the use of animal snares and a general pre-recess adjournment debate.


Theresa May’s First PMQ’s

For many people politics is what happens at the weekly sessions of Prime Minister’s Questions. Every Prime Minister has their own style and I anticipate that Mrs May will deal with questions in a similar no nonsense style that we have seen from her as Home Secretary. The Questions will come from the following MP’s who have come out of the ballot.

Q1 John Glen (Salisbury)
If she will list her official engagements for Wednesday 20 July. (905968)

Q2 Mr Jamie Reed (Copeland) (905970)

Q3 Julie Cooper (Burnley) (905971)

Q4 Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (905972)

Q5 Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North) (905973)

Q6 Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham) (905975)

Q7 Nusrat Ghani (Wealden) (905976)

Q8 Andrew Stephenson (Pendle) (905977)

Q9 Imran Hussain (Bradford East) (905978)

Q10 Stuart Blair Donaldson (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine) (905979)

Q11 Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (905980)

Q12 Kelly Tolhurst (Rochester and Strood) (905981)

Q13 Stuart Andrew (Pudsey) (905982)

The main business will be debates chosen by the Opposition on Supported Housing and the Budget.

Higher Education and Research Bill

Despite the belief in some quarters that the result of the referendum has resulted in the business of Parliament grinding to a halt the reality is that business is very much proceeding as planned.

Yesterday, the following motion:

That this House supports the Government’s assessment in the 2015 National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review that the UK’s independent minimum credible nuclear deterrent, based on a Continuous at Sea Deterrence posture, will remain essential to the UK’s security today as it has for over 60 years, and for as long as the global security situation demands, to deter the most extreme threats to the UK’s national security and way of life and that of the UK’s allies; supports the decision to take the necessary steps required to maintain the current posture by replacing the current Vanguard Class submarines with four Successor submarines; recognises the importance of this programme to the UK’s defence industrial base and in supporting thousands of highly skilled engineering jobs; notes that the Government will continue to provide annual reports to Parliament on the programme; recognises that the UK remains committed to reducing its overall nuclear weapon stockpile by the mid-2020s; and supports the Government’s commitment to continue work towards a safer and more stable world, pressing for key steps towards multilateral disarmament.

was passed by 472 votes to 117 votes.

Today, the main business is the Second Reading of the Higher Education and Research Bill which will:

  • make it easier for high-quality new providers and ‘challenger institutions’ to enter the sector and award degrees, giving students more choice and boosting competition to improve teaching quality,
  • introduce a Teaching Excellence Framework, which will ensure universities focus on graduate employability and for the first time will link teaching funding to quality and not just quantity – a principle long-established for research funding,
  • give students more ‘outcomes data’ so they can make informed course choices based on the employment rates of past graduates,
  • establish the Office for Students (OfS) as the new regulator for higher education, with a duty to encourage competition and promote choice. The OfS will operate a risk-based approach to regulation to protect quality and focus attention where it is most needed
  • combine research and innovation funding into a single, strategic body (UK Research & Innovation) while retaining the identities and separate budgets of Research Councils and Innovate UK.

Nuclear Defence

The last week of the Parliamentary term begins today with the long awaited decision on whether the UK should renew our nuclear deterrent. There is a minority of people who think that our nuclear deterrent is a waste of money but I am not one of them. I take the view that it has contributed to maintaining the peace since it was introduced. As with so many issues today it seems the Labour Party are split on the issue and I am not sure what their official view is. I can say that I will definitely be supporting the proposal to proceed with the renewal of our Trident nuclear submarines.

The new Cabinet in full

Theresa May – Prime Minister

Philip Hammond – Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Amber Rudd – Home Secretary.

Boris Johnson – Foreign Secretary.

Michael Fallon – Defence Secretary.

David Davis – Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.

Liam Fox – Secretary of State for International Trade.

David Gauke – Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Jeremy Hunt – Health Secretary.

Justine Greening – Education Secretary.

Damian Green – Work and Pensions Secretary.

Liz Truss – Justice Secretary.

Chris Grayling – Transport Secretary.

Greg Clark – Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Andrea Leadsom – Environment Secretary.

Priti Patel – Secretary of State for International Development.

Karen Bradley – Culture, Media and Sport Secretary.

Sajid Javid – Communities and Local Government Secretary.

Jeremy Wright – Attorney General.

Gavin Williamson – Chief Whip.

Patrick McLoughlin – Party chairman.

Alun Cairns – Welsh Secretary.

David Mundell – Scottish Secretary.

James Brokenshire – Northern Ireland Secretary.

David Lidington – Leader of the Commons.

Baroness Evans – Leader of the Lords.

The Government Iceberg

Whilst most people concentrate ( understandably) on the figures at the top of Government those filling the great offices of states and sitting around the Cabinet table most of the work of government is carried out on a day to day basis by the ranks of junior ministers. Like an iceberg only most of it is on show. the daily business of answering questions and piloting bills through Parliament is carried out by Ministers of State and the Parliamentary Under Secretaries of State. We will start to see all these positions filled over the next couple of days. Already there has been one shock with Anna Soubry leaving the government when many were predicting she would be given a place at the Cabinet table.