Leap Year Day Business

Today, the business in the House of Commons starts with Questions to the Secretary of State for Defence. There is then the consideration of the detailed regulations relating to the forthcoming Referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. Then there is a debate on the UK steel industry.

Happy birthday to all those who get a once in every four years chance to celebrate their birthday on the correct day! A young man who attends St. Anne’s Church is 29 on this basis today.

The William Street Lifeboat

Being the wife of an MP must be ne of the most challenging roles especially in the media age we live in today. My wife Susan frequently has to accompany me on official functions and visits. She has to listen hour after hour to my speeches most of which she has heard dozens of times before. She has to laugh at he same jokes and indeed I sometimes joke with audiences that Susan has accompanied me so that if I keel over Sue knows the material so well she could take over and finish my speech!

Anyway, now and again I try to put Susan’s plans and diary engagements first and today is one such day. Susan has been a member of the Bury Ladies Lifeboat Guild for some years and the Guild have been invited over to Fleetwood to see the Fleetwood Lifeboat The William Street as it is being retired after over a quarter of a century of service. The boat is if course named after the Bury businessman who established the W.O.Street Trust which so many local people continue to benefit from. So, today I am going to accompany her and members of the Guild as they pay a visit to the Fleetwood Lifeboat station.

EU Referendum arguments No.1

Ahead of the crucial vote to decide our Country’s future membership of The European Union I am going to deal with various arguments which are put forward as to why we could not possibly leave the EU.

Let me start with the claim which is frequently made that if we leave the EU we would be denied access to the Single Market. The suggestion is that British companies would no longer be allowed to sell their goods to the other EU countries.

I do not agree because the car makers of Germany, the cheese and wine manufacturers of France and so on will want to continue to sell their goods to us. They will not allow the EU to put barriers up against the UK for fear we would put tariffs on their goods which we do not want to do. We want to extend free trade not reduce it.

Then we are told that there is no Country allowed which is allowed access to the Single Market which does not allow free movement of people ( ie: uncontrolled immigration from the EU ). In other words because we are members of the EU we are liable to pay more for goods from outside of the EU because the EU imposes tariffs. So if we were outside we would have cheaper goods.

If the European Union is the free trade area it is meant to be surely they would want to trade freely with the fifth largest economy in the World.

Flooding Update EU Solidarity Fund

Good news today that the Government have confirmed that having carried out the necessary assessment they are going to apply to something called the European Union Solidarity Fund which exists to help member states who have suffered from a natural disaster. Given that we pay in billions of pounds every year to the EU than we get out I am all in favour of getting as much of our money back as possible. Of course, the government acted immediately when the storms hit and the flooding occurred. They immediately activated the Bellwin scheme which after local councils have paid a small first part of the clear up costs the government pays the remainder. These funds have been used to provide the various help schemes which householders throughout Bury are now benefitting from. Having attended two public meetings about the flooding and spoken to many residents I am all too well aware that although nationally the news cycle has moved on for those whose homes were flooded still face weeks and possibly months of disruption.

Opposition day (19)

Today after questions to the Secretary of State for Wales and then the Prime Minister the main business will be the 19th allotted Opposition day when Labour get to decide the debates and today it is state pensions for women and police funding crime and community safety. I have a meeting of the Procedure Committee this afternoon where we will be hearing evidence from the Clerk of the House as part of our inquiry into the process used to deal with Private Members’ Bills.

I had a very useful meeting last evening with the chief of Rosso busses at a dinner organised by the All Party Group on Road Passenger Transport where the speaker was the Minister Andrew Jones MP. The main subject of discussion was the forthcoming Buses Bill and how it could potentially affect the buses in our area.

The battle commences

Four months today on 23rd June it will be referendum day. It is going to be four months of political argument between the In and Out camps. It was clear from the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday that there will be unsupported claims and allegations made ( to be fair probably on both sides ). The Remain camp are hoping the public will not bother with the detail of the deal. That they will not bother looking too closely at the details. It is interesting that people like Jacob Rees-Mogg who actually sits on the European Scrutiny Committee is a staunch advocate of leaving.

Today the first business in the Commons is questions to the Foreign Secretary so there is scope for more questions on the EU deal but most of the questions are already fixed on other subjects.

There will then be debates on amendments the House of Lords have made to the welfare Reform and Work Bill and the Education and Adoption Bill followed by a debate scheduled by the Backbench Business debate on Gangs and serious youth violence.