Kashmir All Party Parliamentary Group

Many families in Bury have family and friends in Kashmir and on Wednesday at the Annual General Meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir I was delighted to be elected as the new Chairman.

Kashmir is a disputed area between India and Pakistan. The seeds of the dispute were sown in the partition of Pakistan and India when the Countries became independent of Britain in 1947. Part of the area of Kashmir was placed under the control of India and part under the control of Pakistan. A detailed history of Kashmir is on Wikipedia here

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kashmir

The stated aim of the All Party Group is
‘To support the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people through dialogue; to seek support from British parliamentarians; to highlight the abuses of human rights in Kashmir; and to seek justice for the people.’

Another Atrocity

Random terrorist attacks on innocent members of the public are occurring with alarming frequency. Yesterday we heard of yet another attack this time in Munich in Germany. Our security services have a difficult enough job as it is to do and that is why it was welcome the government announced an additional 1900 staff were to be recruited to the security services. This week as the Home Secretary was answering questions in the Commons about the attack in Nice last weekend I asked her what progress was being made in the recruitment of these extra staff. The Home Secretary did not have the figures to hand but promised to write to me.

My thanks to Stephen Greenhalgh and Suzanne Carr and Eloise Burke for all their time yesterday in going through all the issues at Bury Hospice. Fantastic work continues to be done by everyone at the Hospice and it was great to be able to meet many of them again yesterday.

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.