Hansard | European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

hansard-banner

European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

31 January 2017
Volume 620

Relevant document: The First Report from the Committee on Exiting the European Union, The process for exiting the European Union and the Government’s negotiating objectives, HC 815.]

Second Reading

screen-shot-2017-02-08-at-15-20-07

8.41 pm
Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): On 23 June, the British public voted to leave the European Union. Leaving the single market and the customs union was not on the ballot paper, and nor was the even worse option of falling back on World Trade Organisation rules, yet that is what this Conservative Government are now pursuing with no mandate.

Yesterday, the Centre for Cities published a report showing that Exeter, which voted remain, is the most dependent community in Britain on exports to the rest of the European Union. We send 70% of what we export to other EU countries and just 7% to the United States. My neighbouring city of Plymouth, which voted leave, is second on that list, sending 68% of its exports to the European Union. The south-west of England as a whole is the most dependent region in the United Kingdom on exports to the rest of the EU.

Full and unfettered access to the single market is crucial to thousands of businesses and the people whom they employ in my constituency and the south-west of England. Falling back on WTO rules would mean tariffs of up to 51% on the goods that we currently export, as well as tariffs on imports, which would put up prices in the shops even higher for the hard-pressed consumer.

Let us be clear that there is no going back once Article 50 is triggered. Unless there is a successful challenge to the current interpretation, this is a one-way street out of the EU to the hardest of hard Brexits.

Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) (Con):  I have the greatest respect for the right hon. Gentleman, who is making his argument powerfully, but does he not believe that the time for such arguments was during the referendum campaign and that now we should focus on a positive future using our entrepreneurial flair, our trading skills and our inventiveness to make a success of what lies before us?

Mr Bradshaw: Yes, that was the time for arguing the principle. This is the time for arguing about the type of Brexit that we believe is in the best interests of our country. I am afraid that some of my colleagues are clinging to the straw of the vote that the Government have promised on any deal at the end of the two-year negotiation process, yet the Government have made it absolutely clear that the only choice will be between their hard Brexit and WTO rules. This could be our only chance to prevent the hardest of Brexits or to soften its blow, and I cannot and will not vote to destroy jobs and prosperity in my constituency.

I fully accept that it is easier for me to vote against article 50 because my constituency voted remain. I have been overwhelmed by the support for my position that I have received from my constituents and Labour party members, but I completely understand that some colleagues, particularly those in areas that voted heavily to leave, will find it more difficult to do this. In the end, however, as the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) so ably reminded us, we are elected representatives who are called upon to use our own judgment about what is in the best interests of our constituencies and the country. Do we really believe that cutting ourselves off from our closest friends and main trading partners will hurt or help our constituents and our country? Do we honestly think it is in our national interests to hitch ourselves instead to this American President? We will all be judged in the future on how we voted on this Bill.

Finally, let me say that I am disappointed and saddened by the decision of my party’s leadership to try to force Labour MPs to support this Tory Bill. Even more, I regret that we are being whipped to vote to curtail our detailed debate to just three days—and this on the biggest issue of our lifetimes, which will have repercussions for generations to come. Scores of amendments to this Bill have been tabled, yet there is no chance of most of them being debated or voted upon. The situation is completely unacceptable and this is a dereliction of our duty as parliamentarians and as an Opposition.

Mr Winnick rose

Mr Bradshaw: If my hon. Friend does not mind, I will finish now.

I will therefore vote against the Government’s programme motion to curtail debate. For the first time in nearly 20 years in this place, I will be voting against my party’s three-line whip on a Bill. In doing so, I am reflecting what I believe to be the majority view of those who elected me, and the view of millions of others in Britain who oppose this Government’s choice to pursue the worst and most destructive form of Brexit, and all the negative consequences that that will bring.

 

Advertisements

Fairer funding for schools in #EXEStThomas?

2016-11-05-11-54-10

I – and my fellow Labour colleagues in St Thomas – are very worried about the financial future of our local schools.

Yesterday the National Audit Office [NAO] published a report on the Financial Sustainability of Schools which concluded that the Department of Education [DfE]’s approach to managing the risks to schools’ financial sustainability cannot be judged to be effective or providing value for money until more progress is made, according to the National Audit Office.

The DfE’s overall schools budget is protected in real terms but does not provide for funding per pupil to increase in line with inflation. In the 2015 Spending Review, the government increased the schools budget by 7.7% from £39.6 billion in 2015-16 to £42.6 billion in 2019-20. While this increase protects the total budget from forecast inflation, the Department estimates that the number of pupils will rise over the same period, by 3.9% (174,000) in primary schools and by 10.3% (284,000) in secondary schools. Therefore, funding per pupil will, on average, rise only from £5,447 in 2015-16 to £5,519 in 2019-20, a real-terms reduction once inflation is taken into account.

In the accompanying  press release, Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said:“Mainstream schools have to make £3.0 billion in efficiency savings by 2019-20 against a background of growing pupil numbers and a real-terms reduction in funding per pupil. The Department is looking to schools to finance high standards by making savings and operating more efficiently but has not yet completed its work to help schools secure crucial procurement and workforce savings. Based on our experience in other parts of government, this approach involves significant risks that need to be actively managed. Schools could make the ‘desirable’ efficiencies that the Department judges feasible or could make spending choices that put educational outcomes at risk. The Department, therefore, needs effective oversight arrangements that give early warning of problems, and it needs to be ready to intervene quickly where problems do arise.”

This report reflects some of the concerns raised by 2 of the teaching unions – National Union of Teachers [NUT] and Association of Teachers & Lecturers [ATL] – when they launched their interactive map at the beginning of November.

In March 2016, the DFE have released plans for a Fairer Funding Formula by which existing school budgets – without any increase – will be redistributed from HM Treasury. An increase in costs for schools and inflation have not been taken into account meaning that the majority of schools are left with a real terms financial cut.

The infographics below show what is expected to happen to local schools in and around  St Thomas if, under the guise of this *fairer funding*, Theresa May and education secretary Justine Greening intend only to shift the already inadequate overall school funding around the country, rather than do the right thing – which is to increase it and ensure the most disadvantaged benefit.

bowhill-primary-school

bowhill-primary-school

montgomery-primary-school

redhills-community-primary-school

west-exe-childrens-centre

west-exe-school

For many years, Devon has been one of the lowest funded Local Education Authorities in England. In 2016/17, Devon received a Schools Block Unit of Funding [SBUF] of £4,346 per pupil compared with a national average of  £4,636 – a shortfall of  £290 per pupil, which is equivalent to £25.5m across the Local Education Authority’s for their 88,065 pupils.

The NUT/ATL calculations show that  schools in Devon could be facing additional cuts of 5%, on average a cut of £205 per child.

The three primary schools serving  St Thomas primaries will lose between £62,456 and £169,462. In the case of Montgomery Primary School this is predicted to be £132,805 or £350 per child, and the equivalent of 4 qualified teachers. This is totally unacceptable – education budgets must adequately reflect the invaluable work of local schools and teachers.

But it isn’t only me that is concerned – recently the Devon Association of Primary Headteachers [DAPH] and Devon Association of Secondary Heads [DASH] wrote jointly to MPs [including this one to Ben Bradshaw MP] and local councillors on behalf of primary and secondary schools collectively, drawing attention to a Devon wide campaign to raise awareness of the funding crisis in Devon schools.

As well as the Fairer Funding Formula, the letter covers the pressures of rising costs, the effect of the Apprenticeship Levy, the change to the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities [SEND] Code of Practice putting additional pressure on the High Needs Block Funding [HNBF], and anticipated falls in contingency reserves.

The letter concludes: “Put simply, this translates into a very real probability that schools can longer longer continue to sustain high quality provision of education and essential support for every pupil without the urgent necessity to take some very undesirable, as well as far-reaching, decisions to reduce costs in order to balance the finite resources available. Sadly, the implications of these decisions will undoubtably impact upon the children in our care, including those  from some of our most vulnerable families, and these will ultimately manifest further into the wider community.”

Further reading:
House of Commons Library: Briefing Paper SN06702  School funding in England. Current system and proposals for ‘fairer school funding’ [21 November 2016]

National Audit Office: Financial sustainability of schools – Executive Summary [14 December 2016]

Crisis | Homelessness Reduction Bill

Crisis logo

 

 

No One Turned Away is calling for every homeless person who approaches their council to get the help they need.

Homeless people in England can be turned away with little or no help by councils if they are not considered a ‘priority’, even though they have nowhere else to stay.

Now Conservative MP Bob Blackman has tabled a Homelessness Reduction Bill to improve the support that homeless people receive. But we need the support of MPs for this to become law.

We urgently need your help to take part in a mass lobby of MPs in Westminster on Wednesday 19 October. It’s a chance to ask your MP in person to back the bill. Sign up to attend.

Even if you can’t attend the mass lobby, you can still ask your MP to take action.

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-07-13-21

Ask your MP to be there

Your MP has not said they’ll be there, so below is a message for you to send that asks them to attend.

Dear Ben Bradshaw

I am writing as a constituent and a Crisis campaigner to ask you to attend the second reading debate for the Homelessness Reduction Bill, which is taking place on the morning of 28 October.

A draft version of the bill has now been published, many of the measures it contains are Labour Party policy.

This private member’s bill is sponsored by Bob Blackman and supported by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, who are scrutinising the draft. The select committee has recently published a major report on homelessness.

Currently, many homeless people are not considered a “priority” under the law, meaning that they are often turned away with little or no help when they approach their local council. As well as the devastating personal impact that this can have, failing to intervene early to prevent and solve homelessness is a poor use of public resources.

Scotland and Wales have already reformed their homelessness legislation, so this is a vital chance for England to catch up. The measures in the bill will have a firm foundation in the lessons from other parts of Britain and in the findings of a panel of experts with backgrounds in local government, charities, academia and housing law, who have recommended reforms (www.crisis.org.uk/expertpanelreport).

Yours sincerely

Paul Bull

Further reading:
Crisis: No One Turned Away 

Crisis: No One Turned Away – Executive Summary

Studentification in St James’

From:  Steering Group report to Annual General Meeting 2016 of  the Exeter St James Forum (ESJF) 

Studentification 

Following a request from Bury Meadow Residents’ Association (BMRA), ESJF supported a petition drafted by Chester Community Voice against the ‘studentification’ of Chester, asking for legislation at national level to ensure local authorities sustainably manage the interests of all parties, not least communities of permanent residents, when considering where student accommodation is developed. The Petition also gained the support of St James Residents’ Associations (SJRAs) and St David’s Neighbourhood Partnership (SDNP). A copy was sent to Ben Bradshaw MP who was present to support Chester’s MP Chris Matheson when he presented it to the House of Commons.

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-12-40-14
Hansard 27 January 2016 v605 c383

The ‘observations‘ of the Minister, Brandon Lewis, in response were disappointing.

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-12-36-49
Hansard 22 February 2016 v606 c2P

Meanwhile, Ben Bradshaw invited Christine Fraser of SDNP and Robyn Connett who represented ESJF (having consulted with SJRA reps) to meet with him and Cllr. Keith Owen to discuss the issue of ‘studentification’ in Exeter and elsewhere, and to stress the need for involvement at a national level. As a result Ben Bradshaw agreed to write to Secretary of State Greg Clark raising points agreed during the meeting including the weight to be given to neighbourhood plans, and in addition to write to MPs of all university cities/towns, with a view to forming an All-Party Working Group to focus on ‘studentification’. The response to Ben Bradshaw’s letter to the Secretary of State, written by the Minister, Brandon Lewis, was not particularly helpful. Ben Bradshaw has since reported that he has had some encouraging conversations with fellow labour MPs and that after the EU referendum he would pursue his initiative of

The Exeter Daily | Community orchard planted in #BartonFields #EXEStThomas

 

The Exeter Daily logo

Community orchard planted in Exeter

More than 50 people turned out on Saturday to plant a community orchard in Cowick Barton Fields.

Wheelbarrows
Wheelbarrows at the read [Photo: Joe Levy]
Families, local residents and tree enthusiasts all braved the mud and cold wind with shovels, wheelbarrows and 15 native, locally grown trees in hand.

The orchard is part of a project funded by Alcoa that has seen Active Devon team up with Exeter City Council to create an activity trail across Cowick Barton Fields.

This means that, rather than being a conventionally shaped orchard, the trees – including pear, mulberry, damson and cherry – run in a line that will allow people to follow the trail and enjoy the trees’ produce.

Ben in orchard
Ben Bradshaw MP lending a hand planting a tree

Laura Robinson, Community Organiser and coordinator for the Activity Trail, hopes that the orchard and the trail as a whole will have a positive impact on the local community and the health and wellbeing of its residents: The aim of the activity trail is to increase the amount of physical activity locally. The trees will enhance the space and provide more opportunities for community events such as harvesting and food education.

In addition to the community orchard, the event was also used to plant a new Lucombe Oak, a variety of tree that was originally grown in William Lucombe’s nursery around 250 years ago in what is now Pinces Gardens.

2016-01-30 12.33.00
Cllr Hannah Packham with the Lucombe Oak

This particular tree was grafted from an original Lucombe Oak, now sited at Killerton House, just outside Exeter. Local residents Yvonne Fryer and Julia Harbor, who have done extensive research on the Lucombe Oak’s relationship with Exeter and were the driving force behind its reintroduction to Cowick Barton Fields, had the honour of planting the tree, with support and enthusiasm from a small crowd of onlookers and spade bearers.

2016-01-30 12.45.41
Yvonne Fryer and Julia Harbor plant the Lucombe Oak

Everyone present felt the event was a huge success and Laura Robinson felt it reflected the strength of the local community: “The day highlighted the amazing community spirit of St Thomas, from residents and local groups that have been involved as well as new faces coming together to enhance this treasured green space.”

Members of the public are being encouraged to take pictures of the trees and share them @activedevon @laurarobinsonCO #activetrail to raise awareness of the community orchard.

 

2016-01-30 11.40.53
Me with Ben Bradshaw and Hannah Packham

My comment:
This is what community organising and community involvement is all aboiut – far to many people to thank for all their hard work in the lead up to the weekend and on the day itself, but you know who you are. Your all bloomin’ marvellous.

Next stop the tree trail around ‪#‎EXEStThomas‬!

 

Crisis | Homelessness Prevention Grant

Screen shot 2015-12-29 at 05.05.40

Screen shot 2015-12-29 at 05.05.52

Dear Ben,

I am writing as a constituent to ask that you raise with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government the importance of protecting the Homelessness Prevention Grant in the upcoming Spending Review.

This fund, worth £80 million annually, is used by local authorities across England to provide vital services like debt advice, mediation with landlords and help to find new accommodation, which have prevented hundreds of thousands of people from becoming homeless.

Though the money is not ring fenced, the fact that it is a named grant has helped focus funding on the crucial services it is intended for. Around 80% of all Housing Options and Homelessness services currently receive the full grant allocation and 90% say that money would get diverted elsewhere, and services damaged, if it were no longer a named grant.

Protecting the grant makes financial sense as well as being the right thing to do. While homelessness costs the government £1 billion annually, tackling it early could save between £3,000 and £18,000 for every person helped.

Since 2010, ministers have emphasised the crucial role the grant plays and protected it from cuts. Homelessness minister Marcus Jones recently told parliament its impact is “powerful” in stopping people from becoming homeless.

Even so, with deep spending cuts planned, this funding is at risk.

I would therefore be grateful if you could ask George Osborne and Greg Clark to:

1. Protect the Homelessness Prevention Grant until 2020 in the upcoming Spending Review
2. Allocate the grant according to levels of need in each local authority
3. Monitor how the grant is spent, to help make sure it is used effectively and for what it is intended

For further information on the Homelessness Prevention Grant, please see this briefing from Crisis: http://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/publications/Homelessness%20Prevention%20grant%20briefing.pdf

LITTLE JOHNS CROSS HILL – Petition for Traffic Calming Measures

Its gratifying to receive notice of a petition organised by local residents – today I received the following:

Ben Bradshaw has advised me to forward this petition on to you as the hazard down our road seems to be increasing, due to the speed of traffic. Accidents have occurred and the potential for another is imminent.

The present signs are being ignored and speed bumps seem to be the only deterrent together with a strict enforcement strategy.

ALL the residents are in consensus on the need to act in time ! Their comments are attached which show their depth of concern over this issue.

We would be grateful for your assistance in this respect to achieve an improvement.

LITTLE JOHNS CROSS HILL – Petition for Traffic Calming Measures

The undersigned residents of the above rod have been concerned for some time over the potential danger of their road usage due to speeding traffic, mainly from non-residents – especially in the restricted top no access and below (at “Twisted Oak”) with time-zone restrictions laid with signage a few years ago.

LITTLE JOHN'S CROSS HILL Access only sign [20 May 12]
Sign at entrance to Little Johns Cross Hill from Dunsford Road
The danger is mainly due to the hill where traffic turning into the road from Dunsford Hill accelerates downhill regardless of the speed limit, They also drive up the hill too fast as it narrows in width towards the brow of the hill, causing potential peril to pedestrians where there is no footpath for the last 80 yards.

Hence we implore the council to install some form of speed curtailment such as speed bumps (reference Barley Lane as an example) and we suggest 2 be the minimum: one placed across the road at No.19 just down from the brow of the hill some 100 yards from the Dunsford Hill junction; and  another uphill of the private road spur junction (leading to several houses) opposite No.15. Note speed bumps exist on this private road and also on Barley Lane’s hill leading to the Dunsford Hill junction already leaving Little Johns Cross Hill similarly “unprotected”.

The restricted access has been ignored and through traffic often passes at speeds of 40-60mph, making residents’ access onto the road a hazardous endeavour. There are a number of driveways on the uphill side of the road with “blind entrances” and the downhill side homeowners cannot access their driveways safely from both traffic directions. Near misses occur frequently to vehicles and where no footpath exists on the school route to `Ide, children are put indanger. For example, on 30 July 78 vehicles came up the hill between 17:15 and 17:45 compared to just 19 between 1630 and 1700. This is due to the road being used as a “rat run” to overcome congestion in the “rush hour” caused by the poorly-designed and difficult junction connecting the old A30 (Ide Road) to Pocombe Bridge onto Dunsford Hill. There should logically be a similar “No Access” sing at the bottom of the road to match the one at the top.

The undersigned residents therefore need an upgrade to restore their safe use of their road where the access are blatantly flouted. We therefore request that the council should install speed bumps as this is the only way to control the impending hazard which will inevitably result in a serious accident. Due to the consensus of the residents, we would suggest there is no need for the normal lengthy and costly consultation process over these proposed traffic calming measures/speed bumps as it simply an obvious means of safety improvements and accident prevention.

I have told the lead petitioner that, since this is a matter for the Highways Authority (which in the case of Exeter is Devon County Council),  I will leave it to Cllr Roy Hill to explain to the residents the process of presenting the petition to the next Full Council Meeting which will held on 01 October 2015

I expect this issue will then be placed on the Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee [HATOC] on which I currently sit as a representative of Exeter City Council. I have guaranteed the residents of my full support when I comes before Exeter HATOC.

Some thoughts:

Although not actually a part of the Exeter Green Circle 12-mile walking route, Little Johns Cross Hill runs close to the 3-mile  Alphing Brook Walk section and I’ve often seen horse-riders on the road – due to the nearby riding stable.

Lack of maintenance of the verges and hedges on the lower part of Little Johns Cross Hill often reduces the road almost to a single track, making walking increasingly treacherous.

Many of the residents commented that the restricted access isn’t working, probably because the junction at Pocombe Bridge doesn’t allow free flow of traffic – at least one asked if a roundabout, rather than a T-junction, would be more suitable here.

The County of Devon (Balls Farm Road Area, Exeter)(Prohibition of Motor Vehicles and Access Only) Order 2008 come into force on 28 January 2008.

Under this order
“no person shall, except upon the direction or with the written permission of a police officer in uniform or of a traffic warden, cause or permit any motor vehicle to proceed in the length of road specified in Schedule 1 from 7am to 9.30 am Monday to Friday; and
“no person shall, except upon the direction or with the written permission of a police officer in uniform or of a traffic warden, cause or permit any motor vehicle to proceed in the length of road specified in Schedule 2, except for access to adjacent properties.”

Screen shot 2015-10-01 at 07.13.25