Sunday, 4 October 2015
There were lots of Battle of Britain commemorations and as a member of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme (RAF section!) I had the privilege of being invited to several events and hearing from extraordinary RAF pilots & their teams past and present.
The crisis of GP provision rumbles on and I was able to get an emergrncy meeting with the Secretary of State's team to raise concerns and ask for support & pressure to ensure new provision is put in place as soon as possible. I have also had to raise the urgent problem of the threatened closure of the Covance Labs in Alnwick because their American owners want to sell it off. I have been hugely impressed by the Office of Life Sciences in BIS and the Chancellor's office in wanting to help find a longterm going concern solution for the workforce and a key asset within the North East's pharma industry specialism.
Citizens Advice Bureau launched their "Talk Abuse" campaign in Westminster and I continue to do all I can to support the excellent work they do at grass roots level to help those in crisis situations.
Back up in the constituency for our "mini-recess", I started my Christmas activities by helping Abbeyfield Society in Bamburgh launch their Christmas Cake Stir Up campaign. It might be the only cake I make this year!
The last leg of our Summer Tour is continuing to be busy, from meetings with small businesses to Macmillan Coffee Mornings, visits to farms and the NFU, alongside helping the Lowick villagers with their proposed community buyout of the Black Bull.
If you would like details of local surgeries or to speak to my team, please email email@example.com or call 01665 517512.
If you want to catch up on earlier Weeks In Westminster, you can find them at www.teamtrevelyan.co.uk
Wednesday, 16 September 2015
The PM gave a statement about the plans for the UK to take more Syrian refugees along with our continuing commitment, now over £1 billion, to the humanitarian efforts on the ground in Syria, Turkey & Lebanon. He also announced the drone strike which had taken out two UK citizens who were threatening attacks on our soil. This has generated NO postbag, compared to the hundreds on refugees & endless offers from kind-hearted constituents to help financially at a local level or even take people into their own homes.
I am keeping a database of these and will be liaising with County Hall on this as soon as they have allocated the person in charge of the refugee work now coming our way.
On Tuesday we were voting on the Finance Bill amendments. I met with the Breast Cancer Now campaigners, and dressed up in pink as part of their Wear It Pink campaign launched this week. The Chancellor held a Northern Powerhouse reception at No11 to which I took two entrepreneurs from our patch- one builds civilian drones (Quest UAV based in Amble), the other is developing a new & alternative form of electric transport.
I got a latest briefing about the impending and very controversial Highthorn application for a new opencast mine near Druridge Bay. Whilst I was pleased to see a much improved restoration programme after a good deal of local consultation, I am still struggling (especially with present coal prices) with whether this should ever be an opencast site.
On Friday most of the MPs from all sides gave up their constituency day to stay in London to debate & vote on the Assisted Dying Bill. You can read my speech at
It was an extraordinary and empassioned debate from both sides, but in the end the House votes overwhelmingly to reject it.
My weekend proved very challenging as the poor behaviour of one of my staff had to be dealt with, and in the end she decided to resign with immediate effect, with full apology to the Rothbury community whom she had offended.
And now we have Jeremy Corbyn as the newly elected Leader of the Opposition, so watch this space- Labour colleagues seem bemused and shell-shocked.
If you would like to catch upon the next stages of my Summer Tour, please go to www.teamtrevelyan.co.uk/news for details of where we will be over the next three weeks.
If you want to catch up on earlier Weeks In Westminster, you can find them at www.teamtrevelyan.co.uk
If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime on 0207 219 4437 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, 14 September 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 14th September 2015
Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP issued the following statement this morning:
"This morning Georgina Hill, a member of my staff, resigned following her ill advised behaviour & lack of judgement at Rothbury Parish Council meeting last week, and her deeply offensive comments on Facebook. I do not condone in any way her comments and was horrified that a member of my staff behaved in such a way. I have accepted Miss Hill's resignation with immediate effect."
If you would like further comments, please call Anne-Marie directly on 07970 653258.
Full content of Letter of Resignation from Georgina Hill, 14th September 2015
To Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP
Last Wednesday, I attended a Rothbury Parish Council meeting. I did so in my personal capacity and as part of my campaign for local government reform and greater transparency. The issues which Berwick Town Council has faced, over the last two years, are sadly not isolated and too many Town and Parish Councils in Northumberland, and elsewhere, are facing similar problems.
The problems can be defined by a lack of transparency, poor governance arrangements and inadequate financial controls; with certain individuals and state officials running towns and villages as if they were their own personal fiefdoms. I am also acutely aware from personal experience, how individuals, acting as whistleblowers, can be subject to personal attacks and face reprisals for challenging the status quo and holding these Councils to account.
However, I entirely accept that as a member of your staff, I should not have attended and addressed this meeting, at least not without your prior knowledge and consent.
This meeting became highly charged, and I became embroiled in the heated discussions after being shocked at suggestions that the "law was an ass" for allowing members of the public to attend meetings, that certain individuals should be excluded and the attempts to intimidate and belittle a member of the Rothbury community (as well as the small group from Berwick) for seeking to participate in the democratic process and scrutinise the use of public money.
Again, I entirely accept that as a member of your staff, I should not have become involved in this way.
After the meeting, I posted an ill-judged and intemperate comment on social media. There was absolutely no intention to cause offence but I sincerely apologise to residents of Rothbury, as well as to yourself, for the insensitively of this remark and any offence caused.
I am also aware that in this, and in recent events, I have broken the cardinal rule and "have become the story". In short, sadly, there is a irreconcilable conflict between my own campaign work and profile and that as a member of staff for an MP.
It has been an absolute privilege to work for you, I have seen first hand how passionate you are about fighting injustice, solving problems, improving the lives of all your constituents and helping others and I would not wish to be a distraction as you continue your excellent work as our MP.
I, therefore, with regret, tender my resignation.
Last Friday the House of Commons debated the latest version of the Assisted Dying Bill, presented as a private members bill by Labour MP Rob Marris. It was rejected c omprehensively by 330-118. Here is the transcript of my speech:
Thank you Madam Deputy Speaker.
Until the 1950s, most deaths occurred in the home. By the 1980s just 17% did. So, in one generation, our experience of end-of-life, of death, has left our own personal space and shifted to hospitals and nursing homes. We have perhaps forgotten that natural death is not a failure, it is the normal order of things.
I have met and spoken with a large number of doctors as I pondered the decision I would take in voting on this monumentally important bill, which requires us to legitimise and actively support assistd suicide. Their concerns are very real, that us that this bill coming into law would mean that where we have trained them to sustain life, we would now be asking them to greak their base policy of "do no harm" to become active promoters of suicide.
A young doctor starting her career is not focused on death, even though it is of ocurse the one certainty she will experience again and again throughout her career. Doctors are trained to save lives, though sometimes at the expense of patient wishes or beliefs, in the medical profession's continuing quest for human longevity.
Perhaps it is because of our passionate quest for medical advancement, we have beome arrogant about denying the reality of nature's final victory. As our population continues to get older, it is so important that we make sure they have quality of life, or the choice to stop receiving medical interventions and allowing nature to take its course. This is the point at which our palliative care provision kicks into action for those heading to the end of their lives.
I am certain that this Bill stems from good intentions by those who have watched close family members die in pain: and that their intention is somehow to allieviate suffering in a controlled fashion, with a naive belief that boundaries set now would miraculously not be eroded over time as abuses of assisted suicide would multiply.
In the Netherlands, where this Bill is already enshrined in law, the six months terminal illness has already been extended to one year, and people sho simply want to die are now testing the law: therefore forcing doctors to become participants in active euthanasia.
In Oregon, the US state where this Bill is also in law already, the death rate from legalised assisted suicide is 7 times greater than that prior to the change in law with those with undiagnosed depression taking their lives with leagally supplied lethal drugs. There is no investigation system in place to analyse how requests for assisted suicide are being handled in practice.
My concern is that this bill would go the same way as our abortion practices which today bear little similarity to the intended law set out back in 1967. Thanks to medical advances, some 40% of premature babies born at 24 weeks (the present legal limit for terminations) now survive, and I want to see much stronger challenge to the status quo by those in the medical profession who allow women to use abortion as an easy contraceptive choice. Over my lifetime it seems that a strong law has slipped a long way from its original integrity. But doctors practice this law without question, and women are not challenged or supported to make a different choice to the one they were thinking of when they walked into a clinic. Why would those doctors willing to enact this assisted suicide law not quickly become passive processors, without adequate questioning and non-intervention support for those ultimately vulnerable patients entering their last months of life?
The key factor - this "six months from death" criterion - is a genuinely difficult call to make with any accuracy by two doctors. Which doctor can be 100% certain they can predict the remaining survival time of a terminally ill patient so precisely
Through the last months of a terminally ill patient's life, doctors tell me that it is a very common experience for patients to change their views on their determination to leave this world, and to have good and bad days.
Having cared for my own grandmother through her last years, and eventually her last months with terminal cancer, she would sometimes tell me that she felt she had become a burden to us: her own frustration perhaps, at her limited and failing capacity for daily tasks. Illness and old age had left a fiercely independent woman who had lived 88 full years, feeling beholden to the young ones whom she had previously protected and nurtured, and she believed that she should not be taking time from our lives for her care.
But my children, then 8 and 6, adored her to the very last, sharing their school day discoveries with her each afternoon, feeding her biscuits they had baked without any thought that this was anything other than how extreme old age and the march to death looked like. Every day had value and special memories for each of us.
In her last weeks, the blessing of a wonderful and honorable GP who had listened to her request not to be kept going endlessly; who provided her with excellent palliative care, and the bedside support from the amazing Northumberland MacMillan nurses, meant that her natural death was achieved without pain, at home.
My grandmother had always been a strong and determined woman: but there are thousands of vulnerable elderly people who are abused each year- mostly by family members, often for financial reasons. If my Granny felt she was a burden on a bad day, how much more so the risk of feeling burdensome for those who are genuinely under abusive pressures from uncaring families?
Like every MP, Madam Deputy Speaker, my postbag has been overflowing with letters and emails on this issue, and over 80% of them have called on me to vote against the bill. But I wanted to share with you the contents of one email received this week which determined my decision to vote against assisted suicide. It read as follows:
Both my wife and I disagree with your decision to vote against the Assisted Dying Bill. My mother said that she looked after her mother in her latter years and it was an absolute nightmare. She said that she would never put her offspring through that, and she went into a home, a good one and died peacefully in her sleep. My wife's mother is in a home and has wanted to die for years. She has no life whatsoever and is a burden to everyone, family and nursing staff! Assisted dying should be allowed, but obviously has to be well monitored and agreed by at least 2 doctors. My wife is adamant that if she becomes incapacitated and is a burden, and not worth living, that she would want to be assisted in dying.
So here are an elderly couple who openly support the idea of being able to shut down family members' lives at will. The issue of terminal illness has already fallen away, and the question of old age only has become their marker for death.
With the best end-of-life care, terminally ill patients can die with dignity and in peace. I believe there is much more we can and should do to make our palliative care world-class for all, and our management and support for those with dementia much more consistent. We need to provide stronger medical frameworks so that if a patient no longer wants medical intervention, they can "let nature take its course". They need to be 100% certain that their medical team will respect their request. But importantly, NOT their families' lifestyle choice on their behalf. This is a line which we must fight against crossing.
Passing this assisted suicide law would remove the legal deterrent which at present prohibits the encouragement of, or assistance with, suicide and carries penalties to deter malicious assistance. This proposed law grants approval for passive euthanasia, which will inevitably be the first step on an escalator which shifts our society's perspective on the acceptability of active euthanasia. Once we grant permission, in fact command a health professional to "prepare the medecine for self-administration by that person" but also "assist that person to ingest or otherwise self-administer the medecine" then we have stepped across the line to active euthanasia, sanctioned by the State.
Britain has always fought against those who have taken the power of euthanasia and abused it. We have so far won against those who believed themselves above nature, and I will do my small part today to try to ensure that we do not, unintentionally, become a state which sponsors euthanasia.
Sunday, 6 September 2015
As September arrives and I prepare to head back to Westminster (it really does feel like school starting again!), I am acutely conscious of the rural proofing challenges which I and my colleagues with large rural seats need to tackle.
From broadband to small hamlets and farms, to school transport for children who live far from their chosen school & threats to small schools like Branton & Embleton which offer vital sustainable community hubs, and the sudden closure of England's most rural doctor's surgery in Harbottle - we must work out how to change the urban-centric focus in Whitehall based on population, to leave space for our expansive & sparcely- populated communities to thrive.
The last couple of weeks have been subsumed by the sudden closure of Harbottle surgery, and will remain right at the top of my to-do list until a new, viable long-term solution is found. I will be meeting with the Secretary of State for Health's team as soon as possible.
I was able to meet some of our amazing firefighters last week, and heard about plans for more co-operation with the ambulance service. My visit to RAF Boulmer on Friday helped me build a clearer picture of the vital air defence work which goes on there, and which will continue after the SeaKing search & rescue helicopter retires from duty at the end of September.
My work to consult on the coach park location in Berwick is progressing, with good collaboration between many groups. We hope to circulate details in the next couple of weeks. Huge thanks to all those who made the annual Glendale Show on Bank Holiday Monday such a roaring success: my daughter has decided that Alpaca farming is her chosen career path after meeting the wonderful team from Barnacre Alpacas from Elsdon!
The coming week at Westminster is going to be busy, from the EU Referendum Bill report stage on Monday which I have concerns about, as it is so important that the framework for the referendum is as clear & free from EU-influence as it can possibly be; to the Assisted Dying Bill being brought back as a Private Members Bill by Labour MP Rob Marris. I continue to be concerned by the risks to our most vulnerable & elderly and will almost certainly vote against this bill to legalise assisted dying.
If you would like to catch up on the next stages of my Summer Tour in September, please go to www.teamtrevelyan.co.uk/news for details of where we will be.
Monday, 10 August 2015
I am continuing in a long tradition of summer touring, which Lord Lampton in the 1960s and my immediate predecessor both actively participated in. Its a great way to get to all our 150 villages and hundreds of hamlets scattered acros North Northumberland.
My first week has taken me to Hauxley Nature Reserve to see how the new visitor centre build is getting on (no concrete, just rock, wood and straw); up the Coquet Valley and into Rothbury to host a broadband summit with BT and BDUK representatives there to listen to local community concerns about the slow pace of superfast broadband to our last 10% of homes.
I visited the northern reaches of the patch from the Chain Bridge - where I met my Scottish counterpart, SNP MP Calum Kerr on the famous bridge which crosses the Tweed into Scotland. We are both supporting the Chain Bridge Friends campaign to raise the £3million or so needed to restore the very first chain bridge ever built, back in 1820. We also had a quick stop at the marvellous Chain Bridge Honey Farm, makers of the most delicious Northumbrian honey.
Our tour covered Horncliffe, Norham, Cornhill, Etal & Ford one afternoon, and reached Bamburgh, Seahouses, Beadnell and Embleton another. It was great to meet up with many residents, some just for a chat, many with specific education & transport problems, housing, or broadband & benefit blockages for which they need my team's help.
I hope that the tour is helpful and I'm looking forward to the rest of the summer.
My favourite moment this week was a villagers' convention asking for my help to get the Queen to recognize a devoted charity fundraiser in their village. I will certainly do all I can for them- how lovely to know that a whole village longs to see their neighbour publicly acknowledged for his dedication.
My weekend was unexpected: we had a family outing to the Sir Tom Jones concert at Alnwick Castle, which turned into a total technical disaster. I am challenging the organisers to give compensation to show-goers who had saved up & travelled from afar, for a summer concert which turned sour. Please do email me if you were there.
If you want to know when we will be touring near you, or catch up on earlier Weeks In Westminster, you can find details at www.teamtrevelyan.co.uk (news section)