Monday, 9 May 2016

My Week In Westminster

This week has been hectic in terms of legislative activity, as the final stages of the Immigration Bill & the Housing and Planning Bill go through the Houses of Lords and Commons. This involves "ping pong" - no, not the bat & ball sport!- in which amendments suggested by the Lords come back to the Commons and we decide whether or not to accept them. This is the nitty gritty of law-making, where compromises are made to ensure the best law, the broadest support and so on. Last week saw huge concessions by Government on the Trade Unions Bill because the House of Lords was able to force the Government to back down by threatening to derail the bill completely. All bills in the system need to be agreed before we "prorogue" this coming week. That's Parliamentary for bringing the session to an end before a new one starts after the Queens Speech and Opening of Parliament on Wednesday 18th May.
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In between division bells, we welcomed the Royal Artillery to celebrate their 300th anniversary to the House, and their bands Beat the Retreat as the sun set over the Terrace. A deeply moving experience and a time to reflect on the centuries of commitment by our armed forces to our safety & protection around the world.
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Locally, our County council leadership is proving frustrating at present with the decision to bring in a coach parking area inside Berwick's Town Walls in the one place that the residents and businesses don't want it to be. I am continuing to lobby the Labour councillors to work with partners for a better solution than Chapel Street.
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I had a wonderful visit to Scremerston & Harbottle First Schools, and got to participate in volcano making activities!
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Sunday saw the Riding of the Bounds in Berwick, with a great cortege of horses following the ancient tradition. I seem to have agreed to get on a horse and do it myself next year...!
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I had the opportunity to visit the new social & extra care housing being built in Alnwick, due to open for older people later this summer. This is a fantastic model of supported housing being rolled out by ISOS and I am going to continue working with the Housing Federation to encourage more of this sort of homes to be built in the years ahead. As a nation we need to be building at least 250,000 more new homes each year; and if we stay in the EU estimates suggest that the influx of a further 3 million EU members could double that need.
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With the EU Referendum debate hotting up as we have only 45 days til election day, I am continuing to speak in debates around the region on why I think we should vote to Leave. On Friday I was honoured to be invited to speak at that august institution, the Durham Union Society. The result was 50:50!

And finally a huge congratulations to Ruth Davidson MSP and her team, especially our Berwickshire neighbour John Lamont MSP, on their successful election in Scotland. The Conservative & Unionist Party is now the official opposition in the Scottish Parliament.
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If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly anytime on 0207 219 4437 or by email to annemarie.trevelyan.mp@parliament.uk

Monday, 18 April 2016

My Week in Westminster : back from Easter recess


The MPs return to Westminster after the Easter recess brought with it a wave of Ministerial Statements and Urgent Questions, on the state of steel industry, the Panama Papers & associated discussions about tax evasion, whether MPs' tax returns should be published, whether Inheritance Tax is a good or a bad thing, and the now infamous £9.3m of taxpayers' money spent by Government on a pro-Remain leaflet. It was a noisy & heated Chamber.
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I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet with DWP Minister Shailesh Vara MP, to discuss the issue of pension age changes for the WASPI women, born between 1951 & 1954. This campaign for recourse from the latest delays to their pension age may take some time, as the Treasury presently seems determined to hold firm to their line. I have an excellent local network of WASPI lady campaigners, and if you are affected please do get in touch.
I will continue working with colleague Tim Loughton MP and other concerned MPs to try to find a costed solution which might go some way to resolution of this thorny matter.
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In my role as Chairman of our new Parliamentary Group on the Armed Forces Covenant, I have been receiving a large amount of correspondence from across the UK from military families struggling with a new housing regime. I will be meeting with the Armed Forces Minister next week to discuss this in more depth and call for an arbitrator to support these families, for whom our commitment through the Covenant should be better than it presently is.
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Our APPG on Autism had a big turnout to discuss the problems of diagnosis times for children and adults on the spectrum, a problem which I struggled with when my son was little and we were seeking help over 10 years ago. Progress on this is painfully slow but I was pleased to hear from the Minister and his civil servants on the steps forwards they are taking. It was interesting to hear the Minister admit that one of his biggest frustrations in Government was the variability of provision & quality across the country. But not much consolation to those of us who have battled for diagnosis for family members in areas without decent professional support.

The National Autism Society launched its new film this week with an amazing young Aspergers actor: you can watch it here: http://www.autism.org.uk/get-involved/tmi/film.aspx 
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I caught up with some of the key players in the biomass industry, with the Royal British Legion who launched their Somme 100th anniversary pack, & with the Money Advice Service to plan how to increase educational efforts for lifelong financial management skills. Its never dull, always varied, this job!
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I rounded off the week with a visit on Saturday to RAF Leeming to discuss the changing provision of glider training for our North East Air Cadets. There has been no gliding for two years, but the Minister has just signed off a new programme for Tutor flying which will bring new opportunities for Air Cadets, many of whom will become brave RAF airmen & women of the future.
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If you want to catch up on earlier Weeks In Westminster, you can find them at www.teamtrevelyan.co.uk

If you would like details of local surgeries or to speak to my team, please email trevelyanoffice@gmail.com or call 01665 517512

If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly anytime on 0207 219 4437 or by email to annemarie.trevelyan.mp@parliament.uk

Monday, 14 March 2016

My Week In Westminster: Tourism Week

My Week In Westminster : Tourism Week & Women for Britain
As a new week began, the focus on International Womens Day was brought close to home by our launch of Women for Britain, a group of women from all walks of life- business, law, finance, medecine and many others- who wanted to create a "low testosterone" forum in which to discuss the EU referendum. So many women have said to us that they want to be able to ask questions, assess the facts for themselves, and have a chance to think about what a return to being an independent country, freed from the EU political & economic union project, would mean for them and their families. You can find more on Facebook or Twitter.
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We held hearings in Public Accounts Committee on the training of new teachers, and on the programme coming forwards on the Right to Buy plans being rolled out. As a Committee, we are keen to spend more time pre-scrutinising and holding civil servants and Ministers to account before financial mistakes are made and vast sums of taxpayer money are wasted on projects. 

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My new experience of the week was to be interviewed by Radio Northumberland for my Dessert Island Discs. Now that isn't a typo, it really was all about puddings! I had to choose 6 of my favourite tracks, but also one dessert which I would have to eat, to the exclusion of all others, for the rest of my life on that desert island! To find out what I chose, listen in on 19th March!
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As it was also Tourism Week last week, I spent some time on Friday visiting Bamburgh Castle, learning about their plans to draw more tourists to North Northumberland, and how we can best provide a great tourist experience which includes the castles, coast and Berwick Town's ancient historic interests. I also had the great pleasure of chatting with Seahouses Middle School students at the Bamburgh Castle Inn at Seahouses, where they were discovering all the jobs which underpin our tourism industry- from chefs to administrators. I was also challenged to pulling a pint of Farne Bitter.... Not a total disaster!

The coming week is the Budget, so two days of speculation followed by a very long statement on Wednesday. As MPs, we really do have no idea what will be in it. It will be a surprise for us all.

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If you want to catch up on earlier Weeks In Westminster, you can find them at www.teamtrevelyan.co.uk

If you would like details of local surgeries or to speak to my team, please email trevelyanoffice@gmail.com or call 01665 517512

If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly anytime on 0207 219 4437 or by email to annemarie.trevelyan.mp@parliament.uk

Monday, 7 March 2016

My Week In Westminster ... And the North Yorks Moors.

As part of my continuing education of the Armed Forces through the excellent Parliamentary Scheme, I was invited to spend Monday at RAF Fylingdales near Whitby, right in the middle of the North York Moors and National Park. The radar station is fascinating, and it was a pleasure to meet some of the RAF's space management experts, monitoring airspace and working with the USA to protect us from missile threat.

Back on the ground, I met with the Banks Mining team again, who keep me regularly updated on their mining operations across Northumberland. I was also able to welcome the prison governor from HMP Northumberland to The House of Commons, to introduce him to my fellow Northumbrian MPs. As a recently privatised prison, there has been a good deal of change & anxiety, and I want to build bridges so that the new Sodexo team can make best progress on inproving the working prison model, which aims to reduce re-offending through work skills. 

The Airport Operators Association held its annual dinner to which I was kindly invited. I have been working with Newcastle Airport for many years on the question of APD taxes which have a power drag effect on regional airports. It was interesting to meet with airline leaders from across Europe and hear their thoughts on the potential outcome of the forthcoming EU Referendum. Mixed views as ever!

I met with the North East Schools Commissioner, who oversees the academies in our region. As a longstanding governor of Berwick Academy, and a supporter of freeing good schools to determine their direction free from local authority control, we talked in depth about the challenges of our many very small schools. I explained that I continue to be actively pushing for Government to sort out the funding formula to make it fair for all children. At present, Northumberland's schools get hundreds of pounds per year less than many other counties. I am pleased that the Secretary of State for Education is actively looking at a new national funding formula which would help Notthumberland.

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My daughter got confirmed this weekend, so we had a wonderful family gathering for this important stepping stone to adulthood. Stopping my continuous & frenetic day-to-day political activity to contemplate the bigger picture is very good for the health. And I am officially a very proud Mum.

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If you would like details of local surgeries or to speak to my team, please email trevelyanoffice@gmail.com or call 01665 517512

If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly anytime on 0207 219 4437 or by email to annemarie.trevelyan.mp@parliament.uk

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

My Week in Westminster

Last week began with the Prime Minister's statement on the EU Referendum, with his declaration of the date now set for Thursday 23rd June. I was given the opportunity by the Speaker to ask the PM about ensuring that our military personnel serving abroad at that time will not be disenfranchised. You can see my question live HERE

Whilst I was pleased to give the PM the opportunity to diffuse a difficult afternoon in the Chamber with an Arctic Circle joke, the key point will be ensuring that we have a robust and effective voting system for our troops. This is a key area for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Armed Forces Covenant which I set up to campaign on- there will be no vote more important in the lives of our troops for the foreseeable future. They absolutely must not suffer any disadvantage.

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On broadband, I was very pleased to receive a reply from Ofcom which agreed with me on the need for BT/Openreach to do much better or risk being broken up. This is an ongoing battle for all those of us who have big rural constituencies for whom BT's efforts to date in reaching small communities has been at best slow, at worst non-existent. And it is shocking to hear some of the places in the south of England that we Northumbrians would assume should be (& are) easy to invest in. We shall battle on and try to persuade DCMS to be more robust. I have also written to the Norwegian telecoms to find out how they manage to provide 4G in the Arctic Circle!

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I was pleased to support my colleague Derek Thomas MP for his debate on the future funding of community pharmacies, and the Minister Alastair Burt's reply which you can find HERE.

For our patch, the need to ensure that funding streams will support the vital community pharmacies is vital since they act as central points in villages like Shilbottle, where the post office counter is now co-located. I am hopeful that the Minister understands the rural issues.

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A group of us have been battling with getting a better set of changes for Sunday Trading rules than was presented in the Enterprise Bill. I have concerns about the pressures on family life and the need to continue valuing a day of rest/religious onservance/mini-rugby et al. We are hopeful that the Minister has heard our anxieties (which we set out with an amendment) and that next week we may see a new Government amendment to the bill which we feel able to support.  Getting the better deal for our own patch, and on a bigger scale, is a constant negotiation and discussion.

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On Friday I had a chance to visit RAF Odiham to meet with aircrews and their teams to talk about family accomodation & changes to the new military employment model. They also took me up in a Chinook helicopter to demonstrate what an extraordinary "elephant ballerina" our most used helicopter is, and why every one of our armed forces have cause to be grateful to those pilots & crew. The Chinook has saved many, many lives thanks to their bravery on the front line to drop off or pick up troops.

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If you want to catch up on earlier Weeks In Westminster, you can find them at www.teamtrevelyan.co.uk

 

If you would like details of local surgeries or to speak to my team, please email trevelyanoffice@gmail.com or call 01665 517512

 

If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly anytime on 0207 219 4437 or by email to annemarie.trevelyan.mp@parliament.uk

 

 

Sunday, 21 February 2016

My Week in Westminster - the Arctic Circle


Sometimes life affords experiences & opportunities which you could never have imagined: and I rather think the whole of the last week falls into that category for me.

Last Sunday, as part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme which I am involved with, a group of 8 MPs and 2 Peeresses left RAF Brize Norton and headed to Northern Norway. We landed in Evenes and drove to the Allied Training Centre, where we met up with the Royal Marines (45 Commando). We were there to learn about the arctic warfare training which our Commandos go through, the most rigorous & tough in the world (to which the US Military even send troops to train with us).

We spent an amazing 3 days living alongside the Royal Marines, watching them train in ice falls into frozen lakes; watching drills for beach landings; and had the privilege to get right into a full arctic exercise, meeting with those on the front line, and the whole logistics team. I had never imagined snow trenches, but it makes perfect sense once you see them.

The Marines also decided that we should experience part of the normal commando training of a survival night out in the cold. They were kind enough to give us 3 fully trained RMs to help, but we did build shelters, gather firewood and build a fire with flint & steel, and make a delicious chicken stew.

The ambient temperature of around -10c would have been OK, but the temperature dropped suddenly when the wind got up, and the CO decided that the last 4 hours of the night might be better spent in a tent- phew!

The following morning we watched an ice break fall (demonstrated by one of the instructors, fortunately- the Marines decided it was too risky to drop an MP through the ice!) before heading back to base to pack and head off to the airport once again.

A truly extraordinary time: the Northern Lights came out to play & I discovered just what an exceptional, resilient & good-natured group our Royal Marines really are. 
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It also turned out that even though we were 3 degrees into the Arctic Circle 4G phone signal is everywhere. So I will now be contacting the Norwegian authorities to find out how they have managed to do what BT, Openreach and DCMS have yet succeeded in doing in far less difficult territory across rural Britain.......
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As if the first part of my week was not dramatic enough, the second half has been full of EU negotiations, media activity and then declarations on Friday evening. I was then charged with presenting the Leave voice on the Today programme on Saturday morning. Honoured & a just a little bit nervous, I kept remembering that I had just been to the Arctic Circle and survived a night outdoors (OK, with 3 Marines!) so really even John Humphries should not be that terrifying!

You can here my interview here: Start at 1.15.00 to listen. https://t.co/QXrsSb2bnk
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The week ahead is full of EU Referendum events, with the PM making a statement tomorrow, and I am rapporteuring for the Public Accounts Committee on the Financial Management of the EU on Thursday. But none of it will come up to the truly unique & awe-inspiring few days of the Arctic last week.

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If you want to catch up on earlier Weeks In Westminster, you can find them at www.teamtrevelyan.co.uk

If you would like details of local surgeries or to speak to my team, please email trevelyanoffice@gmail.com or call 01665 517512

If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly anytime on 0207 219 4437 or by email to annemarie.trevelyan.mp@parliament.uk

Monday, 8 February 2016

My Week In Westminster

As the debate about the EU Referendum, which No 10 seems to indicate will be in June, hots up, I have been doing a good deal of national media on the subject. It does make me chuckle that as a female Conservative MP from the North East, I meet public broadcasting diversity targets at many levels! I had my first experience of the Today programme on Radio 4, which wasn't as scary as I had feared. The Daily Politics was actually quite fun!
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So, whilst all the activity which inevitably surrounds any election builds up, other equally important matters are building: I have been meeting with women born in the early 1950s who are being hit by the multiple pension age changes, part of the WASPI national campaign, with our first big debate in the House last week. Yesterday we gathered a core of ten ladies in Wooler to plan our local campaign efforts for the constituency. Whilst everyone agrees with the equalisation of pension age, there needs to be a solution found which reflects the reality for so many of these women, who did not pay enough National Insurance Contributions because in the 1960s and 70s there were still serious disparities in job equality, family roles and other areas which are- for my generation & those following- now thankfully confined to history.

If you are affected, or know someone who is, please ask them to email me directly and I can put them in touch with the campaign team.
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I am working closely with the forestry industry, and held a variety of meetings over the last week with tree nurseries & our supporters of the APPG on forestry, to drive forwards the critical agenda of increasing trees planted as part of the flooding reviews & work towards river basin catchment planning. I met with Minister Oliver Letwin to discuss the details of the Review and how we can make sure the North of England's voice & experience is properly heard.
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It was World Cancer Day on Thursday, and I was discussing with many charities how we can better drive treatment, early intervention and diagnosis. We still have very late identification of cancers, which of course reduces the chance of full recovery. I will be continuing to work on education & health, investment into more radiography kit & staff, and ensuring that the Department of Health maintains a focus through the National Clinical Lead on joined up thinking. We must try to help people to help themselves on medical matters which do not need hospital resources so that more of our taxes can go to cancer & other life-threatening treatment programmes.
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And as part of my personal challenge to visit all our schools this year, I stopped into Lowick First School on Friday to catch up with all their news. I also had the great pleasure of awarding prizes at the annual Northumberland's Finest Awards for young people's achievements through their youth groups across our county. We have wonderful teenagers doing extraordinary community activities despite some tough personal beginnings. The next generation are thriving! 
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To subscribe to My Week in Westminster, please email team.trevelyan@gmail.com with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject box.

If you want to catch up on earlier Weeks In Westminster, you can find them at www.teamtrevelyan.co.uk

If you would like details of local surgeries or to speak to my team, please email trevelyanoffice@gmail.com or call 01665 517512

If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly anytime on 0207 219 4437 or by email to annemarie.trevelyan.mp@parliament.uk