Tuesday, 21 June 2016

My Week in Westminster: the loss of Jo Cox.

The unutterably tragic events of last Thursday, when my colleague Jo Cox MP was murdered on the street in the village of Birstall in West Yorkshire, have been difficult to get to grips with. Jo was a ball of energy and passionate advocate for all those issues which were close to her heart. She always had a smile, a spring in her step, and an enthusiasm for getting stuck in which was endearing and enthusing in equal measure. She took part in the annual Macmillan House of Commons Tug of War only a couple of weeks ago, and I had the greatest privilege of being on the team with her, laughing about how inept we all were, but happy to get stuck in and help raise money for such an important charity to so many of our constituents.

A bright light has gone out with her untimely death, and leaves two small children who will now not have their Mum with them in their daily lives. As one who lost a parent at a very young age, this is what hurts most: knowing that they will never be able to know her as we have all had the privilege to do.

But, from out of this dreadful tragedy, it has been deeply heart-warming for me to receive so many kind messages from constituents and people that I have worked with on campaigns more widely, thanking me for doing what it is that we do as MPs; something that we consider to be a true privilege and honour. There is nothing more worthwhile than being able to speak out on behalf of an individual, a group, a community or a campaign, where they cannot do so themselves. To change the course of a policy, or to build stronger solutions to a problem, or to fix something which is broken and damaging, are outcomes which are worth fighting for. 

We were recalled to Parliament yesterday for a tribute to Jo and a service of remembrance in St Margarets Church, Westminster- the Parliamentarians' church. The whole afternoon was filled with love, Jo's passion to make the world a better place, and an outpouring of affection for the two small children in the West Gallery who have lost their mother, murdered whilst working for her constituents' benefit and improvement.
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Saturday, 11 June 2016

My Week In Westminster : less than 2 weeks to go (phew!)


As the EU Referendum draws closer, with less than 2 weeks to go until polling day, I am debating in town halls and TV studios most days. The bottom line for me is that remaining would continue to devalue our democracy, the one thing the UK has exported across the globe most successfully. Its when nations become true democracies that wars stop, and we must lead by example and protect our own, the oldest in the world, from EU technocrats who want to destroy nation hood in favour of a single state of Europe.

My predecessor Mabel Philipson MP, only the 3rd woman ever elected to the House of Commons as MP for Berwick in 1923, would be appalled by the EU's plans. I have written for Harpers Bazaar this week on why women should vote to leave the EU. You can read it at http://bit.ly/1UIwmed

To commemorate 150 years since the start of the battle for Womens' Suffrage, we had an extraodinary moment this week in the Chamber when the Speaker suspended the sitting so that we could do a photo of all the female MPs. Very moving, but mostly a timely reminder that there is so much more to do to encourage more women to stand for public office: I am only the 378th woman EVER to enter the House of Commons!

The most important bit of this week for me was the Public Accounts Committee hearing which we held on Wednesday, following the last 3 months of work I have been doing to try to get improvement to the Service Families' Accomodation problems. After weeks of evidence gathering, I was able to get the National Audit Office sent in by our committee to assess the civilian maintenance contract & various senior people were then summoned to explain themselves. It all crystallised on Wednesday when we grilled Carillion Amey & the MOD to explain their contract failure for military families. You can watch the hearing at http://goo.gl/9GBxpS 

Continuing my military education, I had the privilege to go onboard HMS Bulwark, the second of our Albion-class assault ships. A real tardis once inside, we saw the winners of the Peregrine Trophy, the military photography Naval Awards. A wonderful young sea cadet, Tom Gregory, won his section and it was a pleasure to talk to him & his parents about life as a young sea cadet.

I am delighted to be supporting my PAC colleague Caroline Flint MP's Amendment to the forthcoming Finance Bill calling for the UK to lead on demanding financial data transparency from multinationals like Google. We hope that the Treasury will accept it. All the Finance Bill stuff will be coming to the House for approval the week after the Referendum, so it might be lively!

Between EU debates I have had a busy constituency Friday in Berwick with a visit to St Cuthberts RC First School, being grilled by all ages about what its like to be an MP, do I want to be PM, what is my favourite hairstyle and do I get to visit lots of countries? The questions are always different and always keep me on my toes! 

I also had the chance to stop into North Northumberland Hospice's new shop in High Greens and found 2 fab new summer dresses for those hot & sticky summer days ahead when the House of Commons becomes very unpleasant due to weather rather than in-fighting! Do stop in for a coffee and a browse through all their lovely things. Great shop, great charity.

This weekend is full of Royal celebrations, with services of thanksgiving and street parties to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday. I am surely one of Her Majesty's greatest fans, and am looking forward to all of these, before returning to TV studios for the BBC North East's EU Debate on Sunday night. Lets vote Leave!
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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, 30 May 2016

My Week in Westminster: our seas & our protection


This last week seems to have had a strong sea bias to it. It began at the weekend with an extraordinary trip to the Farne Islands for an evening picnic with the rangers who tend to our unique ecosystem over these islands, keeping a close eye on our puffins & seals, arctic terns and Eider ducks amongst others. We were privileged to get up close to the female Eider with her babies, and the puffins seem to take it as a personal challenge to fly as close to our heads as they can. One of the rangers suggested to me that since the Farne Islands are in my patch, that must make me the puffin's representative at Westminster! I am now contemplating how best to take on that role.
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Continuing with the sea theme, I had the enormous privilege (as a member of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme) to be invited onto HMS Duncan, our most modern Type 45 Destroyer. She was visiting London before heading up to Scapa Flow to participate in the Battle of Jutland 100th anniversary commemorations on 31st May.

As part of my continuing campaigning to get improvements to the service family accomodation, I was fortunate to be called by Mr Speaker to ask a PMQ to the Chancellor, with some of the crew of HMS Duncan in the gallery to hear their ship mentioned. 
You can watch PMQs here:
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We voted through the Queens Speech on Wednesday evening, setting up the legislative programme for the year ahead. I was very pleased that the Government accepted Peter Lilley's amendment which I seconded, to call for legal protection in the TTIP negotiations (the EU-UK trade deal being formed) for our NHS services. This means that we will be able to protect our NHS & the taxpayer from the threat of 
legal action if US investment into healthcare in the UK doesn't work out.
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The EU Referendum is getting closer! I spoke in an excellent debate at Barter Books in Alnwick, on the Leave side, which drew a crowd of all views & none. Its great to have the opportunity to discuss all the facets of this vitally important in our political journey within, or without, the European Union.
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I was able to visit the former Alcan site at Lynemouth to meet with new businesses who are creating jobs on the site. The famous smelter towers are soon to come down, so it was a privilege to get close up one last time before the new era of manufacturing different products for the construction industry, amongst others, gets fully underway. Change can be difficult, but its wonderful to see new jobs developing for the longterm in new businesses with great entrepreneurs investing in the future & local jobs.
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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

Thursday, 26 May 2016

My Week in Westminster : a mew session begins


The start of a new Parliamentary session provides the opportunity for some of our excellent pomp & ceremony. The Queens speech, delivered by Her Majesty in Her Gracious Speech, included some key bills which will help Northumberland's economic future success. Bills include:

The Digital Economy bill which will give every household a legal right to a fast broadband connection if they request it. I plan to be closely involved in this, to ensure we enshrine the Universal Service Obligation for broadband connectivity, vital for rural dwellers' future;

Reforms to speed up the planning process to help build more homes, and empower communities through their neighbourhood plan;

Introduction of a Lifetime ISA to help young people save for their future;

Speeding up adoptions and giving children in care more support;

Making prisons places of education, work and purposeful activity – something close to my heart as a founding Trustee of the Oswin Project which does this at HMP Northumberland already, to help reduce re-offending, cut crime and improve public safety.
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One thing missing from the Gracious Speech was the mention of a Sovereignty Bill, which we had expected. This concerns me as it was planned, but it seems that following the negotiations by the PM with EU members in February in the run up to our Referendum in June, we have given away our power of veto to greater political
Union for Eurozone countries. Without a Sovereignty Bill I fear this leaves us even further exposed to EU powers. That is why I am supporting colleague Peter Lilley MP's amendment to the Queens Speech which calls on Government to exclude our NHS from the TTIP treaty presently being negotiated between the EU & the USA. Government has indicated it won't oppose our amendment. Fingers crossed that in the heated EU Referendum campaign period everyone sticks to their promise on this.
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To balance out the ceremonials at Westminster, I spent two days with a few colleagues at the UK Defence Academy in Wiltshire, learning about the high level strategic views of our military and forward planning towards 2050. This visit was as part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme of which I am a part for a second year (learning about the Navy this coming year having focused on the RAF last year).
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The EU referendum continues apace, and I had the pleasure of speaking at the Churches Together debate at Sunderland Minster. 
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A1 update


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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, 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 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 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