Category Archives: Victoria in Parliament

MP HELPS CHARITY RAISE ITS PROFILE DURING BOWEL CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

As April marks Bowel Cancer Awareness Month Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, is supporting a call by leading research charity Bowel Cancer UK, urging more people to take part in bowel cancer screening and help save lives.

Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK, affecting both men and women. Every year over 41,000 people (one every 15 minutes) are diagnosed with bowel cancer, and 16,200 people die of the disease.

Bowel cancer screening can save lives but at the moment in some areas of the UK only a third of those who receive a test complete it. Thousands of people are missing out on the chance to detect bowel cancer early when it is easier to treat.

Victoria said, “Improving uptake rates for bowel cancer screening, both locally and nationally, is really important. I would urge my constituents who are sent a screening test to use it, as it is undoubtedly the best way to get diagnosed early. It was eye-opening to meet my constituent Joy Dansette at the end of last year, and to hear her story. While she had no symptoms, routine screening showed abnormalities which eventually led to a life-threatening cancer diagnosis. Owing to her decision to take the bowel screening test, and the efforts of the Horton General Hospital in Banbury and the John Radcliffe in Oxford, thankfully Joy was able to make a full recovery. Her experiences really demonstrated to me the importance of screening and early diagnosis.”

Deborah Alsina, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said, “I’d like to thank Victoria for supporting our campaign during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month to raise participation levels for bowel cancer screening. One in 14 men and one in 19 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime but it is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.”

The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (and its equivalent in each of the home nations) can detect bowel cancer at an early stage in people with no symptoms when it is easier to treat. Since its launch 10 years ago, it has been proven to save lives. If you’re registered with a GP and aged 60-74, you will receive a test in the post every two years. You carry out the simple test at home in private and it comes with step by step instructions. The test looks for hidden blood in your poo, which could be an early sign of bowel cancer.

Visit Bowel Cancer UK’s website to find out how you can get involved in their campaign for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, bowelcanceruk.org.uk.

VICTORIA WELCOMES VISITING FRENCH STUDENTS

On Tuesday 12 April, Victoria Prentis MP welcomed students from la maison d’éducation des Loges to the Palace of Westminster. The group of a dozen girls was given a tour of Parliament by Victoria. She then held a question-and-answer session alongside Dominic Grieve QC MP, the current chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee. Both Victoria and Dominic addressed the pupils in French while speaking about their work as Members of Parliament.

La maison d’éducation des Loges is a school in the Saint-Germain-en-Laye suburb of Paris. It was established for the female descendants of recipients of the Légion d’honneur – France’s highest honour for military and civil service. The students are currently on a school visit to the United Kingdom and were invited to Parliament by Victoria, who has strong personal connections to France.

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Dominic Grieve QC MP and Victoria Prentis MP with the visiting French students.

MP WELCOMES BOOST TO THE LOWEST-PAID IN NORTH OXFORDSHIRE AS NATIONAL LIVING WAGE BEGINS

Victoria Prentis MP has welcomed last week’s launch of the Government’s new National Living Wage – giving a big boost to the lowest-paid in North Oxfordshire.

Workers aged 25 and over and not in the first year of an apprenticeship are now legally entitled to at least £7.20 an hour under the National Living Wage. This will mean an extra 50 pence an hour compared to the National Minimum Wage, which equates to a £20 a week pay rise for a full time worker.

The National Living Wage, which came into effect on 1 April, is likely to benefit 1.3 million hardworking people across the country and is set to rise to £9 an hour by 2020. Meanwhile, 6 million more could see a pay rise as a result of a ripple effect pushing wages up across Britain.

At the same time, the tax-free personal allowance will be increased. From 6 April 2016 the personal allowance will rise to £11,000 – a saving of £80 – and from April 2017 it will rise again to £11,500 – taking 1.3 million of the lowest-paid workers out of income tax altogether and giving a tax cut to 31 million across the country. Workers and employers can find more information online at www.livingwage.gov.uk.

Victoria commented: “North Oxfordshire deserves a pay rise and I’m very proud to be part of a Conservative party that is delivering the higher-wage, lower-tax, lower-welfare economy we all want to see.

Boosting wages and making sure that more families have the security of a decent, regular pay packet, while ensuring that people are always better off in work, are at the heart of our long-term plan. We have virtually no unemployment in Banbury, Bicester and the surrounding villages. This is something we can be proud of, and the new National Living Wage will support this positive development.

While I understand that this will be an adjustment for some employers, it is a crucial step in the right direction for both North Oxfordshire and the rest of the UK. We are backing hard work and aspiration, creating opportunities for hardworking people.”

VICTORIA PRENTIS MP TO VOTE AGAINST HS2 TODAY

Victoria Prentis MP writes about her concerns ahead of the House of Commons vote on the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill.

Our area was scarred by the building of the M40 when I was 16.  29 years on and the gash is still as visible, and as noisy, but we have reaped economic benefits that make our area one of real growth and almost no unemployment – an area of which this Government is justly proud. We are not nimbys; we welcome development when we can see its benefits, and are coping with unprecedented housing growth.

By contrast, HS2 brings us nothing but eight years of significant disruption, followed by permanent dissection. It will destroy beautiful habitat, ancient woodlands and pasture. Its construction will cause traffic gridlock to Banbury. And all for what?  If it were to give others the connectivity and economic success we enjoy, we might try to grin and bear it.  But I can’t look my constituents in the eye and tell them it is for the greater good. 

HS2 will not, sadly, heal the north-south divide. Rather, it will reinforce the dominance of London. It will certainly cost us all money – at least £1000 per household. It won’t really save time. In Birmingham, the proposed interchange station in Curzon Street is separate to the primary West Midlands hub at New Street, only accessible via tram or a 15 minute walk in an underpass. The link with Heathrow has been abandoned, and it doesn’t connect with the Channel Tunnel. Euston won’t be ready before the line is expected to open so rail users will have to disembark at Old Oak Common, a station in the suburbs.

Most tragically, it is bad for the environment. Over 130 wildlife sites on the first stage will be affected, including 10 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and 50 ancient woodlands. It is supposed to encourage passengers to give up more carbon intensive forms of transport. However HS2 Ltd’s own projections suggest a shift of only 11% from car or air to high-speed rail.

I can look at the M40 and see the benefits. My successor in 30 years’ time will look at HS2, if it goes ahead, and see only division, noise and disruption, and no significant benefits gained for the rest of the country.  That is why I will be voting against this Bill this afternoon.

Victoria Prentis MP (23 March 2016)

MP COMMENTS ON UPCOMING HS2 VOTE

Tomorrow (Wednesday 23 March 2016), the House of Commons will vote at the Report Stage and Third Reading of the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill.

Victoria is a longstanding opponent of HS2. Since her election, she has been working closely with villages and communities in North Oxfordshire that will be affected by the proposed route. In January 2016, Victoria presented evidence to the HS2 Select Committee on behalf of the constituency, raising her concerns about traffic, noise and bridleways. She has since tabled several amendments ahead of tomorrow’s debate, some of which may help mitigate the anticipated effects of HS2 on North Oxfordshire.

Speaking about the upcoming vote, Victoria said, “I am planning to vote against the Bill at Third Reading. I may have to support some amendments during Report Stage, if it is clear they will help the constituency, should the Bill pass. In particular, I am hopeful that the Secretary of State will consider establishing an Office of the HS2 Adjudicator; I am waiting to see if the relevant amendments are selected for debate.”

You can view the proposed amendments here.

VICTORIA SPEAKS IN DEBATE ON THE INVESTIGATORY POWERS BILL

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On Tuesday 15 March, Victoria Prentis MP spoke in the Commons debate at the Second Reading of the government’s Investigatory Powers Bill. The Bill, introduced by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, aims to reform the powers afforded to the UK’s crime, security and intelligence agencies. Victoria, who led the Justice and Security team in the Treasury Solicitor’s Department before her election to Parliament, called on her experience while speaking in favour of the Bill.

The House of Commons voted by 281 votes to 15 to proceed with the Bill. The Bill will now be considered by a Public Bill Committee, which is expected to hold oral evidence sessions on Thursday 24 March.

The text of Victoria’s speech can be seen below.

The below account is taken from the House of Commons Hansard for 15 March 2016:

Victoria Prentis (Banbury) (Con): Frankly, I struggled with the intricacies of RIPA and the other relevant legislation in my many years as a Government lawyer. I was, therefore, pleased and, indeed, excited to hear that previously almost impenetrable legislation was going to be consolidated into a new, easy to understand Bill, fit for the modern age.

When I read the draft Bill, I had concerns. I felt that greater judicial oversight was needed and that specialist groups, such as lawyers, journalists and, indeed, Members of this House, needed further protection. I read the Committee reports with interest and I was very much heartened to read the new Bill, which was produced following a large amount of scrutiny.

I feel that the double lock is a safe one. Assessing applications does and will undoubtedly take up a great deal of the Home Secretary’s time, but it is time well spent. It means that she is up to date with the details of real investigations in a way that few of her counterparts abroad can ever hope to be. It keeps her finger on the pulse. These are both political and judicial decisions; the fact that bulk warrants will come into force only once they have been authorised by the Secretary of State and approved by the Judicial Commissioner seems to be the very best of both worlds. Effectively, we are talking about judicial review with bells and whistles on, as Lord Judge informed the Committee, in every single case.

I was also pleased to read about the new protections afforded to those who provide information to sensitive persons—I hesitate to call lawyers and politicians sensitive, but perhaps those who provide us with information may be so described. The exemption is specially related to journalist sources.

I have been surprised by the openness of the Department in publishing the supporting material for this Bill. It is brave—I use that word as a long-term civil servant—of the Government to have published codes of practice complete with examples, and indeed the operational case for assessing internet connection records. It means that we can have a really informed debate today. I have presented cases where the security services, the police and the Ministry of Defence have analysed very large quantities of data. Although not very technically able myself, I did have to learn a certain amount about the search engines, which were designed to interrogate this material. I was reassured and, in turn, was able to reassure judges and Queen’s Bench Masters that the material on which important decisions were made was as complete as possible. The ability to collect bulk data is essential. The new Bill will help to ensure that there is no credibility gap in the balance between keeping us safe and protecting our rights to privacy. As important as pinpointing what information Government can obtain is deciding what can be done with it once it is gathered. This is where the important ethical debate should focus.

Last week the Justice Committee was fortunate to interview the President of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City. He told us about new techniques to reduce crime by interrogating openly available material. Discussions now need to focus on whether we should

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interrogate social media to decide on a person’s propensity to commit crime or have drug addiction problems in the future.

I hope that the new IP commissioner will be a strong voice in the debates that lie ahead, and that he will be able to add a sensible and independent viewpoint to both the media and this House. Getting the balance right will always be a challenge, but I welcome the transparent approach of the Home Secretary and her team in presenting us with the Bill in its current form.

MP ENCOURAGES PEOPLE TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE REGISTERED TO VOTE

Victoria Prentis MP is encouraging constituents to check that they are registered to vote in elections.

In 2014 the government introduced Individual Electoral Registration (IER) to replace the outdated whole household registration system. This means each individual is given control over their own registration, which can be done online.

In July 2015, it was reported that over 10 million people had registered with IER, and 77% of those registrations were done online.

Victoria commented, “Voting is our democratic right and everyone who is entitled to vote should be able to. This year is a very important year in terms of democracy, locally and nationally. Cherwell District Council has all-out local elections following boundary changes, and Parish and Town Council elections will take place in some locations across the constituency, including Banbury. On 23rd June we will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not we remain a member of the European Union.

“Everyone should be able to use their democratic right to vote for who they would like to represent them. I would encourage everyone to check that they are registered, and to get in touch with Cherwell District Council if they have any concerns on 01295 227005. I understand that some addresses on new build estates in particular are experiencing difficulties registering to vote.”

VICTORIA WELCOMES SCHOOLS TO PARLIAMENT

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Since her election, Victoria Prentis MP has welcomed pupils and students from many of North Oxfordshire’s schools to Parliament.

Engaging young people in politics has been a priority of Victoria’s since her election. So far as is possible, she spends time with every group of young people that visits Westminster. Pupils have the opportunity to ask Victoria questions about her work and opinions, and hear first-hand about her experiences.

Visiting students spend time at the Palace’s new Parliamentary Education Centre, which contains a wide range of resources to help educate young people about the work of the UK Parliament. Experts from Parliament’s Education Service lead discussions about the machinery of modern British politics, and help pupils to understand the evolution of the relationship between the Sovereign, Lords and Commons. Visiting groups also receive a tour of Parliament, and have the opportunity to watch live debates if one of the houses is sitting at the time.

Recent schools to visit include The Cooper School, North Oxfordshire Academy and Bloxham Primary School. Many secondary schools arrange annual visits to Parliament for their Politics, Law and History students.

Schools that wish to organise a visit to Parliament should contact Parliament’s Education Service by visiting their website.

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Victoria Prentis MP speaks to visiting students from North Oxfordshire Academy, Banbury, in Parliament’s Education Centre.

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Victoria takes questions from students of The Cooper School, Bicester, at the Education Centre.

VICTORIA CALLS ON THE PRIME MINISTER TO ENSURE VOTES FOR TROOPS

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Conservative MPs Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Tom Tugendhat MBE, James Cleverly and Victoria Prentis have joined forces to ask the Prime Minister to ensure Armed Forces personnel get a say in the EU referendum on 23 June.

The letter followed Anne-Marie Trevelyan’s intervention during the Prime Minister’s EU statement to the House on Monday. The MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed – who is also Chairman of the APPG Armed Forces Covenant – sought assurances from the Prime Minister that service personnel would be entitled to a vote and receive ballot papers in good time. In his response, the Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP said that “there is plenty of time to put in place the arrangements that she seeks”.

In their subsequent letter, the MPs emphasised that the Armed Forces, particularly those posted overseas, should be able to participate in a referendum that will significantly shape the future of the country they serve. They reiterated that Armed Forces and their families should not be disadvantaged for their service

While the MPs asked for a commitment from the Government that resources would be invested in exploring available options, they suggested that a one-off electoral mechanism could be administered by the chain of command. They reminded the Prime Minister of the Government’s ongoing commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant, and took the opportunity to ask for a commitment to investigate the ability of military personnel to vote in future elections. A copy of the letter was sent to the Secretary of State for Defence and the Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission. Victoria also raised the issue with the Defence Secretary during oral questions in the House of Commons on Monday 29 February.

Victoria commented, “I was delighted to put my name to this letter and to raise this on the floor of the House during Defence Questions on Monday afternoon. The EU referendum will be a defining moment in our country’s history, and it is vital that as many people as possible cast a vote on 23 June. I believe it is especially important that those who are serving our country away from home are given the opportunity to participate in the democratic system that they defend.

“I am aware that Armed Forces personnel serving abroad have sometimes been unable to cast a vote in previous elections. I very much hope that any new system introduced for the EU referendum can be used in future elections as well.” 

MP PLAYS KEY ROLE APPROVING REFERENDUM DATE STATUTORY INSTRUMENT

 

Victoria Prentis MP hails “historic moment”.

Yesterday afternoon, North Oxfordshire MP, Victoria Prentis helped approve a statutory instrument setting the date of the EU referendum for Thursday 23 June 2016.

Statutory instruments are a form of legislation which allow the provision of an Act of Parliament to be brought into effect or altered, without an entirely new Act of Parliament. Victoria sits on the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, which considers statutory instruments before the House every sitting Wednesday.

Speaking after the meeting, Victoria said, “I was really pleased to have the opportunity to scrutinise and approve this statutory instrument. We consider a variety of statutory instruments every week and have made some important decisions over recent months. None have been quite as significant as the decision we had in front of us today. It was a historic moment. As an affirmative statutory instrument, it must now go before both Houses of Parliament for approval. Those debates will take place shortly.

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