Category Archives: Victoria in Parliament

MP SPEAKS IN Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill DEBATE

The following account is taken from Hansard on Wednesday 31 January 2018. 

Given that this is the first opportunity I have had to speak, I pray your indulgence, Mr Gray, as, like other Members, I thank people for the enormous work that has gone into the Bill. I thank the Government for their support. I also thank the Treasury in the form of a former Minister who is sitting here. Some of my happiest moments during my time as an MP have been when I see “money resolution” attached to a Bill and think, “This is really going to happen.”

The Bill is very exciting for those of us who started the all-party parliamentary group on baby loss in the middle of the night in the Tea Room during our first months in this place, along with the hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson), who is not here. It was lovely to be joined later on in our journey by the hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran. We were glad to have her on board. The Bill is an exhibition of what we have been trying to achieve. In some cases, that has gone on for many years outside this place. It is exciting to be here and to have got this far.

The amendments are simple. They merely seek to identify a parent. One might have thought that was obvious, Mr Gray. I do not need to explain it further. I had a brief conversation with the hon. Members for Swansea East and for Gower earlier. It is nice to see Swansea so well represented on this Committee. My grandmother, like Mrs Griffiths, is an avid follower of parliamentary proceedings. She and the Gower will be very proud that we are all here. She feels very strongly about this issue, too.

The hon. Ladies from Swansea make a powerful point that foster parents should possibly be included in the definition of a parent. I am happy to leave that to the Government. This is a framework Bill, and I am happy for the definitions in it to mirror those in other such Bills. I say that as the very proud Member for Banbury, who has Adoption UK in her constituency. I am particularly live to the issues faced by adoptive and foster parents, and it is important that we include those who should be properly included in the Bill. I, too, am sorry that we did not have the discussion far enough in advance to ensure that we had one amendment on the amendment paper. With that in mind, I ask that you consider the amendments together, Mr Gray.

 

 

North Oxfordshire MP raises awareness of child health in Parliament

As the new ‘State of Child Health: One year on’ report shows child health in England lagging behind Scotland and Wales, Victoria Prentis MP has committed to prioritising child health and wellbeing by pledging to work with the Government to bring children’s health policies in England in line with the rest of the UK.

At the launch of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s (RCPCH) ‘State of Child Health: One year on’ scorecard on 24 January in Westminster, the North Oxfordshire MP commented: “Child health is important to everyone, and I want to make it a real priority going forward. Children in my constituency deserve to receive the same high quality healthcare as those in neighbouring parts of the UK.”

The scorecards, which have been published for England, Scotland and Wales describe progress against the series of recommendations made a year ago in the RCPCH’s landmark State of Child Health report.

The England scorecard reveals progress in some areas, including the launch of a Digital Child Health Strategy, the publication of a new Tobacco Control Plan, the initiation of some specialist service reviews in paediatrics, and the implementation of the sugar tax.

 

Victoria at the launch of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s (RCPCH) ‘State of Child Health: One year on’ scorecard

Victoria at the launch of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s (RCPCH) ‘State of Child Health: One year on’ scorecard

VICTORIA PRENTIS MP SUPPORTS CAMPAIGN TO INSPIRE THE NEXT GENERATION OF ENGINEERS

171206 Year of Engineering launch

This year, Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire is supporting a national campaign to get more young people into engineering, joining government and industry in a united effort to tackle a major skills gap.

The Year of Engineering, which launched on Monday 15 January, will see the Government and MPs work with industry partners to raise the profile of engineering among young people aged 7-16, their parents and teachers. The initiative will include offering direct experiences of engineering to young people from all backgrounds – from behind the scenes tours and family days out, to school visits and the chance to meet engineering role models.

Victoria will be supporting the campaign in North Oxfordshire by reaching out to schools in her constituency, including the Bicester Technology Studio and Banbury Space Studio, who both specialise in a new approach to learning including engineering and technology.

Before Christmas, she joined more than 30 MPs at a Parliamentary reception. The event marked the publication of the Institution for Engineering and Technology’s annual Skills Survey report – which looks at the skills challenges faced by engineering and technology employers in the UK.

The commitment comes as the UK faces an estimated shortfall of 20,000 engineering graduates a year. Half of companies in the sector say the shortage is having a significant impact on productivity and growth. By bringing young people from all backgrounds face to face with engineering experiences and role models, the campaign aims to showcase the creativity and innovation of engineering careers and widen the pool of young people considering the profession.

More than 1000 partners have signed up to support the Year of Engineering, including Siemens, the Science Museum Group, Ocado, Usborne, BAE Systems and Crossrail. Teaming up with partners from many different sectors, the Government will deliver a year of UK-wide school visits, exhibitions and open doors events – all aimed at encouraging young people and their parents to take a closer look at engineering.

Victoria commented: “In North Oxfordshire we are particularly lucky to have two schools dedicated to engineering and technology. They provide a unique opportunity for young people in the area. I am looking forward to doing what I can to work with both pupils and businesses over the coming months as part of the Year of Engineering. It is important that we encourage and inspire young people to turn to the engineering sector as we move forward and continue to grow as a country.”

To find out more, visit the Year of Engineering partner website or follow the campaign on Twitter.

BANBURY MP, VICTORIA PRENTIS, WELCOMES HORTON REFERRAL

2

Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, Victoria Prentis, has welcomed today the Secretary of State’s decision to refer the permanent downgrade of Banbury’s maternity unit to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP).

On 10 August 2017, the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) resolved to make permanent the temporary suspension of consultant-led maternity at the Horton General Hospital. As a result, the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC), chaired by Cllr Arash Fatemian, referred the matter to Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt.

Following on from the outcome of the recent Judicial Review hearing, which found in favour of the CCG, Victoria pressed upon the Department of Health the importance of moving forward, given widespread uncertainty about the future of the unit.

Today, the Secretary of State wrote to Victoria to let her know that he would be passing the matter onto the IRP to undertake an initial assessment before deciding whether it conducts a full review. In his referral, he drew upon the opposition of local councils and their responsibility to scrutinise decisions.

Victoria commented: “I am pleased that the Secretary of State has agreed to pass the decision to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel for consideration. It is with regret that we find ourselves in a similar position to 2008, when the IRP were last asked to look at maternity provision at the Horton General Hospital. The IRP is the independent expert on NHS service change; it takes into account all available evidence in order to advise the Secretary of State on contested proposals. I have no doubt that they will look at this matter properly, and am hopeful that they will agree to undertake a full investigation.”

Cllr Kieron Mallon, a longstanding Banbury Councillor and campaigner for the Horton also commented: “For those of us who were involved in 2008 we think it is right and proper for the Secretary of State to refer this on. We are all hopeful that the Independent Reconfiguration Panel will investigate this fully as they did the previous referral.”

A NEW YEAR MESSAGE FROM VICTORIA PRENTIS MP

IMG_6736

2017 has been marked by its unpredictability. Navigating the uncharted waters of Brexit has dominated national headlines. At Westminster, the final few weeks of the year were spent analysing the EU Withdrawal Bill line-by-line. With 405 amendments and 85 new clauses, it meant a lot of late nights but was an extremely thorough process. I spent as much time as possible in the Chamber, listening to colleagues make often impassioned contributions. My own approach was to try to improve the Bill, particularly as I represent a constituency which voted narrowly to leave. We must respect the result and seek to secure a deal that guarantees a deep and special partnership with the EU.

 

While Brexit may have taken centre stage nationally, our fight to keep acute services at the Horton General Hospital has, quite rightly, been our main focus locally. We remain unhappy about the decision to remove obstetric services at the hospital but the sheer grit and determination of campaigners has been extraordinary. The judicial review may not have been successful, but Mr Justice Mostyn’s judgment only served to reinforce my profound discomfort about the way in which the Clinical Commissioning Group ran the Phase One consultation. The Secretary of State can be in no doubt about how I feel. The Independent Reconfiguration Panel must have the opportunity to conduct an investigation into the downgrade of maternity services.

 

A fully functioning hospital is more important than ever as we build houses at a rate three times the national average. I am not blind to the challenges of such unprecedented growth. My new Residents’ Roadshow has made it very clear that, from potholes to post boxes, a joined up approach between local authorities and developers is essential as we continue to grow. Ensuring both old and new residents feel part of the same community is paramount to the success of our new housing estates. When we work together, we really can achieve results. Nowhere is that more obvious than the Great British Spring Clean, Singing for Syrians and Refill – three campaigns I have been closely involved with in 2017.

 

I am hopeful that these initiatives will grow from strength to strength in the coming year. I accept that 2018 will not be easy as we continue to negotiate our departure from the EU. While I may have to spend the majority of my week at Westminster, my focus will remain on working hard for all those who live in North Oxfordshire. I may not have the solution to every problem but I could not be more committed to ensuring that all my constituents have a prosperous and peaceful New Year.

 

Victoria Prentis MP

1 January 2018

MP RESPONDS TO HORTON JUDICIAL REVIEW JUDGMENT

Following today’s judgment relating to Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s Phase One consultation, North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis has issued the following statement:
 
‘I am very familiar with the processes of judicial review, having worked in this area for twenty years, and was pleased to be able to attend Court at the beginning of the month. During the hearing, the CCG were able to produce evidence which we had all been asking for since the consultation process began. It is deeply regrettable that it took legal proceedings for this to be made public, and that it was exactly this hard data that aided the CCG’s defence.
 
While Mr Justice Mostyn found against the four councils and the Keep the Horton General group, I was very interested to read his judgment. He was critical about the CCG’s consultation. Notably, in Paragraph 25 he states: “The conclusions I have reached thus far should not be taken to signify that I personally approve of the decision to split this consultation. It was said that the reason it was done in this way was because of the urgency of the matters covered by phase 1. But they were not urgent.”
 
He goes on to say in Paragraph 26: “I can well see why in the absence of hard data the claimants and the interested party would assert that as a matter of principle decisions made following phase 1 would queer the pitch when the phase 2 consultation came around…It is a mystery to me why that data was not supplied sooner.”
 
The judgment has simply served to reinforce my profound discomfort about the way in which the CCG ran the consultation. I have written to the Secretary of State immediately, urging him to use the powers identified by Mr Justice Mostyn, which enable him to ask the CCG to rerun the consultation.’

OXFORDSHIRE MPS TEAM UP TO RAISE MONEY FOR SYRIA

171212 St Margs VP and LM

On Tuesday 12 December, Oxford West & Abingdon MP, Layla Moran sang in the choir of the 2017 flagship “Singing for Syrians” concert. Over 600 people attended the event at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey, which was organised by neighbouring MP, Victoria Prentis, and raised money for the Hands Up Foundation who support a number of projects to help the most vulnerable who remain in Syria.

Alongside the choir, which was made up of fourteen Members of Parliament, a number of celebrities read at the concert, including Samuel West, Julie Christie and Martin Jarvis. Alexander Armstrong performed “Winter Wonderland”. The event raised over £32,000 through sponsorship, the retiring collection and ticket donations.  

Victoria Prentis MP said: “I was delighted to recruit Layla to the MP choir. Singing together is a simple yet effective way to raise money for those most in need in Syria. It is really important to me that the choir is cross-party – it shows that we can all work together to help some of the world’s most vulnerable people. They all sang beautifully and showed that the plight of the Syrian people has not been forgotten.”

Layla Moran MP added: “It was a privilege to sing in the choir at such a magical event. In my youth I went to Damascus when my family lived in Jordan. My heart breaks for the people whose lives have been affected by the conflict, and so when Victoria told me about this event I jumped at the chance to do my little bit. I’d like to thank all those in Oxfordshire who held similar events, the Hands Up Foundation for the amazing work they do, and Victoria for putting the event together. I hope to participate again next year!”

MP SUPPORTS MEASURES TO CRACK DOWN ON CRIME IN PRISONS

Proposals introduced in Parliament to stop mobile phone signals and crack down on crime in prisons have been supported by North Oxfordshire MP, Victoria Prentis.

The Prisons (Interference with Wireless Technology) Bill will enable the Secretary of State for Justice to authorise mobile network operators to work more independently, making use of their special technical knowledge and expertise to prevent, detect and investigate illicit mobiles.

The Ministry of Justice has put in place measures to crackdown on mobile phones.  In 2016, nearly 20,000 mobile phones and SIM cards, or 54 a day, were found in prisons in England and Wales. While not a new problem, the scale has been increasing steadily.

Locally, 138 have been found and confiscated at HMP Bullingdon in recent years.

Victoria said: “The use of mobile phones is already illegal but it is clear there is still an issue and we need to be more effective in tackling the problems caused by illicit mobile use. Illicit mobiles can be used to organise criminal activity and it must stop. I want my constituents protected and for those that have been victims not to fear they may be able to be contacted or intimidated. Equally we have a responsibility to ensure prison staff and their families are protected and phones have been used to threaten them.

Taking more effective action to stop illicit mobile use will not mean prisoners cannot talk to their friends and family. They will still be able to make and maintain contact using the telephone services provided in prison, whether that is by traditional phones on prison landings or increasingly through phones provided in their cells as these are rolled out across the prison estate.”

The Private Member’s Bill, introduced by Lewes MP Maria Caulfield, has the potential to make prisons safer places and help to tackle the severe problems caused by illegal mobile phones in prison. It has now passed its Second Reading and will move on to Committee stage shortly.

COMMUTERS BEGIN WEEKEND ON HIGH NOTE AT LONDON MARYLEBONE

171201 Kevin Kay-Bradley

On Friday 1 December, commuters returning to their North Oxfordshire homes were surprised by a Hallelujah Chorus flash mob at London Marylebone station. Forty professional singers broke out into song during the evening rush hour in aid of Singing for Syrians, the charity initiative set up in 2015 by Member of Parliament, Victoria Prentis with the Hands Up Foundation.

Conducted by musical director, Nicholas Cleobury, and accompanied by trumpeter, Kevin Kay-Bradley, the choral flash mob followed Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus with carols on the station concourse.

Singing for Syrians is a nationwide campaign which raises money for the Hands Up Foundation who support a number of projects helping the most vulnerable who remain in Syria. They pay the medical salaries of doctors in rural southern Aleppo, run a kindergarten in Idleb and fund two prosthetic limb clinics. It is estimated that over 30,000 Syrians are amputees in need of urgent treatment.

North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis, who was at the station to watch the flash mob unfold, said afterwards: “When the first singer broke into song everyone around her was completely taken aback, particularly as she was dressed in Chiltern Railways uniform. As others joined in across the station, it was an extraordinary sound and sight which really did raise the roof.

“The whole point of Singing for Syrians is to show that we all have the power to do something. By coming together in a positive and uplifting way, and singing at the tops of our voices, we can all make a difference. The flash mob could not have made that clearer. Hopefully people will be inspired to hold their own event or come along to the flagship concert at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey on Tuesday 12 December. I would encourage everyone to look at www.singingforsyrians.com.

“My thanks to Chiltern Railways, BNP Paribas and Redshift Media Production for making the flash mob possible.”

 

Victoria Prentis MP contributes to Budget debate

On Tuesday 28 November, Victoria Prentis MP spoke in a debate on the Autumn Budget. The focus of her speech was on house building, and the infrastructure that needs to be in place for people living on new developments.

The following account is taken from the Official Record from Tuesday 28 November 2017.

Victoria Prentis (Con) (Banbury): It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Manchester Central (Lucy Powell) when she speaks so passionately about education. I must confess that her remarks about the Prime Minister have encouraged me to focus my speech on house building, which the Prime Minister and her Chancellor quite rightly view as the most important issue facing us.

For my constituency, the biggest excitement from the Budget is, of course, the funding to support Oxfordshire’s statutory spatial plan, which commits to 100,000 new homes by 2031. Cherwell District Council is the national leader in house building—an achievement only made possible by strong local leadership and the sheer hard work of the many volunteers who got our local plan adopted. I see a new finished house almost every day when I return home from Bicester North station, and three houses a day are currently finished locally. I built my own house; it is what we do in our area.

I hope that £30 million a year for five years will help to alleviate the pressure on our infrastructure by enabling us to move forward with larger projects such as the London Road crossing. When we talk about infrastructure, we so often mean roads and railways, but locally we are learning on the job that infrastructure means so much more than that. Those on the Treasury Bench will be pleased to learn that vast products and expenditure are not the only way forward when we look to build new communities. It is noticeable that the residents of well-built houses are happy, and more effort needs to be put into ensuring high standards in building across the board. This is a no-cost measure that the Government are working on.

Where we do need to invest for growth, it does not need to be in enormous, prestige products, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) outlined. House builders need to deliver on time. Even when they do, councils must be prepared to spend relatively small sums to alleviate the difficulties caused by enormous growth—for example, for around five years of stretched budgets while new schools are created. Children do not arrive in neatly packaged classes of 30 four or 11-year-olds, and existing schools also suffer while numbers are in flux.

I share the concern of my hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Damian Collins) that GP services in high-growth areas need small amounts of additional funding to tide them over in times of enormous growth. My hon. Friend the Member for Bracknell (Dr Lee), who is on the Front Bench, will appreciate that people seem to need their GP more when they move to a new area in order to sort out their existing medication and to deal with difficulties in changing specialists. We need to ensure that the infrastructure spending on such issues is readily available.

Mapping needs to be done before the build. Post boxes and street lamps should be provided without the intervention of an MP. Development can only be a positive experience if we bring hearts and minds along with us. I am afraid that closing maternity services at our local Horton General hospital at the same time as building 23,000 new houses does not sit well with us locally. Many new houses in our area have three or more bedrooms, and it would not come as a surprise to learn that some couples want to have babies to fill those new rooms.

Finally, and quite separately, a high point of the Budget for me was the announcement of a consultation into the horror of single use plastics. I encourage everybody in the Chamber to get out their phone, look at the App Store and add the Refill app; it tells users what to do and helps to get rid of single use plastics.

1 2 3 4 15